Stereotypes

 Embrace the embarrassing.

Last week, an article by a doctor who homeschools her children began making the rounds through homeschooling social media circles. I enjoyed the article, for the most part, and agreed completely with the points the mom made about homeschooling. Homeschooling is awesome for all the reasons she listed, and more! Welcome to the club. The more the merrier!

However, I couldn’t help but notice (kinda like I can’t help but notice a jabbing finger suddenly imposing itself upon my unsuspecting eyeball) that the first point the homeschooling mommy doctor made, before even getting to her main point, was “Oh, don’t worry. We’re not like those homeschoolers.”

These were not the stay-at-home-moms in long skirts that I expected.   The face of homeschooling is changing.  We are not all religious extremists or farmers, and our kids are not all overachieving academic nerds without social skills.

Word to the wise: If you’re going to join a movement, throwing elbows at the people who are already in it is probably not the most constructive way to make your presence known.

Me? I’m not one of those other, other homeschoolers. You know, the ones with medical or law degrees and secular reasons for homeschooling. Of course, I will never feel the need to distance myself from those kinds of homeschoolers, now will I? In fact, that was why the article gained so much traction.  Here’s a normal, even desirable, kind of homeschooler! Not like the less respectable, skirt-wearing, chicken-raising types.

When I read the article, I posted this on my Facebook page.

Capture

Chances are, even if you’re not much like me, there is some box into which others might more or less accurately put you. If so, then you know that stereotypes really do apply to at least some of people to whom they are ascribed. If you don’t exactly fit the stereotype by which others identify you, then I’ll bet you have a cousin who does! These things aren’t made up out of whole cloth, after all. For many, “homeschooler” just happens to mean all those things in the above quote. That is because the stereotype is accurate often enough to be meaningful.

It’s not the stereotyping that bothers me, even when it doesn’t fit me personally. I don’t wear skirts every day or run a farm, but if that’s how you want to think of me, then I gladly invite you to do so, because there is nothing wrong with those things! It’s the distancing from the stereotypes (by people who ought to have each others’ backs) that drives me nuts.

We’re not like those people.

I happen to have a son who fits the stereotype of the awkward, nerdy homeschooler. He’s introverted, and easily over-stimulated by the kinds of entertainments our culture foists on children as educational and fun. He would often rather curl up with some books or Legos than attend a party. It would be really easy for someone to point to him and say “See? That’s a typical homeschooler.”

I have other children, though, who are not like that at all, but who thrive in social situations and love noise and excitement. Would it be proper for me to push them into the spotlight and say “No, look! They’re not all like that! These are perfectly normal!”

Maybe I would succeed in pushing the negative stereotype to the background for a bit, but what would I be saying about my child who does fit that label? I’d be saying that there’s something wrong with him. I’d be distancing him from his siblings in order to make the rest of them, every bit as much homeschooled as he, more acceptable.

I’ve witnessed the same kind of behavior from people who are my friends, and who truly don’t mean anything by it. I suspect the writer of this “doctors and lawyers” article didn’t mean anything much by it, either. She was just trying to break down walls between homeschoolers and non-homeschoolers, but this way of doing it is counter-productive. Instead of breaking down the wall, she just moved it to a more convenient (for her) location.

“Not all homeschoolers have a dozen kids. See? I only have two!” ‘

Congratulations. You just made yourself look surface-normal to people who probably don’t even care one way or the other. But the stereotype stands untouched, and what did you just do to your homeschooling friend who does have ten kids? You pushed her out of the “normal” range in order to normalize your own reputation. Now she’s wearing a scarlet H for being one of those homeschoolers, while you’re just a regular person who happens to homeschool. You just made things worse, not better.

chasm

Some stereotypes really are damaging. For instance, hillbillies do not really sleep with their siblings in any greater numbers than other populations do. It is not part of our culture, but that reputation has been pinned on us anyway. Incest is as deviant a behavior amongst us as it is in any other people group. Mountain folks should give that myth all the respect it deserves.

However, having dirt floors and going without shoes and higher education has been, until recently, a more accurate charge, and one that I’ve seen mountain people fight just as vigorously. So what? You have a bathroom, you say, so you don’t appreciate being lumped in with the outhouse users? Was your grandmother who had an outhouse a lesser human being because she had to wipe with corn cobs? The problem isn’t with the label “hillbilly”, but with your concession that there is something wrong with hillbillies who fit that part of the stereotype.

Find the right wire to cut.

One of the many things I’m not (besides a doctor or lawyer or farmer or skirt-wearer) is member of a bomb-squad. I don’t know how bombs are defused in real life, or even if they can be. In the movies, though, bombs are defused by severing the correct wires. There’s always a dummy in the movie bombs, and if you cut the dummy wire, the bomb continues to tick. Or worse, it goes off prematurely. Stop cutting the dummy wire!

Suppose someone says, “Homeschoolers wear denim jumpers.”

The correct answer is not, “I don’t wear denim jumpers.” 

The correct answer is, “What of it?”

Homeschoolers all have a dozen kids.”  That’s a dummy wire. Don’t touch it!

Homeschoolers lock their kids in the basement and beat them with sticks.” Jump on it, baby! That’s the wire that needs cutting!

Homeschoolers, we must hang together, or we will all hang separately.

If you distance yourself from the homeschooler who does so for religious reasons, you delegitimize religious reasons for homeschooling in the minds of non-homeschoolers. If you distance yourself from the socially inept homeschooler, you delegitimize homeschooling for that kind of person. Maybe your convictions and quirks will be next on the chopping block of public opinion.

