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darlingtheo

Homeschool Survivors, Where You At?

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(I assume there are at least a few people here from the Christian homeschooling subculture, no?)

 

I have to admit that the idea of sharing my "testimony" makes me quite uncomfortable, but this is where I'm coming from, if you will:

 

I was homeschooled for eleven years, beginning in the second grade. My parents have no teaching qualifications--the highest level of education my mother received was high school--but that's usually not a problem, as there are no standard homeschooling regulations from state to state; in my home state, anything goes, as long as you turn in your projected curricula each year. My siblings and I were educated from a variety of Christian textbooks, many published by groups with an agenda even more conservative than that of my parents (i.e. the quiverfull movement, &c). I learned that Harry Potter caused witchcraft, that AIDS was god's punishment for disgusting gay sex (...although I never received any sex ed), that creationism was an indisputable fact, that math was unimportant, and that the progressive tax system was immoral. Once we picketed an abortion clinic and called it a field trip. I was fortunate in that, while we used a Christian language arts program, the books I was exposed to (many of them directly for school) were invaluable in planting the seeds of sedition, or whatever. I read Upton Sinclair, Lois Lowry, Victor Hugo, Harper Lee...and filed ideas away for later.

 

Homeschooling also provided an effective way for my parents to "shelter" us from undesirable elements. I remember talking pretty big smack about those faceless people who dared question whether we were being "well-socialized," but it's not like I was exposed to kids outside of church. The few encounters I had outside that setting (i.e. 4-H) hardly count; the differences between us stood like an insurmountable wall preventing any kind of meaningful interaction, let alone friendship. Homeschooling, or the kind of homeschooling we practiced, also left me unprepared to live on my own and tend to my own needs, and I have to think that was somehow a goal in my parents' minds. The desire to leave, even as an adult, to pursue education or a career apart from The Family's home and "protection" is superfluous to the point of rebellion in their minds, and most of my siblings seem to accept this.

 

When I was 18, I entered my first romantic relationship; the guy was a "friend"--sort of--from youth group, and for the next ten months he abused me verbally, emotionally, and occasionally physically. Microaggressions began piling up, and by the time I became aware of what was actually happening, I was suicidal and avoiding him at every possible opportunity. When I ended the relationship, I became the Bad Guy in my church, my family, and their circle of acquaintances. Youth leaders counseled me to forgive and forget and attempted to patch the relationship up; my mother blamed me for destroying her friendship with my ex's mother; I was forced to publish a retraction online, apologizing for defaming his character. 

 

It was around this time that I began to examine my beliefs, or rather, the beliefs into which I had been indoctrinated. My struggle to retain a sense of self in a relationship with a patriarchal abuser led to an interest in feminism and feeble, self-effacing attempts to stand up for myself (and half the world) against complementarian doctrine. At youth conferences, I was exposed for the first time to emergent theology, and to teachers who sent me in that direction, regardless of intent. My first visit to Nicaragua (I have subsequently returned three times so far) filled in a lot of blanks for me and began my ongoing process of educating myself about politics and history, especially with regard to colonialism and other intersecting forms of oppression. That event, that span of a week, and the following weeks and months which I used to mull over many ideas, allowed me to collect my own beliefs together and to reasonably cement them into a multi-faceted worldview that differed considerably from the one I inherited--eventually culminating in a convergence of atheism and leftist politics.

 

I am twenty-four now, and though I've "come out" to my friends, I have yet to do so with my family; for the last several years, I tried to lay low and cause as little disruption as possible (in part for fear of being kicked out). My parents and siblings not only attend church regularly, but are core participants, playing in the worship band and especially volunteering in AWANA. I attended regularly myself until I finally left for college last fall--a decision that was much vilified and resulted in a good deal of manipulative guilt-tripping. (When they pulled the "Where did we go wrong?" card and I thanked them for the ability to think for myself that I picked up while homeschooling, my mother replied through sobs that they'd "never taught me to think for myself," because Proverbs 3:5-6.) They've been very "suspicious" of me for quite a while, always taking care to police the ideas I expressed, the information I took in, and the company I kept, but seem to not be quite sure how far my politics are from theirs. They are unaware that I no longer believe, or that I am queer (on more than one count) and living with my partner. They don't even know I have a partner, because for once I have the ability to control or limit the information they have access to about me. I would like to be honest with them, but right now I'm simply too terrified of losing my family, even though they're not like a family to me, and despite the fact that if they actually knew me, they would despise everything about me.

