What do homeschooled girls and trash cans have in common?
They both only leave the house once a week.
This joke was well-received among homeschooled youth because it rang true for so many of us. For almost all of my teen years, church was the only social activity that I engaged in, the only time during the whole week that I might have a chance to interact with people who were not my immediate family. Making friends in that context, especially as a shy teen girl, seems daunting. However, I had an even greater obstacle to deal with: I was not allowed to participate in youth group.
My parents were absolutely terrified of teenage rebellion. Thanks to various books and speakers popular in the homeschooling community, my parents believed teen rebellion to be a recent American trend due to indulgent parenting and peer pressure. A rebellious teen was more than just an annoyance in the homeschooling community: that teen was turning his/her back not only on the parents, but also on God. What a tragic waste of years of sacrifice and careful training by the parents! This type of thinking motivated my parents to maintain careful discipline and to shelter us from almost all contact with our peers, even at church.
I distinctly remember the conversation between the youth pastor and my mom. I was probably 14 or 15, and so shy that I would start shaking if anyone tried to talk to me at church. Although social interaction was painful, I desperately needed it, and I think the youth pastor noticed that. He approached my parents after church one day to invite us to Sunday school. My mom asked for the materials that were being used in Sunday school, and took them home to peruse them with my dad. I heard the decision the next week at the same time as the youth pastor: “Our kids will not be attending Sunday school.” The reason? Apparently the material mentioned a teen who was frustrated with his parents, and it was dangerous for me to think that frustration was a valid or normal feeling for a teen to have toward parents.