Imagine me saying “Don’t worry. I’m not a busy doctor, so I have plenty of  time to devote to my family’s lessons. Not like that homeschooler.” You’d call me a traitor to our group (homeschoolers), and rightly so, because the freedom for each family to do it in their own way is kinda the whole point of homeschooling.

This sort of eat-them-first distancing has real consequences in a world where governments are constantly trying to regulate families’ educational choices on any thin pretext they can find. All they need is a little disarray to fracture the movement, and you’re giving them one. You’re not defusing the bomb. You’re blowing it up.

Maybe it’s just my contrarian streak showing, but I handle this sort of abuse by leaning into it, not by running from it. I don’t wear skirts every day (though I do wear them more than I used to). If I’m meeting with someone who thinks of homeschoolers as skirt-wearers, though, I’m actually more likely to put on a skirt that day—a nice, long, denim one–not because I want to draw lines between myself and that person, but because they need to understand that there’s nothing wrong with denim skirts. By putting on that skirt, I am refusing to distance myself from that sister who does wear them every day, and for her own reasons that I’m nobody to judge. This is solidarity.

Who I am doesn’t change because I put on that skirt, but it may just convince the person I’m speaking to that “those homeschoolers” are as normal as I am. (This assumes, of course, that I am otherwise inoffensive in my dealings with that person.)

When someone calls me a “Christian” with a sneer, when they really mean all the libelous things the world says about Christians, I wear that label gladly out of love for the body of Christ. When someone searches the web for “hillbilly”, I make sure Google associates my blog with that term by referring to myself that way every chance I get. Why do I purposely draw that kind of fire? Well, mostly because it’s funny. But I also do it because you can’t build bridges by pretending that the chasm doesn’t exist. I really am these things, whether others have a correct idea of what they mean or not.

Any community that has its own subset of weirdos—whether it be Christians, homeschoolers, libertarians, or just plain hillbillies—ought to protect those weirdos zealously, even to the point of identifying with them in ways that they otherwise wouldn’t, lest they be next against the wall for failing to conform to norms in some other, less obvious way.

I’m very easy to stereotype. Running from the inevitable labels won’t make them go away, but entrench them in the minds of others as necessarily bad things. Yes, I am a Christian. Get to know me, and if we hit it off  perhaps I can serve as a shield for those Christians (my brothers) you find less desirable. Yes, I am a hillbilly. Get to know me, and perhaps because I talk with an accent and eat a lot of beans and taters, but you find you can relate to me anyway, you’ll no longer think such extremely unflattering things of other hillbillies, but take them all as individuals.

So, yes, homeschoolers are doctors and lawyers. What of it?

Image courtesy of jesihart on flickr

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Rebecca
    Twitter: momsmustardseed
    April 5, 2013, 6:25 am

    Oh, my. I have my coffee in hand and dare not write an essay in return to your marvelous words. Exactly. WHAT OF IT. We all have something and we are all different. I was thinking about that the other day how different my children are – even though they are with me non.stop. Amazing. Kind of goes against some of the psychobabble, but ….that’s another essay in and of it’s self. But, here’s the thing – I wear clothing appropriate to the situation. I have sisters who wear only skirts. I have sisters who cover their heads and I have friends who only wear pants. Me, I try to dress in a way that will make them comfortable and in which I am not denying who I am. Why? well, when I was growing up – it was a way to show respect to others. To love them by NOT forcing a grain against them. Not necessarily ‘fitting’ in, but loving others more than myself. And this whole idea – of separation… because we are different seems to get lost in the Christian world walking around saying “Believe in Jesus, He loves you”. Yes, he does , but ya know what – he was cast out by his own family. We put those down we don’t understand and we stay away from others we fear will ‘taint’ our own reputation. It’s time to break down those walls and stop building them. You bless me and I love waking up with a cup of coffee and finding that you’ve written another chapter for a book. Now, I’m going to put on some blue jeans and muck some stalls. Not because it’s the cool thing to do, but because it’s the thing I’m going to do today…

    • Cindy April 5, 2013, 6:30 am

      Mucking stalls sounds cool to me. I could use the hard work after all these cold “spring” (lies!) days stuck indoors.

      I totally agree about wearing appropriate styles. I haven’t ever worn a head covering because we don’t live in an area with many ladies who do, but if I were meeting with a group of Mennonites, I’d probably grab a doily on the way out the door, just to be on the polite side. ;-)

  • Tina Jobe April 5, 2013, 6:52 am

    Excellent, Cindy. We (people in general) have a tendency to put people in boxes and not look beyond our preconceived ideas of what that box contains. I’ve been “boxed” and it hurts. May the Lord always help me to look beyond any stereotype to see the complex, beautiful creation each individual truly is. We mut love one another. A-men!

  • Heather N. April 5, 2013, 6:57 am

    One of the most frustrating things I see in and out of the body is when people feel the need to put others down to make themselves feel “better” (whatever that means for them). I wonder if they could see the hurt they caused, if it would make a difference or not. Thanks for being one is the ones willing to put on a skirt when necessary to stand with our sisters!

  • Laurel @Let's Go on a Picnic!
    Twitter: headant
    April 5, 2013, 8:23 am

    I agree that we must all stick together. I’ve seen homeschooling groups that accept all types of curriculums, religious beliefs, etc. It’s only human nature to feel different in these situations. But we musn’t tear each other down, but build each other up instead.

    One stereotype that I hate is “trailer trash.” My mother grew up in a trailer and is one of the finest people I know.

    • Cindy April 5, 2013, 2:40 pm

      Trash is a bad word. I grew up in several trailers, too. (All at different times, of course.)

