I Stand With Michael Farris Against The Abuses of the Patriarchy Movement


For a long time I have been privately calling for a more nuanced leadership of the homeschool movement. In the early days our party line was “Homeschooling is perfect. No regulation needed.” This line of argumentation was good and helpful during our infancy. We needed to sweep internal problems under the rug so we could focus on external threats.

The good news is that we won that initial battle. The academic community respects homeschooling and homeschoolers are rising to positions of prominence throughout society. The bad news is that there are new battles to fight and what won the first battle will not win the second.

We need leaders who can respond to internal issues while still defending us from external threats.

Thankfully, one of the Founding Fathers of Homeschooling has started to respond to our most glaring internal issues. Michael Farris has now come out against the abuses of the Patriarchy Movement. I applaud Michael Farris for his courage to take a stand on this issue.

To be fair, Michael Pearl spoke up about these same abuses 6 years ago, but it is Farris’ article that is getting attention and making waves.

Homeschool Alumni – The New Internal Threat to Homeschooling

We are entering a new era as a movement where our biggest threats are no longer external but internal. Homeschoolers Anonymous (HARO) poses a bigger threat to homeschooling than any teacher’s union. These are homeschool alumni who understand homeschooling from the inside out and who often point out legitimate problems.

What gives HARO power is not that there have been abuses in homeschooling. All communities have bad apples. It is that those abuses have not just been ignored but in some cases encouraged and condoned. If I had experienced those kinds of abuses I would be angry too. I thank God that I did not have Dragon Parents.

The problem is that HARO is calling for the government to solve these problems. And may God save us from the government trying to solve a problem.

But Thomas, The Abusive Patriarchs are Just a Small Minority…

I often hear moderate Muslims say “Islam is not a violent religion because it teaches peace.” My response is not to get into Muslim doctrine and debate what the Koran does and does not say. You can derive the practical doctrine from the fruit. It is true that most Muslims are not violent. But the non-violent Muslim majority does little to stop the violent minority. Where there is smoke there is fire. Where you find Islam you find violence.

As it is with Islam so it is with Patriarchy.  Where you find Patriarchy you find abuse.

The Patriarchy movement has sheltered, hidden and protected abusive parents for years. It gives abusive and controlling men moral and even biblical legitimacy for their abuses. Michael Farris’ points were not strawmen, as the Patriarchs claim, because those beliefs are what some people in the movement live out.

Power corrupts and the more power you give a father the stronger that corrupting influence is. For more on this see The Problem With Power. It is easy to see that is wrong for a man to get drunk on wine and beat his wife. But what about when he gets drunk on power?

Typical Abuses With Dysfunctional Patriarchy:

  • Sons are sent to college and the daughters are kept home.
  • Daughters are physically spanked for wanting to grow up to be college professors rather than wives and mothers.
  • Adult daughters are kept at home as domestic servants and only allowed to work low wage jobs for other Patriarchal families or family businesses.
  • Adult daughters who are not allowed a higher education, a drivers license or even access to Facebook.
  • Adult daughters who are not allowed to marry or even spend time with single men.
  • Adults who do not feel they can hear/follow God on their own but must instead derive God’s will only through a man (the father).

Are these abuses common? It depends on the community. Some homeschool communities are dysfunctional while others are healthy.  I don’t have enough data to make a general observation.

Most Homeschool Parents are not Dragons

One criticism of my post on Why Courtship Was Fundamentally Flawed, is that I unfairly paint all homeschool fathers as “Dragon Fathers.” I think that is a fair criticism and it was not my intent. Since writing that post, I have been sent hundreds of stories of homeschoolers growing up in conservative communities.

Some of them are stories of heartbreaking parental cruelty. But, many others were stories of young men who had positive, encouraging and loving encounters with fathers who were both gentle and kind. One man said that his interactions with the father of the girl were some of the most beneficial of his life and that they are still friends even though the courtship ended.

What is interesting is that I have received few accounts of homeschool parents who were “so-so.” They seem to be either dragons or doves.

From my experience, most homeschool parents are doves.  They love their children and want them to thrive as happy and healthy adults. They want them to grow up and move out. Most fathers are not “Dragon Fathers” but are rather loving coaches who daily lay down their lives for their families.

We Must Police Our Own

Saying that something is uncommon is no excuse for inaction. Even one bruised and battered girl crying herself to sleep is too many.

In the ‘90s there was an outcry against violence and other objectionable content in video games. There was concern the government would start regulating video games. So in response, the Video Game Industry created the ESRB to monitor and rate video games.  The industry policed itself. This self regulation and transparency negated the need for government regulation.

