This is a repost from Get Along Home, written October 24, 2011
A while back, Arby, at The Homeschool Apologist, addressed an article by a homeschooled anti-homeschooler. It’s a good post, and defends homeschooling pretty well, but I think that he concedes too much in even addressing whether or not the now-grown Libby Anne’s parents were correct in their method of raising her. Frankly, the issue is less about whether her “quiverfull” parents were damaging their children by homeschooling than it is about whether or not they even have a right to believe as they do.
Though Libby Anne’s parents don’t actually identify with the “quiverfull” movement, she gives them the moniker in order to streamline the stereotyping process. She then proceeds to explain, with an apparently straight face, that even though they raised her quite well, they shouldn’t have been allowed to do so because the rest of the “normal” people do it differently. But whether they should have raised their children according to such rigidly “traditional” roles, is neither here nor there, in my opinion. We can have that conversation some other time.
The real question isn’t, Should people with weird lifestyles be allowed to homeschool?, but the more basic Do parents have a right to get it wrong? And I think the answer is yes. I’ve gotten all kinds of flack for saying that in the past, but it’s true. Parents have a right to screw up without interference. If they don’t, then we’d better all hand our kids over to the “experts” right now—the ones who teach your sixth graders these kinds of things–because not one of us is going to raise our children to adulthood without making some bad calls in good faith. Might as well make sure they’re all screwed up in the same, state-sanctioned ways, I guess! I know several adults whose parents did horrible things to them—divorce, exposure to pornography and violence on television, emotional neglect—but they were culturally “normal”, so no one questioned their right to do these things.
But when a family has the nerve to set out on a culturally unusual path and one of their children ends up disagreeing with them, even though that child was never abandoned or abused—was in fact loved and educated and treated quite well—well, that is a bridge too far!
Libby Anne admits that her childhood was happy, just not “normal”. Her main problem seems to be that she was taught to do menial chores like housework and taking care of siblings (you know, stuff that feminism tells us is beneath any sentient human being). She went to college, apparently with her parents’ blessing and financial support, but complains that her parents didn’t really want her to be educated because she was a woman suited only for being inside the home! They gave her responsibility instead of treating her like an overgrown child like the “normal” teenagers! They had the nerve to think that dating is a dysfunctional way to find a mate and hope for better things for their daughter!
Libby Anne’s parents committed the astounding crime of actually believing the things they said they believed. So much so that they taught it to their own children. I know! String ‘em up!
It sounds to me like Libby Anne’s parents did a smashing job. She’s a well-educated, articulate young woman who expresses herself quite adequately. The worst thing she can find to say about her parents is that they weren’t hypocrites. In keeping with their Biblical beliefs, they raised their children against the grain of the culture—never an easy thing to do. Her real problem isn’t with homeschooling, but that she wishes her parents had intentionally raised her to disagree with them. What kind of parent does that?
Perhaps someday Libby Anne will have a child of her own and know that good parents don’t raise their children in fear of how those children will judge them in the future, but in the loving hope that they’re making the right decisions. (Apparently I misread. She does have a child, and still doesn’t see what’s wrong with her attitude toward her own parents.) Libby Anne’s entire argument seems to be that her parents really believed all that Jesus stuff, and they shouldn’t have been allowed to teach their children what they believed without interference from the state. I wonder how Libby Anne would feel if she lived in an actual Christian nation where the schools reflected Christian beliefs? She might possibly wish to take advantage of the right to homeschool her children so she could teach them differently, then, mightn’t she?
Reading the article, I kept wondering how I’d feel if it were my child turning against me in such a public way. What if one (or more) of my children grows up to not only disagree with my decision to homeschool him, but to actively oppose the rights of parents to oversee the education of their own children in this way? Is there anything I can do to keep this from happening? Unfortunately, I don’t think there is.
I can’t raise my children according what someone else believes, and neither could Libby Anne’s parents. She faults them for homeschooling her because she wishes that she’d been raised by people who agree with her adult self. But how could any loving parent send his child to be taught things that he believes are wrong, out of nothing more than fear of that child judging him later on?
Congratulations, Libby Anne. You finally fit in with the rest of the secular culture you’ve longed to join. You no longer even understand the most basic human liberty—freedom of religion.