Homeschooled Girls and Trash Cans: The Social Isolation of Homeschooling

by Latebloomer

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.

The tough thing about social phobia is that it is often self-reinforcing. In my case, my severe social anxiety displayed itself in uncontrollable muscle spasms, and anticipating the shaking made me even more anxious about interacting with people. What if someone noticed me shaking? I used to cry myself to sleep at night quite often, occasionally trying to get my mom to notice my tears by sniffing juuuust loud enough for her to hear as she walked by my door. When she came in to ask why I was crying, I would say something like, “I don’t have any friends” or “I don’t know how to talk to people.” The answer to these was always the same: “You have us” or “You’re talking to me right now.” In the morning, life would proceed as usual.

Unfortunately, the “usual” for my life at home was very empty and quiet. My dad was working long hours and was permanently in a bad mood when at home, and my mom was always sapped of energy for various reasons. She left us kids to do our schoolwork independently much of the time; we even corrected our own errors from the answer key. Later, due to mysterious and debilitating health problems, her energy was so low that just going to the grocery store was often too much for her to handle. It was simply understood in the family that we shouldn’t harass her about wanting to leave the house. Since I wasn’t able to get my driver’s license until I was 18, I was stuck for hours, days, weeks, months, years with little-to-no mental or social stimulation.

Little-to-no stimulation is not an exaggeration; obviously, a teen girl who can’t even go to Sunday school due to “bad influences” is going to find many other things forbidden to her as well. Our home did not have a TV; we watched few movies; we only read pre-approved Christian or classical books; we did not have internet access; and we certainly did not listen to most music. My one musical joy was listening to Steve Green and going to his concert with another homeschooling mom. When I tried to add Rebecca St. James to my CD collection, my mom almost had a meltdown because of the beat and the heavy breathing; it didn’t matter that almost every song was a verbatim quote from the Bible. I knew my role–honor your parents–so that CD went straight into the trash and I tried to feel happy that I was obeying God.

What did I do with my time at home? I dragged my school work out to take up most of the day; I spent large amounts of time spaced out, lying on my bed; I wrote in my journals; and I made my own clothes. My homemade clothes were the outward sign of my feelings of isolation. Starting at about age 13, I was responsible for furnishing my own wardrobe (within the boundaries of modesty my parents provided, of course). I had $25 a month to work with, and my mom could tolerate shopping at fabric stores much more than at clothing stores, where everything was “immodest.” (And that was in the women’s clothing sections–I didn’t even know that clothing came in junior sizes until after I had graduated from high school!) Out on various errands or on family vacations, wearing my very odd, ill-fitting clothing, I felt the stares and desperately wished that human contact was unnecessary. “I wish I could just be a hermit!” ….this sentence occurs a little too frequently in my teen journals.

My first friend of my teenage years came from Hope Chapel, when I was about 17. Pastor Reb Bradley, with the support of the homeschooling families of HC, would not allow a youth group in the church. Finally, I was not so odd! It was easier to strike up a conversation with someone, knowing they might be just as desperate and nervous as me. It was easier to not feel judged when the other person’s clothes were just as odd as my own. I could more easily feel successful at conversation because it was not full of cultural references that I had no idea about. I became a little more confident socially, strengthened my atrophied conversational muscles, and got a little more hopeful about life. I was even able to add a second friend by the time I was 19.

Now I’m 30 years old, with four years of college and eight years of work between me and my teen self, yet I still feel the effects of the isolation I experienced growing up.

First, I still feel significant social anxiety in even the most non-threatening situations. I am particularly at a loss in group settings full of new people. What do I say? When do I say it? Whom do I say it to? How/when do I end a conversation? Even in a circle setting, when it’s my turn to say my name, my blood pressure skyrockets.

Second, in the whole world, there is no place and no group of people where I feel like I belong. It’s like I was raised in a different culture, with the distinct difference that I can never go “home” to it. I’m permanently a foreigner; interacting in this foreign culture takes a lot of attention and effort. I’ve tried to catch up on the culture I missed…to watch the movies, to listen to the music, to see pictures of the clothing styles…..but it will never mean to me what it means to you. People always use cultural references and nostalgia as a way to build community and connections between people; for me, they create distance and remind me how different I am inside.