If we do not police our own, the government will step in and do it for us. We must not allow that to happen. Government regulation is poison. Self-regulation is like manna from heaven. We must stop marginalizing the minority of abusers and do something about it instead.

It is time for those loving fathers within the Patriarchy movement to start challenging the abusive fathers to love their wives the way Christ loves the church. Parents need to challenge each other to not provoke their children to anger.

We need to hold each other accountable and no longer look the other way when a man becomes a dragon to his own family.

My mother has been very concerned about some young women who she feels are trapped into abusive circumstances. How do we help those who have been brainwashed into accepting abuse? I don’t know. They are trapped in their own minds so I don’t think the police is the answer. I don’t have all the answers. But I would love to see the Church play a larger role.

A Bright New Future

I think homeschooling has a bright future. I suspect the movement as a whole will take heed of Michael Farris’ warning. People may be able to ignore Michael Pearl but it would be hard to ignore Michael Farris.

I hope less extreme elements of the movement can start getting control back over the conferences. I hope we can have a healthy conversation about what we need to do in this next season to respond to the HARO threat. As we address their legitimate concerns, the homeschool community will grow stronger and healthier.

Thomas Umstattd Jr. is the author of Courtship in Crisis, the former head of PracticalCourtship.com, and co-founder of the Austin Rhetoric Club, a homeschool speech and debate club in Austin, Texas. He is a professional speaker and CEO of Author Media. He sits on the board of directors for several nonprofits, including the Texas Alliance for Life.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

53 thoughts on “I Stand With Michael Farris Against The Abuses of the Patriarchy Movement

  1. I’m thankful for signs like these showing that this generation is standing up and wanting to take measures which will keep homeschooling safe for their own (and future) generations. Please continue pushing for internal scrutiny and regulation because otherwise the entire movement will lose credibility.

    This is part of what I posted on my facebook page earlier today (and yes, I am personally calling out Mr. Farris and specifically Mike Smith, who knows me, and even personally invited me to be his guest at an HSLDA leadership event in Branson where, incidentally, I ended up speaking in one of the sessions (last minute) with Wendy Wright).

    “I do, absolutely, appreciate the efforts and the sacrifices which have been made by hslda over the years. I think they’ve done a huge amount of good. I don’t want to see that eroded. And I don’t want to see them ‘go away’, I am just calling on them to PLEASE let the ‘abused’ have a seat at the table. It can only make the entire movement stronger, make it safer, and ultimately give it more credibility…. but the fact still remains that they did not respond to me when I brought them starkly disturbing allegations of child molestation cover ups happening in their ‘circle of homeschool leaders’; leaders who were (are) still being brought to child-focused events. I know I’m a ‘nobody’, but I was (and still am) surprised and disturbed that Mike Smith (who Farris also apologizes for in his piece) did not respond (at all) to my repeated requests for guidance back in April on whether or not I should go to CPS or if he thought I should begin making homeschool leaders aware that there was an issue. I’m not trying to cause trouble here. I think change is needed, I’m encouraged by seeing their first steps toward that, but, again, leadership cannot happen from behind. I wish they would have investigated my claims, and at the very least acknowledged me and opened a dialouge considering the serverity of the allegations”.

    Change is only going to happen if the actual problem is first acknowledged.

    I also responded to the article by Mr Farris on my blog (in regards to my family’s horrendous ordeal of being disregarded when we brought up real abuse happening with leaders they stand shoulder to shoulder with). I firmly believe that we if can’t self-correct then outside forces are going to come along and try and do it for us. http://jeneralities.com/?p=542114

    • In my state, you are legally obligated to go to CPS if you suspect abuse. If you have anything like proof, child services should be involved. Policing ourselves does not extend to criminal behavior that violates the laws of the land. Involving CPS is serious but your situation sounds very serious.

      • This year when we found out about a 3rd incident (where a child predator was being brought into child-focused events and parents who spoke up were being punished) we brought the information to our pastor and he encouraged us to get legal authorities involved and to report the original incident(s) which had happened to our son seven years ago (who was a kindergartner at the time). At the same time, a group of us (all Christians and who live in different states) decided something needed to be done since we saw there was a pattern (not just isolated incidents) with this family who are very influential leaders in the current homeschool community.

