Abusive Homeschoolers

This is what happened to a young woman who wrote about the extremely negative consequences of being homeschooled:

Just over a year ago, I almost stopped blogging. I received such negativity in response to a blog post I had written that blogging ceased to be fun. I very nearly quit, and was only able to enjoy blogging again by changing my approach to handling comment threads. What was the post I wrote that generated such a response? It was a post in I wrote about my struggles to overcome the the serious socialization problems I faced as a result of having been homeschooled.

Something else happened after that post, though. While homeschool advocates denied my experience, I also received emails from other young people who had been homeschooled. They thanked me for giving voice to their experiences. They thanked me for letting them know they weren’t the only ones with these experiences. They thanked me for speaking out. Still, it was a long time after that first post before I dared to criticize homeschooling on this blog again. The response I had gotten on that post was too triggering for me to dare repeating too soon. I still don’t write about homeschooling very often, in large part because of this.

I had the exact same experience with my post on homeschooling: a crowd of completely unhinged, nasty, abusive freaks descended on the blog, harassed me, cyberbullied me, and threatened me and my family members. I’m an adult, I don’t depend on this people in any way, so I was able to push back against them by threatening legal action.

And now imagine what happens to poor, miserable children who are completely dependent and who already are excluded from normal human interactions by their selfish, hysterical, horrible parents. Just like the blogger I quoted, I took quite some time to recover from the homeschoolers’ bullying. These people are so unhinged and stupid that they can’t tolerate a person simply expressing an opinion on her own blog. It horrifies me to imagine how they trample on their children all day and every day.

Still, as Libby Anne and I discovered, the victims of homeschooling appreciate it greatly when somebody speak out about the damage that is being done to them. When homeschoolers attacked me or Libby Anne, it wasn’t really anonymous bloggers they were trying to shut up. In our words, they recognized everything their own children wanted to say to them but never dared to. The intensity of their rage was proof that they are aware of how wrong their actions are and how abusive they are being.

68 comments on “Abusive Homeschoolers

  1. I am just waiting for the home schooling nut jobs to arrive. Maybe you will get enough to push you over one million hits before New Years eve?

  2. So what fraction of home school parents are abusers? I know quite a few folks who home schooled their children (qualified public school teachers among them) and their kids seemed very normal to me and the adults they grew up to be are happy and thriving.

    Not everything has to be done by unionized government employees and bureaucrats, you know.

    • “So what fraction of home school parents are abusers?”

      – Read the linked post and all will be revealed to you.

      “I know quite a few folks who home schooled their children (qualified public school teachers among them) and their kids seemed very normal to me and the adults they grew up to be are happy and thriving.”

      – The homeschooled themselves say different.

      “Not everything has to be done by unionized government employees and bureaucrats, you know.”

      – Of course. There are always private schools for the union-phobic.

  3. First, yes, I have homeschooled for 24 years. I, personally, know no homeschoolers who would deny your right to speak on a subject. If you say homeschooling has damaged you and want to give support to others fine. The negativity you are experiencing, though, is your own making. Anytime a person makes and believes blanket statements there is going to be others who definitely have had different experiences and want to supply the opposing view for balance. Yes, it is your blog, but since you have made it an open forum, you are inviting comments. You blame your experience of homeschooling for harming you socially. However, you have completely closed your eyes to others who point to homeschooling as a great experience for them – even going so far as to say they are lying about it. My two oldest homeschool graduates are now homeschooling their own children. With dance, groups, clubs, 4H, sports, etc., their social tank is overflowing. Do some homeschool differently and keep their children home all the time? I guess so, but it really is not that way for all. When you realize that, then I believe your blog will be an encouragement to the audience you are trying to reach.

    • Get the fuck off my blog, you condescending, illiterate, stupid prick. If you think it’s normal to address strangers in the egregiously insulting way you dared address me in this comment, you should be kept as far away from children as possibly. Do you even realize how abnormal you are, leaving this sort of comment?

      • Get the fuck off my blog, you condescending, illiterate, stupid prick.(Clarissa)

        Wow, the words of a professor I want teaching my kid. :(

      • The point is that after reading it several times I can find nothing impolite (certainly nothing ‘egregiously insulting’ in the way he ‘dared’ addres you) in hiddenhollow’s comment and you respond with a torrent of abuse.