      • Tamara April 6, 2013, 11:18 am

        I appreciate all you said in your post above, but did you just put down other trailer dwellers who lived in several trailers all at the same time? Just struck me as an interesting comment after the above article.

  • Shan
    Twitter: shanMKwalker
    April 5, 2013, 8:38 am

    Excellent post. When I read that “dr” post the other day, I was very disappointed too. I wanted to have something positive to share with others but this certainly wasn’t it because of those subtle (or not so) undertones where she was trying to distance herself from ‘us.’

    As I continue on this hsing journey and (hopefully) become more spirtitually mature, I am finding that instead of getting offended at people who sterotype us …I realize they will never REALLY understand ‘what it is’ and ‘why it is’ that we do what we do unless they begin to homeschool themselves, ya know? I try very hard to show them grace and love and sometimes get the opportunity to ‘educate’ them on how we really are! haha

    I enjoyed your honesty and felt as if I wrote this post myself. Let’s continue to stand together Moms! ;)
    Blessings,
    Shan
    The How to Guru

  • Tonia L. Clark April 5, 2013, 8:39 am

    Most of my friends that homeschool around here (Boise,Id), do so because the schools are worthless and/or they’ve had problems with bullies. I have the utmost respect for parents eho homeschool mainly because I would never have the patience with my children to do it. It never even crossed my mind that there was a stereotype that most homeschoolers met. I don’t think it’a anybody’s business how you dress or how many kids you have frankly. Put the judgement box away folks. Most of us won’t fit in it anyways.

  • Shan
    Twitter: shanMKwalker
    April 5, 2013, 8:40 am

    By the way, I forgot to mention that I found you this morning via Growing Home’s FB mention of you!
    Blessings again,
    Shan
    The How to Guru

  • Elizabeth@Warrior Wives April 5, 2013, 8:41 am

    I was homeschooled for most of my academic life along with my 5 siblings and I’m now homeschooling my own 3 children so I’ll just give that background before I make the rest of my comment.

    My parents began homeschooling when it was barely legal in my state. At that time (23 years ago), a large portion of the people who homeschooled were the ones wearing denim jumpers with lots of children who went on anti-government tirades whenever given the slightest opportunity. I do agree with you with the “what of it”, however, the rest of the non-homeschooling population created a stereotype from those very vocal and very visible homeschoolers and declared that homeschoolers were just dowdy, unconventional, ultra-conservative weirdos. I’ve said the “I don’t wear denim jumpers” thing but not so much to disparage anyone who does, but just to draw attention to the other person’s stereotypes. It’s ridiculous that society believes that homeschoolers are all a certain way and I think by pointing out that we don’t all have a million kids (which many people think is just insane), we point out their narrow-mindedness in thinking that homeschooling looks one particular way.

    And lest we think that homeschoolers are immune from casting judgment outside of the homeschool world…Homeschoolers also often declare that public schooled kids are worldly, promiscuous, ungodly, immodest, druggies with uninvolved parents who don’t care about their kids education; I think it would be fair for them to point out to us that “My kid isn’t promiscuous and doesn’t wear clothes from Victoria’s Secret’s Pink line” and that our stereotypes are equally off.

    • Cindy April 5, 2013, 9:02 am

      So, in other words, some homeschoolers really ought to be shunned over surface differences because you associate those differences with other bad behaviors. But those bad behaviors aren’t all common to the other people who share those surface differences.

      I wonder: if those folks hadn’t had the courage of their more noxious (to some) convictions, would they have had the courage to fight for their rights?

      You’re cutting the wrong wires.

      • Heidi April 5, 2013, 12:35 pm

        Amen Cindy.

        Elizabeth, I am probably your parents age, as I also began homeschooling 23 yrs ago as one of those denim-jumper-wearers :) You must remember, we were pioneering in a much more hostile society. Perhaps we were sometimes too reactionary, I will admit, but we were reacting to a very negative system. We may have been so “anti-government” because the government really was “anti-homeschoolers”. Sin should not be justified, though, and hopefully the Lord has grown us along this journey. The modern homeschool movement has some elements that are scaring us old-timers. I pray that this next generation does not give up moral ground that the first generation fought so hard to attain. Watch the video “Homeschool Dropouts” to see what I’m talking about, http://westernconservatory.com/products/homeschool-dropouts.
        Blessings.

        • Elizabeth@Warrior Wives April 5, 2013, 2:25 pm

          Oh, I know the environment was very different then, but I just think the problem is that society in general has not adjusted their perception of homeschoolers being unusual (which it was at the time). Homeschooling is now so mainstream and much more “normal” than it was 23 years ago but somehow people still think every single homeschooler is “weird” and just like Michelle Duggar. Their picture of what a homeschooler is needs to broaden, that’s all I’m saying and how else do you point that out unless you say that you are different than their silly stereotype?

        • Cindy April 5, 2013, 2:48 pm

          Rescued your link from my spam cue. Thanks for the tip. I guess I can just stop writing that blog post now, because I was about to go where this movie already has. :-) I might write it anyway.

      • Elizabeth@Warrior Wives April 5, 2013, 2:21 pm

        I don’t think any homeschoolers ought to be shunned for differences…I didn’t say that at all. I have homeschooling friends with lots of kids and homeschooling friends with few kids. My point is that not everyone is saying “Well, I don’t wear denim jumpers” because we want to be disassociated from people who are different; some of us are saying it because the stereotype is obnoxiously narrow-minded and needs to be pointed out as such. It is ridiculous to say that all homeschoolers are a certain way. Homeschoolers come in so many different packages and people need to broaden their perspective.