My profile photo is of the 80s star Molly Ringwald. The first time I ever heard her name mentioned was at my first real job, when I was 22 years old. God bless my dear gay boss, who saw through my awkwardness and gave me a chance at the job because I looked like his favorite childhood actress! When he learned that I had no idea who she was, his jaw hit the floor.

These days, I manage to avoid shocking people too much, unless I decide to tell them about my past. To me, the biggest compliment I can receive today is, “You were homeschooled? Wow, I can’t even tell!”

Discuss this post on the NLQ forum. Comments are also open below.

Latebloomer is on a journey away from the ideals she was raised with in the conservative homeschooling culture. Becoming a wife and mother has prompted her to re-evaluate her childhood experiences in an effort to avoid repeating those mistakes.  Her blog Past Tense Present Progressive is her place for sorting through her thoughts.

View all posts by Latebloomer!


NLQ Recommended Reading …

Breaking Their Will: Shedding Light on Religious Child Maltreatment‘ by Janet Heimlich

Quivering Daughters‘ by Hillary McFarland

Quiverfull: Inside the Christian Patriarchy Movement‘ by Kathryn Joyce

  • Former Patriarch’s Wife

    Love this. Thank you for writing it.

  • http://anourishinghome.com vina

    Hi Vickie! Wow, what a testament to your strength! I’m new to your blog and I am loving your story, resonating with some (although not in particular details) your stepping away from your childhood beliefs…I’m glad that you are no longer quivering indeed!

  • africaturtle

    wow, i just feel sick for you reading all that. I understand so well, not because i lived it but because IF my mom could have had her way, that’s the way we would have been raised. What i hate is hearing her talk about how much she regrets many things about the way she raised us (when i have happy memories of my childhood) and knowing that what she means is she thinks she failed us by not raising us more like the way your parents did (obviously she was reading the same books, etc). So i’m glad i had a dad that was less convinced and a church that was pretty “regular” so i have all these various experiences to draw from.

    I tried to check out the blog in the link, but this article did the same as the last one and says “error, not found” (could someone double-check the address?)

  • Calulu

    Don’t know why the link doesn’t work. Will try to fix it. Just copy and paste into your browser for the moment..

  • Alice

    Sounds to me like the writer has/had horrible anxiety/shyness issues way independant from being homeschooled and is now blaming being homeschooled for it. Had she been forced into social situations all during her youth maybe she would be complaining at how that negatively affected her. Nothing personal but it seems like just a change of perspextice when looking back would be very healing and now just do all the things you feel deprived of. Everyone always feels like their life should have been better/perfect. I don’t see how parents can win anymore. I am not involved in the patriarchy movement but I was a homeschool mom a couple of decades ago. It sounds like your mom had some issues too. God bless you both and may you rely on Him to overcome your shyness and resentment for how you were raised. My personal experience is that acknowledging the hurt and then moving on in the way you deem right is the healthiest thing to do.

  • Teri

    The author’s social anxiety may not have caused by her parents, but the social isolation they imposed deprived her of the opportunity to learn social skills. Her awareness of her social inexperience, lack of knowledge of the common culture and the ugly clothing she was forced to wear greatly exacerbated her social anxiety.

    I was not homeschooled, but also endured profound social isolation growing up and was forced to wear ugly clothes. I still have social anxiety, although with therapy I am much improved. I am now able to date, network professionally and engage in small talk. Alice’s comments that everyone has problems and that the author should forgive, trust in God and move on are typical of the hurtful comments I have received the few times I risked talking about myself. This type of comment implies that the author is exagerating and also must be a “bad” Christian because “good” Christians never have any kind of mental health issue.

    With therapy and the support of her family, the author can find relief from her social anxiety.

  • jemand

    I’m sorry this article made you so worried about how you might have harmed your kids while homeschooling them similarly, that you had to lash out at the writer and find something else to blame the hurt on, and judge her for just not being “over it” yet.

    There. How do YOU like it when someone twists your words and comes up with the least flattering interpretation of what you say with the most flimsy evidence and throws it in your face?

