Karen Campbell: Cover for Your Abusive Parent

Karen Campbell: Cover for Your Abusive Parent November 1, 2014

Karen Campbell of That Mom says that “what homeschooling moms really want” is respect. But after talking about being content with your situation, listening to God’s desires for you, and respecting others’ life paths as well, she turns to children respecting abusive parents.

Often it is difficult to show respect to others, especially to our own parents or other family members. Many people were raised in homes where physical, sexual, verbal, emotional, or spiritual abuse was a daily occurrence. For some it continues even into the adult years and desiring to reverse these horrendous patterns in our families was part of the impetus for homeschooling in the first place.

While this might be addressed to the Homeschoolers Anonymous and other homeschool alumni speaking out abuse in their homeschooling families, it appears that Karen is trying to speak at least in part to other homeschooling mothers who have abuse in their own childhood pasts.

Years ago I heard a well-known youth conference speaker being interviewed on Christian radio. The man told terrible stories about his own parents, tales of his embarrassment of them and their abusive behavior toward him all through his childhood. But rather than present a testimony of God’s grace and goodness in his life, the man demonstrated the spirit of Ham, pulling his parent’s pants down and exposing their sin rather than covering it over with love and respect simply because they were his parents. (Genesis 9:20-25)

Yes. Really.

So, what is she talking about?

Genesis 9:20-25

20 Noah, a man of the soil, proceeded to plant a vineyard. 21 When he drank some of its wine, he became drunk and lay uncovered inside his tent. 22 Ham, the father of Canaan, saw his father naked and told his two brothers outside. 23 But Shem and Japheth took a garment and laid it across their shoulders; then they walked in backward and covered their father’s naked body. Their faces were turned the other way so that they would not see their father naked.

24 When Noah awoke from his wine and found out what his youngest son had done to him, 25 he said, “Cursed be Canaan! The lowest of slaves will he be to his brothers.”

Noah got drunk and ended up passed out naked in his tent. His son Ham found him there and took the occasion to mock him, and Noah cursed him for it.

So, according to Campbell, talking about how your parents abused you as a child is equivalent to Ham mocking his father Noah for drinking and passing out naked. According to Campbell, children of abusive parents should not talk about their abuse but instead “cover it over with love and respect” simply because they are their parents.

I’m sure Campbell thinks it is wrong for parents to abuse their children. She just also thinks it is wrong for young adults to expose their abusive parents or talk about them without love or respect. Campbell flat-out asserts that parents are de facto worthy of love and respect simply for being parents, completely irrespective of whether they were good parents or abusive parents.

Campbell specifically says that abusive pasts can follow us into the future as we seek to reverse the patterns of our childhood. She neglects to mention that abusive pasts can follow us into the future in the form of abusive parents who refuse to let go and continue to hurt us. I know quite a number of homeschool alumni who have cut off their parents or considered doing so because the abuse does not stop, even once they leave. It is perfectly legitimate to cut off toxic parents to maintain your own sanity and wellbeing. None of this factors into Campbell’s thinking at all. No, in Campbell’s frame of reference, children of abusive parents should cover for their parents and give them only love and respect.

But what about those who are still children? Should they, too, cover for their parents and repay their abuse with unadulterated love and respect? I’m hoping Campbell’s answer is “no,” and that she would have abused children speak out and get help, but as currently stated her remarks, with their emphasis on covering for abusive parents, tend in this direction.

Campbell has in the past spoken against some elements of the patriarchy movement that pervades Christian homeschooling circles. She has set herself up as a reasonable voice against abuse, and so she seems to see herself. But her insistence that children of abusive parents should cover for their parents and only ever speak of them with love and respect makes all of that a lie.


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