        Not knowing that I was homeschooled, people will sometimes criticize homeschoolers to me in conversations…”Homeschoolers are illiterate…they all have a million kids…they all wear denim jumpers…they’re socially awkward”. And then I jump in and say, “No, that’s not true. I only have three kids, I’m not socially awkward, I wear pants…we’re not all the same.”

        • Jo April 6, 2013, 11:51 am

          I appreciate your perceptiveness, Elizabeth. I think the article in question goes a long way to making this exact point – stereotypes are silly and we should point that out. Home-schooling families come in the same variety of shapes and sizes as families who make other schooling choices!

        • sara mcd April 6, 2013, 6:38 pm

          I don’t wear denim jumpers…not that there’s anything wrong with that.

  • Brittany April 5, 2013, 9:12 am

    Thank you for your words of truth.

  • Mary Jo April 5, 2013, 9:49 am

    Brilliant, as always! I read that article too and was disappointed for the same reason. I was homeschooled for 6 years and I have never minded the stereotypes. In fact, when some people go on tirades against homeschooling, I love to remind or inform them that I was homeschooled. It makes me chuckle to wonder afterwards if they walked away thinking, “Wow. I guess homeschooling isn’t so bad?” Or if they’re thinking, “Yep. That explains a few things!” Either way, I love being associated with the rest of you unsocialized, denim-wearing, chicken-raising, soap-making weirdos. =)

    • Cindy April 5, 2013, 10:10 am

      LOL. Reminds me of the time my social worker friend (we go waaaaay back and I love her and she loves me) sat down right under my big wall graphic that says “As for me and my house…” and ranted and raved (while simply raving about my precious kids) about the Duggars homeschooling all those kids that way. I know she saw the irony. She’s a smart chick. It was so, so funny, though.

  • jenna baggs April 5, 2013, 10:12 am

    great piece! before i make a comment, let me say…i was homeschooled (during the denim jumper days of 30+ years ago) and now homeschool our 3 (from freshman to 1 grade). i was along for the ride as the laws in this nation were made, adapted, and the movement was grown (yes, my parents were on the first board of HSLDA)! i am proud to have been from that time of great fire for educational options for parents! it also makes me worried about today!

    as for this discussion…these comparisons and measurements are painful! especially when they come from those within in our “group” of homeschoolers. as a parent to 3 children, i often have heard comments about the “lack of arrows” we have :( please be careful! we also have 3 children sitting at the Lord’s feet in heaven, and would love to be blessed with more in this world!! we are not less valid as educators or leaders based on our clothing options, family size, or career paths. the larger need here is for a revival of fervor for our rights in this nation and be pulling together to lift up and encourage each other! each of us is called by God, to direct the education and upbringing of our children! how we do this is different in EVERY family!

    p.s. i wear skirts (most of the summer long!) sometimes, we have chickens, my kids play sports, they have friends, and we insist on hard work (both in school and chores/jobs) ;)

    • Cindy April 5, 2013, 10:34 am

      I hope you never think there’s anybody counting children on this blog. I try to be careful about that. I have great reasons for not interfering with God’s hand in procreation, but I don’t assume that everyone with a small family is wrong in some way. It’s not about the number. It’s about the Creator, and that means a lot of different family sizes. <3

  • Jackie April 5, 2013, 10:50 am

    We will be starting homeschooling next year. I saw, read, and liked the first article you are referring to. I think the reason I liked it is because it adresses some of my own insecurities about homeschooling. But I very much like and appreciate articles that one and this one because they explore thoughts and open ideas that have not yet occured to me! Keep it coming….! :)

  • Blessedma26 April 5, 2013, 11:00 am

    We humans seem to have a love/hate relationship with labels. By seeing a label on someone else, it helps us to have expectations. By putting a label on ourselves, it gives am excuses – albeit, sometime legitimate. But we can’t fit anyone into the comprehensive definition for anything, because we are all unique. For example, a friend whose son has a diagnosed behavioral disorder points to that for everything he does, even if it is the same behavior I see in my “normal” son his same age. We long to just fit in, be the same, but we are preached and preach tolerance. The heart of this is the basic struggle to enjoy the diversity in Gods creation with out expecting everyone else to be just like me. So we’ll try to justify ourselves by putting others down.
    I can’t seem to escape this struggle myself. Good to hear that d’em edumucated docs do too…. It’s not just me.

  • Karen April 5, 2013, 11:06 am

    I homeschooled my boys for 10+ years and the heart of the issue that I see on ALL sides boils down to pride. I have watched proud haughty hearts do more damage than I care to share. If we are truly approaching one another with humility most of these comparisons, conflicts and stereotypes would go away. I had staunch homeschool moms tell me, THEIR way was the right one and they looked down their noses at anyone who didn’t farm the back 40, weave their own cloth and consume only the finest organic produce. The attitudes in some groups I joined brought out such a spirit of rebellion within me, I wanted to wear a mini skirt to each co-op meeting while munching on a Big Mac. On the other side I have witnessed public school moms bristle at the homeschooling family and have a good laugh at their expense. Neither of these are healthy and instead of tearing each other down, the goal should be to produce productive, healthy followers of Christ who have His same servant heart. I fear the attitudes shown to our kids have given them more of an education on how we treat one another than any of us intended. Hopefully, we can all get over ourselves and focus on the mission God has called each of us to accomplish.

  • Andrew April 5, 2013, 11:24 am

    Just one point of agreement that I find is so overlooked: everyone claims that home schooling produces socially inept people but somehow completely excuse the public school System for producing the same. For example, I went through public school and I was a compete nerd. Don’t these people remember the chess club? The hallway monitors? The people who spent their lunch freedom in the library dungeon playing Magic?

