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Friday, May 9, 2014

Letter to Our Parents

Dear parents,

I'm in several online groups consisting of thousands of the homeschool alumni of my generation, the "Joshua Generation", the products of the Christian homeschooling pioneers. And one major theme going on in our conversations right now is an overwhelming frustration that we cannot talk to our parents. We cannot be real with you. We want a relationship but don't know how to get past the mental and emotional walls you have put up to protect yourself, the denial that your choices for us caused pain. Your disapproval of our choices and rejection of how you raised us is thick enough to be cut with a knife, and weighs very heavy on our shoulders. Can we just for a moment sit here together, walls and guards down, and be honest with each other? There's so much we want to say to you, to help you understand. So much WE want to understand. So this is my attempt to give voice to so many, including myself.

Unless you're never on the internet, I'm sure you know by now that your kids' generation isn't turning out how you'd hoped and planned. How you were assured we would if you only followed the rules. Dissatisfaction, pain, anger, and disillusionment are plastered all over the internet by your children and their cohorts. Story after story written by the adult alumni of the homeschool movement, honest and real and painful. Stories of dysfunction and inability to cope in the real world because of the choices you made for them. Stories of pain suffered, feelings of betrayal, and honest, raw emotions that are probably hard for you to see and hear. Words like "spiritual abuse" everywhere, directed at you and the people you trusted to teach your children how to be godly. "Survivor blogs" are popping up, being written by your adult offspring. That's gotta hurt. We are walking away from so much that you held dear. We are raising our own kids so differently than you raised us. Even the leaders you followed have turned out to be frauds.

I've seen your reactions. Denial. Anger. Verbal lashings. Tears. Disbelief. Shunning. Excuses and justifications. Feelings of betrayal. Guilt. So much pain.

"How dare they!"
"We were just doing what we thought was best."
"We only wanted to protect you."
"We were trying to follow God the best way we knew how."
"We gave you the best we could and you repay us by rejecting it all and plastering your discontent all over the internet?!"
"You are dishonoring us by focusing on the bad!"
"You're just bitter and need to move on."
"We loved you and this is how you repay us?"
"It wasn't that bad."

I understand the sheer amount of unexpected consequences and the reactions of your children must be overwhelming. You didn't expect this. You did everything "right" and followed the people who had all the answers, who made promises about how your family would turn out if you did what they told you was "God's will". And when it didn't work, those teachers and their followers blamed you and your "rebellious" children. "You must not have followed the rules correctly." The broken relationships are like a knife in your heart.

Our rejection of your ways is not personal. It's not a "reaction", as we have been accused of ad nauseam. Many of us were taught to "stand alone", to figure out what was right and then go do it regardless of what everyone else was doing. Well....that's what we're doing. We have weighed the teachings of our past and found them wanting. We have chosen different paths for our own families, much like you did for yours. We have taken what was good and thrown out what was not, some of us throwing out everything because, honestly, there wasn't much good left to hold on to. Many of us are lost and dysfunctional, trying to put together pieces of a puzzle, trying to live in a world we were not prepared for because we were told we weren't part of it. Many of you have taken this as ungratefulness toward what you did for us, but this is not about you. This is about us....our lives, our choices, our own children who we must now make choices for. Can you please stop making this about our rejection of you and instead see it as our embracing of our own lives? We are your children yet we are not children anymore, many of us older than you were when you set out to raise your family the way you saw fit. We want to have relationship with you, but not as your children. As your equals. As friends. As fellow human beings. Please stop treating us as rebellious children. Think back to when you chose differently than your parents and remember what that was like before you treat us with the same disdain and disappointment.

For those of you invalidating our stories, saying "it wasn't that bad", can I ask you to take a step back for a moment? To gain a broader perspective? Because what may have been only a small part of your life, was our ENTIRE lives. You were adults when you chose to attend that Basic Seminar, when you picked up your first courtship books, when you decided to promote the modesty culture, when you chose to become part of a patriarchal system, when you made the choice to spend your kids' childhoods sheltered from the world in your own little reality and the culture you created. But us? We were born into it. We were raised our whole lives immersed in it. We spent the most formative years of our cognitive and emotional development in an alternate religious culture ruled by fear, shame, legalism, and authoritarianism. We had no choice. We knew nothing else. We had no other experience and knowledge and discernment to ground us like you did, to give us perspective, to compare anything to. For you, this was 10-20 years of your life. For us, it was our whole lives. It was all we knew. Our entire lives have been built upon a time period that was just a small part of your own life. So, yes, it was "that bad". Our experiences were nothing like yours and you'll have to see them through our eyes if you want to understand.

