I think that part of the reason that our family was never really considered true homeschoolers by some of our peers is because we had money. My dad is a brilliant businessman, and his success certainly did drive a wedge between us and our peers, and we were always viewed as different. It is true that we did the same things to save money that other homeschool families did, but we did them as our hobbies, not out of necessity. We never struggled with making the mortgage or worried about our cars breaking down.
In hind sight, I think that was a good thing, as it helped to insulate me from what I see as an increasing trend of homeschool families sending their children back to the lower classes. I have a lot of respect for people who work with their hands. But I don’t like holding blue-collar up as an ideal because it’s more “godly” than other forms of work.
I’ve seen this played out many times around me. Parents, many of which were college educated, are told and decide not to send their children to college. This often reduces their children’s opportunities for career advancement or for obtaining the perspective necessary to become fully-rounded individuals. Even a Christian school will bring a lot of challenge to one’s character and beliefs. But instead, the children are left to get their ideas from an extremely narrow number of sources and are led to believe that they have been given all truth, reducing their interest in exploring anything else. To some families I have known, even ideas and knowledge can be seen as unnecessary. Instead, if you’re working with your hands, you’re not exposing yourself to evil, the logic goes. As long as you have the Bible, or more likely someone telling you what it says, there’s no need for anything else.
Ironically, I have seen that having many children can make a man a worse, not better provider, because of the errant teachings surrounding “God’s blessings.” I have heard many times from over-worked mothers that “God won’t ever send you more than you can handle.” But at the same time, there’s the flip side of the coin: fathers who think that doing “God’s will” will mean that God takes care of everything. I have heard of many a working man who continually acts like he expects that God is going to get him a better job to support his burgeoning family, but if you ask him where he’s applied to or how many interviews he’s had, you’ll just hear that he’s “Trusting in God’s timing.”
A major fad right now is the “family-based economies” touted by Vision Forum and others. These home-based businesses are viewed as ways for fathers especially to have influence over literally every sphere of their children’s lives. Most of the work is hands-on or involves somewhat suspect “franchising” opportunities. I have never seen a family obtain the upper middle class this way. It’s rare to see one cross north of the poverty line. I knew a young man who was very bright who eschewed all of college over this ideal, because in one semester of chemistry he found that his lab partner cursed too much. Once again, the assumption is that blue-collar families are the most biblical model, and this way, the sons never have to leave the home at all.
Marriages often play out along working-class lines too. I have been stunned to see exceptionally bright young women with highly educated parents being paired with men who were at best mediocre. I once lost a courtship to a boy who was a farmer with a high school education, despite the fact that the girl’s father was a college professor. He had not had the opportunity to explore his beliefs and therefore conformed exactly to his parents and church.
It is also darkly ironic how many homeschool leaders advocate abstaining from college when they would have gone nowhere without it. Bill Gothard got his bachelor’s degree at Wheaton, one of if not the most prestigious Christian schools in the country, and he frequently mentions his honorary “doctorate.” When I think of Vision Forum, the disparity becomes even worse; most of its leaders were very successful at business doing things which required college degrees but then they tell everyone else that college is not necessary. It’s a paradox I cannot understand. Look at Doug Phillips (esq and law credentials), Scott Brown (bachelors from liberal state school and masters in theology), Kevin Swanson (says that he attained the rank of student body president at a very secular Cal-Poly and has a Masters in Divinity as well), and Voddie Baucham (who became a Christian in a top twenty private secular college and has four separate degrees).
Yet they tell their followers that college isn’t necessary while at the same time selling them a lifestyle that includes $300 conferences and $150 toys at Vision Forum Inc.
It’s rare that a Quiverfull marriage results in an exceptional boy ending up with an ordinary working-class girl. I think that this is because homeschooled men have much more freedom. This past weekend, I went on a date with a Christian girl who wasn’t homeschooled, believed the earth was billions of years old, was working a full-time job, had a bachelor’s degree, and whose parents had never met me. I can think of very few girls back home my age who would have been allowed to do the reverse. To my dad’s great disappointment, I seriously doubt I will ever go back home and marry a girl with no college education, not out of snobbery, but because she simply could never understand me. Perhaps that’s partly why some home school leaders have bewailed the great number of single women in their twenties and thirties. The exceptional men are leaving to find educated women, leaving the dross for the rest.
I was able to breach the social class that most of my fellow homeschoolers grew up in
Part of it was because of my family’s affluence, but most of it was a conscious decision on my part.
I decided to explore the other side of the world. I would never say that everyone should go to college. But it always pains me to hear some parent who’s never set foot on a college campus talk about why his or her child won’t be going to the university next fall. A lot of them love to hear about how godless the place is, but when I tell them about the good things, there’s always an awkward silence. I can tell what they’re subconsciously thinking: If I got through three degrees with my faith intact, why are their 25-year-old sons still working as day laborers?
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The Graduate is a young man in his mid twenties who was formerly raised in the ATI lifestyle. Although he appreciates the contributions his parents made toward his education, he now sees how many parts of his previous lifestyle were both unwise and unbiblical. Because his family has left A.T.I., he struggles to connect and relate to the people he grew up with
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