Homeschooling and Sibling Relationships

The homeschool literature that my parents read promised them that homeschooling would create perfect sibling relationships among us children, and make us all especially close and really good friends with each other—unlike those public school kids’ distant relationships with their siblings, and rivalries rather than friendships, of course. I want to take a moment, then, to talk about sibling to sibling relationships in my family. This is kind of embarrassing, to be honest—I’m not going to come off so well here.

It’s true that we kids played together all the time growing up. We sort of had to—there wasn’t usually any other option. I mean sure, we had people over, but most of the time it was just us, and so we were each other’s playmates. I have so many memories of exploring creeks, building lego cities, and chasing each other across the pond. I could go on and on—we really did have great times. But here is my first caveat—I’ve found that most of my friends today who were public schooled also had great adventures with their siblings. Sure, they weren’t around each other for quite as many hours of the day, but it’s wrong to think that they didn’t also explore creeks together, build lego cities together, and chase each other across a pond or pool. In fact, come to think of it, I had cousins growing up who went to public school (and lived far away so we very rarely saw them), and I know for a fact that they did all of those things regularly.

Now, anyone who thinks that homeschooling magically eliminates sibling rivalry is sorely, sorely confused. I’m having troubles thinking of how to easily describe it, but we had sibling rivalries, and lots of them. There were literally three years when one of my brothers and I fought every time we had to spend more than half an hour together (which meant it happened multiple times a day, of course). We just set each other off, somehow. One of my sisters and I just had such completely different outlooks that we ended up permanently at odds—she resented me for being a goody-goody, and I resented her for not being the picture perfect Christian homeschool kid. There were several sisters in a row at one point, and this didn’t always work out that well—there were plenty of times when some of them tore down the others, continually, and with no real explanation. But beyond all this, as I’m going to explain, I actually think that in our case homeschooling served to exacerbate sibling rivalry.

For one thing, we kids fought over friends. See, rather than having individual friends our family generally got together with other like-minded homeschool families as families. So, say, the Smiths and their five kids would come over, or the Joneses and their nine kids, and we’d just play with whoever was somewhere around our age. In this process, I stole friends from my close-in-age-sister. Twice. And once I took a friend who by age probably should have been hers, but I got to her first and monopolized her. And no, this didn’t make for much happy-making between my sister and I. But, well, there were a limited number of friends available to us, so we fought with each other over them, and I usually won. If we’d been in school, we would have been in separate classes and had our own individual pools of friends.

In addition, because we were homeschooled we siblings had to spend 24 hours a day together. Sometimes this worked out great, but sometimes we got on each other’s nerves. A lot. A very, very lot. I suspect that if we had had more time apart from each other we might have grated on each other less. It would have given us a break. It would have meant that we could each have our own space and our own things—something we didn’t really have, and something we often sorely needed.

Next, bullying. Talking about bullying is rather difficult because, well, I was the bully. My parents followed the Pearls’ child training methods, which they came to after another homeschool family recommended them. Based on these methods, they gave us older kids the authority to spank the younger ones. I was never sadistic or anything, but I sure wasn’t very nice about it, and I learned after coming of age and leaving home that many of the younger ones saw me as a bully and had come to hate me. Only, in this case I had been a bully they couldn’t get away from. Normally, kids who are bullied at school have a respite at home. Not so my siblings. Sadly, I’ve seen this same pattern copied by others of my siblings, and even today, among those of my siblings still living at home, the older ones are authorized to spank the younger ones. In some ways, it’s rather like parent-approved bullying. As I’ve written before, I deeply regret my involvement in this. Sure, this pattern can exist without homeschooling, but in our case it was a pattern my parents implemented based on the literature and teachings of the homeschool movement, and not something I think they would have adopted had they not homeschooled.

There’s another issue I should probably discuss as well—as junior mom, I had my favorite among the younger kids. I favored her, and the other kids new it. In fact, more than once when I was presiding as judge over an altercation the other children accused me of taking my favorite’s side just because she was my favorite. And it was probably true. What’s saddest to me about this is actually what happened after I left home—that special relationship didn’t last. My favorite felt I’d abandoned her when all I’d done was left for college—but she was too young at the time to understand. And then things blew up between myself and my parents and there was a long gap when I didn’t visit home at all, and was afraid to have too much contact with my siblings for fear of risking my parents’ disapproval. I wish I still had a special closeness to the girl I mothered as a teen, but it’s gone now and rebuilding it is hindered by a lack of trust. Perhaps this is something specific to me, but I think it suggests that the junior mother-favored little sibling dynamic common in so many homeschool families I knew growing up wasn’t really so healthy as we thought it was.

And now we come to today. Today, I’m extremely close to several of my adult siblings—but I’m close to them not because of being with them 24/7 growing up but rather because we were bound together by adversity as young adults. These specific siblings also went through problems with my parents when they became adults and started making their own choices, and during this time we cried on each other’s shoulders, blew off steam in long phone conversations, talked about out our backgrounds have affected us, and just generally were there for each other—and we still do this today. The interesting thing is that these aren’t even necessarily the siblings I was closest to as a kid. As for the kids still at home, my relationships with each of them are weird because if I actively try to undermine what my parents are teaching them, my parents will likely limit my contact with them, and avoiding things that will undermine what my parents are teaching them means avoiding talking about basically everything I’m interested in.

I don’t think homeschooling enhanced sibling to sibling relationships in our family. I’m not saying there weren’t some good things—I did spend more time playing with my siblings than public schooled children do, and I have lots of positive memories from these times—but rather that I think the downsides outweighed what we gained. So when I read the following quote by homeschool pioneer Mary Pride, I just had to laugh. With this background, let me offer the quote and some thoughts I had on reading it.

However, in one respect these books do get it right. In school, kids learn to segregate themselves by age. Older kids learn to be embarrassed about spending time with younger kids. Schoolkids also quickly learn the art of the putdown, and all about “ganging up” on the victim of the day. When all these social fighting skills – which clueless folks refer to as “socialization” – are brought home, it can take sibling rivalry to a new level of meanness.

Does she seriously think sibling rivalry only turns mean when kids attend public school and thus learn bullying techniques and bringing those techniques home? Or, conversely, that public school kids naturally have troubled sibling-sibling relationships? Or, to ask a third question, that homeschooling can’t in certain ways serve to increase sibling rivalry? Because my experience and the experiences of friends I now have who were public schooled very much suggests otherwise.

Does she seriously think that homeschooled kids don’t learn how to put each other down or gang up on each other? Goodness, don’t get me started on the ganging up on each other bit—for a long time, my siblings and I were split into two groups and automatically took opposite sides when there was a fight. Sometimes one faction would gang up on one kid in the other faction, and the rest of that child’s action would rush to her rescue. Each faction viewed the other with some degree of suspicion.