You had a different life before this, and a different one after. This homeschooling movement and the resulting culture is all we know. It made us who we are, for better or for worse. Our stories cannot be separated from it. We are the products of that movement. You were the facilitators who got to choose what affected you and what didn't. We didn't have the capacity as children to even begin to make that choice. What you only observed and instigated and perpetuated, we lived, felt, internalized, and became. 

You keep telling us we're overreacting. You're offended because we "don't appreciate" what you did for us. But this is not about you. How we tell our stories and work through the consequences of your choices for us is not about you. It's about us. Our lives. Our hearts, souls, minds, marriages, relationships, spiritual journeys, and futures. The things we write about how teachings like emotional purity, the umbrella of authority, modesty, and courtship affected us, how they hurt us, messed us up, how we're working through the messages we received and internalize....these things are not about you. We aren't telling our stories to "dishonor" you. We're telling them because truth sets free and light banishes darkness. Because wounds fester in silence and heal in openness. We can love you, forgive you, and have a relationship with you and still tell our stories. We HAVE to tell them and tell them truthfully. Because sometimes it's the only way to wade through the muck and the crap and the dysfunction that you inflicted on us and we are leaving behind.

Some of you have regrets. You look back and say "What were we thinking?!" You know you made mistakes, big ones, and you know it hurt us, hurt our relationship with you. Some of you are watching your children struggle to overcome the consequences of your choices for them and hurt for them and are angry at yourself. Can you please just say it? Be as open and honest as we are. You know what I don't hear in the reactions of our parents that I listed above? "We are so sorry." Why is that so difficult to say? I know it's scary to think that the choices you made damaged your children. I'm a parent. I have the same fears that my choices will hurt my kids. But as a parent, I cannot imagine NOT telling them "I'm sorry" when they come to me and lay bare their souls, and explain how I've hurt them and how they're healing. Yes, it hurts. But I guarantee that holding it inside and bearing that burden alone will hurt you and your children far more than being honest with them about your regret.

So many of us get it. We get that you were duped. That you were victims of spiritual abuse yourself, who went on to unwittingly inflict that abuse on your kids. Give us a chance to express that. To openly forgive and to honestly work through the anger and the pain with you. Many of us have forgiven you, but we cannot talk about it with you because you refuse to go there. It's easier for you to just deny the past, our pain, and your part in it. Keep that up, and the denial and facade will eat out your soul til there's nothing left, while we move on with our lives without you. We want to have a real relationship with you, to repair what was broken, but you are holding so tightly to your elephants in the room, and we have to stay on the surface and walk on eggshells around you, playing your game of pretending that everything was peachy, trying to live well in the present while denying the past. Meanwhile we are frustrated and wonder how much longer we can keep up your charade. Please stop. As scary as it is to face pain you caused, it's much worse to pretend it never happened. So many of us are ready to start building a real relationship with you, to include you in this conversation. But it's your move. I can't promise it'll be easy or good, that' everything will turn out the way it is supposed to, but it will be worth it, for yourself and for your family. Honest and human is the only way to live.

I asked some of my friends...your children who are now grown...what they would say to their parents if they could. I'd like to end with their words. Listen to their hearts.

"Can you please stop focusing on the extremely few truly good things there were about the way you raised me and just admit, "I was wrong" with no conditions, qualifiers, buts or brakes? Can you please just admit that you were far too strict on standards which had nothing to do with my relationship with God and only hurt my relationships with others, without inserting qualifiers about how your extremism was justified because 'there was so much evil in the world?"

"The scars from our past are not the fruit of bitterness, but part of the healing process for us. It would help if you acknowledged our feelings and apologized for the pain you caused us instead of passing the blame to us. We don't demand any retribution for the hurt in the past, but for our relationship to be fully whole we need to be able to talk through what happened without being made out to be the bad guys."

"If what you did was perfectly right, why did you change with my younger siblings? And if you were wrong... why don't you acknowledge it??"

"You rejected how you were brought up, how is it wrong of me to do the same?"