 

Over the years I have struggled with depression, anxiety, low emotional intelligence, learned helplessness, and interpersonal issues, including the inability to set or maintain boundaries and difficulty communicating. I still face these issues, and it seems as though they are directly related to the religious atmosphere in which I grew up. So this is where I am now: trying to face down my "demons," in order to learn and to heal, and trying to pony up enough to show my family a little backbone instead of instantly assuming the role of doormat whenever I'm around them. 

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Welcome to Ex-C.net. Sounds like the longer you are away from your parents the better off you'll be. Enjoy your life on your own terms.

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Welcome, Darlingtheo!  Don't worry about showing your family backbone, or indeed anything at all, if it exposes you to the threat of emotional harm.  It's okay to put up barriers and withhold information if there's the slightest chance of that information being used to hurt you.

 

At this point, I'd advise that you don't rush into outing yourself to your family -- Doubly so if you're dependent upon them for any material support whatsoever.  Far more important to be honest with yourself than to share that honesty with an unappreciative and possibly hostile audience.

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Welcome to Ex-C, DT! It sounds like you are well on your way to peace and productivity, despite the many challenges in your way. I'd love to hear more of your journey once you feel ready.

 

Peace.

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Thanks for the welcome, guys!

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I'm glad you broke free, there is so much more to learn and see outside of the little bubble your family lives in. May you find peace within yourself, you are worth it :)

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Welcome darlingtheo!

 

Good for you - going to college and learning to live life on your own terms.  Your parents didn't do you any favors by trying to protect you from the only world there is to live in.

 

I think you should stay as far away from your parents as you can while you take the time to get to know who you are.  When you've sufficiently built your self-esteem and confidence, then you can determine how much exposure you want those toxic people to have to your life.

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Welcome, DarlingTheo!

 

Like you, I was also homeschooled, but only through the 8th grade. It sounds like you're also an oldest child (I was too). When you're the firstborn of homeschooling parents, you tend to get hit the hardest by their child-rearing methods. It's no wonder that when I look at the kids with whom I was homeschooled, I can't think of any who kept their faith -- too much damage was done on the homefront.

 

 

 

When they pulled the "Where did we go wrong?" card and I thanked them for the ability to think for myself that I picked up while homeschooling, my mother replied through sobs that they'd "never taught me to think for myself," because Proverbs 3:5-6.

 

My younger sister was telling me about a conversation she had with my parents that was almost identical to this one. Homeschooling parents exert a ton of control over every aspect of their kids' lives due to the fact that they are 100% convinced that doing so will yield the desired results. If anyone questions them on this, they get extremely defensive. They fail to even acknowledge the pitfalls of homeschooling or that their kids should be allowed to make decisions on their own.

 

One of the biggest issues I've had to deal with is that I spent the first 13 years of my life trying to appease a controlling, domineering mother who has literally never acknowledged being wrong about anything in her entire life. I felt trapped for those first 13 years--I was dealing with her 24/7 with no breaks.

 

This set me up for some really dysfunctional, F'd-up relationships with women as an adult. Whenever I sense things getting to close, or if my partner does anything that even resembles my mom's behavior, it would send me into fight or flight mode. I've found life to be much easier by just avoiding women altogether unless it's clear upfront that we both have the same expectations.

 

Of course, my parents would disagree with my assessment and explain that I'm rebelling and a victim of our sinful culture... whatever. I love them, but in many ways, they're clueless.

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I was homeschooled too. Initially it was because I was going to be held back for a silly reason (I could read at age 2 but I couldn't use scissors properly or something). My parents weren't the looney fringe types, but the stuff I learned definitely had a conservative/religious slant, and a lot of the curriculum was ridiculously biased (I'm sure you're familiar with A Beka and Bob Jones' stuff). Fortunately for me I didn't have to deal with being gay, and knowing the attitude of that group towards gay folks, that must have been tough.  I knew quite a few people who were in the bad subculture. Hell, I know more than one situation that ended up being abusive. One guy I knew as a kid had raped his sister from the time she was 8 until she was about 16 (he was four years older). When it came to light a few years after the fact, the family refused to press charges or even pursue counseling/therapy. 

