Homeschooled Kid Grows Up, Disagrees with Parents

Obviously, the brainwashing wasn’t effective.

A while back, Arby, at The Homeschool Apologist, addressed an article by a homeschooled anti-homeschooler. It’s a good post, and defends homeschooling pretty well, but I think that he concedes too much in even addressing whether or not the now-grown Libby Anne’s parents were correct in their method of raising her. Frankly, the issue is less about whether her “quiverfull”  parents were damaging their children by homeschooling than it is about whether or not they even have a right to believe as they do.

Though Libby Anne’s parents don’t actually identify with the “quiverfull” movement, she gives them the moniker in order to streamline the stereotyping process. She then proceeds to explain, with an apparently straight face, that even though they raised her quite well, they shouldn’t have been allowed to do so because the rest of the “normal” people do it differently. But whether they should have raised their children according to such rigidly “traditional” roles, is neither here nor there, in my opinion. We can have that conversation some other time.

The real question isn’t, Should people with weird lifestyles be allowed to homeschool?, but the more basic Do parents have a right to get it wrong? And I think the answer is yes. I’ve gotten all kinds of flack for saying that in the past, but it’s true. Parents have a right to screw up without interference. If they don’t, then we’d better all hand our kids over to the “experts” right now—the ones who teach your sixth graders these kinds of things–because not one of us is going to raise our children to adulthood without making some bad calls in good faith. Might as well make sure they’re all screwed up in the same, state-sanctioned ways, I guess! I know several adults whose parents did horrible things to them—divorce, exposure to pornography and violence on television, emotional neglect—but they were culturally “normal”, so no one questioned their right to do these things.

But when a family has the nerve to set out on a culturally unusual path and one of their children ends up disagreeing with them, even though that child was never abandoned or abused—was in fact loved and educated and treated quite well—well, that is a bridge too far!

Libby Anne admits that her childhood was happy, just not “normal”. Her main problem seems to be that she was taught to do menial chores like housework and taking care of siblings (you know, stuff that feminism tells us is beneath any sentient human being). She went to college, apparently with her parents’ blessing and financial support, but complains that her parents didn’t really want her to be educated because she was a woman suited only for being inside the home! They gave her responsibility instead of treating her like an overgrown child like the “normal” teenagers! They had the nerve to think that dating is a dysfunctional way to find a mate and hope for better things for their daughter!

Libby Anne’s parents committed the astounding crime of actually believing the things they said they believed. So much so that they taught it to their own children. I know! String ‘em up!

It sounds to me like Libby Anne’s parents did a smashing job. She’s a well-educated, articulate young woman who expresses herself quite adequately. The worst thing she can find to say about her parents is that they weren’t hypocrites. In keeping with their Biblical beliefs, they raised their children against the grain of the culture—never an easy thing to do. Her real problem isn’t with homeschooling, but that she wishes her parents had intentionally raised her to disagree with them. What kind of parent does that?

Perhaps someday Libby Anne will have a child of her own and know that good parents don’t raise their children in fear of how those children will judge them in the future, but in the loving hope that they’re making the right decisions. (Apparently I misread. She does have a child, and still doesn’t see what’s wrong with her attitude toward her own parents.) Libby Anne’s entire argument seems to be that her parents really believed all that Jesus stuff, and they shouldn’t have been allowed to teach their children what they believed without interference from the state.  I wonder how Libby Anne would feel if she lived in an actual Christian nation where the schools reflected Christian beliefs? She might possibly wish to take advantage of the right to homeschool her children so she could teach them differently, then, mightn’t she?

Reading the article, I kept wondering how I’d feel if it were my child turning against me in such a public way. What if one (or more) of my children grows up to not only disagree with my decision to homeschool him, but to actively oppose the rights of parents to oversee the education of their own children in this way? Is there anything I can do to keep this from happening? Unfortunately, I don’t think there is.

I can’t raise my children according what someone else believes, and neither could Libby Anne’s parents. She faults them for homeschooling her because she wishes that she’d been raised by people who agree with her adult self. But how could any loving parent send his child to be taught things that he believes are wrong, out of nothing more than fear of that child judging him later on?

Congratulations, Libby Anne. You finally fit in with the rest of the secular culture you’ve longed to join. You no longer even understand the most basic human liberty—freedom of religion.

Responses:

  1. Cindy, way to go! What a great post.

    You’re absolutely right: parents do have the right to get it wrong. That’s essential to human liberty.

    I’m sorry that she doesn’t think her childhood was great, but most people don’t think their childhood was great. Many kids in public schools don’t think their childhood was wonderful, either, and they were normal.

