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This is a letter I have written to any of our Frontline Moms subscribers who happen to be homeschool families.

Please share this with your homeschool friends.  Here is a print friendly version.

FLM Homeschool post open letterAn Open Letter to My Fellow Homeschool Parents

by Lisa Cherry

As a homeschool mom of 25 years with ten kids, I am writing today to express my concern for the safety of my fellow homeschooling families, the protection of our freedom to homeschool, and my own personal reputation as a homeschooler. Like many of you, I am both heartbroken and disturbed by the recent alleged sexual scandals involving Vision Forum and Bill Gothard’s Institute in Basic Life Principles.  I join with all those praying for the recovery of those who were affected.

As sexual abuse allegations within these ministries have attracted media attention, I am also greatly concerned about how these scandals could negatively impact all of us in the homeschool community. Please allow me to share with you seven vulnerabilities and nine suggestions for action in light of recent developments. (Since the nightmare of sexual abuse happened to our own family, it’s an issue that’s very close to my heart.)

 

 

 

Potential Vulnerabilities of Home School Families

1.  Misperception That Our Homes and Families Are Immune

After our own 15-year-old daughter was abused by a 46-year-old man in our congregation, we ended up in a jury trial. I still cringe when I remember how the prosecution portrayed our family and Kalyn as being "naive" about these issues. It also shook me to realize that, perhaps, in some ways he was right. We should have been aiming to be as "shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves" (Matthew 10:16, NASB). With one in four girls, and one in six boys, being sexually abused in America by the age of eighteen, it was naive to believe we were somehow immune to risk.

2.  Lack of Sexual Abuse Prevention Education

I am the first to admit that while Doug and I thought we had taken all the necessary steps to protect our family from sexual abuse, we were sadly misinformed. We were ignorant, before it happened to us, of the deceptive power of the grooming behaviors employed by abusers; and we believed that our family members—adults and kids alike—were too "smart" to be tricked. In researching how to help our wounded daughter, we discovered important keys that we now use to protect the rest of our kids.

3. Suspicious Behaviors

When people appear to be "hiding" or "protecting" known abusers, they bring suspicion upon themselves. No one wants to ever falsely accuse someone of sexual misconduct. However, once an accusation has been validated, we must establish an environment that encourages truth-telling, if victims are to heal and others are to be protected. If we silence or soften the truth, or  allow leaders  who have fallen into sexual sin to remain in their positions simply because they are good teachers, we contribute—either accidentally or intentionally—to the culture of grooming and lies.

4. Lax Attitudes and Systems

Mandatory reporting and sexual abuse prevention systems are the norm in schools and other institutions now, and rightly so. Because of some very public legal cases, and the increased liability of churches, schools and organizations, sexual abuse policies are much more strictly enforced nowadays. If we, as homeschoolers, do not also deal with this issue in a similarly forthright manner, we could appear to be negligent. This could attract further attention to us in two ways: (1) Child abusers will target our kids as easy marks, and (2) The homeschooling community will be under greater scrutiny in a way that invites regulation.

5. Public Perception

Homeschoolers are frequently viewed as a single group, implying that our community is ripe with such predators. In every article I have read on the ministries mentioned above, the media has emphasized that they are "homeschool leaders." In my experience, most people in education, media, government, and social services do not understand homeschoolers. Recently Michael Farris, president of HSLDA, issued a strong statement clarifying that we’re distinct individuals, and countering these misperceptions. While commenting on his recent interview in World News Daily condemning the actions of Doug Philips, Mr. Farris said on his Facebook page, "I have admitted my errors in failing to speak out....I am convinced that this [patriarchal] movement is harmful to people—children, women, and even men who buy into these deceptive ideas. The freedom of the homeschooling movement is threatened if this kind of dangerous legalism is allowed to become the dominant view. I have tried to distance myself quietly and imperfectly for a long time. I am now convinced that I need to be forthright and say out loud what I have thought for a long time....It would be easy to contend that Doug's sin was separate from his patriarchy views. I am saying the opposite. His views of women were integral to his actions." (April 15)

Mr. Farris's statements are strong and clear. But, sadly, it will be hard to counter the hostile public perceptions created by these scandals.

6.   Unnoticed Actions

The alleged immoral acts within these ministries appear to have gone unchecked for years. Surely someone saw something that caused concern.  But in their “trust” of the ministry leaders, most did what is all too common: they ignored or discounted what they saw. (Or perhaps they were ill-equipped to interpret what they observed.) This is truly unfortunate. The protective systems within these ministries were either inadequate, or they simply failed.