        True, their reading skills are not optimal in seeming to confuse you and the author of the post you linked to so the ‘illiterate’ part is understandable but unless you have a history with this person I don’t know about your reaction seems disproportionate (unless you were making some kind of meta-statement that went over my head).

        • Some quotes from this incredibly offensive comment: “The negativity you are experiencing, though, is your own making.”
          “However, you have completely closed your eyes to others who point to homeschooling as a great experience for them – even going so far as to say they are lying about it.”
          “When you realize that, then I believe your blog will be an encouragement to the audience you are trying to reach.”

          If you feel it’s OK for strangers to address you in this way, that’s your right. But nobody – and I repeat – NOBODY talks to me this way. Some brainless jerk who is incapable of distinguishing a quote from a text that uses the quote will be psychoanalyzing ME and telling ME that I need to open my eyes and realize some shit? And you expect me to allow this on my own blog? Yeah, right. Ha ha.

  4. Ah, Clarissa, tell me how you REALLY feel…. ;)
    Serious question: Can you distinguish between students who are home-schooled and students who attend a conservative evangelical private school? You may be observing ideology and social behavior typical of those students intentionally raised in a parallel conservative evangelical social milieu, where all interactions are controlled so that the child has minimal interaction with non-conservative-evangelical people and cultural items, apart from the obligatory venture out to evangelize to the unsaved.

    • Of course, there is a huge difference. Those who go to school get socialized, those who don’t go to school don’t get socialized. As I said before, children need a chance to develop and get socialized outside the parents’ gaze, they need to learn to inscribe themselves into the hierarchies of social and professional environments, develop identities of their own, develop relationships with peers. None of this is possible when Mommy is staring at them.

      Look, I had a phenomenal relationship with my father when I was growing up. We had a total blast spending time together. But having him be there while I’m trying to learn to be my own person would have been a disaster. The school I went to was beyond bad. It was a schook for the kids of party apparatchiks. No bunch of evangelicals could come up with the kind of conditioning we were given at that school. But it was still a million times better than being stuck at home all day long even with the best parents in the world.

  5. It’s astounding to me how homeschoolers defend their practice so rabidly. They need everybody to agree that homeschooling is wonderful. They proclaim that homeschooling serves their children’s best interest but I think that deep down they know that homeschooling is about them: about their desire to imprint upon their children, about their pride, about their desire for companionship from their children, about their inability to allow their children to develop independent identities. So when somebody critiques homeschooling, their precariously constructed (and self-congratulatory) identity is shattered and they have to admit that they are engaging in selfish parenting. Unable to face that they are selfish, they explode. I really can’t believe how damaging homeschooling is: damaging for children and even damaging for the parents. It’s a sad and deplorable practise.

      • It’s very common for some people to treat others, especially females, as if they were paying these to produce a product of some sort. You must produce moral perfection in all spheres, because that is why you are put on this Earth. Don’t you know we are paying you huge $$$$$s to meet, or even surpass, our expectations?? We are righteously outraged whenever you fall short of our expectations and we will waste no time in letting you know.

        Oh, wait a minute…. I guess we’re not paying you for anything like that.

        • “Don’t you know we are paying you huge $$$$$s to meet, or even surpass, our expectations?? We are righteously outraged whenever you fall short of our expectations and we will waste no time in letting you know.

          Oh, wait a minute…. I guess we’re not paying you for anything like that.”

          – I have explained more times than I care to remember that the only reason I write this blog is because that’s how I entertain myself. If people don’t like what I write and how I write it, there is absolutely nothing preventing them from reading some other blog. Yet people keep trying to police what I do. This is a very mysterious attitude because it is so senseless.

              • The homeschooling thing? Yeah, that is indicative of deep-seated insecurities. It could be for any reason, but I trust you have had more experience with this and I, so you would have drawn conclusions based on your accumulated knowledge.

              • “The homeschooling thing? Yeah, that is indicative of deep-seated insecurities. It could be for any reason, but I trust you have had more experience with this and I, so you would have drawn conclusions based on your accumulated knowledge.”