  • Wendy

    The article is not a condemnation of homeschooling, so relax. Your educational choices for your kids were probably great. This is a case of bad religion leading to bad parenting.

  • A.C.

    I myself was homeschooled my whole life, and reading other peoples’ experiences on how homeschooling was used as a method to shelter and isolate them helps me process my own past.

    I can relate to the oppressed sexuality–I was given a Christian book on sex and was instructed that masturbation was sinful. I can also relate to the repeated phrases in journals. I had a childhood journal that was a school assignment, and when I wasn’t writing about how I loved my family and God to fill up the required five sentences and be done with it (my mom was reading it, why would I want to write anything private), my core feelings spilled out. The phrases “I want a playdate” and “I want to die” popped up too many times, showing to me plainly as an adult my loneliness, isolation, and deeply-rooted, untreated depression.

    I myself am 21 and have made a lot of progress while at college. But I still need to read others’ experiences to know that I was not alone and that, well, I’m not crazy. That I didn’t and still am not imagining it all. I’ve really appreciated your posts, Latebloomer. Bluntly? Alice can shove it. Your experiences may make her uncomfortable, but your experiences are yours and real.

    Sorry if you don’t really need my affirmation, in all honesty I’m primarily writing it for myself. I’ve been emotionally-shut down so many times in my life, my feelings and experiences invalidated because they suggested uncomfortable facts to the conservative adults who were supposed to support a hurting child. That, just maybe, they didn’t have all of the answers or they were doing things wrong. That saying “I believe in God’s word and follow God’s word” perhaps didn’t make it so everything that they did, intended in God’s name, was the correct line of action. Because of all this, I just can’t stand to see this sort of invalidation being done to anybody.

    In all honesty, your experiences sound much worse than mine were, and you seem to be doing better. That gives me hope that there’s hope for me, too. Thank you, Latebloomer.

  • Paula

    As the homeschooling mother of three children, I can say that you reached the wrong “main idea” of this story Alice. She is NOT blaming homeschooling for her social isolation. She is blaming the religious extremism of her patriarchal home and the society she grew up in. I don’t see how you read her story and missed that. Maybe it’s because, as you said, you are not involved in the patriarchy movement. Did you just zero in on the homeschool portion of her story and feel threatened? Read the story again, and pay special attention to how her parents reacted to sunday school. And also, the fact that this story appears on a website dedicated to exposing the patriarchy groups for what they are should have told you something.

  • http://www.pasttensepresentprogressive.blogspot.com Latebloomer

    Your comment means a lot A.C., thank you for sharing! I’m 30, and at 21 I was FAR from ok. My 20s were a time of intense personal growth….it’s like going through your teens and your 20s at the same time. I’m glad you’re already seeing your progress–don’t get discouraged!

    It definitely is frustrating to try to share these things at times because many homeschooling parents are so defensive about it and only want to hear information that affirms their decision. They find a way to mentally discount everything else, even if it means telling someone they’ve never met that they would probably be a social failure in any school setting (i.e. Alice’s comment above).

    I personally believe that there are good reasons to homeschool, but homeschooling for religious indoctrination and sheltering is not one of them. Besides the damage it can cause to kids and family relationships, from what I’ve seen it just doesn’t have a good success rate! My husband got through public school and college with his Christian faith more intact than I did from homeschooling and Christian college, and I don’t think that situation is very uncommon.

  • http://coveredcanary.blogspot.com Pippi

    I didn’t have it quite that bad, but almost. I can definitely relate to your feelings of being unable to communicate. I always thought of myself as shy, but as I have made a concerted effort to break out of the shell, I’ve realized I’m actually rather precocious. I was just so repressed by the whole “children should be seen and not heard” thing that it completely changed who I was meant to be. I married the only boy my own age I’d ever associated with, and my two oldest brothers married the first two friends I made. That should tell you something. I couldn’t wait to have kids, because it gave me a conversation starter. It’s taken me a long time to interact with people over anything but my children.

  • Deb Shaw

    Thank you for posting this. Fundamentalism exacts an awful price on young women.