    • Cindy April 5, 2013, 11:35 am

      I’m pretty unsocialized, too, despite my 13 years of public ed. ;-)

    • Tiffany
      Twitter: LenaStarlight7
      April 12, 2013, 7:11 pm

      I was one of those “unsocializing nerds” in public school with my nose always in a good book. I had a lot of problems in school socially and always wanted to be home-schooled, I learned better at home and even loved doing homework. I taught myself things even outside of school. But my parents were unable to home school me. Instead I got put in foster care for my problems, going from one home to the next. They saw my being an introvert as abnormal and always tried to “get me out my shell.” Make me keep my bedroom door open, get me involved in different things (instead of expounding on the talents I already had like my biological parents always did), one foster parent tried to take my “binder” away, I carried it everywhere always working on my stories and artwork every chance I got. Honestly their attempts made me want to clam up more. I was very creative once and ended up somehow losing my creative drive over the course of time. My academics also diminished over time, I started getting lower grades and stopped caring as much.

      So to go with your statement, I was one of those people never made an introvert through homeschooling either, I already was an introvert and there shouldn’t have been anything wrong with it. Which shows how damaging stigmas can be. I still believe I personally would have thrived much better in a homeschooling environment too. Not that public schooling is bad for everyone, but every child learns differently and has different needs and there’s many reasons for it. They don’t need to be changed, what needs to change is how their differences are viewed. Every single person is unique and this should be accepted and options should always be left open for each individual need without having to label people as if it’s wrong to be that way.

  • Molly April 5, 2013, 11:36 am

    Thank you Cindy! I just recently found your blog and your writings RESONATE with my soul. I so look forward to reading more of your posts!

  • The Husband April 5, 2013, 11:53 am

    This is, of all the posts you’ve written, my absolute favorite.

  • Alyssa April 5, 2013, 12:02 pm

    Thank you for this post. As a past public high school science teacher, I plan to home school my kiddos (I have an 8 month old now.) Since I’m a complete home school newbie, it’s easy to read articles like the one you’re referencing without seeing any flaws. And I don’t want to repeat flaws. So thanks for pointing them out. :)

    • Cindy April 5, 2013, 2:43 pm

      I’m sure somebody will be along shortly to point out mine, too, if you stick around. ;-)

  • Sonita
    Twitter: therubynotebook
    April 5, 2013, 12:19 pm

    Ya know, I found a denim jumper at a thrift store after we started homeschooling. I HAD to buy it! And I giggle a little every time I put it on. :)

    I readily identify with the parts of the stereotype that fit me. I have a agnostic friend who refers to me as an Über-Christian. Guilty. Creation science teachings. Guilty. Skirt wearer. Guilty. Conservative. Guilty. Garden and raise chickens. Guilty. Redneck/hillbilly/country folk/backwoods, etc. Guilty.

    Thing is, I would still be all those things even if sent my kids back to public school tomorrow.

    • Cindy April 5, 2013, 2:43 pm

      My goodness, I miss you, Sonita. Where have you BEEN?

  • Sherry April 5, 2013, 1:09 pm

    Thanks so much for this post–you are a wonderful writer!

    What you wrote about is one of the essences of homeschooling–getting away from a peer-dependent, homogenistic way of viewing everyone and everything in our culture. It is shameful that anyone can sit and declare they are not like others they consider “weird” based on nothing else than a skewed culture’s current idea of what is “normal.”

    Incidentally, it has always been the “nerds” that have ended up inventing and leading in the most profound ways. Think Lincoln with a book, or Edison in his basement with a chemistry set. Being too close to current thoughts and practices is setting oneself up for irrelevance in the larger scheme of history.

    Homeschoolers shouldn’t have to wear skirts or raise chickens, but they should have the freedom to choose to do these things without feeling as though they are being sanctioned by those who are more “with it.”

    • Tiffany
      Twitter: LenaStarlight7
      April 12, 2013, 7:41 pm

      I completely and wholeheartedly agree with you Sherry. I was very introverted and creative as a child, and when put in foster care they tried to “get me out of my shell” which really only did more damage to me and my creativity. There’s nothing wrong with “introverts” and there’s nothing wrong with “extroverts,” we shouldn’t be pressured to fit one mold or the other.

      You’re right that many of the most well-known people who have contributed the most to our country, or even to the world as a whole, rarely ever fit in with the “norm.” The list of examples is too long, including most writers and artists.

      Like I said in a previous post, it’s not people’s differences that need to change, it’s how those differences are viewed that needs to change.

  • Amanda B.
    Twitter: submitandcommit
    April 5, 2013, 1:36 pm

    I am one of the stereotypical Christian, skirt-wearing, farm-loving homeschooler with an academically gifted (and somewhat reserved) child- and I would have 20 children if I could, but the Lord only saw fit to give me three so far :) Thank you so very much for saying (well…typing and sharing) these words. I can’t tell you how often I feel the questionable stares when meeting someone new. It’s almost as if they suspect that whatever weirdness I have caught, they will catch if they are near me!! Once they get to know me, though, I usually get the “I wasn’t sure about you when I met you because of the skirt, but you are a really great person!” speech. Ha Ha!! What in the world does a skirt mean anyway?! I would simply LOVE it if even ONE lady in my circles would wear a long, homely, denim skirt just for the sake of loving their neighbor <3 I appreciate you standing with me, sister!!