                – I have a feeling that most people are so lacking in self-awareness that they haven’t even started placing their parents in the zone of criticism. So when somebody else does what terrifies them so much and mentions that being a parent does not make one perfect, they flip out. Many frightening possibilities beckon.

              • You need a tremendous amount of ego strength to criticize parents or authorities. Most people don’t have this, so they confuse criticism, which comes from a place of strength, with blaming, which comes from a place of weakness. To add to this confusion, women are typically viewed as weak, in Western society, so it is assumed we are blaming when we are criticizing.

              • “You need a tremendous amount of ego strength to criticize parents or authorities. Most people don’t have this, so they confuse criticism, which comes from a place of strength, with blaming, which comes from a place of weakness.”

                – There is no maturity and no adulthood without a critical evaluation of parents. Normally, it should take place at around the age of 14. When people who are well past 40 still experience such an intense anxiety on the subject, I think there is very little hope for them.

              • I began to view my parents as childish in their conceptions of the world around 12 or 13. I’m sure I had some preliminary notions of this even earlier.

                I don’t know why others don’t have a sense of being different from their parents in significant ways that relate to their different choices, character and less-stifled world view as a child.

                There are those like Chodorow, we suppose that women as such don’t really develop in this way. I don’t see that, but this may be an issue of culture. Perhaps female children and their mothers often don’t separate very much from their parents. I’m starting to be very wary of the strand of feminism that would see this as a good thing.

                In my case, I was given an extra boost for separation, because around puberty, the war we had been fighting suddenly ended. I have only just understood, actually by listening to a video by Alexandra Fuller, that almost nobody knew the war was going to end suddenly. The media black-out had made it seem like the Rhodesian forces were winning.

                Anyway, when the war was suddenly lost, my father became very hostile and resentful toward me. It was like I had become the enemy that had made him lose the war. I still don’t understand this psychology. I didn’t generate it. Nothing I did changed.

                But if you look at it psychoanalytically — although not in terms of the pat formulas and conventions I have come to associate with psychoanalysis generally — you could say he started to treat me like a masculine contender for something.

                Actually, maybe the communists (who won) were feminized or something. So, maybe he thought I had won. He had a lot of soldier’s pent-up ferocity.

                I have tried to convey this, without understanding it fully, for many years — more than a decade. All this time, I have never had one person say, “Hey, maybe he was wrong to take it out on you like that?” Actually, I correct myself. One person said that, on a similar but not directly related topic.

                Nobody — not even those calling themselves feminists — seem to find peace when one is criticizing those in charge. Nobody wants to side with you, or make it easier.

              • “Anyway, when the war was suddenly lost, my father became very hostile and resentful toward me. It was like I had become the enemy that had made him lose the war. I still don’t understand this psychology. I didn’t generate it. Nothing I did changed.”

                – May I ask how old you were at that time?

                “I have tried to convey this, without understanding it fully, for many years — more than a decade. All this time, I have never had one person say, “Hey, maybe he was wrong to take it out on you like that?” Actually, I correct myself. One person said that, on a similar but not directly related topic.”

                – People are terrified of the subject. Not on your behalf but mostly because of their own anxiety.

              • I was born in July 1968. The war started around 1963, but didn’t take off in earnest until 1965, when the colonial government declared independence unilaterally from Britain. Then, the black nationalists understood this as a declaration of war. They received arms and training from the Soviet Union and communist China.

                The war ended around 1979, after which time there was an interim government for eight months, and then Robert Mugabe was voted in.

                I guess I was eleven or twelve when it all fell apart for my parents.

              • OK, this makes sense. You were starting puberty. That’s a painful moment for any patriarchal father. He loses the war and he is also starting to lose his daughter. He can’t do anything about the war, so he turns against you.

                I’m not making excuses for him or anything, of course.

              • It could make sense in a general way, although the thing is we never really had much of a relationship because he was so prone to exploding. The typical Freudian pattern does not apply, except in the most lose of senses. I spent almost no time in his company, because he was always being called up into the army or at work. In his own view, and this is to use his words, after the age of three, he lost his relationship with me. He was on army call up, and after that, in his view, he couldn’t restore the connection.

              • “In his own view, and this is to use his words, after the age of three, he lost his relationship with me. He was on army call up, and after that, in his view, he couldn’t restore the connection.”