Does she seriously think that homeschooled kids never get annoyed by kid siblings and, yes, even at times come to resent them? Let me tell you right now—they do! I wouldn’t say I ever felt actual resentment—though the same cannot be said of all of my siblings—but I did find some of the younger ones quite annoying at times. And sometimes we older ones—some more than others—wished we could get the little kids out of our hair so we could have some space, but when the little kids share a room with you, it’s rather hard to do that.

When it comes to sibling to sibling relationships, my parents would have done better here if they had sought to read about and learn techniques for fostering positive sibling relationships rather than simply assuming that the act of homeschooling would turn us all into singing cherubs. But then, they bought what Mary Pride was selling hook line and sinker.

I want to be clear that I’m not trying to generalize from my experience—while there may be some similar patterns, I think the dynamics of sibling relationships will vary greatly from homeschool family to homeschool family (just as they vary greatly from public school family to public school family). I’m simply saying that the promise my parents were given that homeschooling would create close and blissful sibling relationships—and also would mean that none of us would face bullying—turned out to be false and grossly misleading. And yet, homeschool speakers and organizations are still out there making this same promise to unsuspecting homeschool parents today. Perhaps, in some small way, my story can help.

If you were homeschooled, I’d like to invite you to use this space to talk about how sibling relationships went in your family. And if you weren’t homeschooled, feel free to talk about your own experiences with sibling relationships and how they compare and contrast with the things I talk about here. 

About Libby Anne

Libby Anne grew up in a large evangelical homeschool family highly involved in the Christian Right. College turned her world upside down, and she is today an atheist, a feminist, and a progressive. She blogs about leaving religion, her experience with the Christian Patriarchy and Quiverfull movements, the detrimental effects of the "purity culture," the contradictions of conservative politics, and the importance of feminism.

  • NeaDods

    “we’d just play with whoever was somewhere around our age”

    Don’t more of those homeschooling quotes say that kids shouldn’t be age segregated? Yet given the chance, that’s what you did, to the point of cutting out another sibling. So maybe it’s not so unnatural at all to want to spend time with peers?

    I have a distant relationship with my brother, but it’s not because of public school, it’s because of the age gap between us, a gender gap, and a huge gulf between our interests. Being stuck with each other 24/7 wouldn’t have changed any of that… We only really learned to talk to each other when we weren’t being told we HAD to love each other and could work out a relationship between adults instead of how we were told to behave towards a sibling.

    • Jayn

      “So maybe it’s not so unnatural at all to want to spend time with peers?”

      That stood out to me as well, And it makes sense, your interests tend to change as you grow up–when I was five sitting around talking was the most boring thing I could think of, while as a teenager running around the yard and building “tree houses” with lines of sticks had a similar level of appeal. Some interests cross age lines fairly well–I got along with my cousins, 6 and 8 years younger than me, fairly well when I babysat partly because I’d bring over my N64 controller and we’d play video games together (we also got along well with our one male cousin, 6 years ahead of me, for the same reason. At family gatherings we all hung out in his room)–but in general different age groups will play differently and have different interests.

      I also couldn’t help but note that this assumes having siblings. I know that the particular homeschool culture Libby is from only children are quite rare, but as one myself I can’t help but think that even if homeschooling helped sibling relationships, it’s an irrelevant point to a child who has no siblings.

  • Michael H

    This reminds me of one of the points made in Nurture Shock (Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman). Children don’t learn how to have good relationships at home: they learn it at school. If you are mean to your little brother, he will still be there tomorrow because he doesn’t have a choice. If you are mean to your friends at school they will not play with you tomorrow. So being mean outside the home has a real cost to it that it doesn’t have at home.

    • smrnda

      This is so true. I actually found, while I was quite young, that non-family members are usually nicer people. They can’t be such shits to you since you can, of course, decide never to talk to them again. They’re also less likely to try to control every aspect of your life.

      • Gail

        I think this is possibly the best and worst thing about siblings. It’s also the thing I have the hardest time explaining to only children. My sister and I can be really, really mean to each other, but we forgive each other almost immediately. Even my mother doesn’t understand it; she has a significantly younger brother and isn’t that close. I think it might be a phenomenon common in siblings closer in age. My mother used to ask if we were going to be “sisters” or “friends” on a particular day. Now that we’re adults, it’s not quite the same, but we can give each other very straight talk that I definitely wouldn’t give to a close non-sibling friend, even those that I personally feel are close enough to be family.

      • Ms_Morlowe

        I’ve a similar relationship with my brothers: when one of us isn’t living at home, we often go weeks or months without talking to each other (outside of occasional facebook comments), and my mother has been worried by this, but each of us know that as soon as we’re around each other again, we’ll snap straight back to being as close as ever.

        We definitely all had phases around puberty where we couldn’t stand each other though! Thankfully they’re over and done with.

    • J-Rex

      My sister could have used this lesson. She would always take the favorite toys for herself or claim the best personality traits and talents for whoever she was playing in a make-believe game and I had to pick some other talent no one actually cares about. I would run away crying and refuse to play with her…until I got bored and needed someone to play with again.

    • Dawnca

      I’m quite sure that’s how it shakes out in some cases. In others I suspect the fact that siblings can’t escape each other would be a reason they might not treat each badly and the fact that a child doesn’t have to play with an unrelated child in a playground the next day might going let them think it’s fine to mistreat that child.

      Either way, I think homeschooling/schooling is beside the point. You and I proposed scenarios that exclude one huge factor – adults. Kids should not operate and in a vacuum that excludes everyone but their peers. There should be adults who have clear expectations regarding how children are to treat each other and who are willing to dish out consequences.

      I homeschool my kids. Despite an age gap my two older kids (15g and 11b – my youngest is a toddler) are best friends. While the fact that we homeschool might have contributed to that I think it’s a distant forth to our parenting, their personalities, and our family culture.

      Homeschooling isn’t a magic pill that solves every issue. It’s simply one educational choice among many and how it worms for a family depends on the family. If you expect certain positives outcomes simply because you’ve chosen to homeschool, you’re already on the wrong track.

    • QB

      That’s complete BS. If you’re mean to your brother they avoid you. If you’re mean to a classmate they’ll avoid you too. Are you aware of how many kids are commiting suicide over public school bullying and how these schools do absolutely nothing to stop it? Good relationships come from experiance and guadauncd NOT public school

  • Christine

    My sister and I did NOT get along (she’s basically the only NT in the family. My dad might not actually be spectrum but he’s… odd). Homeschooling probably would have resulted in very bad things happening to one or the other of us.