 

Have you heard of Homeschooler's Anonymous? It's a blog/support group started by former homeschoolers who were raised in the more looney, conservative subculture. I just heard about it the other day and haven't really had much time to check it out myself, but here's a link: http://homeschoolersanonymous.wordpress.com

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One thing I didn't mention... my parents would have been a lot stricter on me during my teens, but at about age 12, my younger sister started doing drugs. All my parents' attention shifted to her. Nothing crushes a homeschooling parents' arrogance like having a preteen daughter who is drinking, drugging, and sleeping around!

 

My sister had zero confidence and felt that she could never live up to the standards set by my parents. So she found a group who was more accepting.

 

My three sisters and I are all adults now, and not one of us is a Christian. Now, if there was a God and the Bible were true, wouldn't it stand to reason that all of us would still have faith?

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Thanks, everyone! Glad to meet you all.

 

Welcome, DarlingTheo!

 

It sounds like you're also an oldest child (I was too). When you're the firstborn of homeschooling parents, you tend to get hit the hardest by their child-rearing methods. It's no wonder that when I look at the kids with whom I was homeschooled, I can't think of any who kept their faith -- too much damage was done on the homefront.

 

 

 

Actually I'm the second! It just seems like I'm the first one to do...everything. My sister, four years older, lives at home and has no desire to move out/go to school/build a career in the foreseeable future, and my first brother, the third child, is just like her. Both of them buy the whole package. My youngest brother, on the other hand, is like me.

 

Completely agree about the formulaic parenting approach. I think a lot of parents in this subculture don't know how to recognize their children as separate people. Since, you know, they're Arrows for Jesus or something. My mother recently revealed to me that her decision to have four children was a calculated one in order to ensure that, should one of us grow up and fly the coop, the others would still have siblings right there with them. What a ridiculous way to impose your fantasies on your children before they're even conceived, but I see it all the time in these circles.

 

Have you heard of Homeschooler's Anonymous? It's a blog/support group started by former homeschoolers who were raised in the more looney, conservative subculture. I just heard about it the other day and haven't really had much time to check it out myself, but here's a link: http://homeschoolersanonymous.wordpress.com

 

Yeah, I've been following it with interest! There's also a new nonpartisan research group focused on homeschooling, which is a great new resource since previously the majority of "research" was being churned out by HSLDA. And what a horrifying (if, sadly, unexceptional) story. Rampant abuse of children's dignity seems to be so common in Christian homeschooling.

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Hello and welcome.

 

I was homeschooled my junior and senior year of high school.  It pretty much involved getting up, arguing about homeschooling, some sort of lesson in greek and then other studies.  We were done by noon, and I had a friend that skipped school on a semi-regular basis and we'd hang out and occasionally puff a fatty and play video games and work.  Sometimes I think I blocked out those two years somehow because I still managed to go on to college and now I'm a CPA, so I guess it all worked out.  

 

I don't necessarily have a problem with home schooling, it has its benefits, but also its drawbacks and it's definitely not right for everyone.

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Welcome to ex-c and welcome to freedom! Thanks for sharing your story. :)

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Hello and welcome.

 

I was homeschooled my junior and senior year of high school.  It pretty much involved getting up, arguing about homeschooling, some sort of lesson in greek and then other studies.  We were done by noon, and I had a friend that skipped school on a semi-regular basis and we'd hang out and occasionally puff a fatty and play video games and work.  Sometimes I think I blocked out those two years somehow because I still managed to go on to college and now I'm a CPA, so I guess it all worked out.  

 

I don't necessarily have a problem with home schooling, it has its benefits, but also its drawbacks and it's definitely not right for everyone.

 

We used homeschooling as a fill-in measure during 8th grade for my son who wasnt getting on well with other kids in school. He spent a year teaching himself web programming and Photoshop. He was concerned that he might not do well in high school because he'd missed out on a year of 'real school.' He graduated high school with a 4.0 GPA, has an associates degree now and is working towards his bachelors. :-) We were agnostic homeschoolers. Ha.