    I spent only a three years in public school, and two in a private “Christian” school. My parents were strict fundamentalists. Emphasis on the “mental” part. Violence was an everyday event. We went to church every Sunday, bible study on Wednesdays, but we were forbidden to even speak to fellow students at school. I was the rebel, because I had friends. When my parents found out that my best friend was gay, they forbade me to ever speak to him again. Even at the time that didn’t make any sense to me — he was the one male I knew for sure was not interested in deflowering me! LOL I was brought up knowing that my only value lie in my virginity, and that I was expected to marry whomever my father chose, and to be a virgin on the wedding night, and to be my husband’s servant thereafter. Until marriage, I was to get straight A’s in school, keep a modest appearance, and keep the house clean — all of which were to make my father look better in the community. He and my stepmother never passed up an opportunity to put me down.

    All these years later, I am agoraphobic, panicky on the rare occasion I leave my house, and still the strongest advocate my daughters could ever dream to have! I would NEVER treat my daughters like my parents treated me! Nor my sons. My boys are expected to treat women with respect, to value their brains and abilities, not to just consider them vaginas with legs. I am proud to be a feminist. A feminist with a wonderful husband who works to support his wife and children, and, yes, I do bring my darling his supper!

  • shadowspring

    I have come to the conclusion that religion is like salt. A little bit can really improve a life, but too much ruins it completely.

  • ccg

    I was homeschooled my entire life. All these stories right now are really, really bringing back memories for me. Homeschooling wasn’t all good, it wasn’t all bad either, at least for me. I learned how to think critically and to think for myself only because I was allowed to use the internet, which I discovered in 2nd grade.

    I remember when my mom told me there was an hour-limit for the computer each day. I don’t think that’s a bad thing at all, I don’t think kids get outside nearly enough nowadays with Facebook and videogames everywhere. But when that one hour online per day was the only social interaction I was getting, via message boards, the moment that hour ended just left me waiting for the next day so I could talk to my friends that I never saw face to face.

    They had me playing YMCA soccer and they had me involved in activities at the Southern Baptist church we attended. So, I’d get out of the house 3-4 times a week. While I wasn’t completely isolated, I was way more than most. I knew nothing about what music kids listened to, how to respond to being bullied (even to this day it still gives me trouble), or how to ask a friend to hang out. I remember being 16 and at a soccer team dinner freaking out because I didn’t know whether it was “gay” to ask another guy for his number JUST TO HANG OUT.

    When I was 12 and going to youth group, I would go every Sunday night, talk to the only two friends I had there, get shunned/made fun of by everybody else, then go home already feeling depressed because I knew it was going to be another week before I saw them again; not that I particularly enjoyed the all the kids there, I was being made fun of! It was the hope that someday, I’d go and there would be some new kid, some girl, or that I’d change their minds somehow. I always just wanted to be accepted. I never was, but fuck if I was going to stop going. Where else would I go?

    I did all the memorization of bible verses for AWANA and stuff. I only listened to Christian music, NOT because that was all my parents allowed, but because their general attitude and disposition had me thinking that anything secular was bad. Anything that secular society deemed normal, it was like I had to distance myself from it because it was “bad” and “not godly.” My parents had me thinking I was too good and smart for the secular world. I was in 3rd grade telling girls in my church that they were bad for listening to NSYNC.

    I found a bottle of painkillers in 10th grade before I got my license and those were my main joy. Every Friday night when I’d be stuck at my house with no friends to talk to or places to go, I’d pop a couple and watch a movie on my couch, and for once I felt like I was having a fun Friday night. After I got my license it wasn’t long before I found the other kids at youth group who didn’t fit in either, the ones whose parents made them go, the kids that sneaked a joint in behind the woods of the church. It’s ironic that church was my way of getting out of religion. No matter how different we were on the outside, I was with them completely: from there on out, it was fuck anything related to church, drugs were my escape. Like a whirlwind I went from crying in front of the alter because that’s what I thought I had to do, to snorting Adderal and day-drinking with the kids who skipped school. Only 9 months time. I’m tame now, if you can consider only smoking pot every day tame.