    Were there ever academic jealously issues with your siblings? Where everyone else gets upset when someone ends up setting the bar too high? Presumably this would be an older sibling who did a certain level first, but if you were all studying something together it could have been anyone.

    • http://www.wideopenground.com/ Lana Hope

      My sister won state art contests from the time she was 10, and got a lot of money and fame (her picture is actually on HSLDA’s webpage somewhere as she won a contest with them too). I was so jealous because I didn’t excell at anything. Funny I graduated with highest honors in college, but I simply had never discovered that side of me as a kid. There wasn’t any academic jealous in my house because my mom just thought we were all deformed academically, ugh. But there was compeitition over basketball and the arts.

    • The_L1985

      “Homeschooling probably would have resulted in very bad things happening to one or the other of us.”

      I’m pretty sure the main reason I didn’t kill my own brother at an early age is because I started going to school, where I had my own opportunities to shine and didn’t feel like the “baby” was always the center of attention.

  • JaCo

    So many great points that homeschooling parents need to hear. I hate the idea of older siblings raising the younger ones to the extent they are the parents. Basically when you left, your sister lost a parent. That’s bound to be traumatizing to both children, especially the younger one. Your parents set you up. Being abandoned by a primary caregiver can cause reactive attachment disorder. And this so mom can keep having kids. Hardly think this damage is what God intended.

    • Mel

      Yeah, I always wondered how the buddy system works when the older buddy gets married or moves out. If you’ve been caring for a child since they were an infant, a deep bond forms.

  • Mel

    So I grew up in a family with three living kids. My twin sister and I are the oldest and our younger brother is about 5 years younger. My relationship with my younger brother M was always fraught. We lost an infant brother, David, a few months before M as born. My twin R and I were always afraid that M would die too. We were really over-protective of him. On the positive side, since M was 5 years younger and male, he hung out with a younger group of neighborhood and school friends so we couldn’t smother him. On the negative side, R and I were anxiety-based overachievers. My parents worked really hard to try and keep us more settled and less obsessed with doing everything to the best possible degree. The problem came from outsiders like teachers from the system that M and I attended. Since I was the poster child of good behavior and academic excellence, M always felt that he was being compared to an impossible standard of behavior. I felt jealous of him since he always seemed happier and more care-free than I was. Once M was about 23, he told R and I about how we affected his childhood and we were able to talk about how David’s death affected our actions and reactions. Since then,, we’ve had a much better relationship. M is a really funny, sweet, hard-working guy.

    R and I have had a pretty average twin love-hate relationship. “Hate” comes since we knew how to push each other’s buttons. My folks tried to stop us from fighting, but we’d get in nearly silent fist-fights in our bedroom. (We laugh about those now. We were always about the same size so the fights were pretty fair. I think my parents were right to try and stop us, but sometimes we were just too immature to use our words.) I enjoyed having R around at camps and in activities. Since R is deaf, we went to different schools. This helped our relationship because we never had to compete for friends or teacher attention like a lot of twins do. The one hassle was that in spite of my parents’ best efforts I would sometimes get stuck having to interpret for R. My parents tried to make sure that there would be a professional interpreter there so I wasn’t saddled with an age-inappropriate job, but sometimes it fell through. R and I tried to make the best of the situation when we needed to. In fact, during the worst interpreter failure ever – 10 days at summer camp with an interpreter for 30 hours total when we were 9 leaving 4 deaf girls with one 9-year old hearing girl who knew some ASL – we formed a sign language tag-team. I can finger-spell really well, but my ASL was shaky. R’s ASL was great, but she couldn’t hear the speakers. Result: I listened and translated to twin-fingerspell language to R. R translated twin-finger spell language into real ASL. As an adult, the situation makes me furious. As a kid, I just tried to make the best of it. (My folks were furious when they found out at the end of camp) R and I am still very close.

  • Rachel Heston-Davis

    So here’s a bit of irony for you. I knew a homeschooled family where all the siblings got along….but they would “gang up” on anyone outside their family. Those girls could hold their own as “mean girls.” They probably could have out-meaned a great many of the kids I went to school with.

    In fact, a mother of one of their friends once said (to their parents!) that they were the meanest bunch of girls she’d ever seen.

    But of course they could all speak Christianese pretty well, so they were seldom called out on their rotten attitudes.

  • MyOwnPerson

    Yes, too much time with family. I only had two siblings and we still fought over friends. We’d always be telling each other to go away so we could have time just to let loose with friends without having siblings compete for their attention (or having anyone around to tattle).

  • Gail

    It seems a little ridiculous to me to think that public school kids wouldn’t be as close with their siblings. I went to public school and my sister is basically my best friend. We shared a room at home and did a lot of things together, and eventually we went to the same college where we didn’t share classes but still saw each other often. Even in our public school days, we saw each other on the ride to and from school and were together at any after-school care. I’m assuming that if we had been homeschooled, we’d have been working on different subjects during the days anyway since we’re not the same age. I’m not sure it would really have changed anything other than that we might have had fewer friends besides siblings.

  • grindstone

    My siblings are nine, eleven, and twelve years older than me. To this day I’m referred to as “the baby sister”. When they were tweens and teens, I was a total pest to them; we lived in a very isolated area with no other children my age around, they were all I had. Once I got into elementary school I made my own friends, and my siblings were off at college. It wasn’t until I went to college myself that they started talking to me as a person, and we found that we got along as human beings. We’ve stayed very close until recently….my oldest brother has become a raving right-winger, and I can no longer talk to him. Love him, but have no interest in spending time with him.

    S the isolation of having only my siblings around actually made it rougher for me….I’ve always felt like a pest, a brat, a third wheel, a burden, because my siblings were teenagers and didn’t want to be saddled with me. And who could blame them?? Btw, we were all public schooled. It wasn’t the schooling, it was where we lived, which tended to isolate us.

    Libby, I think you need to cut yourself some slack. Of course you were a bully. Of course you had a favorite. You were a kid, given adult responsibilities, without the capabilities to manage. Few could do as well as you’ve done, darlin’.

  • smrnda

    I’m actually of the opinion that I see no reason why kids necessarily should be more attached to their siblings than to friends outside the family. Children are not necessarily going to have similar interests or traits just because they have the same parents.

    I also think it’s important for kids to be able to make friends on their own without adult intervention, since it’s kind of a skill you need in life. Parents can force siblings to *get along* and can plan on having other families over, but in life, there’s not necessarily someone out there assigning you friends.

    Something I’ve seen is that parents can cause a lot of conflict by forcing siblings to do more things together than they want. I know of one family which pretty much forced their kids to do *everything* together, which made for a lot of uncomfortable scenes since the kids often didn’t want to.

