Archives For Homeschooling Moms

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

 

 

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I’ve flown quite a bit in this past year, but one thing I’ve never had to do is to take over the controls and land the plane. I am so glad that each time I was aloft, the pilot had the skills needed to bring us back safely back to the ground.

I am about to make a different kind of landing, one that I’ve made many times before. This month I will celebrate my 22nd end-of-school-year as a homeschooling mom. Soon we will close the textbooks for the last time and take a break from lessons for a few months. I am not one of those who runs her curriculum through the summer. Some of my friends do this beautifully, but that just doesn't seem to be my style.

We are approaching summertime.  We’ve begun our descent, and the landing gear is in place. The atmosphere is clear and we’ve got plenty of visibility.  Our estimated time of arrival is late May, just before the Memorial Day weekend.

One factor that’s critical in aviation is attitude.  The pilot must check the attitudinal indicator on his control panel to see if the plane is lined up correctly with the horizon.  If the plane’s pitching or rolling, he needs to know so he can make the necessary adjustments.

A bad attitude can set you on a dangerous course in homeschooling, just as in all of life.  Ignore that indicator and you will be headed for a fiery end.  I have to confess that some of my past end-of-year seasons have not looked very pretty.

Burn out, spring fever, grouchiness, and procrastination have sometimes threatened to wipe out any pleasant memories of the year. Those nasty problems seemed to have originated with our children's teacher. And yes, that would be me.

IF I sent my children to school, there would be somebody else to call and complain to. I have learned the hard way that the attitude of my home hinges on me. (OUCH!) I have noticed that if I can make a few adjustments, we can all end the year celebrating. But, if I let my attitude have its own way...well, you really don't want to know what that looks like.

One year when Nathan and Kalyn were young, our school year was about to end with a crash landing that was endangering the peace of the neighborhood!   My husband, Doug, stepped in and officially ended my school year for me. I will spare you the details!  I can laugh about it now, but not back then!

I’ve been through my own school of hard knocks, and learned a few things along the way.  I’ve made this checklist in hopes that it will help you get through the next couple weeks with smiles instead of tears, and with shouts of Hallelujah instead of Mayday! Mayday!

1. Make a big deal out of each little book the children finish up the last few weeks. Hug, laugh, and congratulate them...before you remind them that NOW they will have more time for the subjects they are behind on!

2. Remind yourself that almost no textbook is finished in public or private school settings. Curriculum is a tool to move the student toward a destination. Finishing every page is not the destination itself. My older three children have proven to be honor students in college, so I chuckle at all the sleep I have lost over not finishing the last 25 pages of some of our textbooks!

3. Remember that "cramming" rarely works for long-term retention. Asking a child to finish six lessons of science in one day may make you feel better as you mark them off your to-do list, but it’s likely those lessons will not stick.

4. When you reflect on point 3, recognize it MIGHT be appropriate anyway to make somebody do those six lessons in one day. Not for the sake of science, but for the sake of character. If a child has disobeyed instructions or been slothful, they may need to face the music…which means mom has to suffer, too! This is one of those experiences when a mom sows in tears but later reaps in joy!

5. If you are facing the painful truth that you have failed in some aspect of your child's education, take that convicting truth on your knees to the Lord—not to your child. Repent sincerely. Ask Him for new grace, and then remember that you are in a distance race and not a sprint.

6. Have the courage to finish the grading NOW! Do not put it off! Figure the grades. Fill out the forms. JUST DO IT!

7. Remind yourself that Susie or Jane or Mary (or whoever your homeschooling friends are) are going through the same humbling experience. There are no perfect families.

8. Set a firm last day and then stick to it. I find this to be critical to my credibility with the kids and my peace of mind.

9. Consider making notes to yourself of adjustments and plans for next year's schooling. If you are like me, you can easily forget! When I make adjustments in May, I am a lot more realistic. By August the memories will have faded and my perfectionist notions kick in.

10. Plan an end of year party! Have fun! And pack those books away for a while knowing that God is the ultimate schoolmaster…and in His kingdom, school is always in session!


  ---By Lisa Cherry

Image: Umang Dutt "Falling Skyward" via Flickr Creative Commons
License: Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

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By Lisa Cherry

Some of us Frontline moms are serving our families by homeschooling our children. For those of us called to serve the Lord in this capacity, we want to provide some encouragement and support. Please note our new featured tab Homeschooling Moms. We would love to hear from you as we connect our kids to the Father's heart. Invite your homeschooling friends to join us!

As a homeschool mom of ten, with 22 years of teaching under my belt, I have developed some quick tricks to help “boost me” over the hump of the mid-year burn out temptation which, by the way, tends to hit me like clockwork every February and March!

1. Remind yourself about the original vision. This seems pretty basic, but around this time of the year when the lessons are not quite on time to my September schedule and the long months of winter produce loud, bouncy boys wrestling between math lessons, I hear my own thoughts say, “Now why are you putting yourself through this, Lisa?”

At times like this, I have learned to quickly refresh my memory: I am a homeschooling mom because God called our family to this assignment. This isn’t a hobby or a whim. This is a holy mission to disciple and train up a mighty generation for Him. Of course, I will encounter obstacles. That’s part of my assignment. But I will succeed because, “Faithful is He who called us and He will bring it to pass!”

Continue reading “Three Quick Pick-me-ups to Get Over the Midyear Homeschool Slump” »