7.  Hostility toward the Homeschool Community Is Increasing

Online responses to these stories are flying—especially by those hostile to homeschooling. Honestly, I had not paid any attention to these anti-homeschooling voices until I saw them chiming in during the aftermath of these ministry scandals. But they are very real and very vocal. The implication that we, as homeschoolers, might need to be "watched more closely" is alarming. I do not want to dignify these comments further by providing a link, but I have seen them on several sites, and it is frightening. The hostile momentum that’s building—driven by those who would love to stop homeschooling or deeply regulate it—could be devastating to us all.

 

So what can we do, in the face of these challenges?

 

 

 

 

9 Suggestions that I Believe Are Critical

1.  Pull Our Heads Out of the Sand

We can’t ignore this issue any longer. We must address it, both personally and publicly. The problem of sexual abuse crosses all segments of society. We are not statistically at greater risk; but neither are we immune. (I have heard the stories from other affected homeschool families myself!) We must be willing to understand and confront our own unique set of risks.

2. Intentionally Include Sexual Abuse Training in Our Homeschools

The best abuse prevention for children is well-informed, alert adults. Parents must make the effort to study sexual issues that are prevalent in our society and dangerous to our kids. Read our story to see how we were tricked. Then do what it takes to launch your own protective strategy.  (Click here to find resources to help.)

3. Address the Issue of Sexual Abuse with Your Homeschool                   Co-op/Support Group

 

I suggest we launch a strategic effort to educate our families. It would not be that difficult. (Click here for recommended materials.) Homeschool group meetings on this topic could prevent a great deal of pain. At the same time, our homeschool co-ops need to review their own policies. Just as wise churches screen their own children's and youth workers, we should also. A good system of prevention is one of the best deterrents to abuse. Let's improve our own accountability so we are always above reproach.

4. Be Clear in Labeling Abuse as Abuse

We must call sexual abuse by its real name. Abuse is not limited to just rape or molestation. Here is an official definition from a reputable Christian book on the topic:

"Sexual abuse is any contact or interaction (visual, verbal, or psychological) between a child/adolescent and an adult (or older teen) when the child/adolescent is used for the sexual stimulation of the perpetrator or another person." (Dan Allender, The Wounded Heart: Hope for Adult Victims of Childhood Sexual Abuse)

 

Let's face it: the term sexual abuse is loaded and ugly. So often people try to mislabel abuse as "inappropriate behavior" or an “indiscretion" or "immorality" to help remove its stigma.  But renaming something just confuses the issue at hand and prevents us from dealing with the reality of its dangers. Children and youth who have been damaged by abuse—even if the abuse seems "minor" to us—will often live their lives through the lens of that experience; and frequently make poor relationship and spiritual choices as they mature. They need our help for recovery.

5.  Support Organizations Fighting To Protect Us

We believe it is vital for homeschool families to stand together in this difficult hour, as we respond wisely to policies and laws that could challenge our freedoms. We must actively support those who stand up for our families. But while the legal teams have been wonderfully responsive to our homeschool community needs over the years, we must also recognize that they are only able to help us collectively when we choose to take personal responsibility. In other words, sometimes we need to take the initiative to police ourselves in private.....before they must represent us in public.

6. Permanently Remove from Your Group Or Sphere of Acquaintances Any Sexual Offenders

 

It seems like this would go without saying, but it does not. In the world's eyes, sexual offenders are considered "non-reformable," due to the nature of their problems. As believers in Jesus Christ, we know that God can deliver people from very complex problems. So, often, in our efforts to show mercy to these perpetrators, we give people the benefit of the doubt. We allow them second chances. Unfortunately, this has proven disastrous in many cases.

 

I propose that anyone who is truly repentant and reformed of sexually abusing a child should have no problem being under accountability, limits, and supervision. They would acknowledge their own risk for relapse, and not put themselves in a position where they could be even falsely accused.

 

Just as wise leaders would never send a former alcoholic into bars to do ministry, former abusers should never be entrusted with children alone. (This applies to families, as well as ministries.)

7.  Pray

The battle of sexual abuse is part of the spiritual warfare being waged against this generation. Pornography has simply taken that fight to a new level. As believers, we recognize that we are not wrestling with flesh and blood here, but with powers and principalities and rulers of wickedness in high places (see Ephesians 6:12). The battle over protecting our children, and leading them to purity amidst a perverse generation, will be won or lost on our knees. Pray for your kids. Pray for all our kids. Maintain holy alertness in accordance with Ephesians 6:18. Intercede for your leaders. Receive from the Lord the wisdom you will need in this hour. And most importantly, please pray for the healing of families who have already been affected by abuse.