  • sylvia_rachel

    I am irresistibly reminded of the story in Little House in the Big Woods where Laura gets in trouble for … slapping Mary, I think, because she’s so consumed with jealousy of Mary’s beautiful golden curls; and of the later story in On the Banks of Plum Creek where Mary and Laura attend school for the first time, and share a reader and a slate and a desk, and stick together against horrible Nellie Olson. Just because it seems like such an obvious counter-example.

    • The_L1985

      Especially since those books are autobiographical–one can hardly pull the “But that’s just fiction!” card.

      • Conuly

        Semi-autobiographical. Laura wasn’t averse to changing things around to make a better story (I think the biggest change has be that, chronologically, the events in The Big Woods came after he events in On The Prairie), and her daughter, who helped her edit them, had no objection to altering events somewhat to push her Randian ideals.

      • The_L1985

        …Randian? Wow. I read all those books as a little girl, and I never picked up on that.

  • Gillianren

    I’m bipolar. My younger sister is (probably) a sociopath. If we had been homeschooled, one of us would not have survived to adulthood. My older sister and I would have been fine, I think (though there’s the issue of how we would have lived after Dad died and Mom was forced to be the breadwinner), but the sociopath is also severely dyslexic. If we’d been homeschooled, she would have demanded even more of Mom’s attention simply to get by, and the quality of her education wouldn’t have been as good. Mom certainly wouldn’t have been able to diagnose the dyslexia, which a public school teacher did.

    I’m glad for the fond memories I have of spending time with my older sister, and when I was a freshman in high school and she was a senior, we even hung out at school, and not just during orchestra, the class we shared. However, my main interaction with my younger sister when she was a freshman and I was a senior was other people coming up to me and asking how I could stand to put up with her. Short answer? i couldn’t.

  • alwr

    A friend of mine just had her seventh child in not quite ten years. She homeschools and has bought into this sibling friendship thing. Except the nearly ten year olds (twins) don’t want to exclusively socialize with the six and four year old all the time and not even the eight year olds (also twins). And she just doesn’t get that ten year olds have different interests than six year olds. We group kids in age groupings at school because they are developmentally different at different ages and have different needs and abilities, not because we want to isolate them. In my own family, I have one brother six years older than me. We did not play together much at all as children because we were always at different stages and it just didn’t work. My idiot sister-in-law is two and half years older than my husband, her only sibling. She constantly harps at me that my brother and I “hate each other” and she thinks that is sad. This conclusion is entirely based on my not having the same kinds of memories and stories from childhood about being with my brother that she has. But the age difference is really the defining thing that makes our experiences different. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.

  • gimpi1

    Test

  • Flora

    Although I was never homeschooled, my brother was for several years due to his social anxiety. Not only did being completely isolated from other kids outside of his hockey team not help his social anxiety, but it lead to a rivalry wherein we each perceived the other as getting “special attention” – I felt my brother got to stay home and play video games like a permanent summer vacation, packing all his school work into an intense month or two, and he felt that I was the spoiled one, since I used school to take advanced courses, had to be taken to and picked up from school every day, etc. etc. Plus, as I was his only social outlet in the house, he took to annoying me to get my attention, which helped our relationship as much as you could expect for a small and bookish girl who would prefer to be left alone.

    On top of all that, although both of us have social anxiety (and neither of us received treatment until adulthood), I do think that his years of homeschooling are one of the reasons that I have been better able to function with the disorder than him. I learned how to cope with it and take breaks as I needed them, whereas he simply learned to hide.

  • http://lanahobbs.wordpress.com/ lana hobbs

    I was bullied. what was really bad was when my big bro pushed my little bro to do the mean stuff. i couldn’t fight back because i was older. my parents just wanted us to ‘get along’.

  • http://lanahobbs.wordpress.com/ lana hobbs

    one aspect of sibling ‘friendships’ into adulthood is this: we seldom chose to be together or what to do together. The same for my friends – we had families, and i’d pick certain friends among those. i was the oldest daughter in all of them so childcare and peacekeeping responsibility frequently fell to me, although i got to enjoy myself too.
    but i didn’t set anything up or choose anything myself. my parents dictated the relationships. i have trouble having friends and relating to people now, and quite frankly i’m a bit glad to be away from the pressure of being the oldest daughter. i think it breaks my moms heart i don’t dote on my siblings like i did when i had no choice, but i’m happy for a rest.
    if i had more independence in relationships, i think i would find it easier to relate to people now, including my siblings.

    • http://lanahobbs.wordpress.com/ lana hobbs

      furthermore, my parents frequently yelled at us in front of the others, blamed us all when one failed to do chores, and complained to one about the others. then wondered why we didn’t love each other more, but i think we had internalized everything she said about us and the others and didn’t see each other as loving because she constantly yelled at us that we were not loving. in her yelling at us to be nice she gave us words against each other that we weren’t nice. that we were lazy, judgemental, selfish, lieing to ourselves, whatever.

      • The_L1985

        Oh, indeed. As a teen, I started calling myself stupid a lot. Mom kept asking me why I was doing that, and I didn’t have an answer…

        …until the next time I got in trouble, and Dad asked his favorite angry question: “How STUPID ARE YOU?”

  • http://www.wideopenground.com/ Lana Hope

    Libby Anne, no freakin way. I was just going to write a post on this today and you said it word for word.

    I don’t have any siblings who are still kids, nor do I come from a large family and can’t speak for that end. But balony, we fought as much as any other kids. Also the friend thing was a HUGE problem (I will still write a post on this sometime). I mean HUGE. My sister one year younger than me is still damaged from this. She is very quiet and introverted so never could breathe outside my shadow (I’m an introvert, but an opinionated, forceful firstborn). So she was left out of everything unless she hovered in my presence because there wasn’t any friends left for her. Particularly when the two other kids came into our lives (technically not my siblings, but we were raised together for years), one was an extravert and tried to steal all my friends because she had no friends her age and because she thought it was mature and cool to hang out with girls five years older (she also went to the neighbor in her 20s and wanted to regularly hang out. Classic homeschool.) Mom and Dad finally told her she couldn’t come in my bedroom while my best friend was over, so she’d just sit in front of the door. We had drag out fights over the friend (yes, friend fights and bargaining over who got to call who) Once I hit her with the croquet racket, she would lay underneath my basketball goal so I couldn’t play if I refused to play with her or she was just angry. And then two of the kids made a fort and wouldn’t let us in it, and that was a drag out fight too.