"I know you've changed, I know you're trying to love us as best you can. But can you stop pretending the past was perfect? Can you please just say 'our choices hurt you and we're sorry'? I've forgiven you. But I'm tired of playing your charade, walking on eggshells, pretending that I wasn't hurt that I'm not still trying to wade through the mess of my past. Can we just talk about it, really, truly, honestly? You want me to 'move on' and I will, with or without you. I'd prefer with you. But we have to go back in order to go forward."

"You disagree with some of my life choices, but I disagree with some of your life choices as well. That is just everyday life: there are very few people with whom you will ever truly agree 100%. We're both mature adults and need to learn to respect one another's choices and learn to have a relationship despite our differences."

"I would like for my Mom to stop whitewashing the past. Instead I'd like her to acknowledge that she and my dad were controlling and manipulative, that they were abusive and authoritarian, that they didn't trust me (instead treating me as guilty until proven innocent) and they demanded things from me (like my heart) that was not theirs to demand. A lot of what I'd like to hear them say could be summed up as "I'm sorry". That would go a long, long way for me. But they can't even say that, not without 60,000 disclaimers like "We were doing our best" and "We were following God", or worse "YOU DID x, y, z". If they could ever acknowledge that they did something wrong without attempting to share blame with me... I'd really, really like that."

"There are parts of me I hide from you because even though you say you love me, I know they would break your heart and make you want to scream. I know because you've told me how you felt about my siblings. Since I can't share these vital parts of myself without disappointing you, I feel like an adult relationship between us is impossible."

"Please don't write off my opposition to Christian patriarchy as 'an ax to grind' and attribute all my adult decisions to a reactionary attitude or desire to flip off people who haven't been a part of my life for years. I make decisions based on what's best for my mental health. And you have to admit, I'm a lot more balanced and cool-headed than you were at my age. Did you get involved in the fringe movements you did as a reaction against your parents? If you did, please consider that I've learned from your mistakes and am not repeating them."

"Why do you act like I've turned my back on my upbringing and my faith, just because I don't agree completely with you? I still love you very much, and it kills me to avoid so many topics with you because you get upset and sad if I'm not parroting you perfectly. You made completely different life choices from your parents and yet you still love and respect them. Why can't you see that I'm in exactly the same place?"

"Even if you don't see anything as wrong in the way you raised me or treated me, please recognize and acknowledge I had a very different experience than you perceive. Acknowledge that I was hurt, deeply, and don't invalidate my childhood."

"I feel like I don't need any retribution for the pain of the past, but it would really help to have our feelings acknowledged. That would make a huge difference in moving forward."



Please, let us have these difficult, but so necessary, conversations with you.



46 comments:

  1. This is SO good. Thank-you, thank-you, thank-you.

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  2. Wow! You took the words right out of my mouth!

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  3. WOW! I feel terrible and astonished at once, I homeschooled my kids who are now 35 and 33. I had no idea of the pain/abuse of the experience. It was always a struggle for me but one I thought was worth it. Think I will have a frank discussion with my kids after I have them read your post. Thanks for sharing. Blessings.

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    1. I'm glad this was your reaction and that you are going to talk to your kids. Even if you seem to have a great relationship, being honest and letting them know you're open to hearing hard things from them can only make it stronger. Just know that this doesn't apply to every parent, but I've heard enough over the past few months to know that it applies to many. My hope is that this post, which contains the words and hearts of many more people than I, will be a starting point for some conversations that desperately need to happen. Thanks for your comment. It made me smile. :)

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    2. I also want to clarify that homeschooling itself, as a way of education, is not the problem. Many of us did enjoy the education part of homeschooling. It was all the other stuff that came with being immersed in the culture and being raised in the Movement. The expectations and lifestyle teachings that turned out to be much more damaging than helpful on a very large scale. So just because you homeschooled, doesn't mean your kids are hurting from that experience. But it's always good to find out where they're at and what they think.

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  4. Wow, thank you. You can't believe how reading this helps ease the guilt that I still feel over my relationship with my parents. The problem is, I'm not sure that my parents ever really saw me as a person; I was more like property or a project. Therefore, when (in my mid-twenties) I stopped obeying and parroting them, the basis for our relationship dissolved. The only way it will ever heal is if we can find a basis for relating to each other that does not involve control/submission and a very detailed set of certain values/practices.

