I Was Not Supposed to Happen

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HA note: The following is reprinted with permission from Darcy’s blog Darcy’s Heart-Stirrings. It was originally published on July 13, 2014.

My most popular post ever, the one on courtship and emotional purity, is making the rounds again, as it does every few months. And with it come the loads of ridiculous assumptions, explaining, excuses, and outright dismissal of everything from my character to my experience to my beliefs. This isn’t anything new. It’s been happening since I started telling my story. It happens to all of my friends from Homeschool Land who also tell their stories. It’s woefully predictable.

“She wasn’t really raised Biblically.”

“He isn’t a good example of proper homeschooling.”

She’s bitter.” (Because obviously being bitter means you’re making stuff up. Or something.)

“His parents obviously didn’t do it right.”

“She’s not indicative of all homeschoolers.”

“He obviously courted in a legalistic way, but that’s not the right way, the way we will do it.”

“The experience she writes about is extremism and not the Godly way of raising kids/homeschooling/courtship/whatever.”

And after every dismissal, an explanation of why they’re different, they’re doing it right, they know better. Their kids will turn out as promised. They have it all planned.

But what these people that comment on our blogs fail to understand is that my parents had it all planned too. They did everything “right”. They read the right books and followed the right teachings that explained how to raise their kids in such a way as to ensure they will grow up to be Godly offspring. People who are the exemptions. People who are whole and full of light and unstained by the world. The next generation of movers and shakers. People who are super Christians.

Had these people who so easily dismiss us met my family 15 years ago, they would’ve wanted to BE us. We were the perfect family. We dressed right, acted right, said all the right things. People used to ask my parents to help their family look like ours; to help them make their kids as good as we were. They called us “godly”, “a refreshment”, “a good example”, and so much more. These people who now turn up their noses in disbelief at me now would’ve been our best friends back in the day.

I think that these people, who are overwhelmingly current homeschooling parents, have to have some way of making sense of the phenomenon of the so-called Homeschooled Apostates. They have to find some reason why what they follow and believe to be “God’s Plan” didn’t work. They encounter people like me and have no idea what to do with us.

Because I was not supposed to happen.

We were not supposed to happen. Every last one of us who was raised in a culture that promised abundant life and Godly children and have now since rejected all or part of our upbringings were not supposed to happen. Sites like Homeschoolers Anonymous, with it’s stories of horrific abuse, neglect, and everyday pain were not supposed to happen. We shouldn’t exist and our stories weren’t supposed to sound the way they do. Not according to all the promises made to our parents, made by our leaders and the authors of the books and the speakers at the homeschool conventions. Yet, here we are.

We who have grown up, evaluated, rejected, and chosen a different path for us and our children….we are threats. Our very existence is a threat to the happy little paradigm that is the conservative homeschool movement. We are realities that threaten to unravel the idealistic fabric of their worldview. They have no idea what to do with us.

So they dismiss us. They make excuses.

They say “well your parents did it wrong, but we’re doing it right!” as we watch them practice the exact same things that damaged and hurt and broke us. We’re desperately waving red warning flags only to be completely disregarded, blamed, and even attacked. Our lives and real stories are no match for the rosy promises of the perfect life, couched in beautiful scripture and Christian idealism. Instead of critically thinking through anything we have to say, evaluating and considering the experiences of countless numbers of people, instead of re-evaluating their own choices and philosophies, against all reason and logic they dismiss us. Pretend we aren’t how we say we are. Convince themselves and others that we and our parents aren’t like them; we did it all wrong and the formula isn’t broken, we’re the ones who are broken.  Even after the formula keeps producing the same result, they cannot let go of it.

But we aren’t going away. We happened, we exist, we aren’t abnormalities…..we’re just people. People who all lived similar lives in a movement our parents all followed for very similar reasons. Every day there are voices added to ours. When I first started blogging, there were very few people telling the story of the homeschool alumni. We had only begun to grow up and process our lives and many of us thought we were alone in this. In the last 5 years, that number has grown exponentially and I predict will continue to do so.

Homeschooling parents today have two choices: ignore the now thousands of warning voices of experience, or carefully listen, reconsider and change direction. I often wonder how many children of the people who dismiss us will end up on our blogs or with blogs of their own that are just like mine. Parents, don’t fool yourselves. You aren’t “doing it right” any more than our parents were “doing it right” when you’re doing the exact same things they did and following the exact same teachings. Your children are not more special than we were.

They are people with free will who will grow up to make their own choices, either because of you or in spite of you.

11 comments

  • Great. You are a great writer.

  • Headless Unicorn Guy

    They say “well your parents did it wrong, but we’re doing it right!” as we watch them practice the exact same things that damaged and hurt and broke us.

    “This time we WILL achieve True Communism!”

    And IRL, a lot of things “that weren’t supposed to happen” happen just the same.

  • Pingback: What I’ve been reading: close to home | kindism

  • Yeah – when people find out I homeschooled for a bit they usually ask about it and then are put off when they find out how badly it worked out for my family. So all of that comes up – well, your parents just did it wrong. You are the exception. Your family is an exception. Look at these nice families over here that did it right.

    As with so many other things, there is a lot of cognitive dissonance with homeschooling. It’s okay.

  • Reblogged this on …..temporary…. and commented:
    There is no magic way to raise children.

  • Lois Brown Loar

    I’m currently a homeschool(not patriarchy) mom, and I’ve been reading at H-A to learn from the posts here. And I had just this experience last week on a FB page. A study was posted about homeschooling that indicated that most adults who were homeschooled were homeschooling their own children. I questioned that, because I have some real-life friends who were homeschooled who have NOT chosen to homeschool their own children, as well as reading the posts on H-A and other blogs.

    It’s as though people just don’t want to face that it doesn’t always turn out all hunky dorey, and that maybe they should try to evaluate based on both homeschool successes and homeschool disasters.
    Thank you for your timely post!

    • Lois, I think you were right to question that. The main thing I’ve heard about data on homeschoolers is that we don’t really have very much.

      Just from my own anecdotal experience- only ONE former homeschooler I know of plans to keep the dream alive.

      Perhaps the study concentrated on kids aged 9-12. My views also aligned nicely with my parents’… twenty years ago.

  • Btw Darcy: This was a fantastic post. Reading this was as refreshing as actual therapy- for a wound some people feel called upon to “explain”, “excuse”, and “dismiss” (as you most eloquently pointed out.)

    In the end though- I don’t think the critical issue is whether “they” take us seriously or not. What’s more to the point is whether WE take THEIR ideas seriously. (Cue Darth Vader’s theme. ; )

  • Headless Unicorn Guy

    Convince themselves and others that we and our parents aren’t like them; we did it all wrong and the formula isn’t broken, we’re the ones who are broken. Even after the formula keeps producing the same result, they cannot let go of it.

    i.e. “THIS TIME WE WILL ACHIEVE TRUE COMMUNISM!”

  • So well said. There are so many of us who were not meant to happen…. myself included. Thanks for sharing. I will be sharing…. or reblogging, whatever its called, on my blog… if I figure out how to do so. 🙂

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