    It wasn’t all bad. I learned how to teach myself, and I taught myself math from Pre-Algebra to Algebra 2, which wasn’t bad. I had to as my mom couldn’t understand improper fractions (neither parent went to college) As I got older, it got easier to socialize as my parents put me in Dual-Enrollment courses at the local community college. But the social anxiety, all the negative beliefs and thought patterns caused by being isolated from normal human relationships for years, still messes with me. I’m EXTREMELY lonely, no matter how many friends I have I never feel like I can relate to them. I won’t even get into difficulties having a relationship with the opposite sex.

    I still think of all the missed friends, opportunities, activities I could have had from public school. It’s hard for me to be around others unless I’m on some sort of drug or substance. Every time I bring it up to my parents it’s like they don’t understand why I’m complaining. That I should get over it. They don’t see that all the abnormal thought patterns and constructs I’m stuck with was caused because of being so isolated from normalcy. Every time I talk about how I’m depressed and how I think homeschooling messed me up they tell me it’s because I have mental problems (supposedly) and I’m not taking meds. It’s always, “did you schedule your appointment with Dr. So-and-So?” Who knows, maybe they could be right, but they literally don’t see my side and it kills me.

    I can’t even put into words all the thoughts going on in my head around my experience being homeschooled. I’m not far enough removed from it yet. All I know is that I’m lucky to have developed socially as much as I have, cause 99% of the adult homeschoolers I’ve met are worse off. And when I see the weird tics, the confusion that comes with not knowing how to respond to others in those homeschoolers, most people look at them strangely. But I don’t say a word, because I know that I am no different, no matter how much I hide it.

  • http://www.pasttensepresentprogressive.blogspot.com Latebloomer

    It’s hard for parents to understand the influence that their choices had on you because they experienced that lifestyle as adults with their minds fully developed, while you experienced it during your formative years.

    Of course, the whole nature vs. nurture question is complicated and sometimes it’s impossible to know why we are a certain way…but I would hope that your parents would apologize for even a slim chance that they harmed your development, and support you as much as possible as you deal with it!

    I hope you can find a good support system and/or therapist for yourself as you work through this! It makes a lot of difference to feel like you’re not alone. Good luck.

  • madame

    I agree with this point Alice makes:
    “I don’t see how parents can win anymore.”
    But I don’t think this post was ticking off the choice of homeschooling as “wrong”, and bad parenting.
    As a mother, I face criticism often. I remember when I was accused of not providing enough social contacts for my kids. The eldest was in pre-school and we would go to the playground almost daily, weather permitting. Just because I wasn’t organizing playdates for them I was considered a bad mother. Whatever…. People tend to comment on things they don’t know anything about.
    My kids are older now, and they can invite friends or go over to friend’s houses. I guess the patriarchy crowd would disagree because some of their friends are not Christian. You can’t please everyone!

  • http://www.pasttensepresentprogressive.blogspot.com Latebloomer

    This post is not about the parents feeling competitive and judgmental of each other. Of course you can always find someone who disagrees with your choices. However, the problem is when you even write off feedback about your choices from your own adult children as anger/bitterness….or from your younger children as rebellion.

    I think that homeschooling mothers are often overly defensive about their decision to homeschool, compared to mothers who make other lifestyle choices. They tend to have stubborn and independent streaks–which is what lets them make the choice to homeschool in the first place. Over time, they seem to separate themselves more from those who disagree, and surround themselves with a support group of those who have made similar choices. The result is that they often feel attacked when they hear about any possible problem with homeschooling, and feel the need to react defensively rather than stopping to honestly evaluate or ask their own kids about it.

  • anonymous

    i can so relate. i still have such trouble making friends and opening up. thank you for writing this.

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  • http://thisbitchwontshutup.blogspot.com EEB

    I was homeschooled, and for the most part, it was amazing. I was tortured in school (refuse to use the word “bullying”…they didn’t pull my pigtails, I was physically and sexually assaulted, and went home in tears almost every day) and when the school administration refused to help, my mom pulled me out. Our church had a large group of homeschooled girls that I studied with. We got together once a week for a FIVE HOUR bible study (not kidding on that one), also hours and hours spent on bible quizzing (I put more time into it than my brothers put into playing varsity sports) and weekly teen group, not to mention Sunday school and church and night services…so I felt I had a fully formed social life, and I was very happy. Especially since, as a lesbian, I had NO DESIRE to date guys. (“I Kissed Dating Goodbye” was fine by me…less stress to have to pretend I was straight; I could fool everyone, including myself. I was just pure.)