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  5. Wow! As a homeschooling parent of Four adult kids now and one about to graduate and another one graduating in a couple of years, I am just heart broken over this. Parenting is hard!! I know that many of you as parents now know this. Parents make mistakes. I have made many over the years. We have to go back and ask for our kids forgiveness. So far this has not happened with one of my adult children and I don't really know why. We were in ATI for a few years but we never sent our kids away to any of the trips or to help. We always had a funny feeling about that. I think hypocrisy is rampant in Every Christian area! We have constantly talked a lot over the years with our kids about everything. We have prayed hard to find a balance! We came from pretty broken and dysfunctional homes ourselves. We did get caught up in "wanting something better for our kids" and something better. We went to a church for 3 years where the pastor and his family did not believe in a woman wearing pants-ever! We have to pray hard to find a balance in life. Once our kids became young adults, we didn't discipline them anymore. No one should try to control an adult kid. I know people try. When my son was engaged in his 20's, someone in the church told me that since he lived in my home that I could tell him that holding hands was not acceptable if he wanted to still live at home. I laughed my head off and told them that We did Not consider holding hands a sin. How insane!!! I have been in homeschool circles and have seen a lot of this junk first hand. I actually haven't been in one in years as I just don't want to deal with it anymore. It's in the church too! I honestly believe that you just can't let this garbage ruin your relationship with the Lord. Under any circumstance!!

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    1. Agreed. Nothing new under the sun. The heart of every generation is desperately wicked. Rebellion is in the blood of every generation. Only Jesus can forgive and enable each generation to forgive. Parental love cannot do what only God can do through his Son. My hope is that one day we will all be united in Christ Jesus.

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    2. Donna - do you realize that your post is doing exactly what the open letter asked parents not to do? Labeling hurt people as rebellious, blame shifting, making excuses about what parents can't do instead of acknowledging your own choices and role by referring everything to Jesus, using cliches taken out of context from scripture to label the hurt people rather than engaging with reality in front of you.

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  6. As usual, Darcy, you hit the nail on the head. This was beautifully done. Thank you.

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  7. Oh Darcy, this is exquisite. Thank you for publishing this.

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  8. speechless - with tears. Thx

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  9. This is amazing, thank you so much for writing it!

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  10. Thank you. This really helped me and is largely what I wanted to say to my parents.

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  11. Thanks so much for posting this.

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  12. I resonate with a lot of this just as one raised in the conservative evangelical community, not as a homeschooled kid. There are a number of people who need to hear this from my childhood (and partially adulthood) -- not really my parents, but others.

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  13. One more thing, for those unable to have an open conversation for whatever reason, but particularly reluctance on the parents' part: you don't have to interact with them if you don't want to. As an adult, talking to and visiting with your parents is voluntary. If they aren't willing to meet you on your terms, it is possible to live life without constantly exposing yourself your abusers, each time ripping open old wounds. You do not owe your parents anything.

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  14. You do owe your parents your life.....I mean really without them you wouldn't even exist. I feel each generation branches out on its own to a different way of thinking and raising their own children. But in all reality, we do tend to copy our parents, this is how we learn. Then, when we reach adulthood we make up our own mind. We really do have to "unlearn" some things along the way. I have issues with my mother as I care for her in her mid 80's. The memories are sometimes harsh. But, I choose to dwell on the good times, even though my mind tends to have difficult recalling many of them. I spent 13 years in China, where the family respect is much higher than western culture. I learned its my duty to care for my parents in their old age. Hopefully, my daughter is observing and she will copy me:)

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    1. You sound like one of the parents that really needs to read my post.

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    2. Pam, if a person expects their children to owe their lives to their parents they're having kids for the wrong reasons. Why in the world would I want my son to owe his life to me? We're not raising slaves here. I gave birth to him and I'm raising him because I love him and I can't wait to see what he does with his life. I expect him to be his own person and to have varying opinions from me.

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    3. Pam, I appreciate what you wrote. That seems like a much wiser way of respectfully dealing with our parents than trying to force them to endorse the changes that we make from the way they raised us, insisting that not only have to accept, but also approve and applaud our decisions. Relationships do morph with time and changes, and accepting that and relating in a mature way in spite of it is a part of growing up.