    We had fights over the Bible, and of course, I was the most swift and could win the verbal arguments every day. The argument about whether or not we could lose our salvation or whether or not so in so place was an occult went on for three years. It was a life and death issue. My sister was convinced I believed she was going to hell. My intoverted sister who never got involved is still scared to express opinions (actually she finally started coming out, at age 25), still dealthy quiet, and still does not have friends…all because we took all the girls in the homeschool group as our friends and took away her chance of being her own person and developing herself. All she had was hours in her room to draw and drawn out the drama.

    This is the MAIN reason I’m so passionate on homeschool socialization. Just because two kids are one year apart doesn’t mean they don’t need space apart from each other or that they have the same personality and attract the same kinds of friends. Its utterly balony that siblings can’t be best friends and go to school. In fact, that would have helped all of us tremendously because the main competition in our lives was over the few friends we had…and you know how homeschool families go……you all hang out as families. The problem was there was a limited number of girls our age, mom seemed to think we couldn’t be friends with boys, and so two of us took all the friends and my introvert sis lost out altogether.

    Mom told me she knew this was a problem and didn’t know what to do about it because the sheer reality was there was a limited number of kids our age in the homeschool group. What could possibly done to give us space? It was a battle that was never resolved until one day my sister looked at me and said, “No more. I’m never hanging out with your fiends again.”

    P.S. We are all best friends today. I think we always were best friends, actually, but we were also each other’s worst enemy. Its not a criticism of anyone’s character. I love my family. But I do think we need our own friends, and it makes me mad when parents say, “You have your siblings. That’s enough,” or “we hang out as families.” It hurts, it just does.

    • http://patheos.com/blogs/lovejoyfeminism Libby Anne

      Lana, wow! You’ve got me thinking even more, and I want to add two things.

      First, I’m thinking about my sister, same age difference as you and your sister, and in high school she had only three friends. Three sounds like a lot, but in practice she rarely saw them — one lived far away, and one wasn’t completely approved even though she was homeschooled. They weren’t in any of our homeschool groups where we saw people regularly (though all three were homeschooled). And thinking about it, those three friends were all girls I’d decided I didn’t want to hang out with. There was either another sister my age (in one case) or they weren’t my type (too “worldly”). Everyone else, I took.

      Second, I once stole a new friend from an older friend of mine, and in the process I lost the older friend. I don’t think she ever completely forgave me for that. And who else did she have, really? The new friend and I did everything together (including long hours canning beans and watching our collective 18+ siblings). I hadn’t thought about the whole stealing friends from other friends bit, but in an atmosphere where there were only so many friends to go around, it certainly happened!

      Finally, you’re so spot on on the getting together as families bit. That’s how it was, and it was like, surely you can find someone to play with, right? This idea that you might not actually *like* or *get along with* them was totally ignored. :/ But then you really didn’t have much choice, you *better* like them, because who else is there?

      • http://www.wideopenground.com/ Lana Hope

        Okay, Libby Anne, I put up the post. http://www.wideopenground.com/homeschool-socialization-sharing-friends/

        And spot on, there just was a limited another of friends.

      • Sally

        It is so interesting to read all this. I’ve been watching this from the outside with my neices and nephews and wondering what it’s like for them. Sometimes I’ve been worried sick, and sometimes I’ve idealized it. Right now as they’re so isolated and protected from the world and I’m struggling with “worldly” teenagers, I am envious of their parents (a little). But I’ve always thought, “at what cost”? They’re like your family and the families you describe- no friends outside of their siblings and other large families when whole families get together. I think it has worked out fine for some of them, and is profoundly lonely for some of them. One thing that’s a little different is technology lets them stay maybe a little more connected to the friends they do have. But no technology solves the problem of mismatched friends in the first place.

      • Sally

        Oh, and this is something that homeschooling parents rarely talk about in my experience. We live in an urban area and had neighborhood kids for my kids to be friends with when I was homeschooling them. But at some point it became clear my middle child was suffering socially. When I asked for advice on a homeschooling forum, I was told it wasn’t the most important thing and given examples of kids who finally made friends in college … so it all worked out in the end for them.

        We stopped homeschooling.

      • wanderer

        With all this discussion about friend stealing, I’m wondering if there was no consideration to include a new person instead of have to steal them. Was the environment set up to force you to be exclusive?

  • Alexis

    Cain and Abel were home schooled…just sayin’

    • Sally

      That cracked me up.

  • Joykins

    3 siblings. All private and then public schooled. Fought with the brother closest to me in age–the others were really too small for me to fight with, it wasn’t fair– but we all had our own friends and our own activities. We united with each other against common school and neighborhood foes, even when we could not stand each other.

    I find it really appalling that older children were allowed to spank the younger ones. I did have times I “babysat” and of course tattling came with the sibling situation, but the decision about discipline always rested with our parents.

    • Alix

      This whole thing was basically me, ‘cept I have only two sibs.

      Interestingly, there came a point with both my brother and my sis where they really, really wanted to be out of the house and living their own lives, and so they got really vicious towards anyone who crossed them. (I still have scars on my arm from when my sis – 6 years my junior – dug her nails in and pulled.) Me, I was the person who’d gotten out to college for two years and voluntarily returned home to help my mom after dad went all asshole and she dumped his ass, so I never had the issues with feeling stuck at home that my sibs did.

      My sis, now moved out and with a sig. other and a baby, is really happy, really stable, and our relationship has improved greatly. My brother? During the short span he was out living his own life our relationship was great – but he’s had to move back in, recently, and it … grates. On both of us. If you were to ask me what my “ideal” Roommate from Hell were like, he’d be pretty much it … and not because he’s my brother, but because that’s his personality. I’ve never been able to stand being forced to interact with him.

      If we’d been homeschooled and forced to constantly interact with no breaks, no joke, he’d be dead.* It’s not something I’m proud of, but there you go. Private and public school saved his life and my sanity.

      *He’s not in any danger from me now, I should add. And I do love him. That’s half the problem – it’s kept me putting up with him long past the point I’d’ve cut a non-relative (or, hell, my father) out of my life.

  • AnotherOne

    I could have written that exact post. I fought constantly with one of my siblings, and pretty often with another. I had the favorite younger sibling whom I mothered. I was completely overwhelmed being junior mom (my mom was pretty non-functional due to severe depression and other issues for a number of years), and all my frustration got channeled to the younger siblings who I bossed and bullied to an extent I’m deeply ashamed of. I’m not super close to any of my siblings, and what closeness exists didn’t come out of childhood experiences so much as it has adult bonding over shared trauma. I do know some homeschooled families where the siblings are super close and have great relationships, but mine wasn’t one of them.

  • http://deird1.dreamwidth.org Deird

    This was fascinating to read.

    I think going to school helped my relationship with my sisters. Instead of being each other’s rivals in the same life, we had our own separate lives, but would come home at the end of each day and compare notes, and then act as each other’s cheersquads. My sisters have always given me advice about my life, and I’ve always given them help with their lives. (‘Advice’ versus ‘help’ because I’m the youngest – they didn’t start getting advice from me until quite recently.)

