Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Repost: Shhh! It's a Secret

Reposting from January because it bears repeating:

It's a secret, shhhh!

Well, it has certainly taken some prayer and a lot of thought to decide whether or not to open up this can of worms. I am concerned that there are probably a lot of people out there who would prefer that this secret remain secret. Certainly I don't think every Christian home school family has this secret to keep, but I am also quite sure that there are many out there that do!

In the past, no one has been willing to talk openly about any downside to home school. The fear is that any flaws might be used by our enemies to take away our right to home education. That still might be a valid concern (I don't think so) but the flaws will out themselves anyway. I think it will be best to discuss them ourselves and do a little problem-solving to mitigate the effects of our problems, rather than to deny problems exist.

Problems don't go away simply because one pretends they don't exist. And these problems are real.

I know because I have met families dealing with this secret and befriended them both online and in real life. In thirteen years of experience in the Christian home schooling community, I have met a lot of home schooling families!

Certainly a lot of other families who do not home school also keep the same secret, but it is a particularly damaging secret for Christian home school families for two main reasons.

The first is the home school community's pretension to having the perfect family life set-up. My public-schooling non-Christian neighbor may have the same little secret that I kept for a long time, but then no one is proclaiming that way of life as ideal or idyllic. At every home school convention you will hear someone loudly proclaiming that home schooling is the best option for a happy Christian family, and even claiming that a particular set of family dynamics is essential for a Christian home school.

The dichotomy between the claims of the Christian home school community and the reality of daily life for many of the families trying to live that lifestyle is stark. If for no other reason than to warn new Christian home school families of the dangers they will face, the secret needs to be told.

The second reason that this secret needs to be told is that keeping this secret is damaging to our brothers and sisters in Christ. Fellow disciples of all ages are being blind-sided by this reality, and then are either shamed and ostracized by a Christian home school community that doesn't want to deal with it, or self-condemned into silence because they wrongly think they are the only ones facing it. Our fellow disciples dealing with this awful secret need our help, not our silence.

On then to the big reveal! What is this secret? What is it that Christian home school families are dealing with in large numbers, yet afraid to admit as a community that the problem exists? What is so awful, that even though it pops up in every home school support group, and even community leaders have been taken down by it, no one wants to own?

Crappy marriages.

That's right, crappy marriages. Mine is far from unique in that respect.

Oh, the stories I could tell! I know of unhappy marriages that end in divorce, and many more that just limp along wearing the mask of Christian perfection when one or more of the spouses is (are) depressed, lonely and angry. Problems range from short-term and temporary (because they are quickly recognized and addressed) to chronic and debilitating.

I personally know of marriages afflicted by adultery, sexual perversion and porn addictions. I know of marriages characterized by long-term psychological, emotional and spiritual abuse. I know of some marriages that are in recovery and others that have ended in divorce. I know of more that just ignore the problems they live with everyday. I even know some Christian home school families that have always been happily thriving, but no one is keeping that a secret-LOL!

Christian home school families dealing with crappy marriages do exist. I propose that they exist in every home school community, sometimes in leadership. It is time to expose the secret and find some real solutions to the problem, because what is being done presently is not helping.

Bad marriages happen. It happens in all communities, not only the Christian home school community. But all communities are not claiming to have all the answers like the Christian home school community claims.

Bad marriages happen. It happens in all communities. However in families choosing institutional educational options, the children get escape from the crazy-making secret-keeping for a few hours a day, a couple of days a week.

In the less isolated home school families this is also true, with sports, lessons, co-ops, play dates and taking classes outside the home providing relief from being in the problem all the time. But in the extremely isolated home schools, where no one goes anywhere without the whole family tagging along, there is no relief.

Bad marriages happen in all communities. However in the world outside the Christian home school cloister, there is support for people dealing with problem marriages. In society as a whole there is support for people who are depressed, angry and lonely. In society at large, women are encouraged to get out of abusive situations, and there is help offered to people who want to stop being abusive but don't know how.

In the Christian home school community, crappy marriages are redefined as "biblical" as if that makes it all okay. Unhappy, depressed home school moms are shamed rather than helped. Articles and books are written chastising women who suffer from the lack of being loved, appreciated,and honored as being selfish and sinful. Those burdened by large families, scarce resources and failing health are condemned as lacking in faith, rather than offered real help and given the freedom to take better care of themselves and the children they already have.

Men who fall way short of the loving service to their families Christ commands are not offered help to overcome any abusive tendencies. What abusive tendencies? In some Christian home school circles the idea of even questioning a husband/fathers decisions or actions is strongly condemned. There is no hope of change where no need for change is acknowledged.