                – How interesting. This is usually what mothers say.

              • Anyway, he made me fight a very prolonged war against him from my freedom. And he kept pushing me more strongly to the left politically. I would never have gone as far left as I did — to the very limits, involving the left radicalism of Bataille — had he not pushed me there to find the resources to escape his power.

                This echos much of what happened with the actual war itself, which was unnecessary if the colonials could have found a way of gradually extending government to more of the citizens.

                It seems like my father wanted to prove the war wasn’t fought unnecessarily, by retaining control over me. In the end, all he proved was that it is necessary to go radically to the left to escape an autocratic regime.

      • Patterns, sometimes when pressure is applied, patterns emerge. Its not like you are two different people, blogger and teacher.

        • So you can’t imagine people ating differently in professional settings and outside of them? You are also incapable of reading the very first post on this blog? Or retaining the information it contains? You believe that everybody who knows the word “fuck” necessarily uses it at work?

      • Clarissa

        Just so you know, there is much about your blogging I appreciate and learn from. But, there are aspects of it that I think is borderline nuts. Unfortunately, not one of your chorus ever calls you on it. I cant imagine that not one of them doesnt ever cringe when you say certain things. I just figure they are spineless to call you on it. I dont have that problem. The question I would pose to you, are you not able to see for yourself when you step over the nutty line???

        • Response: I don’t give a rat’s ass about what you think on any subject. You have demonstrated such an extreme intellectual impotence that you can hardly expect to be taken seriously.

          Will you now be able to summon your puny intellectual powers and try to answer a very simple question that I asked?

      • I wonder if a male telling someone to F off would also be viewed as “a pattern under stress”. My guess is it would be seen as a sign that he is taking control over his territory.

        • “I wonder if a male telling someone to F off would also be viewed as “a pattern under stress”. My guess is it would be seen as a sign that he is taking control over his territory.”

          – Some people find female aggression intolerable. And I really enjoy seeing them squirm.

  6. I’m a homeschooling parent. There, that’s my bias.

    However, I am appalled by your experience, Clarissa!
    I am also appalled and pissed off by the people who are so shallow that they can’t allow your voice to be heard. Maybe they are so insecure and frightened of being in the homeschooling experience that they can’t acknowledge negative experiences…

    I have only just arrived at your blog, but I will be reading more as I find the time.
    Keep your voice out there!

  7. “Most people don’t have this, so they confuse criticism, which comes from a place of strength, with blaming, which comes from a place of weakness.”

    AHA. So that is why they do this. I thought it was a way to disallow any criticism of authorities or of anything outside oneself but this is much clearer.

    On homeschooling. Well. I was homeschooled for a semester or so once due to travel and it was boring. My father was homeschooled for six years due to travel and says it was so boring as to be traumatic. It was not the school material that was boring, it was the insular quality of it.

  8. The only reason we considered homeschooling was because my step-daughter practically begged her dad and me to do it. She is so bored at school and feels she learns very little for all the time she is there. She doesn’t seem to enjoy the “fun” and social aspects of school like practicing for the Christmas concert as there is too much time spent on this.
    Of course once I get my work visa I’ll be looking for work so homeschooling in the long-term isn’t really possible and the school won’t consider part-time homeschooling and seem to have a very negative opinion on homeschooling.

    • I have got to wonder, if your stepdaughter had “practically begged” you to give her alcohol, a motorbike, a nose job, and a diamond-studded purse, would you have acceded to all these requests, or is it only the lack of proper schooling where you are so eager to heed her life-changing requests?

      • Well, I really don’t think homeschooling, particularly if it’s short-term or part-time, is comparable to these things. No, we wouldn’t just give into any life-changing request but it really seems like she’d learn more at home. Personally, I’d prefer if she could skip a grade in one or more subject since it seems like a waste of time for her to be in maths class, for example, when she is 1-3 years ahead of where she’s expected to be.

  9. “She is so bored at school and feels she learns very little for all the time she is there. She doesn’t seem to enjoy the ‘fun’ and social aspects of school like practicing for the Christmas concert as there is too much time spent on this.”

