Like most kids that are taken out of public school and start homeschooling, and whose families dive head first into patriarchy and fundamentalism, friendships that these kids have end up fizzling out with “old friends” as parents tighten the reigns. Sometimes, friendships are cut off altogether.
I found myself in the position of my parents tryng to wean me away from my friends and because many of my friends didn’t understand what was truly happening in our home, they became uncomfortable and confused around us and our parents and eventually, they just stopped calling and coming around. I found myself thinking that I was out of sight, so I must have been out of mind, too. As a teenager, this was really hard to swallow for me. I felt abandoned, sad and lonely.
The new “church” that we were attending was an hour and a half away and many of the families that attended were even farther away. Since we only saw these families once a week in a very strict church settings, there wasn’t much of a chance to make close friendships. In the middle of the week, our social circle was limited to our family, our elderly neighbors (who I came to look at as adopted grandparents) and occasionally another family nearby that homeschooled children at least 8-10 years younger than myself. At the age of 14-16 (while living in NH), I felt like more of babysitter when families came over now and then (and eventually we started homechurching with them).
I had always wondered what some of my old high school friends thought of the whole situation as I had lost contact with many of them after my family moved to PA in 1996. Not that long ago, I was able to get back in contact with many of those friends via Facebook. It was interesting to ask a couple of the girls what they thought of our family situation from their perspective.
It was truly eye-opening for me to hear what they thought. I think what this friend wrote (below) speaks for itself:
I was upset with your parents for you (because I didn’t understand) for making you give up your “wants” – basketball, friends, school. I could not understand then how they could change so much so very quickly. I thought that church “up on the hill” must be a very strange place indeed. I don’t think I even knew you went to a mission somewhere – or, if I did I have forgotten.
I remember Kerri’s birthday parties or get togethers at your house before everything changed and we had such fun. The next thing I knew, you [and Kerri] were no longer attending school but you could still play ball with us. I enjoyed that. Then I remember the day you came to tell us you were not allowed to do that anymore either. That was a very disheartening day – I could not understand (it was before we had had the opportunity to learn about oppression, to read about it and truly discuss it and emotionally, I am not sure I was truly ready to understand it).
I considered myself an intelligent person and I could not wrap my head or heart around it. I also considered your dad and mom to be intelligent persons, so how could they make such a decision? Those were my initial thoughts. I remember then thinking perhaps Kerri would go along with your parents requests, but they had another thing coming with you – you would fight. I can only imagine how daunting a task that must have been and you eventually “gave in” in body but not in mind as is evident by your strong voice and words.
Every time I would go for a walk and we happened by your house I would look over, wondering what was going on. Then I heard (through the rumor mill) that you would not or were not allowed to talk to me because I was “a tease”. Again, I could not understand.
I always wondered what had happened. It was not until I read your piece that I could put it together. I think given the year we are in and the cultural advances that have been made I still couldn’t totally grasp hold of the idea that this was truly what had happened.