    What often bothers me is that the onus is on the homeschoolers to be perfect. If the school system has a child in it who can’t read, the child is labelled “learning disabled”, or it’s blamed on the parents for not reading to the child enough at home. The school is never to blame, despite the huge percentage of kids who are struggling.

    But homeschoolers are never supposed to have any academically struggling kids, because if they do, it’s obviously because of homeschooling!

    How about admitting that everyone makes mistakes, and that nobody is perfect? How about giving grace to every parenting choice, and not just one?

    And the fact is that we won’t make any new developments in education, or childrearing, or even culture as a whole if at least some people don’t decide to leave the beaten bath and do something abnormal. It is those who are NOT acting normal who bring progress.

    So, no, we don’t have to be perfect. We don’t have to succeed everytime. And it’s healthy if at least some people make the decision to do something very different.

    Sheila from To Love, Honor and Vacuum.

  2. So far I’ve only read the Original Post, but it really made me think.
    I just don’t get what her problem is. She said she grew up happy, and she is obviously well-educated and her family did not abuse or mistreat her and they did follow their beliefs to the hilt. They instilled in her a sense of her place and her purpose, and she has not chosen to feel grateful for this. It is all so different from my experiences growing up that I just can’t get my head around it.
    “How about giving grace to every parenting choice, and not just one?” indeed!
    And the OP says she does have (just) one child and grieves the fact that she feels inadequate for only having one at her age. I do wonder how someone like that can parent. If we all feared that our children would grow up to disagree with us and we wanted to parent for that eventuality, how could we make any parenting choices at all?
    You mention here (and it’s a good point) that parents do have the right to get things wrong in good faith, so long as they are not mistreating their children. But this author’s parents did not get it wrong at all, except maybe for all that Jesus stuff. Maybe that’s why I have such a hard time understanding. I wasn’t raised in the church and all I can think of is how grateful I think I would feel if I had been.

    • Personally, I think this lady’s parents were correct in everything, but even if I didn’t, I’d think she was an extremely ungrateful daughter to speak of them this way in public. My parents weren’t perfect, either, but it will be a very cold day in Hell before you’ll see me telling the rest of the world that they shouldn’t have been allowed to raise me the way they did. Yeah, I disagree with some of their choices, and I’m raising my own children accordingly, but they are my parents, and they made their choices for me out of love and a deep sense of responsibility for my welfare. Anything less than gratitude and respect for them is beneath the relationship we have.

      • I wondered what kind of website this article was posted to, from the names of next and previous articles and the general tone of the comments section. Apparently, the whole website is devoted to being anti-religious and supportive of all those atheists out there who take so much abuse from people of faith. I don’t know if that changes your interpretation of what was said, or even if it should, but it seemed relevant to me.
        But your larger point here is that she doesn’t only feel that her parents were wrong, but that she is saying so in a public forum (albeit one her parents are quite unlikely ever to look at) and is holding them up as an example of people whose children might ought to be rescued. I have a hard time with that as well.
        And what would public schooling have saved her from, I wonder? She wasn’t being abused, therefore no one would have rescued her from her family.

  3. And thanks to linking out to Homeschool Apologist! I’d never read them before, and it gave me a lot to think about!

    • It’s a good blog. I recommend subscribing. There’s always something to think about from Arby and Linda.

  4. So well said, thank you for this post! I appreciate how you get down to the basic rights of the parent. No matter how anyone disagrees, this is their right.

  5. I read Libby’s blog post when it first came out and remember thinking the same sort of things you wrote. After reading the comments on her blog and ungracious response to them (as well as the rude responses of her followers) she just seems like a rather unpleasant person who is bent on being disagreeable.

  6. There’s no way I could even express all the thoughts I have in my head after reading all of this. Have you read any of the comments on her post? Those are, in some ways, even more shocking than the post itself!

    It truly breaks my heart to read what she’s written. I agree that it must be heartbreaking to her family to read it. Someone mentioned not getting how she could believe like this after a childhood that sounds like it was so good..I honestly believe (especially after something she said in her post) that her time at college is what did it. There are so many statistics showing that tons of kids walk away from their faith once they get to college. They are bombarded with anti-Christianity and everything that goes along with that and some of them are not able to withstand it. Considering the background she comes from I’m surprised that she wasn’t able to but it sounds like that’s what it boils down to. So sad…and scary.

    I love your response here and the points you’ve made. I couldn’t agree with you more!

  7. Great point, Cindy! You are absolutely right – parents have the right to get it wrong. I’ve had a similar argument with people locally who say that gov’t should have more of a say in homeschool homes – you know, in case the parents aren’t teaching everything right. I tell them that parents should be left alone (unless they are abusive obviously) and if they do a bad job, then God will have mercy on that child – there are lots of adults who have had to learn how to read even after going through state sanctioned education. Thanks for a wonderful break down!