So there, I have spilled the secret. There are a lot of crappy marriages out there in home school land.

For those who fear that admitting our flaws will result in losing our home school freedoms, relax. It's no reason to limit the freedom to home school. There are a lot of crappy marriages in the world at large too. We don't need to pretend home schools are little oases of human perfection in order to retain the right to home school.

Home education is one method of educating children, and a darn good one at that! The academic fruit is good.

What we need to do is be open about the crappy marriages, and look for answers other than the ones being repeated over and over right now. Because the marriage fruit is looking rather poor, and is certainly no better than the marriage fruit the rest of society is enjoying.

So the secret is out. Now you know. What will you do? Kill the messenger? I hope not! =)

Reinforce the wall of denial? I hope not.

Feel a sense of relief that we don't have to keep secrets anymore? That is my wish.

And further I hope that crappy Christian home school marriages will overcome their problems and find healing and happiness for all. But the first step in solving any problem is admitting that it exists.

Maybe I should have titled this entry "step one"? =)


  1. You've put into words my own thoughts on this issue that isn't supposed to exist. Perhaps you could write a "step two" next?

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. I do hope it is clear that the problem with hierarchical abuse and refusing accountability is MOSTLY CONFINED TO THE CHRISTIAN HOME SCHOOL community.

    None of the secular home school families in my circle have any problem with accountability and are fully confident that their schools will pass muster by any reasonable standard.

    Then again, secular home school families are not interested in raising religious automatons, but in raising healthy young adults equipped to follow their dreams wherever they may lead.

    I sometimes feel like I am the ONLY Christian mom who trusts in the Good Shepherd to be Who He says He is for my children. The rest of the Christian home school community likes to think of themselves as essential extensions of the Holy Spirit, and teach as much all the time.

    God does not need me for anything. He graciously allows me to help out in some ways, because I want to be like Him so badly, but it's along the lines of Max Lucado's story about his dad.

    Max's story is that his dad was a great mechanic, while Max was a bookish boy who was not mechanically inclined. Nevertheless, his dad let him hang around the garage and when Max wanted to help, he let him. But he didn't ask him to rebuild a transmission, he asked him to hand him tools or sweep the garage. LOL That's all I can be as far as "discipling" my children.

    I will never know the thoughts of their hearts, the needs of their hearts, the future the lies ahead of them- NEVER. The best I can do is love them, encourage them, prepare them as best I can for whatever may lie ahead, and of course live my faith in front of them. I can share with them my love for Jesus, my belief that Jesus loves them, and my desire for them to know the Lord themselves. But always, the rest has been up to God.

    And you know what, I think He can handle it. ;-)

  4. (comment from July 29, 2011 reposted with a link removed at site author's request)

    Hmmm, well I could try, but so far it seems most of the home school community can't take step one.

    Denial and rose-colored classes seem to be handed out at every home school support group around. Trust me, the ladies at the top are well aware of all the problems. They just choose to ignore them completely, or blame them on some individual "not doing it right".

    If/when the public support for home schooling implodes, it will be fully the fault of the Christian home school leadership. They live in a fantasy world full of manly men and girly girls who are all SO HAPPY. It is the children/families pointing out that in reality these principles aren't working so well, they are the ones who will be vilified and excluded.

    The Christian home school community believes itself without blemish and unaccountable to anyone. Any proof that this is NOT true is ignored. See for yourself:

    Therefore the Schatz family was guilty of "not doing it right". The home school accepted teachings about spanking, instant uncomplaining obedience from children and absolute authority of parents over children and husbands over wives had NOTHING to to with the Schatz family tragedy, goes their thinking. The Schatz family wasn't doing it right, that's all.

    I suppose the right way to dominate your children into instant submission includes stopping short of the sort of damage that would bring the authorities in to save your child? Or simply not seeking treatment when your child needs it, as I have read about first person accounts online of a child denied medical treatment.

    They do the same with marriages. If a man stops short of physically abusing his wife, she is to suffer "as unto the Lord". Ditto with your husband being into porn or any other creepiness. If a man crosses that line, and the authorities get involved, then of course that family "wasn't doing it right".

    They can't admit it's a systemic problem- that the system which teaches that men must be obeyed and their wishes conformed to GUARANTEES greater selfishness and callousness on the part of men, even when those men would much rather have appreciated some useful interventions from their wives long ago, before everything was so messed up. Not going to happen. I guarantee you they will fall back on the belief "that will NEVER happen in my family; I'm doing it RIGHT."