FAQs: Can Sharing Individual Stories Make a Difference?

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Note from R.L. Stollar, HA Community Coordinator:

A significant chunk of what HA has done so far involves finding and sharing highly personal and individual stories. These stories can be difficult, heart-wrenching, and provocative. Sometimes, in response to these stories, people want to be dismissive, pushing these stories aside with a “Pssh… anecdotes.” As if anecdotes about people’s lived experiences are somehow less than legitimate and meaningful sources of information.

Or sometimes people wonder if we are just wasting time, asking, “Can sharing individual stories make a difference?”

I can speak for Nick Ducote and myself: the individual stories we have been entrusted with and honored to share publicly make a difference in our lives. Nick and I are different, better people for having heard them. We cannot speak for everyone else, but we know we are not alone. So to answer this question — can sharing individual stories make a difference? — I would simply like to share with you feedback we have received from ten current or former homeschool parents and ten former homeschool students.

You can then make your own decision.

*****

Feedback from parents:

1. “I just want to say thanks for what you do. Even though I am a conservative Christian who homeschools his children, I very much oppose many of the movements that are closely associated with homeschooling (Quiverfull, Christian Reconstructionism, Vision Forum, etc. etc.). Reading the stories you feature help me to keep guard about mistakes I may be making while I homeschool my kids, and help keep me open to new ideas.

2. “I really am so proud of all you are doing: your sense of responsibility to make the world a better place for future children. You don’t have to advocate for children, you could just be happy you’re out and mind your own business. …I am really really glad you exist and that you are who you are. That means alot to me.”

3. “I have really enjoyed your posts on home schooling. You give a forum for those who have been hurt in the movement. There is no universally good school method, and a lot of who homeschooled in the beginning were sold a bill of goods. Parents did what they thought was right, but in many, many families, including ours, what we thought was right was very far from it. At any rate, I appreciate your posts; they evoke conversations with the kids.”

4. “I have been telling this message to homeschool parents for years… The physical abuse…spiritual abuse…sexual abuse…the early teachings of the homeschool movement that are still out there today…wow, such damage has been done…trusting in the Redeemer to help us get the word out.”

5. “I love your site. I have been reading the stories and it helps me feel not so alone. I am sure you hear that a lot. I was not homeschooled. I was [a] homeschooling mother… Thank you for what you do. It is so important and so few people even think about the negative consequences of abusive homeschooling.”

6. “Thanks for the honest explanation of a courtship gone wrong. It makes me rethink things that I will say to my girls.

7. “I have been reading the stories posted on your site for the last couple of days, just absorbing the various experiences you all have had. I’m the mother of a homeschooled daughter… Best wishes with the site.”

8. “I am in relationship with a lot of homeschooling mothers and a lot of ‘homeschooling is the only option for good parents’ ideology. I would like to dialogue and find ways to assist people in educating their children well. To do that I need to listen and process.”

9. “I’m really happy to see Homeschoolers Anonymous. I cringe when I think of some of the things that we tried to foist on our children in the name of homeschooling, and now I’m glad that they wouldn’t put up with it in most instances… I hope that Homeschoolers Anonymous is therapeutic and healing for your readers.”

10. “I’ve avoided the conservative homeschooling culture as much as possible… And I’ve heard from some parents who deeply regret having operated that way.  Thank you, thank you for helping the homeschooling community to confront these issues.  It’s an uphill battle, I know, but it’s an important one.  I’m homeschooling, I’m Christian (I’m a female pastor – so you can imagine that puts me on the outs in the homeschool world!), and I want you to know, I’m on your side.”

*****

Feedback from graduates:

1. “My homeschooling experience was really mild in comparison to most of the stories on HA, however reading about others’ experiences has been a great help for me to reconcile and finally understand a lot of what my family and I went through then.

2. “My experiences were largely positive, there were a few jerks here and there but I am glad to say that I’m one of the lucky ones. I do think what you have been working on is really important, and it doesn’t surprise me that there was so much lurking under the surface for so many kids.”

3. “Thanks for getting the word out – my mom and I have had many conversations about this… It’s a big thing.”

4. “For the last five years I’ve felt like the biggest fuck up ever because I thought I was the only one that went nuts …Not to get sappy, but it really helps to know that I wasn’t the only one. Thank you.”

5. “In the last few weeks, I have received some sort of communication concerning just about every life changing or traumatic event that has happened to me. Friends from many circles are wanting to talk about things more and more. I first started going to therapy four years ago and I remember one lady telling me that healing never really stops, it’s a continual life long process. It’s like it comes in waves, and this is another wave of healing for me.

6. “Reading the posts has brought back a lot of memories and emotions that I’d rather not revisit, but it means so much to know that I’m not the only person who experienced some of these things… Thank you for being brave and talking about it.”

7. “Thank you so much for connecting those of us who have been through the homeschooling experience. I felt extremely alone and didn’t realize there were so many others like me! Please keep up the good work, it’s an inspiration and has helped me begin healing.”

8. “The stories shared through your efforts have meant so much to me. Since I found your site in August, I have come to realize so much about my childhood and what I have become as a result of my experiences. I thought I was just weird.”

9. “I came across the HA blog through the article on The Daily Beast. Journeying as far as possible from my upbringing – involving fundamentalist homeschooling, a church cult, and an abusive home – has been a long and oftentimes lonely road. I have never found a venue that allows former homeschooled kids to share their stories like this.  So. There are certain moments in life, remarkable for their rarity, when you feel something pivoting, when a door opens and you can see a little light crinkling in. This is one such moment. I am not alone. I am not alone and I am not crazy. Now I want to start writing my story too. Thank you. Thank you, thank you, thank you.”

10. “I don’t think I would have ever found a way to be free as an adult if I hadn’t been shown your site by a friend. Before I found HA, I had no idea that anyone else went through what I did. Your website is life-changing, and life-saving.

2 responses to “FAQs: Can Sharing Individual Stories Make a Difference?

  1. Me too. I thought I was alone before I found HA. I read everything on this site and find it so immensely helpful. I had been so sheltered that I didn’t even know that my family was fundamentalist until I read this site and thought “Why do they keep talking about fundamentalism?” and “Why does it sound so familiar?”
    I’m so glad to see the comments from homeschooling parents. It takes a lot of courage to admit to having been wrong. I’m very grateful to the parents that have come out and apologized for damage they did to their kids. Not because I want to assign blame, but just because it’s such a relief to have people on the same page, agreeing about what is damaging and what is nurturing. It gives me hope.

  2. “Inquire Within” says Buddhism; “The Kingdom of God is Within You,” says Luke. Jesus and the Buddha looked inside themselves through meditation/prayer to find enlightenment. The Buddha said he (Buddha) was not a god but had found a path to enlightenment and wanted to teach others how to follow the path…thus meditation.
    Perhaps Jesus had found the same path.

    For the religious, meditation is a non-ideological, wordless form of prayer that is intensely personal, private and available to everyone; and Its technique is easy to learn; Secularists know it as biofeedback. I encourage you to explore it. Not only does it calm my mind…it actually prevents my (thankfully rare) migraines from developing into pain!

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