8.  Support Your Local Church Leaders

It is amazing to me when I hear church members complaining about protection policies implemented by local church leaders. Sure, I long for the "good ole days" when we didn't have to be so careful. But those days are truly gone, and it is time we adapt. Extra staffing and volunteers will be needed. Are we willing to sacrifice our time to serve? Our pastors and leaders deserve our support as they do their best to protect our families.

9. Pass This Letter On to a Homeschooling Friend

Together, we can take the steps necessary to protect our families...but only if enough of us are on board. Would you consider forwarding this article to 10 of your homeschooling friends? Would you consider sharing it on your social media site, posting it on your blog (link available at www.FrontlineMoms.com) passing it on to your homeschool group? Let's stand together as a community and continue to make homeschooling the safest option for our kids!

Related post: Why We Called the Police and Why You Should Also

Update: Almost 30,000 homeschool families have seen An Open Letter to My Fellow Homeschooling Families: Sexual Predator Accusations Among Homeschoolers?  Lisa will be doing further updates on this topic.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Cherry family ch_ 12

Lisa & Doug Cherry are speakers who travels across the nation addressing parents, teens, and Christian leaders on the growing spiritual culture war. They are the parents of ten, grandparents of four and have enjoyed homeschooling their family for the last twenty-six years. Lisa is also the author of Not Open: Win the Spiritual Culture War and Unmask the Predators.  Her articles have appeared in The Christian Post, World Net Daily, cbn.com, and more. For additional information about Lisa, go to www.frontlinefamilies.org; and find her on her Facebook page.

Lisa will be a featured speaker at the following upcoming events:

June 12-14
Alabama Homeschool Expo
Montgomery, Alabama
Toll-Free: 1-888-553-8914

July 24-26, 2014
Southeast Homeschool Expo
Cobb Galleria Centre
Roswell, Georgia
Atlanta Area: 770-594-1266
Toll-Free: 1-888-264-7763

 

 

 Sorry-apology

Using these most important 10 words with your child/teen can both open the door for a new season of relationship as well as usher in a chance to right a wrong parenting leadership course.

Last week as I was speaking to parents in Tampa, I felt to demonstrate to the parents how to properly implement changes in your home after The Lord has convicted you of a parenting error. We were talking about the issue of romance, dating, and relationships and pondering how many of us, at the conclusion of the conference, needed to go home and make some significant adjustments in our leadership. But how can you change when you know your teenager is going to use the "you already said!" argument as to why the new changes would be unfair.

One option would be to "lay down the new laws" and tell the teen they will just have to get used to the new ways.  Another would be to ease in some minor, watered down version of the needed changes so as to not ruffle the teen's feathers. But my best key for those parents was a third option.

Start with sincere humility. Admit and confess your parenting failure both to the Lord and to your family. Take ownership in the error as you ask your child's forgiveness for the wrong leadership direction. Then try saying something like this....

"Son or daughter.......The Lord has convicted me of this error and He is also helping me to gain wisdom for a new direction. I am thinking this may not be an easy change for either of us so please pray for me to choose wisely now."

Perhaps a few more days will pass before it seems prudent to come back for the next step.

"Son, I believe I am seeing some new direction for us now. I am so encouraged how God has answered my prayer to assist you in establishing a healthy foundation for marriage in your future. Here is our next step in that process........"

Then as you lay out the new rule/procedure/law you can hopefully pull your teen onto the same team with you in a quest to seek the Lord's best.

With humility and cleansing comes a greater grace to walk in the Lord's grace. (James 4:6)

Kalyn Cherry Waller

By Lisa Cherry

Such was the expressed feeling of two different moms who contacted me in the last 24 hours. Christian moms who have worked very hard to instill a love for Jesus and a biblical worldview in the lives of their sons. Both went to the cost and sacrifice of providing a Christian based education for their children and yet both boys were in trouble and both moms were reaching out for help.

Mom #1

Her son recently shocked her by coming out of the closet with an openly gay lifestyle. As her world was shattered she was struggling to understand how her son, who still professed a love for God and even still acknowledged that his choices were sinful in the eyes of the Father, could continue along his destructive path.

Mom #2

Her son was exhibiting a much more "minor" problem. He was simply accusing his loving Christian parents of being judgmental when they said he could not attend the secular band with the objectionable lyrics concert. "Why, how can anyone know what is in a person's heart?" he queried. "And besides, who are we to know whether someone with some sexual issues would be kept out of heaven by God?"

Folks, these two cases are not at all unusual. I hear piles of similar stories week after week. But be honest. Were you not tempted to react to mom#1 story with a horrified gasp and mom#2 story with a bored yawn?