        The evidence we have is both striking and significant. But sadly we came to the realization that the homeschool movement had not equipped itself *at all* to lead when it concerned dealing with abuse from within it’s own ‘Leadership circles’. I think the article above states it perfectly where the author says, “If we do not police our own, the government will step in and do it for us. We must not allow that to happen. Government regulation is poison. Self-regulation is like manna from heaven. We must stop marginalizing the minority of abusers and do something about it instead.”

        –The question is… who’s going to do that? Are leaders actually willing to do this? From our own personal experience, I would have to say “No, absolutely”. But I don’t want that to be the case. And that’s why this piece was very encouraging. Maybe there are new leaders who are beginning to emerge who will step up and figure out how it can be done.

    • I second Ronelle – if you have solid reasons to believe children have been victims of abuse, please, please, report it to the police! These poor victims need to see grown ups doing something to protect them and punish the bad guy.

  2. What abuse there is, is because of sin, not the biblical practice of patriarchy. You don’t need to inject feminism and rebellion to solve the problem, you need Christ.

    • First of all, I would like to point out that just because the Bible uses the word “patriarch” does not mean it condones the practice of many modern patriarchs. Any abusive situation is a product of sin. Obviously. But I’m not sure what your comment that we “don’t need to inject feminism and rebellion to solve the problem, you need Christ” has to do with this post. The author hasn’t called for feminism or rebellion. He calls for leaders within the homeschool community to step up and police situations of abusive so that the government doesn’t do it for us. Why should we not encourage self-regulation to protect the women and children of our communities from abuses of power?

  3. Thank you for taking a stand. I’m a homeschooling mother of six who has witnessed, in my own family, the way predators will find a child who only knows how to obey. The stories I read in the comments on our courtship blog have really put these children, and adults, who are oppressed and handicapped by control on my heart. I share the burden with your mom about trapped girls. Please continue to speak out about these problems so we can be the church for each other.

  4. Your mention/praise of Michael Pearl struck me as a bit bizarre. His wife authored “Created to Be His Helpmeet” which is practically a textbook on patriarchy, even (if I remember correctly) saying that wives should hesitate to leave in cases of abuse.

    • This struck me as odd too. At first I thought maybe it was a different guy. But if it’s the infamous Pearl, this shoots a big hole into Umstadtt’s credibility here.

  5. I am a homeschool mom of 5 children.

    I think you are right about many points. But I do not think HARO is worse than a teachers union. The home school movement has succeed in raising a bright group of young people that know how to start groups and reasonable look at issues and try to solve problems.

    They are a group of young adults excited to go and ready to change the world. Do they have maturing to do? Sure. But we all did in our young 20’s. But we didn’t know that we we set out the change the world.

    I think it is important to give voice to these compassionate students, now adults, that broke the ground in the homeschooling movement. Yes, the parent may have fought the battles. But these kids but up with a bunch of theories, some good others horrible on how to raise a great Christian kid. They survived our crazy ideas of young people. We should at least give them the respect that is due to kids who lived through the dreams of when we were young. You wanted to put home schooling on the map. In the 80’s people thought you were crazy. Now home schooling is a profitable and popular endeavor.

    Don’t look for enemies were they are not. Most are not against home schooling – they are against home schooling done in the cover of night where so many are abused. Abuse is a huge issue in our country. Of course our movement is not free of it.

    Don’t make these young people into monsters. They are not. They are the result of thinking young people that the first generation of homeschoolers hoped to create. They are the results of so many books and talks the homeschooling fathers and mothers gave. Don’t shut them out now. Indeed, they know home schooling from a view you perhaps will never know. Is it wise to not listen to one whole community of experts in a field?

    Pray, be gracious and reach out.

    • HARO wants government regulation of homeschooling – and very draconian regulation at that. They’re not “creative thinkers;” they are a threat to homeschooling freedom because their complaints will be picked up by those opposed to homeschooling and blown out of proportion. In reality, they represent an extremely small percentage of adults who were homeschooled, but if they are taken seriously, people will come to believe they stand for the majority – which is simply not true. Now, if they really are fair-minded and people of good will, they’ll cease promoting the notion that government has any say in private education (which is what homeschooling is). Policing our own is good; suggesting that government needs to make the rules (as HARO does) is point-blank wrong.

      • So you’re saying complaints will be blown out of proportion. Who’s idea of proportion? The abusers, the victim(s), or general society? Because general society doesn’t condone the kind of crap that gets overlooked, besides, last I heard child protection services are less likely to do something unless they happen to have proof and resources to remove a child. A personal beef? Not likely unless they had already been abused by a homeschooling parent. Even then, most homeschoolers aren’t bitter, just sad and want better for others!