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Yeah, it's not that I think it's an inherently bad educational model...but I do feel that it has some serious weaknesses that parents brush off too easily when they're eager to jump in when they could be actively working to make those issues less of a threat to their children's wellbeing. Everyone's experience is different, but as a subculture, it tends to encourage certain types of thinking and behavior, which is why I think Homeschoolers Anonymous and similar projects are such a great idea. If you're going to homeschool your kids, fine, but don't rush in unaware.

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Hello and welcome.

 

I was homeschooled my junior and senior year of high school.  It pretty much involved getting up, arguing about homeschooling, some sort of lesson in greek and then other studies.  We were done by noon, and I had a friend that skipped school on a semi-regular basis and we'd hang out and occasionally puff a fatty and play video games and work.  Sometimes I think I blocked out those two years somehow because I still managed to go on to college and now I'm a CPA, so I guess it all worked out.  

 

I don't necessarily have a problem with home schooling, it has its benefits, but also its drawbacks and it's definitely not right for everyone.

 

We used homeschooling as a fill-in measure during 8th grade for my son who wasnt getting on well with other kids in school. He spent a year teaching himself web programming and Photoshop. He was concerned that he might not do well in high school because he'd missed out on a year of 'real school.' He graduated high school with a 4.0 GPA, has an associates degree now and is working towards his bachelors. :-) We were agnostic homeschoolers. Ha.

 

 

It isn't so much the homeschooling that is the problem, but the indoctrination that you receive. For us, it was straight up Bob Jones, Abeka, and whatever history my mom deemed worthwhile. You never receive any outside perspectives, since all your friends are in the church,

 

Such a waste... my mom was debating on whether or not she should go to medical school around the time I was born, but decided to stay home to teach me and my sisters instead. I'll bet she wishes she had a do-over on that one!

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Well, all that reading  has definitely made you an eloquent young lady!   I'm sorry you had to go through all that.  

 

I'm glad you to hear you got out of it and welcome to the site.   

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Well hey, fellow survivor! I was in that boat from birth until age 16 when I graduated, and it's definitely a tricky situation.  Although my parents/relationships weren't abusive or manipulative, the indoctrination was pretty thorough...from memorizing bible verses in kindergarten to high school "young-earth science" that taught God created the world 6,000 years ago...I still don't know things about evolution that other people take for granted.  My only friends were other Christian homeschoolers who swallowed exactly what they were brought up with, down to the exact denomination!  I secretly became agnostic at around age 13 and had to fake being religious for all my classes and around everyone I knew...not the coolest thing ever.  Still, I'm in college now as well and pretty consistently wreck the grade curve in all my classes, so even the Christianized curriculum apparently didn't hurt me academically. Interpersonal skills, though, and feeling comfortable saying what I actually think...not so much, so I definitely get where you're coming from there.  I'm glad you've been able to get away and begin living life on your own terms...here's hoping everything eventually works out with your family. Truth isn't easy, but it's worth it.

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Hello, fellow homeschool survivor! thank you for your testimony because it's so similar to my story and it helps me make sense of it somehow. I know you posted this a while back, but I hope you are doing well. I definitely understand what you mean about the depression, low self-esteem, and low emotional intelligence. These issues have gotten better and better for me since I deconverted and I hope the same is true for you. Cheers :) - tollo

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Welcome! What a rough ride you have had. I hope being away from home is helping you recover. Is your current boyfriend supportive?

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darlingtheo: Looks like you have been able to come a long way on your own. Congratulations for that. I think the best way to go forward is to visit here often and read of our various experiences. Continue to self educate regarding atheism, agnosticism and other  other non-christian philosophies. This site has a section which recommends some good books. Members here have referred to books in their posts which they found helpful.

 

You indicated you are 'queer", which I thought was a term that homosexuals disdained. Did your sexual preference cause you trouble at home? You haven't said that it did,  and that surprised me in view of your parents' religious faith. Of course, your sexual preference will not be a problem here. 

 

As soon as you are financially able to move out and live on your own, the better off you will be. i would try to keep the best relationship with your family that you can, but remember that you must be your own man to avoid being manipulated. Sometimes that requires breaking with your parents at least for a while. I hope that does not become necessary for you, but if it does you, have to do what is best for your own life.  Good luck.    bill

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