  8. Cindy…this post is WONDERFUL!! I read it several days ago and have been trying to find the time to get over here to comment ever since! This is such a perfect perspective on what is wrong with Libby Anne’s post at its very core. There are several families close to me that parent in a manner that rubs me the wrong way. Your post has given me MUCH to think about! Thank you so much for writing it!!

    Sorry it took me so long to get over here!!

    • Well, you know, I’m still totally judging all those other parents. ;-)

  9. In writing my blog post I never gave any thought to the question of whether or not Libby Anne’s parents had the right to raise her in the manner they chose, or whether or not they had the right to get it wrong. In my mind the answer was so obviously “yes” it didn’t need to be addressed. Maybe I should have. I tried to achieve a balance between responding to Libby Anne gracefully, analyzing her argument without attacking her, and keeping an eye to addressing the homeschooling question. The parenting question that you so eloquently raised here is a good question. You answered it very well.

    • Hi, Arby! I just voted for you (as HA) on some blog awards thing. ;-)

      I thought you handled the homeschooling angle just beautifully. My fear is that this woman, and many, many critics of homeschooling aren’t really home education critics at all, but anti-Christian or anti-religious or anti-anything-they-don’t-personally approve of.

  10. You’ll get no argument out of me there. I think that Libby Anne and many critics of homeschooling are definitely anti-Christian. I’ve tried to document many of their anti-Christian comments in previous posts. I wouldn’t have bothered commenting on her article if she had not written the line, “By now, you may be wondering, how is this possible? How can parents indoctrinate their children in this way? The answer, I would argue, is simple: homeschooling.” The minute she blamed homeschooling for the choices her parents freely made, I felt the need to draw the distinction between parental choices and the freedom to homeschool. I did enjoy the angle you took on her article.

  11. You write so well, I just love reading your posts! What great points you’ve made! I do have to say that I did not read the original post, only what you wrote. I don’t see what the problem is in regards to homeschooling. Does she really think that she wouldn’t have been “indoctrinated” when she was home from school? I mean seriously, homeschooling does allow us more time to brainwash our children (I’m not being serious, btw) but can’t you do that any hour of the day?

    Also, when I was younger I didn’t necessarily understand or even agree with the good morals or religious instruction that my parents’ had tried so hard to instill in me. Thank goodness blogging wasn’t around 20 years ago or who knows what I may have said that would have really bitten me in the butt now. I wonder if she’ll regret what she’s written in the future?

    • Thank you, Tonya! I’m so happy to hear you like my words!

      I suspect that this woman may not be thinking through what she’s saying. She might be, but I can’t tell if she sincerely believes her parents were wrong or if she has some weird cultural Stockholm Syndrome where she is identifying with the culture that hates her in order to protect what’s left of her identity after attending college. Some people just have weak personalities. Could be she’ll come around in time, and then she’s going to regret what she’s written, as you say.

      However, there is a pretty strong contingent of internet-swarming atheists who actually believe, whole-heartedly, that the state shouldn’t even allow religious parents to teach their religion to their children–that children should be taken away if parents insist on violating children’s “freedom” by enforcing moral rules or church-going, for instance. I wish I were making that up, but it’s true. They’re *not* just after homeschooling. They’re after religious people, especially Christians.

  12. I think she feels betrayed and lied to. One example she gives is that her parents taught her an “us” versus “them” mentality. When she went out and experienced the world first hand she likely was suspicious and thought of everyone as her enemy and yet like in the story of the Good Samaritan these supposed enemies treated her with compassion.

    Near the end she says “Taken together, these beliefs comprise a comprehensive worldview that gives those within it a sense of purpose and provides simple answers to complex problems.” Us versus them is one simple answer that wasn’t true in her experience. She doesn’t provide any examples of what other simple answers she learned through experience to be untrue. It seems as though she is saying that she was unprepared to deal with the world. Sadly, it seems she was most unprepared for the kindness of others.

    In the comments she mentions that conformity to her parents beliefs was one of the main things she found distressing. For many kids their parents don’t love them anymore and refuse to see them if they stray from their beliefs. Can you imagine how terrible that would feel… if you’re already having a personal crisis that many of the things you were taught as a kid are turning out to be untrue and THEN when you consult your parents to get their opinions on it find that they now think you are evil and wordly for questioning them?

    • You might be right. Feelings and impressions are hard things to grasp from a person’s writing, especially when they’re still working things out for themselves. However, I’ve known (and been) too many adult children who lash out at phantom parents they never even had in an effort to separate themselves emotionally from the ones they do have while maintaining their own innocence. I don’t know what goes on in anybody’s heart, however, so your guess is as good as mine. None of that makes a hill of beans of a difference to the point of my post. :-)

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