    –Everyone feels that way about minor aspects of school like singing and progress that seems slow in the moment. These minor complaints are exactly the ones parents, especially those resembling vampires and vultures, seize upon and take advantage of to get their children out of school. And then feel virtuous and congratulate themselves and I suppose they should, since they have managed to corner their tasty child at home.

    Sorry to use those Hallowe’en style metaphors but this is the typical excuse of parents and I am tired of it. Little though your child may claim she is learning I really doubt you have the kind of training and expertise a core of professional teachers do, or can substitute for a group of students learning things (and I do not mean a playgroup).

    • “These minor complaints are exactly the ones parents, especially those resembling vampires and vultures, seize upon and take advantage of to get their children out of school. And then feel virtuous and congratulate themselves and I suppose they should, since they have managed to corner their tasty child at home.”

      – The imagery is so vivid as to be almost palpable. :-) You are right, children express all kinds of strange wishes, and it is the role of a parent to talk, to explain, to have a dialogue. If parents just accede to a kid’s every whim, they are not even parents but buddies.

      • I keep forgetting that I am guilty too, theoretically; I let my daughter quit high school. She got GED later and has BA now & works white collar but at the time I actually did “let” her quit school to wait on tables. I surely could have tutored her through the GED but wouldn’t that have been sort of icky – incestuous – infantilizing?

        • No, but she was really too old to have her decisions made by you. At that age, you can only step back and let them figure it out on their own. And she did which is a testament to how well you raised her.

      • Well, I fail to see how reducing in-class time by 20% will be detrimental to a child if it’s replaced by something else educational suitable to a child’s needs.

        • I have been blogging a lot this semester about students (university students) who fail to show up for class every time the weather is good or their team is playing. Nobody taught them what a work schedule and the structure of a working environment mean. They will learn the hard way, in the workplace, but a habit that develops easily in childhood comes much harder in adulthood. If at 20 they still think a whim is more important than a schedule, that’s not good. And a school that accommodates these whims does them an enormous disservice.

    • Well, I have teacher training–admittedly I don’t have much experience with classes over 20 students or teaching primary school English but I’m quite confident in most subjects.
      I like group work and other advantages of school so I do think 1-2 days a week at home would be best. The school won’t go for that though (some schools will).

      • “The school won’t go for that though (some schools will).”

        – The extremely irresponsible schools that care nothing about students will.

        “Well, I have teacher training–admittedly I don’t have much experience with classes over 20 students or teaching primary school English but I’m quite confident in most subjects.”

        – You could be a Nobel Laureate in every discipline under the sun and that would fail to redeem this practice.

    • Also, learning to feel bored or to cope with situations where one isn’t the center of attention is a fundamental part of maturation. One simply does not have to be amused and entertained every moment of the day, even though that is the model that even the schools themselves are moving toward.

      One has to feel bored and emotionally alone, or otherwise one does not develop objectivity and detachment.

      • “Also, learning to feel bored or to cope with situations where one isn’t the center of attention is a fundamental part of maturation. One simply does not have to be amused and entertained every moment of the day”

        – Exactly! A kid whose Mummy has nothing better to do than jump around him all day long will make a shitty student and a shittier employer. And don’t even get me started on what kind of a personal life awaits him.

  10. I hated my school and always thought it was too easy, and that I wasted my time there. But I could never have become the confident, critical, and independent person I am without the exposure to different ideas, people, etc. I cherish my own independence to such an extent that I would consider sending my children to boarding school from grade 9 if I could afford to do it. Becoming a separate entity from your parents is a journey that sets the path for the rest of your life, how can parents not see this?

    I really appreciated the author’s cultural reasons for criticizing home schooling as well. “They don’t understand what it feels like to be a foreigner in your own country.” wow. How profound.

    • “Becoming a separate entity from your parents is a journey that sets the path for the rest of your life, how can parents not see this?”

      – This is exactly what I’ve been trying to convey with these posts! Thank you for understanding me.

  11. My father, who was homeschooled for primary school because of traveling, was homeschooled by his mother who had a graduate degree and was a primary school certified teacher. The quality of the instruction he got was not the problem.

    This thread is making me realize why my brother and I hated to be quizzed about what happened at school. My mother thought that was good mothering, she should talk to us and know what was going on with us, but we felt invaded, having to be debriefed each day.

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