  6. Sometimes it is not the fathers who are dragons, but the mothers, in a sort of perverted “patriarchy” where she tells him what to do as the patriarch, and he tries to accommodate her, but ultimately she has no respect for him as she steamrolls her will across her family with him as her semi-reluctant rubber stamper, to the sad demise of the offspring.

    Just saying what I’ve seen. Abuses all around.

    • Thank you! This is exactly what my childhood was like. It’s not always the fathers. I was just trying to explain this to someone but couldn’t quite put it into those words. Great explanation.

    • You won the initial battle to keep the homeschooling movement alive by sweeping abuse and an abusive ideology under the rug?!? How commendable.

    • I’m sorry!! That last comment was not supposed to be in response to your comment but in response to this article.

  7. About 20+ years ago, the Texas legislature was hinting on regulating my CPA profession. We got scared enough to upgrade our self policing efforts. Why not let the state regulate? Because we know what Thomas said is true: If we do not police our own, the government will step in and do it for us. We must not allow that to happen. Government regulation is poison. Self-regulation is like manna from heaven.

  8. Your idea that those groups can police themselves is fundamentally flawed. Authoritarianism has per definition no taste for checks and balances. Leaders are protected by virtue of them being authority figures; abusers find wonderfully compliant children, because they have been taught unquestioning obedience to authority figures, with methods not unlike those described in books like 1984 – to create hollow people “forever incapable of human feeling” who love Big Brother. The ironic thing here is: Big Brother in this context is not the state, not the government, and not the NSA. It is the church and/or the homeschool community that has allowed itself to exercise absolute power. Absolute power, however, corrupts absolutely. Don’t give me that: But not if you are religious. Hogwash: the Bible clearly says that man is sinful.

    Self policing calls for not always complying, for not keeping your head down, for speaking up against authoritiy figures. And where, pray, have those people inside your system learnt that?

    Again ironically: The state is the only antagonist to those forces that can actually create checks and balances. In pseudo-theocratic circles women and children have no advocates. HARO is what YOU CREATED! And now you are wondering that the survivors do not trust you to police yourselves? I should hope there is more state regulation soon.

    • Obedience is not the opposite to love. We obey God because we love him, and we love him more because of our obedience. Obedience to proper (God-delegated) authority increases love, and is obedience to God.

    • I appreciate your perspective here. I would counter it by saying that “survivor stories” are only a small picture of homeschooling in the US.

      The topic here is how best to deal with a small subset of the hs community which has a damaged view of authority. The consequential brokenness from this ranges from verbally and emotionally abused wives/children to sexual and physical abuse. The latter can not be adequately dealt with without civil authorities because it is illegal. But to invite oversight into the fundamental structure of hs oversight by what is arguably the most broken system of authority there is – our federal government – is utter folly.

      One thing that has made hs successful for so many is freedom from government involvement. The negative result is that invariably, there will be those who take advantage of this freedom and become their own kings (and queens) subject to no one. This is not how biblical authority works. Fathers are subject to the authority of those in leadership of their local church. And to civil authorities when they commit crimes against their families and others.

      So it’s no surprise that churches which operate independently or are controlled by a small group are attractive to abusive men. The wives and children of these types need help to confront the abuser, help in accordance with the offense. For emotional/verbal abuse, they need encouragement and counseling in standing up for themselves. The abuser will find it more difficult to control his subjects when they are empowered to speak. If this morphs into physical abuse, there are then biblical grounds for separation and the civil authorities must become involved.

      Homeschooling can turn into something very warped and evil, but it seems this happens most often when the family is isolated from the safety and protection of biblical authority in a local church and the accompanying support of other women who are in the unique position of aiding the abused.

      • Where are you getting your information that these “survivor stories” (no sure why you put that in quotations, it implies you don’t think they’re real) are only a small subset? It’s fun to make claims like that. But where is your reference/resource for that information? The available homeschooled research is very limited, some what outdated, an incredibly biased.
        And what is this damaged view of authority you’re talking about?

      • Hi Larissa,

        You’re right. We don’t have statistics, just anecdotal evidence. Our experiences are based on the contexts we live in. So I think you’ve answered your own question there. But I base my view on my observations of the homeschool movement at large, which includes people from all faiths (including atheists and agnostics), all socioeconomic levels, and all races. The subset of folks who have fallen into the Gaither/Vision Forum/Pearl/etc “heresies” (if you will) subscribe to a very narrow, incorrect interpretation of the Bible’s teaching on authority. Given the demographics of the hs community, I would say this is a minority.