    • Tiffany
      Twitter: LenaStarlight7
      April 12, 2013, 8:30 pm

      Funny you bring the point of “skirt-wearing” up. When I was in middle school all I would wear were skirts and dresses. And of course I got a lot of bullying and snide remarks because of it. I didn’t even consider myself a Christian at the time, though many were quick to assume that I was because of it and thought I was part of some local “religious cult.” But I knew nothing about that at the time, I wore skirts and dresses simply because I liked them better, I liked to dress more modestly and they fit my personality. I didn’t like those “tight jeans” that were in style and other kids would try to pressure me to wear them, but I wouldn’t. Not that I had anything against those who did.
      It’s strange that when I got in high school and moved to another town, and was put in foster care, I did finally give in to peer pressure and not wanting to go through the bullying again I stopped wearing skirts and dresses. Yet somehow the gossip still crossed towns and some people still knew me as the girl that always had her nose in a book and used to wear skirts and dresses all the time. I never understood why such a big deal was made out of it, and how it became a topic for jokes.
      But just to note, I’m 23 now and I did end up officially inviting Jesus into my heart just 2 and half years ago, and I’ve seen a lot of labels and stigmas associated with Christians. Even among Christians between denominations. It’s saddening… I mean, I myself get a lot of criticism for not eating pork. But I also would be one of those people who would be more than happy to wear a skirt with a skirts-only group, not only because I would prefer to anyway, but also because of Pauls words in 1 Corinthians 8:13. We should try to love our neighbors more, and respect their differences, instead of always trying to make labels and criticize.

  • Brenda Foster April 5, 2013, 6:21 pm

    Awesome article! Very well done, with a point for unity. Thanks for sharing.

  • Denelle April 5, 2013, 9:33 pm

    What a fantastic response to the article in question — and the bomb analogy was just, well, the bomb, actually! You nailed it. And I intend to “embrace the stereotype” (Christianoid Creationist Libertarian? I had no idea, but hey, if the denim skirt fits…) when I need to.

    And I may prefer jeans 90% of the time, too, but if I’m invited to visit the home of a skirts-only hs friend, it’s long skirts for me and my daughter as a matter of respect for our host — who looked past my jeans in the first place to reach out to a new friend.

    Thanks for the encouraging article!

  • Diana April 5, 2013, 10:28 pm

    Preach it, sista! (And send the link to the author of that article!!!!)
    Diana

  • prsmama April 5, 2013, 10:57 pm

    I do understand and agree with what you’re saying. I just didn’t see it. I read that article last week, posted it to my homeschooling group with glee, actually, and just really enjoyed it.
    {shrug}.

  • Stacy @Stacy Makes Cents
    Twitter: stacymakescents
    April 6, 2013, 8:33 am

    You make me smile. :-) :-) Also, I don’t homeschool YET but I’ve been wearing denim skirts since I was a teen – and I went to public school. LOL I am also a hillbilly – that’s why we’re friends. ;-)

    • Cindy April 6, 2013, 9:48 pm

      Yes, I think that must have something to do with it.

  • Liz April 6, 2013, 10:27 am

    Thank you for this post! Wait now, there’s a stereotype for the doctor/lawyer homeschooler?!? I didn’t even know – now I have a new stereotype to fill! I’m a (non-practicing) lawyer and my hubby’s a doctor, AND we’re the weirdo Christian, long-skirt-wearing, country-dwelling, whole-gaggle-of-kids-in-a-van family. I read a few months ago that we’re also part of a scary “dominionist” movement, striking terror into the hearts of decent, non-Christian, non-homeschooling, double-incomed, small families everywhere. I must have missed the orientation meeting. My goodness, I have so many shoes to fill! Maybe someone could invent a chart to keep track of all the “weirdness” I should be living out on a daily basis? Like a modified chore chart? ;-D

    I find the stereotypes of the homeschooling family so funny, and exactly, what of it? People can “accuse” us of “all” being comically large families, girls all wearing long denim skirts, living out in the boonies… so what? And slightly off-point, but it’s not as if the “normal” ones can’t be pigeon-holed as well…kids going to the same public school, wearing the same moppy haircuts, walking about with their heads hung down and surly looks on their faces… but I digress. Either way, what of it? Each one of us stands or falls before the Lord, and He alone has the authority to judge how and for what purpose we have lived our lives.

  • Jo April 6, 2013, 11:46 am

    I think you might be reading into it a little defensively … I think she meant to broaden people’s perception of “normal,” not draw lines between normal and strange. We’re so quick to put people in boxes and categories. I appreciated what seemed to me as an attempt to erase some of the lines, and say hey – homeschooling can work for lots of people, and even the ones that seem “out there” might be more “normal” than you think!
    As a 2nd generation home-schooler, I really REALLY appreciated her article, and found it a great way to open people’s eyes to why we do what we do. I think so many people have the perception that home-schoolers do this because we’re terrified of “the world” but there are so many positive, rather than critical or negative, reasons to educate your family at home! This author did a LOT to explain those lines of thinking.

    • Tiffany
      Twitter: LenaStarlight7
      April 12, 2013, 9:02 pm

      I do understand your point. It’s a bit unclear of her intents in saying “We are not all religious extremists or farmers, and our kids are not all overachieving academic nerds without social skills.” But she did express a fear of being grouped in and stereo-typed with those individuals and didn’t make a clear point on whether being one of those individuals was bad or not, cause the article focused on reasons for the “other half” of homeschoolers. It doesn’t outright bash “the other homeschoolers,” but it doesn’t exactly make a point to defend them either. She seemed to be comforted by the fact there were others “like her” in the group, without really saying anything about the ones that weren’t.

      So it’s a bit uncertain but I still feel the point of stereo-types needed to be addressed, as it really wasn’t in the other article. I still enjoyed the reasons for homeschooling in the other article very much, but this article picks up and expresses the point of stereotypes very clearly, which shouldn’t be overlooked.