Today, I am challenging you to notice the connection between the two stories. Deception is working overtime on our kids' minds and souls. This week, I was studying a recent book by George Barna called Futurecast. His survey of our teens and young twenties was staggering. Only 1% of our kids' generation has a biblical worldview. That means they have adopted a basic Christian set of bible doctrines (not postmodern reasoning) as their foundation for decision making.

1%???

With statistics like that, I am certain many of us could find ourselves in the coming days shouting what mom #1 and mom#2 did! "I thought I knew them....but I didn't!"

Are you confident you know what your children are truly absorbing and believing in our postmodern generation gone haywire? Are you engaging them in meaningful and revealing dialogues that would give you a chance to assess their belief systems? Are you praying over their lives for everything that is in the darkness of their hearts, souls, and minds to be brought to the light so that you and The Lord may help them mature their faith choices?

Or are you simply hoping that what you see on the outside is a good enough show to be real?

I am so proud that mom #2 has correctly identified her conversation with her son as a crisis needing her immediate attention. Right now I guarantee that mom #1 would encourage her to seek The Lord for help NOW....not later!

Please, please take this warning seriously. This blog is filled with back issues that can help equip you in assessing your home. Remember when you are parenting your precious teens that they are the same ones you knew as toddlers waiting for you to make sense out of the world for them! Will you ask Him today for the tools that you will need.....and spend the effort and focus it takes to assist your children?

 Prayer

By Lisa Cherry

I am in our heaviest season of travel right now speaking to hundreds of parents every  week. Never have I sensed such a vital need for prayer in our homes.

Deception
Confusion
Despair
Battle
Fear
Heresy
Lukewarmness......

...are knocking on our doors!

As I was praying this morning for all our Frontline Families, I was reminded of the powerful tool of prayer the Lord has given us to bring our kids through an evil generation. And right behind that reminder I also remembered the Lord gave us powerful prayers in His Book that we know are pre-aligned with the will of God! That is good news because we have an amazing promise in I John 5: 14-15 that says....

This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know He hears us-whatever we ask- we know that we have what we asked of Him.

So I encourage you, instead of praying begging prayers today for your home, pray deeper to the root of your issues and needs. Pray as Paul prayed. He knew as we know that when the insides of our lives are lined up correctly the outsides will follow! These are daring prayers that could TURN OUR LIVES INSIDE OUT and UPSIDE DOWN!

Love you all! Will you join me praying............

Prayer 1

Philippians 1: 9-11

And this is my prayer for my family....
That our love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that we may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ -- to the glory and praise of God!

Prayer 2

Colossians 1: 9-12

I ask you, God, to fill us with the knowledge of your will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. I pray this in order that we may live a life worthy of The Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to His glorious might so that we may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light.

Prayer 3

Ephesians 1: 17-19

I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give my family the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that we may know You better. I pray also that the eyes of our hearts may be enlightened in order that we may know the hope to which He has called us, the riches of His glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe!

Amen.

*     *     *     *     *    *

Right now we are offering our POTTS (Parents of Teens and Tweens) subscription for $15 instead of $20.  This is an annual subscription that includes ongoing support and monthly videos to help in your parenting journey.  The kit includes (1) Stick book, (1) 4-part DVD curriculum, Monthly Video Sessions, and Support from POTTS. You can find out more about our POTTS ministry HERE.

POTTS Parents of Tweens and Teens

Kalyn Cherry Waller

Kalyn has not turned Hindu....she was simply a mama desperate for some sticker entertainment in flight  with a 20 month old! Ahhhhhhhh.....traveling as Grammy has neat perks. I am assuming someone else calculated the snacks, the diaper and the toy count.  I just get to take pictures and watch her discover the airplane lights.Kalyn Cherry Waller

This week I have been particularly alerted to the wonder of the seasons of life. As surely as spring beings its annual transformations without my assistance, the seasons of my family's life  keep rolling along whether I want them to or not.  As a younger mom, I would often look ahead wanting to rush myself forward to the next plateau or development. Now, I want to slow everyone down! But in reality, I don't have the luxury of either option. For God, himself, is the orchestrator of seasons.

So my next best option? Enjoy.....I mean really enjoy....the season we are in. Take time to laugh at their silly Kyla Wallerjokes and remember the corny movie line with them. That is my family fun advice for this week. Simple. And yet profound.

Oh, I know we are all busy keeping our lives running and achieving and earning. But the best are the moments when you catch a glimpse afresh at why you are running, achieving, and earning anyway.

P.S. .....We made it a whole week with keeping our house in greater order! I think we are on to something this time! Read about our Messy House Weirdness HERE.