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  15. Darcy, thank you for this brave and honest post. I was raised in an oppressive Christian environment, although not homeschooled, and it left spiritual scars that I still work to put in proper perspective. We are homeschooling our son and I do ask him frequently if he still wants it or not. So far, he says he does, and we are very determined to have him involved with outside activities and friends. But your post is a good reality check and reminder that this always, always must be about what benefits him, not us.

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  16. So I'm going to post the weirdo response, because I was never homeschooled and I came across your blog so very randomly. But the heart of what you are expressing just jumped off the page and compelled me to keep reading/learning. I have two daughters, one of them I attempted to homeschool for a year and it was a bad fit for her. As a Christian who did not grow up in church or around traditional evangelical subculture, the homeschool environment was also a bad fit for me. She was in middle school and I, as a Mom, also felt like I was returning back to the age where being different/unique was bad.

    I became a Christian at the age of 19 and my walk has been so nontraditional. For that I am thankful everyday. God bless you on your road to healing.

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  17. Thank you Darcy for saying it , much better than I could ever. While not all of it applies to me, a great deal does. I just hate it how when I say these things, its assumed that I am not thankful for any of my upbringing. I loved being homeschooled, and my mom strived to give me a great education, but yeah, not being treated as an adult in my mid twenties and being treated like my parents owned me and still a child. Not good.

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  18. I am a parent who bought into the movement and now has deep regrets. I have had many conversations with my kids and apologized as well as validated their honest insights that I once refuted. My children have varying degrees of reactions to the experience. I got steadily more liberal as time went on and I observed the fundamentalist approach was a failure and a fraud. So my older children suffered much more than the younger. I applaud the honesty and bravery in this blog.

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    1. Thank you for your comment and honesty! I think what you described is what many of us who were the oldest children in our families experienced. Parents changed and relaxed many times with younger children, especially as they saw how things weren't working with us (I am a firstborn). I have referred to myself as a guinea pig, a sentiment I think many echo. It' possible my own children will feel that way as well, but I hope to have an open relationship with them so we can freely and without judgment talk about these things. My oldest is almost 8, and we've already talked about when she used to get spankings when she was little and why we changed that approach several years ago. So I'm thinking I'm off to a good start. :)

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    2. I am also a parent who bought in to the movement and have had to seek forgiveness from my children.
      One thing I see is that some of the things I thought I was teaching, for example with my daughters I tried to teach them to be modest and to keep their side of the street clean. Later they told me that they though if a man looked at them and lusted it must be their fault. I was quite shocked at this. I never ever meant for them to take on responsibility for others actions but somehow that is the message they got. I am still pondering that.
      Thankfully, we have learned a lot from our older children and have been able to change some things with our younger children.

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  19. As one of the "Joshua Generation" myself, having been raised in an ultra-conservative / homeschooling environment, and growing up and making a few changes from that with my husband, I'm still absolutely shocked that anyone would applaud a young person to be so blatantly disrespectful to their parents. Demanding an apology? That's not even common sense in any relationship! I say, grow up, and then act like a grown up.

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    1. I really think these homeschool kids who think they suffered so much in their parents' honest attempts at giving them a wholesome childhood really need to think twice before they assume that things would have been so much better if they would have been in different circles. The world over, in every culture, in every denomination, there is hypocrisy, there is legalism, there are rebellious youth. Teenagers all feel out of place sometimes, and all feel like their parents don't understand them. These problems certainly are not unique to the homeschool movement.

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    2. First of all, I am not a "young person". I am a 30-yr-old student, wife, and mother of 4. Everyone else who was quoted here are all 25-40 years old with families and careers of their own. We are not children in need of a lecture, thanks.

      Second, you have a strange definition of "disrespect". Perhaps you should fix that before coming here and trying to lecture all the "young people".

      Third, no one "demanded" anyone apologize. Matter of fact, many said they do not ask that, just that it would be nice and very healing, a good place to start with having an honest, authentic relationship and conversation. Perhaps you need to work on your reading comprehension so you can refrain from freaking out over things that nobody said.

      Fourth, Being well-meaning and honest does not mean that you cannot wrong someone. As a parent myself in the context of my children and relationship with them, I find this idea appalling. Never will my honesty and good motives trump and invalidate any pain I will cause them. I cannot even believe that people ascribe to such an idea as it is very damaging and unhealthy. Serial killers are often "well-meaning" toward their victims, as are abusers. That means absolutely nothing. Good motives do not negate wrong-doing and pain caused. The end does not justify the means.

