“My Daughters Are Not Going Off to College”: When Homeschooled Girls Are Trapped
HA note: The following is reprinted with permission from Julie Anne Smith’s blog Spiritual Sounding Board. It was originally published on October 12, 2013 with the title “Homeschooled Adult Daughters Held Captive at Home, Prevented from Getting College Education.”
“There are too many homeschooled girls who need help overcoming the legal obstacles their parents put in their path to a college education. It also bothers me that the leaders of the Christian homeschooling movement preach that young girls shouldn’t get a ‘regular’ education – that they should only be trained in domestic arts and ‘female’ tasks.”
~ Nick Ducote, “Reflections on Malala, Patriarchy, and Homeschool Advocacy”
In an effort to “raise up a child in the way they should go,” some Christian homeschool parents are essentially kidnapping their daughters, only teaching “homemaking” skills, even denying and preventing them from getting a college education.
The father is involved in all aspects of his adult daughter’s lives until marriage.
Earlier this week, my young friend, Nicholas Ducote, co-founder of Homeschoolers Anonymous, wrote something that resonated with me. It hit me hard because this was a path our family was heading down. He was writing about the plight he has seen among a number of young ladies who are part of the “Homeschool Movement,” the subculture of fundamentalist Christians who adhere to the Patriarchal lifestyle in which the father is very involved in all aspects of his adult daughters’ lives, even through adulthood until they are married — married to a husband approved by the father.
Nick, a former homeschool student, has earned his Master’s degree. He knows the challenges he faced in getting his degrees. But it struck me how Nick was clearly upset about the injustices he saw facing his female homeschool peers.
In the Homeschool Movement, this educational imbalance among the sexes is not perceived as an injustice whatsoever. In fact, to even think of sending an adult daughter “off to school,” is to some, heretical. As recent as a month ago, a homeschool mom and friend of mine posted on Facebook that her adult daughters would not be going to college — that she and her husband “just don’t believe in that.”
It makes me wonder: did her parents make all of her decisions when she became an adult? Probably not.
Here is a screenshot I saved from a homeschool wives group on Facebook several months ago and you can see the similar mindset:
I used to believe this way.
In the Homeschool Movement, I was taught to believe that if we sent our daughters off to college, they would want to use that education, get a job, might even earn more money than their husbands. This was “not right” because husbands were supposed to be the breadwinners and mothers were to be busy at home with the children. They claimed this was all the work of feminists and the feminist influence on society was breaking up families and demeaning men.
Feminism was the cause of the moral decay in society.
I’ve been a homemaker for nearly 27 years. I have loved staying home with the children. It is wonderful for mom to stay home with her children. But is it the only way? Is it always possible? Is it really all that black and white as “they” portray it to be? Can we have decent families in which a mom works part-time?
Leaders in the Homeschool Movement spend an exorbitant amount of time selling their rhetoric in words and in materials (books, videos, blog articles) sharing what they believe to be the ultimate role of women as homemaker: how to be respectful and submissive wives, how to cook, sew, how to raise children, etc.
If you are a young girl raised in this environment, your know your lot in life is: get married to your approved husband, have many children, teach your children at home, and hopefully, your children will do the same.
It is important to note the basis of this ideology. The ultimate goal in the Homeschool Movement is to be fruitful and multiply and “take dominion” of the world. Dominionism and Reconstructionism are foundational roots from which everything in the movement is cultivated.
Nick then discussed a young lady who has been in the spotlight lately, Malala. If you are unfamiliar with Malala, I encourage you to read about this courageous young lady who is making her voice be heard in a country where women’s voices are squelched.
“Malala Yousafzai is a Pakistani school pupil and education activist from the town of Mingora in the Swat District of Pakistan’s northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. She is known for her activism for rights to education and for women, especially in the Swat Valley, where the Taliban had at times banned girls from attending school. (Source)
Here is a video Nick included of Malala. The Taliban tried to assassinate this young lady because of her powerful voice and she survived and her voice is even stronger and now has international attention. Please listen to this amazing interview.
What is especially disturbing is when you hear Malala talk about how the Taliban in the Swat Valley of Pakistan wants to take education away from girls. You would hope, in the 21st century, young women would have basic access to education.
I will be loud and proud about my homeschooling advocacy because my heart is broken on a regular basis when homeschooled teenagers trapped in fundamentalism contact me trapped, struggling to assert themselves and pursue the future they want. Sometimes parents deny FAFSA signatures, or they edit their transcript if they apply to an “unapproved” school. I have talked to homeschooled girls who were literally trafficked (for sex and for labor).
Some homeschooled adult daughters fare no better than Pakistani young ladies when it comes to education.
Nick is right. We expect this kind of thing in Pakistan, but not in the US. Some of these young ladies who have officially graduated from their homeschool high school are not allowed to even choose whether they go to college or not. College is simply not allowed. They are destined to be a “stay-at-home-daughter,” serving parents, helping with the remaining children at home, help with cooking, cleaning around the house, etc.
In the United States of America, we have young female adults — I said adults — who are living at the home of their Christian homeschooling parents, unable to make adult decisions of where they can live, where they can go to school, who they can be friends with, where they go on the internet, etc. They are essentially forced to follow the path of their parents. They are cut off from the outside because their internet use, cell phone use is highly monitored.
Now some of these young ladies go along with this without any dissension. This is the only life they’ve ever known. They have been sheltered from the “world” or society. Their friends are people from church, from homeschool groups, etc.
This is their norm.
Some may do fine with this. They will allow their parents to help select a husband for them, get married, have babies and continue living the legacy their parents planned for them.
However, there are other young ladies who want to explore life outside of the life and rule of their parents. They want the opportunity to go to school and further their education. But they are not allowed this opportunity. They are prevented. How can this be? In this day and age?
These parents hold the keys to their adult daughters’ freedom. They are the ones who decide whether they will turn over their signed homeschool high school transcript. They are the ones who must sign and turn over info for FAFSA documentation for financial aid. They decide whether their daughters can get a driver’s license, work outside the home, etc.
In the United States of America, there are young ladies held against their will in their parents’ homes and they are trapped.
They don’t know where to go. They don’t know how to escape. They don’t know how to get schooling. They are completely isolated.
This is happening in our country — the USA.