  • aklab

    In my family this actually did work as advertised. My four-years-younger sister began homeschooling while I was still in public school. We spent a lot of time together, but not always peacefully, which I’m afraid was almost always my fault, as a preteen boy who felt the need to publicly distance himself from his uncool kid sister.

    After several years my parents began homeschooling me as well, and we became much closer and are pretty much best friends to this day. And we had friends other than each other too!

  • ArachneS

    As someone from a family of 14 kids, I can echo the part about grouping up with other big families and everyone finding a kid their age to play with. My younger sister was only 14 months younger than me, so often we would play with the same person.
    We did segregate ourselves by age, and we didn’t just do it at home, we did it at church and home school events that we went to.

    It’s very odd that people keep insisting that public schools way of separating kids by grade level is non-intuitive, when more often than not it really is.

    Also “being able to talk to adults” did not help me one bit because that skill was actually “being able to defer to authority”. When adults were my peers, I had LOTS of problems speaking to them. I seriously choked every time I had to address a faculty member at my college that didn’t want to be called Mr, Mrs or Miss…

    • http://patheos.com/blogs/lovejoyfeminism Libby Anne

      I seriously choked every time I had to address a faculty member at my college that didn’t want to be called Mr, Mrs or Miss…

      This actually was what ended a misbegotten attempt to join my church’s youth group. The youth pastor insisted on going by his first name. (a) I literally could not do that and (b) I wasn’t allowed to anyway. Ugh.

  • “Rebecca”

    A lot of this is ringing true for me, both in this article and in Lana’s. I did have a pretty good relationship with most of my siblings growing up, but there were problems with me and one of my little sisters. My parents and older siblings worked, so it was up to me to watch her and my other little sister while I was the oldest person at home (I was from 12 to 14 years old at these times, they were 7-9 and 5-7).
    It was horrible. Our personalities clashed badly, and it was a constant struggle to get her to sit down and do her schoolwork. She would push my buttons and I reacted in nasty ways, until often the situation devolved into screaming and crying. Every day watching her was a nightmare for us both. As soon as my mom or dad or older siblings got home, I would dash out the door to escape on a long walk. The working-homeschooling-parents combination was a bad idea. My sister needed a parent or adult teacher, not an all-day-long preteen babysitter.
    Our relationship remained rocky until we both matured, and now as adults we’re friends (we now share similar senses of humor and bonded over our switch to atheism).

    There was also the issue that us siblings rarely had just-one-person friends. Friends were shared property. It was neat in some ways but it left some of us without the ability to make friends on our own, since we would always hide in the shadow of our siblings’ efforts to socialize. I finally have my own friends in my 20s now and it’s really nice.

    • ArachneS

      “There was also the issue that us siblings rarely had just-one-person friends. Friends were shared property.”

      This sounds so familiar. My younger sister was the outgoing bubbly one. She would go up to people and make friends when we went to groups, and I would assimilate friends that way. I never really learned how to make friends on my own growing up, a lack I sorely felt once I moved away from home at 19.

  • sdr

    Its ironic, opposite gender, two and a half years apart kids are in public school and really are best friends–it still shocks me sometimes when I see how they are together. My sister-in-law homeschools her three and none of them are close. Her oldest (12) does a fixed online curriculum and her goal is to do the work as quickly as possible so she can hole up and read, her middle son is special needs with multiple learning disabilities; he can’t work unless someone is physically there with him, and since that’s not feasible he spends the rest of his day playing wii. Youngest (4) had been in preschool until a few months ago but they pulled her out because “we can teach her that stuff at home.”

  • The_L1985

    “Does she seriously think sibling rivalry only turns mean when kids attend public school and thus learn bullying techniques and bringing those techniques home? Or, conversely, that public school kids naturally have troubled sibling-sibling relationships?”

    I remember resenting my brother during my pre-school years, and Mom indicates that this started from the day he was born. I was two years old. I was also the first-born. I’d never set foot in a school or daycare when I started teasing and bullying my baby brother.

  • Sophie

    I have 3 brothers, one 6 years older and the other two are 14 and 16 years younger. My elder brother and I have a difficult relationship, he had to look after me a lot as a child and he really resents that. He also thinks that I had an easier childhood than him, which in some ways is true and in others really not. He was 6 when our dad left and dad had been his primary caregiver for most of his life. So he had all that to deal with whilst I never knew our parents together and had only ever seen our dad at weekends. My older brother also got the worst of our mother’s abuse until he got kicked out at 15 and he had a strained relationship with our mum’s partner who she met a year after our dad left. Except what he forgets is that once he was gone I was the only one left, so from 9 I got the full brunt of the abuse and it wasn’t like I had it easy before he left. The other thing he forgets is that he bullied me, locked me out of the house and hit me.

    My relationship with my younger brothers is very good. We are close and that is down to me working to keep it that way. I was a second mum to them when they were little, in fact when I lived with them I spent more time with them than our mum. Even after I left home I would take care of them in the holidays. I moved away permanently when they were ten and eight, at first it was really hard because I only saw them every 6 months and they wouldn’t talk on the phone but as they got older it got easier. Now they are 13 and 15 and we talk once a week and we can talk for hours! I don’t see them as often as I would like as they live 300 miles away and travelling is difficult for me due to my disability. This summer they are coming to stay with me and my partner on their own for a week and we are all so excited! It was meant to happen last year but our mum got jealous about how excited we were to see each other and she cancelled. This year we are being careful not to let on how excited we are but I’m still worried that it won’t happen. I miss them more than anything, they are the two people I love the most in the world and I know they feel the same, they never end a phone call without telling me they love me and when we see each other there are always a lot of hours dedicated to hugging and sitting all snuggled up!

    The relationship between my elder brother and the youngest two is odd. He was an adult and never around when they were little. It’s only been the last 8 years that they’ve had a relationship. They think he is cool but they don’t really know him and he gets irritated with them because he expects them to behave differently. I’m not convinced that they’ll maintain a relationship with him once they’ve left home but only time will tell. And the youngest two have a fairly typical relationship of same gender siblings born close together, they either love or hate each other!

  • MaJoRoesch

    Not all of these stories have happy endings I’m afraid. Before homeschooling, me and my bother were close. I remember, way back when I was seven and he was ten, small and sickly little me was being picked on by bullies on the school bus. He chased them off for me, and kept them away from then on. I saw him as both champion and friend.