      Also, insults and attacks that you are too cowardly to even put your name on will be deleted from here on out. Perhaps you should come back when you are ready to have a mature conversation with equals instead of an anonymous freak-out session on a random internet blog that just slaughtered your sacred cow.

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    3. I apologize - I wrote that much too hurriedly, and I certainly wasn't trying to offend you personally, Darcy. (And you can call me Jane, along with all the other anonymous posters above, who didn't critique your post. ;) C'mon, you created this as a public blog, after all! :) )

      Of course I know the age range of our generation. :) I'm pretty much the same age as you, and I also am married and the mother of multiple kids. When I said young people, I was referring to that era in our past when we were beginning to question our parents methods and motives, when we began to take those first steps towards making changes from the way our parents raised us. What I should have said at the end of my first post was: "I think that once we're grown up, and making mature decisions of our own, we should begin to treat our parents like other adults would treat them. We can't demand them to applaud all of our decisions, and we can't demand that they adjust all of their perspectives just because ours have shifted. Relationships do change over time, and accepting that, and behaving maturely in spite of it, will gain their respect much sooner than making demands on their immediate behavior toward us. It takes time."

      I've experienced as much of "conservative homeschool movement" pain and drama as any of the contributers to your original post, but I'm thankful to say that when my dad died a few years ago, I didn't have the regret of feeling like he thought of me as a rebel. I know he was disappointed in some of my decisions, and he wasn't always open to talking out the differences. But I also made it a point to not flaunt the changes I was making in his face, let alone ever even think of insinuating that he should feel the need to apologize for the way he raised me.

      A friend of mine who was not raised in conservative circles told me once, about this very topic, "Every parent makes mistakes. So many kids raised without rules make so many even worse mistakes themselves that they then have the heartbreak of working through. And I certainly hope my kids aren't keeping record of every mistake I make!"

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    4. I don't see this article as being disrespectful toward parents. Heartfelt? Yep. Direct? Uh-huh. Written from the perspective of one adult talking to another? You bet. You see, parents never stop being parents but kids stop being kids eventually. If they hang around the house long enough, you go from a house with a parents and kids to a house with adults, some younger, some older, but adults nonetheless. The fatal mistake of the conservative homeschool extreme is to continue to treat offspring as "kids", even well into the 30's and beyond.

      This article is just asking for a dialog and is expressing frustration at how difficult such a dialog has been to establish. How can these things be? If parents are willing to be humble, willing to listen and willing to hear the heartfelt words of their sons and daughters, This can happen. Honest, personal introspection should be part of every parent's personal maintenance plan. Unless you are perfect and have been doing it perfectly all along, you have some reflecting to do along the way.

      Parents of the "Joshua Generation", your "kids" have grown up and found their voice, and they're saying some things that you need to hear. Some of you haven't been listening. Some of you have been listening but either not understanding or not taking your sons and daughters seriously. This discussion needs to happen or the next generation is going to go on without you.

      Jim K.

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    5. Okay, backing up again to clarify my original too-hasty comment: I'm not opposed to the plea for communication. Open, honest, loving, gracious communication is a wonderful thing, especially between parents and children. What astonished me were the conditions being required for communication: "Can you please stop focusing on the extremely few truly good things there were about the way you raised me and just admit, "I was wrong" with no conditions, qualifiers, buts or brakes?" (which is the comment that shocked me the most - how can that not be seen as disrespectful, even coming from a 20-something "young person"?) "Instead I'd like her to acknowledge that she and my dad were controlling and manipulative, that they were abusive and authoritarian," "Can you please just say 'our choices hurt you and we're sorry'? " "A lot of what I'd like to hear them say could be summed up as "I'm sorry". " (!!!!!!!!) First of all, how can we not realize that, if we want to be thought of as equals with our parents, we need to treat them like we'd like to be treated? Honestly, how many of us would respond graciously to the accusations and demands for apology that I'm seeing here? Since we're adults now and we want them to respect the decisions that we are making today, maybe we should think twice before we tell them that all the decisions they made when they were at our current stage in life were all horrible, and that somehow, we already know so much more than they did.