  • Denise April 6, 2013, 12:39 pm

    I just read this article and I am saddened by the way our world stereotypes people. The really sad part is that our world has always been this way and will always be this way until our Lord returns. I know people who have their children in public and private schools as well as homeschoolers. It doesn’t matter where the children go to school or who the parents are each one is stereotyped or grouped. God has blessed my husband and I with one son. I thank God everyday for him. I first dealt with comments of why only one. Everyone thought he would be lonely. I can positively say the opposite is true. When we decided to homeschool I dealt with my son being an only child and then on top of it we homeschool. You would think (according to some) that I was the worst parent in the world. Whenever someone doesn’t fit into another persons idea of what they think is normal Each person’s idea of “normal or right” is different in varying degrees as each person sees the world a certain way through their eyes and mind.

    • Tiffany
      Twitter: LenaStarlight7
      April 12, 2013, 9:09 pm

      Amen! =)

  • Denise April 6, 2013, 12:43 pm

    Oops! So, so sorry, my cat decided to get my attention and lay on my computer board and my comment submitted before I was done. So, sorry!
    Anyway, Whenever someone doesn’t fit into another persons idea of what they perceive as “normal or right” they stereotype or group that person. It’s sad. But as long as people know is it wrong and work hard at not allowing themselves to do this to others, we have some chance of righting the wrong.

  • Heather Anderson April 6, 2013, 1:25 pm

    Oh, this was beautiful! In fact, I might even say glorious. It was, for the most part, those “skirt wearing, religious types” that paid the price for our home schooling rights. They are the ones that had to hide out, face child services, and even jail at times. I know that a couple of my children have been tempted to deny the stereotype, but it is in embracing them and others not like ourselves that we find freedom. Thank you for sharing!

  • Amber Dover April 6, 2013, 10:53 pm

    I was watching a Disney show that I normally enjoy, when they had a character play a homeschooled only child that was overly desperate to find friends(in a stupid way). It ticked me off honestly, because my son is a homeschooled only child. I shouldn’t let silly stereo types get to me but I did. He’s a homeschooled only child and that has never held him back from making friends. Introverts and extroverts are found in every setting. It’s just how people are made. I’ve met homeschoolers of every walk of life and it’s beautiful. So I say with you “what of it”.
    God bless, from your half redneck, sometimes skirt wearing, Sister in Christ ;)

  • Sarah April 8, 2013, 8:54 am

    Second generation here. I’ve had people make the remark that I’m not “that kind of homeschooled” to me before, and I’ve been quick to point out that we didn’t have the luxury of “kinds” when I was growing up. We were all in this together!

    But it wasn’t all good. A lot of the trappings (denim skirts, etc.) meant something different to the parents than they ended up meaning for the next generation, and I try to keep both experiences in mind.

    There were also some scary families, the kinds of families that make people want to outlaw homeschooling altogether. I remember polygamists, white supremacists, conspiracy theorists with hoarded arsenals, and patriarchal families whose tyrannical patriarchs were clearly off their meds. Sometimes not all that much schooling was actually going on. I have sometimes felt “guilty by association,” and I’ve felt envious of the perfect, cookie cutter public school grad, whose beliefs seem (to me) to be somehow “vouched for,” whereas I think that my background, and my exposure to such profoundly different ways of seeing the world (both bad and good), can make me seem like a black box to people.

    But that same “certified normal” aspect of a public school degree, is, I think, part of what some of these fringe groups are reacting to. I don’t think that “school” would have made anything better in these families: I think a lot of these beliefs and lifestyles are actually LESS scary and dangerous when they aren’t being maintained in defiance of what’s being taught at school every day. So many of the angry men running these families already feel like persecuted outcasts.

    So there’s a kind of irony when people who want to set aside exclusive privileges for being “majority race” or “Christian” come into conflict with people want to protect the exclusive privileges of being “normal” or “public educated” or “majority opinion.” Maybe letting go of the privileges of being normal is the first step in trying to heal some of these divides in our society!

  • Shania April 8, 2013, 10:02 am

    hey great article I’m 14 and HomeSchooled I’m from A city but moved To IN. I know a lot of people who are not home schooled and some who are. What I don’t get is why people think that sitting in School for like six hours is productive or why just because i’m HomeSchooled I can’t wear the latest trends, love nail polish, or play like 15 sports. I am probably a lot more social than most public school kids but then again whats wrong with being shy or keeping to yourself as long as your confident in your abilities and love yourself who cares? Look I’ve been HomeSchooled all my life and no stereo type fits, I absolutely love this article. And hey look around you a lot of “celebrities” say that they were bullied in school. Yet thats the same place a lot of people encourage me to go to? To whine and complain until I’m put into Public School? No thank you.

  • Shania April 8, 2013, 10:05 am

    Oh and BTW denim jumpers are VERY in right now :)

  • Shelly April 8, 2013, 12:33 pm

    I’m so glad I’m not the only one who picked up on that! At first I was a little taken aback because, while I, too, don’t wear long skirts everyday, I AM a Christian and I AM expecting my 11th child. However, after reading the rest of the article (which I did enjoy), I just concluded that she might still be a little insecure in her new role as a homeschooler.

  • Lynne April 9, 2013, 1:02 pm

    Thank you for this article! I’m relieved to know that I’m not the only one who interpreted the “18 Reasons…” article this way. I’m a Christian who wears sweats most of the time, and I have been homeschooling for almost two decades. Oh, I’m a city girl, not a hillbilly, but can I still be in the “in” crowd? ;)

    • Cindy April 9, 2013, 8:59 pm

      Nobody who hangs out with me ever gets to be “in”. I’m so uncool. :-)

  • Amber C April 13, 2013, 12:23 pm

    As a mother who is for the first time considering secular homeschooling for my son who has struggled in the Public School system from day one (he is now 12), I wanted to thank you for writing this article and preventing me from making the assumptions and mistakes about those who choose a Christian home-school setting.