    Then homeschooling started, and it all changed. We fought. Every. Single. Day. My parents, being fundamental christians, had a no tolerance policy to fighting. It didn’t matter who engaged it or why, we were both punished, just whoever my parents believed started it got it worse. Since my brother was usually the one beating up on me, he always got it worse, but I still would get 3-4 swats for my part. Every single day, my Dad would come home after a 12 hour shift, ask who did what, do the swats with his special polished wooden spoon, then eat dinner and pass out from working so long so that my Mom could homeschool us. This happened over and over and over. My parents hated it, we hated it, but no one know how to get out of it. My parents went to “How to Train Up a Child” and their pastor for advice on what to do, and both said to just stick with it, and it will pass in no time. It lasted for over three years.

    Fortunately, it did finally FINALLY end, and it was my brother, not my parents, that did it. There was a small study in the front part of the house, hardly ever used, and my brother wanted to move into it as his own room. My parents had some random ideas for the study, so it took a while, but eventually they caved. And instantly, just like that, the fighting stopped. Sure there was occasional stuff every now and then, but it was a remarkable difference. Of course, it didn’t go back to how it was before. We just ignored each other and stayed away from one another. After three years of that, can you blame us?

    It’s been almost a decade since then, and my relationship with my brother has never recovered. We don’t hate each other, and we’ll talk a little in passing, but we pretty much just do our own things and never interact. And I don’t see that changing any time soon.

    • Shadow Spring

      My husband’s fundamentalist parents had the same rule: if two of you fight and one cries, you both get spanked. I thought it was a good rule, due to my husband acting like his family was ideal. That was until the major depression and delayed PTSD hit. Now I see what lazy parenting that was, really just not wanting to be involved in your children’s lives. He was not home schooled, but sent to boarding school. Still, the fundamentalism is the poison, and being entirely neglected vs. being entirely dominated is no great trade-off. It’s the spanking, the view of children as something to be trained rather than people to be loved and understood, the idea that instant compliance is the goal. So much of the religion just SUCKS. My husband was always called down as prideful if he smiled and felt good about an accomplishment. Fundamentalist patriarchal religion just sucks. I have no more good to say about it.

  • Searching

    You may not want to generalise, but oooooh boy does everything you wrote resonate with me… and I am very aware of the same sort of thing being rampant in other homeschooling families that we associated with.

    Parent approved bullying? Check. Natural age segregation when the opportunity arose? Check. Friend sharing (or stealing?) Check! Sibling rivalry (that progressed to the point of violence sometimes?) Check check!

  • CaliforniaDreamin

    I was close to a large HS family when I was younger. They currently have 8 kids (and counting!) ages 6 mo-13 years, ALL HS. The oldest 2 boys (now 12 and 13) did go to school for a few years, before they converted to xtianity, but the rest have never been to any school. I am sure they will have double digit numbers of kids by the time they are finished.

    I will say, from the outside, it looks awesome. The kids are sweet, friendly, and smart, Mom seems gentle, patient and loving, Dad is the ultimate successful breadwinner, and even helps with the kids. It looks like they all have such a good time together and love every minute of life. They all say how great HS is and how it allows them the ability to be together and do things they couldn’t do because of school schedules. They say they are very blessed and God is great.

    From the inside, it is pretty depressing. The kids spend nearly every hour of every day, at home. They are crammed together many per bedroom, isolated from everyone, with little to no contact with the outside world. They do get to go to AWANA, and church, as well as to the grocery store (a treat!), but that is about it.

    Some of the kids have zero friends, a few have one friend whom they share (unwillingly), and whom they see only occasionally. They DO fight over the these rare friends, as well as any new people that might become friends. The one with a friend is often required to include the other (usually much younger) kids in their play dates, even if said friend is not interested. You can tell these “friends” would never be friends if they had the chance to be around anyone else…

    When a kid manages to meet a new potential friend, it is hardly ever followed up on by the parents. I get it- even dropping a kid off somewhere is a major production with a family this size. But it is sad because they so rarely meet others. And the kids are cool, nice, funny, and a lot of fun! (they aren’t all wonderful, but that they are normal kids is my point- not strange or anything. Other kids like them very well.)

    Of course, the kids fight amongst themselves all day long, in the usual ways, but also in ways I just never saw in families where the kids had more time away from the group. Like, fights over tiny things, that lasted such a long time, because there was no break in which to forget/move on. I find it hard to describe, but it was just the way they related to each other, due to the constant contact, that was unusual to me. I don’t know if it was the boring days, or what. (They could also get along wonderfully, just like any siblings, and loved each other. But remember, most are all very young still.)

    I don’t blame them for fighting; over there, no one gets ANY space, nor ANY privacy. Having time alone and privacy are seen as things to be avoided, and are basically outlawed. Closed doors? Nope. They are not fundamentalists, but you can see where those type of beliefs still seeped in when it comes to private time, as well as the “tomato staking”, extreme censorship, and purity/modesty.

    Sadly, the education was dismal too. The Mom always bragged how easy and flexible HS was, but rarely took advantage of groups and co-ops, and spent most days screaming all day. She couldn’t teach, as she had to give the younger ones attention, and thus didn’t have time to explain stuff to the bigger ones. Or the ability to do much of the work herself. When the older kids had a hard time learning on their own, she gave up, or yelled more.

    And this is with only 3 kids learning at home, 2 of which learned the basics prior to HS! I cannot imagine what it will be like when the younger ones start. It is a good thing the parents are educated and have money, if they did not, this might not have such a decent outcome.

    HS is not about education at all for this particular family, anyway. It is a way to keep the kids away from bad influences, keep the kids with their siblings and parents 24/7, and to shape their minds in the ways the parents want. If they learn and do well academically, well, that is a bonus. If not? Oh well.

  • Ellen

    Your story about the strained relationship you have with the younger sibling that you mothered sounds really familiar to what happened in our family between my oldest daughter and my youngest. We had some different dynamics going on in our family, but the outcome was the same. My oldest daughter was particularly close with her younger sister (I think she tended to be a shelter for her little sister from conflicts with other siblings, one of which was somewhat of a bully). When my oldest went off to college, the youngest would not speak to her or about her for literally months! Eventually, she came to a place where she really doesn’t even want a relationship with her sister. This is all compounded now by the fact that this child came out as being transgender (“I’m a boy, Mom.”), and the oldest can’t accept it because of her conservative Christian beliefs. I find it interesting that this happens in other families. It has really grieved my heart as a mother, and I really don’t know what I can do about it, to help their relationship to heal. Probably nothing at this point. Makes me sad.