      Again, these hurts are not unique to the homeschool movement. Since the beginning of time, in every culture, in every religion, there have been elements of legalism and "spiritual abuse". And parents everywhere have always had a hard time letting their children grow up and thinking of them as adults - that's certainly not unique to the conservative homeschool extreme, either. And whole generations, over and over again, have been able to take the good that their parents gave them, and graciously live with the mistakes, and still respect their parents in spite of it.

      Situations of actual certifiable abuse do require a totally different approach to healing. (These things have always happened all over the world, too, by the way, and there's a good chance these things would have happened in those particular families if they had never heard of the homeschool movement, as well.) But I honestly don't believe that the "hurts" claimed by most products of the homeschool movement are such that simple maturity and honest living before God can't fix.

      Another thought: if we have found our voice, and we think we have something worth saying, and we think we're doing a good job raising our own kids, maybe we should rethink how we view the job our own parents did. After all, we are the product of their efforts. And maybe the proof is in the pudding here.

      By the way, here's one quote that I did like: "You disagree with some of my life choices, but I disagree with some of your life choices as well. That is just everyday life: there are very few people with whom you will ever truly agree 100%. We're both mature adults and need to learn to respect one another's choices and learn to have a relationship despite our differences." But then, leave it at that. Insisting that our parents apologize just really feels wrong to me.

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    6. And now, I'm done ;)

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    7. You are entitled to "feel wrong" about it. You are not, however, entitled to invalidate or judge others' stories. I see absolutely nothing wrong with anything my friends said here. Broken relationships with wrong-doing need an apology to truly heal and be restored. It's just basic conflict resolution. Yes, forgiveness can happen without it, but reconciliation cannot happen if people are unwilling to speak the truth about what happened. I have no idea why you are "astonished" at this very basic fact about relationships. I have taken for granted that everyone knows these things.

      I get the feeling from your comments that you didn't really read what was written here nor understand it; that your ideas of "respect" owed clouded your ability to listen to the many voices speaking. Respect is not owed, it is earned. And easily lost. You seem to portray an ignorance of conflict and relationships that won't be fixed by reading a blog post. There's so much I could say to everything you've written, but I simply don't have the time. If my post and Jim's comment can't get through, than probably nothing else I write can either.

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    8. Of course, I can't speak for every situation, but as a general principle, I've never seen this approach work. And yes, adults still owe their parents respect, period. Jesus taught specifically that "Honor your father and mother" extends through all of life, not just childhood. I'll be very interested to see how many on this bandwagon for relationships with parents on their own terms actually accomplish their goals using the approach of "You need to apologize to me for everything and I'm an adult but I refuse to take any responsibility for anything!".

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    9. *facepalm* I give up. Reading comprehension is obviously not strong with this one......

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    10. Anonymous, I'm afraid you are not getting it - at - all. You're half right - God did say in the 10 commandments to honor your father and mother. However - and here's the part that's being missed: Honoring your parents has nothing to do with ignoring the consequences of their actions (on behalf of a movement or otherwise) or pretending that problems never existed. Now... I don't think that Darcy's post could have been written any better. And if age cred is necessary, I'm approaching 50, and I've been watching the homeschooling movement for a long time. I've been an observer and a homeschool parent and I understand the culture very well. And I am telling you, what is happening right now among the Millenial age adults who are products of this movement and are becoming more vocal about their experiences - it's not going to go away. The problem, I think, is that some parents never did have any real regard for their children as persons. They saw their children as clay to be molded in a predictable fashion with a guaranteed result. What they found instead was real people who had the ability to think and grow, to feel and process, to change and to make decisions on their own. People who would one day be able to choose how they would react and respond to what they experienced growing up.

      And now, here they are, telling their stories. One of them writes a brilliant treatise on how this movement has impacted her and so many of her contemporaries, practically begging the parents of this movement to try and a) hear what they are saying and b) develop a relationship with their grown children while there is still time.

      Did you hear that? They WANT a relationship. And it seems with some parents, the lights just aren't going on. Of course these young adults have issues, Darcy already said that they did. They will make mistakes of their own, they have made mistakes along the way too but that isn't what's at issue. They're walking a hard road and they are finding even their faith difficult to connect with because the present reality is so tied up to the past experience of God being like some angry, vindictive judge just waiting for you to screw up. This is the picture that was painted for some of these people and you wonder why some of them have trouble bringing their hurt to a God who truly loves them but that image of God was never modeled in so many of these homes.