    I truly would not have thought to consider things from the point of view that you have provided, but I am thankful that you shared. It seems so obvious of course, now that you’ve pointed out the broad-side of the barn I would have missed.

    I will still pick and choose from a Secular curriculum, but I will do it with a far less judgmental eye towards others who may not.

  • Linda April 14, 2013, 5:16 pm

    After reading the post and many of the comments, I’m not sure what the point is anymore. Instead of touting our differences (“I’m not a —homeschooler, I don’t do —-”) or putting someone else down why don’t we just admit that we are all different. If we were public schooling our children, we would be different. When we public schooled I didn’t identify with the families who couldn’t afford to feed their kids on the weekend, yet they were public schoolers, too. I’m not like a lot of homeschoolers, but we do share something, we are all choosing to homeschool our kids. I use a secular curriculum (www.Time4Learning.com) but that doesn’t mean I don’t believe, it just means my curriculum is secular.
    When we first considered homeschooling, I was terrified because I didn’t want to be one of “them”, now I revel in the fact that I am one of “them” and am grateful every day that we decided to be homeschoolers. We are all the same, and yet very different, it is amazing how that works…

  • Christi April 24, 2013, 8:56 am

    What a great article! I could say more but I will refrain from doing so in the spirit of unity.

  • Grace May 4, 2013, 1:02 pm

    “…crazy Christianoid Creationist Libertarian…” I think you just described me in a nutshell. ;)

    Loved this article, as it put into the spotlight some of those underlying feelings that I believe many of us homeschoolers had felt when we read that article. On the one hand, it was, “Yay! An article supporting homeschooling and giving excellent reasons to homeschool, while defying the usual myths of ‘socialization’ and ‘extremism’!” But on the other hand it was, “Well, what if I AM a religious nut whose primary (thought not only) reason to homeschool is to give my children a Christian education and not have to correct all the lies they will be told in public school? Does that mean I’m not cool enough to join the modern homeschool crowd? That there’s something wrong with me? I don’t think so. I think it’s an excellent utilization of my freedom of religion. And I’m proud of that fact. I don’t look down on homeschoolers who aren’t religious, or religious people who send their kids to public school. Because what works for my family may not work for theirs, and what works for theirs may not work for mine. So why do we continue to throw stones at each other when we should be supporting each other instead?
    Anyways, in all that was a great article and I appreciate your work in mending the gap. What we need is more people supporting one another in their differing choices, rather than trying to distinguish ourselves from one another and casting judgment simply for making a different choice, or having a different background/religion/culture/clothing style/personality/reason for homeschooling.

  • Karen
    Twitter: Karen_e_eaton
    May 17, 2013, 10:50 am

    Ahh, hypocrisy, we meet again.

    While I will agree with you that stereotypes often do no good within the homeschool movement (or much of anywhere for that matter), I am dismayed by one of your links, which implies that all public school teachers are intolerant of Christians.

    Here’s the quote:

    The reason that extremist leftwing politicians and their propaganda arm, the public schools, view the homeschooling movement as vulnerable to such charges is that parents have the freedom in a homeschool environment to affirm their religious faith, acknowledge Jesus Christ as the Savior, and instill traditional values that stem from our nation’s rich Judeo-Christian heritage.

    Propagandists in the public schools view such things as intolerant of other faiths and other cultures. The teachers unions want any talk of Jesus removed from the classroom except to mention in passing that he was viewed as “a great teacher.”

    “However, the core of the propagandists’ argument is itself heavily steeped in intolerance — the intolerance of Christians, the disdain of the nation’s Judeo-Christian heritage, and the undermining of uniquely American values in lieu of promoting a globalist, multicultural mindset that holds that no one culture is any better than another.” (Earlier, the article refers to the public schools as the “propaganda arm” or something close to that).

    So, I’m confused — stereotypes are ok for you, but not anyone else? Or ok for homeschoolers to do to other people who are not homeschoolers, but not for others to do to homeschoolers?

    Fact: There are Christian public school teachers. There are public school teachers who homeschool their children. But, they must all hate Jesus . . .

    • Cindy May 17, 2013, 11:07 am

      What link is that? And how is telling the truth about, not individual teachers, who are often the salt of the earth, quite literally, but public school AGENDAS and POLICY, stereotyping?

      • Karen
        Twitter: Karen_e_eaton
        May 17, 2013, 10:48 pm

        That would be this one: http://www.examiner.com/article/teachers-unions-plan-to-crush-parent-led-schooling. It’s the second link in your post (sentence with “eat-them-first” in it). The article actually conflates teachers unions with public schools – perhaps the author doesn’t understand the difference. Regardless, he stereotypes all public school teachers and the entire public shook system, which is actually made up of people, as intolerant of Christians. And, by the way you link to it, at least appear to believe the author’s statements, So again, my confusion: it is only ok for YOU to stereotype, but no one else? Or ok for people you agree with to do it, but not people you disagree with to stereotype? Ok for homeschoolers to stereotype anyone who doesn’t, but not vice versa? Or is it only not ok for one homeschooler to not stereotype another homeschooler, yet homeschoolers are free to dream up unfair stereotypes about anyone else, simply because they do not homeschool?

        Honestly, any credibility your post had went right out the window as soon as you expressed your belief in an author that has no problem stereotyping a group (public school teachers) that has millions of members.