    It wasn’t until I had to go out into the “real world” that I realized how socially backwards I was. And I had it better than most…my parents didn’t have a problem with me spending time with non-Christians (not that I knew any for years…) and I was allowed to watch/listen to some mainstream media (nothing too sexual, or violent, or over PG13, or where the kids were disrespectful to the parents–so no Simpsons or even Rugrats–but other than that…) and I could read pretty much anything I wanted. I still think homeschooling was the best thing for me at the time, considering the environment at the school, but there’s no doubt that it caused me issues later on.

    (Plus there’s the fact that being homeschooled allowed me to basically be the unhired help, and Mom never had to worry about having a babysitter or cleaning the house or being home to make dinner, etc. That kind of sucked.)

  • Stressed Step-parent

    My situation is a little different but i would love to hear any advice from prior or current homeschoolers. My step-daughter and her 3 siblings are homeschooled by their mom. My SD (step-daughter) is 14 and has never been in a single activity or had a single friend. Her mom is an atheist so even the church aspect is out of the question for socialization. All 4 of the children do not know how to make friends or even talk to adults, including family – they just stare at the person who is asking questions because they honestly do not know how to respond. The mom is now in college fulltime and basically the 14 yr old is the fulltime babysitter and has to make sure the other kids do their work as well. There is no tv but they do have internet. They are not allowed outside when mom isnt home and they can only go outside when mom is home if the SD is watching her siblings, even then it must be right in front of the house. Social services will not get involved because the children have a roof over their head and food to eat and they cant remove children just because they are isolated. My hubby and i are trying to get SD in therapy but mom is against it and that is our current battle. We are pursuing full custody, but honestly our chances are not that great because courts dont change custody over these sorts of issues. Both me and their father work fulltime and we desperately want all four kids in school before they miss out on the life lessons that we feel children should experience while still in the home. We take the kids out every weekend we have them and introduce them to as many new situations as we can, but now this is even harder for the 14 yr old to go back to mom’s as the end of the weekend and back to her very sad world. I am very worried about her mental health. My hubby refuses to take just the 14 yr old because then he believes the 13 yr old will be put under then same responsibilities as her sister. Oh and the youngest is 8 and still cant read… I am sick with worry over these kids.

  • http://www.pasttensepresentprogressive.blogspot.com Latebloomer

    That is a really sad situation…those poor kids are really being neglected! It sounds like you’re really doing as much as you can, but not everything is within your control.

    Speaking from my own experience in my mid-teens, the regular presence of an affirming and encouraging adult in my life made a huge difference to me. Even though at the time I was seriously depressed and my social skills were non-existent, deep down I felt more valuable and hopeful because of spending two hours a week with that person for a year. So keep being there for your step-daughter and her siblings as much as you can! And keep trying to give them as many fun “normal kid” experiences as you can….that will give them something to look forward to, at least, even though it’s hard for them to go back to their boring life in between!

    Also reeeeally push for them to at least take group homeschooling classes (homeschooling groups sometimes have coops where parents teach each other’s kids subjects like language and science). And really encourage them to go to college as soon as they qualify–I know some homeschooling kids can take classes at community colleges when they are still in high school, and they can even get college credit for it, so maybe look into that.

    If all else fails, remember that they can make up for lost time in early adulthood. It sucks, but it can be done. I was a complete mess as I entered adulthood, but today at 30 I’m a happy and well-adjusted person with a loving husband and good friends. Good luck to you and those kids! :(

  • Rachel

    I hate being homeschooled, been homeschooled all my life. Now that I’m 18 my parents are finally open to youth group. Feels like its too late. I can relate to a lot of what you said. Yeah I feel so awkward in huge groups. I only leave the house like once a week and constantly think about everything I’ve missed in life. Oh how happy I am when I hear that people could never tell I was homeschooled! Haha Same here. I will be following!