      I have learned in my life that I have to deal with my own issues before I can deal with anyone else's, often even with my kids. I have had to have painful discussions, knowing that my kids saw my mistakes live and in color, and yet maintaining the hope that we all are a work in progress and that we stand on level ground, looking up at the Cross.

      So... has every homeschooled young adult had the same experiences Darcy describes? of course not, but just because not all of them did doesn't mean that some of them didn't. I didn't have a drunken, abusive mother but my experience with a great mother doesn't invalidate someone else's experience who DID have a bad mother. If someone comes into a hospital with an illness you don't look at them and say, "What are you crying about? Most people are healthy!". Unfortunately, this is somewhat the response that the Gen-J homeschoolers are getting at times, and it isn't helping the cause.

      So please, just listen.

      And ponder.

      And understand... before you try and engage with them.

      Jim K.

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    11. I did have a drunken abusive and manipulative mother who exemplified the Calvin & Hobbes quote: "I say a day without denial is a day you've got to face." Who refused to discuss anything real, who didn't see me as a person worthy of respect. If only ONCE she had acknowledged her behavior and its consequences, it would have had a dramatic impact on my healing. Instead I had to work through the forgiveness process alone and I could never even tell her.

      Darcy, this is an important post on how critical it is to have abuse heard and acknowledged. Thank you.

      DeborahC

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  20. Darcy, just... thank you.

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  21. Thank you for writing a balanced loving response to our mistakes as parents. I think you have described the past so well. I have a better understanding of life "from the other side". With God's grace, I will have the conversations with my children and change the future for the ones remaining at home. God Bless!

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  22. Great post, Darcy. As a parent who bought into the whole Joshua Generation, and yet saw flaws, but didn't know how to get out, I see the pain that it has caused my kids. Starting college when my son was a senior in high school, made me realize how much stress and strain I put on my kids when it came to grades and tests. I apologized over and over as I experienced my own test anxiety and strain. As I started counseling to deal with my PTSD from going to abusive churches, I just never could conform to the docile, stepford wife they were trying to sell, it brought about huge rifts in our family. We are more liberal and our daughter is more conservative, which has its own strange dichotomy, but we are slowly working through different issues, although slowly and it is hard. I think it is very hard for parents to realize that all their "hard work" ended up hurting their children more than helping them, I know this was true for me. It didn't matter how much I worked at something, my kids recognized where I was trying, that being said, my "hard work" didn't take away or ease their hurt feelings when I responded in anger, fear, and rigidness.
    When I read in your post that you know you will never receive an I'm sorry, my heart broke, not just as a parent, but as an adult child who has experienced the same thing. I know that I can say I am sorry on behalf of all parents, really doesn't take away the sting or pain that was inflicted by rigid rules and anger, but if I could, I would. Your post is though provoking and beautifully written-your voice resonates with healing and hope, which gives me hope that I can take what I have learned today and apply it to my own relationships with my children.

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  23. I'm glad you're speaking up. My stomach hurts at all that was endured. The pain was deep in my life because of how these concepts positioned me for misguided submission. But God set me free. He showed me that as an adult my one Lord was HIM and to keep trying to "honor" my parents or a system HE was not leading me in was idolatry. We are free in HIM to spread our wings, form our own opinions, follow as HE leads. You may be surprised to learn that I'm not a homeschooled adult child. I'm a homeschooling mom. I was raised in public school but on Basic Youth Conflicts and some similar attitudes and much of what you talk about is the pain I've fought through to a place of healing. I weep for you, the Joshua Generation. I pray for you. I long to see you experience the joy, the freedom, the grace, the unconditional love and acceptance of God. Our parents got a lot of it very wrong. The culture got a lot of it very wrong. And the burden placed on the parents is unfathomable, too. All are victims, but all can be restored. Praying it is so. Praying for hope and healing. Here is a post for me, an almost 50 year homeschooling mom who has grabbed grace and still grabs grace. http://abenewjourney.com/2014/06/13/gulps-of-grace/ Maybe it'll encourage some of you . . .

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  24. Darcy,
    This is well put. Thank you for taking the time to write this. Many of us can truly relate.

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