    • Shadow Spring

      There are a few things you can do: always speak well of each child to the other. Present your transgender child as a person, and talk with empathy about how hard life is for a person being true to their own heart when it is not a popular direction their heart leads. Address the reality that you put too much responsibility on your oldest and apologize to both children separately and then together. Acknowledging the issue is a baseline for healing the relationship. Who knows what good might be built on that foundation? None, if the foundation isn’t laid, and that’s where you come in, mom. Let love and humility take the lead here. <3

      • Ellen

        Thank you. I appreciate your advice.

      • Shadow Spring

        I hope it all works out in the end. :)

  • aim2misbehave

    Yep, same here. My relationships with my siblings dramatically improved when we all started going to public school and moving out – even today, if too many of us are in too close quarters for too long, things still start to get explosive.

    And the thing that led some of my friends and I to be kind of resentful of our siblings were that either the kids who weren’t in the age group that had to sit on the sidelines for an hour or two and watch the other ones “have fun” that they couldn’t have, or the activities had to be doable and age-appropriate for the youngest children, so the older ones weren’t ever doing anything that it’d be normal for someone their age to do and ended up socially “held back” by several years.

  • Jubileah

    I believe there are many variables at play here… The public school versus homeschool has nothing to do with it. While there is natural sibling rivalry in all sibling relationships, there are also ways in which parents can promote unity and peace within the household. “Respect” for each other would be the best place to start!

  • Shadow Spring

    I only have two students, so this sibling thing doesn’t really apply to my family’s experience BUT, do home schoolers bully? Hellz yeah they do! And they’re sneaky and mean as any kid in public school. Home school is no cure for bullying, that’s for sure.

  • http://unpublishedforareason.blogspot.com/ Hannah M

    I’m pretty close to all of my siblings now, and many of my siblings were very close to each other as kids (my three younger sisters in particular have all been good friends since childhood), but I was absolutely the bully. I was an irritable middle schooler and teenager, but also a devious one, so I figured out just how to push their buttons without actually getting in trouble for it. I was very mean to my siblings and although those relationships have mended a lot, it wasn’t until I left home and went to college that we were able to build actual friendships.

    While I don’t think homeschooling was the *cause* of that (and that didn’t happen to any of my younger siblings, they all get along pretty well), it certainly made it easier for me to take my teenage angst out on them.

  • wanderer

    My brother and I went to public school and were extremely close. He was one of my best friends throughout my entire childhood. I can’t imagine how homeschooling could have possibly made our relationship any better.

  • Jeremiah H

    First, frankly its amazing to me that homeschooling was advertised to ANYBODY as a way to avoid bullying. Here’s one example of a positive experience of HS. The 4th of 6, with only one sister, I’m part of a large-ish Catholic community in a small town. My parents had us take a bunch of co-ops with science, civics and English being the most common. Since we weren’t geographically isolated, (which should always rule out HS in my opinion), we were social enough, to varying degrees.
    My parents’ approach combined ‘work hard, pray hard, play hard,’ with an idea of ‘we’ll give you responsibility when you’re ready,’ and they usually gave it. Trust me, each one of us is a complicated story. I can say that several factors came together to make the experiment, and work in progress, which is every family work in our case. first, my mom was a dynamo who coordinated (sometimes well) with the older siblings to share turns teaching us young’ins. also, I don’t know how well this will be received or understood, but my parents were so well-formed in their faith that ours was usually not fundamentalist. they always wanted, and typically tried to have, love, respect and understanding at the core of our relationships. Not because (with a capital B) of faith, but certainly not in spite of.
    *steps off hobby horse* Anyway, my two oldest brothers shift along the friendly->civil->tense spectrum more than my younger brothers and I do, but thats partially because we see their example and learned from it.

  • Snipe

    We were not homeschooled, but my sisters and I grew up in a heavily Gothard-influenced household, and we became socially isolated after one of my family members began to suffer from mental illness. My dad would not permit us to fight or have disagreements, and he threatened to “come down hard” if any of us exhibited rebellion. I tried to ask what he meant by “rebellion”, and he gave a very vague explanation. I didn’t want to cross my parents, so I learned to appease, to suppress my individuality, and to feel that I was to blame if my opinion varied from anyone else’s.

    If I had a friend over, my parents demanded that my sisters were allowed to spend time with her as well, because we were supposed to share and my friend was their friend, too. People used to remark on how well my sisters and I got along, when we got along because we had to.

    It can be so hard for someone raised in that environment to see that it isn’t healthy or normal, especially when it’s all they’ve ever known and they’ve been convinced that it’s a good way to be. The main post doesn’t exactly mirror my situation, but I can identify nonetheless. I didn’t have much choice in my situation, either.

  • http://criticallyskeptic-dckitty.blogspot.com Katherine Lorraine

    I was homeschooled from eighth grade and onwards and I have to say that homeschooling did nothing in regards to my relationship with my younger sister. We had always been close, and although my first eight years of school we weren’t together 24/7 like we were later, we still got along well.
    Of course we had little rivalries and arguments in regards to things, but we spent enough time with each other to deal with those issues maturely – or degenerate into picking at each other until one of us was told to quit. We shared friends cause we were the same age group, and our friends all had similar interests (in the vein of ‘run around outside and have fun’)
    The worst part of our relationship is that I’m now an atheist and I’m pansexual. I’m also trans but haven’t broached that topic with anyone in my family. She’s a Conservative Fundamentalist Christian. I see her wasting what I know is a brilliant mind, dedicating herself to being a mom when I know she can be so much more. She’s been told ever since she was a little girl that there’s no reason to be anything but. She got married to an admittedly nice guy, but a very traditional one who won’t even let her open the car door and gets frustrated at her when she tries to be more modern.
    I wish there was more I could do to help her out of that Fundie shell cause I know she’d flourish so much better if she was free of that culture. I wish I could get the courage to tell her about my gender issues, cause I trust her more than anyone else not to make a deal of it – but I know she won’t hold that knowledge in confidence cause she tells her husband everything, and I know he won’t keep that knowledge in confidence and it’ll get out to my parents way before I’m ready for it to come out.

  • Robin Johnston

    I’m still reeling from the concept of letting… no, encouraging… older sibling to co-parent younger ones, even to the point of spanking them. This seems like such a violation to me, of the older child in particular, and such a disruption of the natural pattern of older more experienced persons caring for younger ones. To be given such responsibility and power before one is ready for it….. how can that NOT make you a bully? You had no choice!! I cannot fathom the philosophy behind such a choice. My kids had a difficult enough time getting along with one another, without adding in THAT as a factor. Yikes. God bless you.

  • Ann Parker Crawford

    I appreciate your honesty about your behavior, but I think that you are being really, really hard on yourself when it isn’t warranted. You were young and you were doing as you were taught. Once you moved out on your own, you discovered that you were wrong and you regret that and you aren’t raising your children in that manner.
    Cut yourself some slack.


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