  • shianne

    Your post really touched my heart.
    I’m 16, I’ve been homeschooled all my life, expect 3rd grade where i went to a private school. Growing up, I can totally see how church was one of the main ways i socially connected with friends, but I did have quite a few friends who homeschooled, as well, that I always hung out with.
    I never realized how socially awkward I was until I look back at home videos, and stuff. Although, instead of my muscles tensing, and everything just freezing to where I couldn’t communicate right with people, I was obnoxious. I seemed just excited that someone wanted to talk to me. I don’t necessarily see this as an issue developed by homeschooling, but more so just an insecurity problem I had, and still have, but in a veryyyyy different form. I remember having best friends when I was little, and also being very connected with my youth group, but I definitely remember feeling very alone at times. I was always “different”, and at a young age that bothered me.
    When I was about 13, a series of events caused me to change a lot of my lifestyle. I had to make completely new friends, and learn a lot of new things. I really think this is the point in my life that God really molded the person I am today. I went through a lot of rough times, really questioning who I was, and in the meantime, finding who i was.
    This is the way I see it– Parents put their children in a homeschool environment to shelter them from a world that they see to be very corrupt…better yet, a world that IS very VERY corrupt. They clearly mean well, but it has become a huge stereo-type, because, you see, allllll “homeschool moms” seem to be the same (except for mine…she’s awesome), and its very sad.
    I’m 16, and I’m currently working my first job. Every one of my co- workers that are 16-20 are either on drugs, smoke like crazy, or are alcoholics…. not to mention, half of them are “Christians”. So yes, I am completely for homechooling! Why? because I think that when done with great knowledge, it can be a very special thing for our generation. It sets us apart from the “world”. Isn’t this any homeschool parents’ goal? to guard their child from the ways of the world… I don’t understand why keeping your child locked up in a dungeon would have a good, or better effect on them. just my opinion.
    I’ve been very aware of the problems with homeschoolers not having good self esteem, and having bad social skills, but this has REALLY opened my eyes to the bigger picture. It saddens my heart, really. There is a boy who lives a couple of blocks down the street from me, who homeschools, and doesn’t look like he has any friends….and now I think I’ve developed a knew goal. I’m going to go befriend that child and teach him, like, how to dougie, or something….. I hope his mom doesn’t shun me, for corrupting her child.

    Sincerely, a very happy social ‘unsocialized homeschooler’

  • ssohara

    A friend of mine home-schools her kids, but they are well socialized, I think. But the difference – the parents, while strict Christian parents, allow their children to play with other kids in the neighborhood, and as their budget allows, enroll their children in things like dance class or sports activities. Sometimes the parents will not be able to budget for a class a child wants to take, but then the child will mow lawns or babysit to save up the money to take the class. the kids also take part in their church’s youth group. And sometimes the Mom teams up with other home-schooling Moms so that the kids join a group taking a weekly French lesson with a French speaking Mom or learning how to quilt from the Mom who sews.

    To me, the parents have struck a good balance. I personally would not want my children in the public schools because they are so differen than when I was a kid – a lot more violence including bullying, less academically challenging, etc. However, there are many options nowadays – charter schools, Montesorri, parochial schools, etc., as well as home-schooling. If I home-schooled, one of the things I would consider very important – making sure my kids had opportunities for regular social interaction. I consider myself a strong Christian, but children should not be isolated from the world simply because they might come into contact with people I disagree with. For example, in my neighborhood are a couple of Muslim families. Do I agree with their theology? No. But they are my neighbors, and I treat them with friendliness. If I had kids, my kids would be welcome to play with their kids as long as they were reasonably well behaved, etc.

    If Christianity is the truth, which I believe it is – what are we afraid of? Why would learning about other peoples’ beliefs hurt our faith? I think it’s important to protect children from things that might harm them – so obviously there may be children you don’t want hanging with yours, particularly when they are very young. but the whole point of raising a child is to help them mature so they can leave the nest, which means you have to allow them more and more freedom as they grow up. That’s my thought, anyway. Children are not our possessions, they are precious to God and we are allowed the privilege of stewardship, not ownership.


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