        Your tone seems to indicate that you have been impacted by this problem. If so, my heart goes out to you. Not all Christian, Bible-believing homeschooling families live that way. I grew up in a home where unquestioning obedience and authoritarianism gave me a warped view of submission and authority. There was verbal and at times physical abuse, justified by what I was told was God given biblical authority. Only by God’s grace have I been able to reach the point in my life where I can defend true biblical authority and call out abuse. It has cost me, but I also am seeing fruit in the way I am raising my children. I am not a doormat for my husband. We are equals . I trust his leadership and he seeks my help. I’ve intentionally trained my children in respectful disagreement and in ownership of their own bodies. In other words, they know how and when to say no, and they their parents are accountable to authority just as they are accountable to us.

        People who have been abused by their authority figures understandably react by trying to do away with authority and accountability altogether. But that is just as destructive. It’s very sad when we can not find trustworthy leadership. But it does exist, and should be prayerfully, carefully, thoughtfully, wisely sought out.

      • Larissa,

        As to why I put survivor stories in quotations – in my earlier viewing of this thread “against naivete”‘s post included that same phrase in quotations. I was merely responding in kind. Of course I believe these survivors. I can identify with them on some level, having been brought up on Gothard.

        Somehow the comments ” against naivete” have made have gotten out of sync. My first response was intended for the post he/she made including the “survivor stories” comment.

      • Thank you for clarifying. I really wasn’t understanding what authority problems you were talking about. But yes that is exactly how I was raised as well. The odd thing is that my mother is actually the one who ran the show. She wanted this “perfect” little Christian family who lived by those fundamentalist rules and yet she was not at all submissive. She somehow was trying to make my father be a patriarch but rwally she was in control. She taught us to read and that is all. We were left on our own for hours and hours everyday. My father was a pushover who allowed her to do whatever she wanted. I don’t think my dad ever the truly believed in all of it but he just let my mother damage us.

      • Larissa – I’m so sorry. I hope you have gotten or have access to counseling. That’s such a painful thing to reconcile with. I also hope you find true Christian fellowship and loving, servant- leadership. You have already demonstrated courage by speaking up and watching out for abuse. I’m hopeful your journey with Jesus will continue to eternity and we will meet one day!

      • Forgive me for nudging in here, but I am confused by your position. Here you say that homeschooling needs freedom from government involvement or accountability, but in a comment just below you say “People who have been abused by their authority figures understandably react by trying to do away with authority and accountability altogether. But that is just as destructive.” I would agree that doing away with accountability is terribly destructive. But that is why I advocate for government regulations: because trusting the homeschooling community to police itself is clearly not working for many unfortunate children.

        You believe that the government is a broken authority. I believe that churches and the homeschooling leadership are broken authorities. I’m sure we could both back up our own claims with scads of evidence (because all authorities will be imperfect and have faults). But what it sounds like you are advocating for is “more of the same” and I don’t understand that since you clearly understand the problem. You believe in “biblical authority” but how can you give any sort of assurance to a child that his/her family or church will act in a “biblical” way? Clearly they often do not. Children and women especially tend to be ignored or oppressed in many churches, their claims dismissed, and their abusers encouraged. Do we just turn a blind eye to all of these abuses because we can claim “ah, they are just a minority, it’s no big deal”? I don’t think you believe that, but that’s what it seems you are advocating. Can you clarify?

        As far as these abuses being a minority… I have no doubt that they are. But they are not insignificant at all. I and EVERY homeschooler from my past that I am still in contact with either experienced or witnessed abuse or neglect. This ranged from educational neglect and manipulation (either failing to educate or withholding grades or transcripts in order to force the child to do something), to locking a child up in a room for 40 days on a near-starvation diet, to medical neglect causing the child to be covered in sores and flea bites, to emotional abuse of many kinds, to kicking their child out onto the street. These may be a minority, but my anecdotal evidence tells me it is NOT a tiny minority. What are we to do about this? I personally cannot accept the answer “more of the same.” I have witnessed too much pain and suffering to accept solutions that are merely hopeful that people will do the right thing. They won’t.

        What do you think?

      • @GAhsMom:

        No person in their right mind would say: oh, well, since criminals make only a tiny minority fo the population, let’s get rid of all the police. Police just are such an offense to us honest folk. Let’s exclusively fix problems with Neighbourhood Watch. Hm…. I wonder.

        I remember one story on HARO, where the author very very clearly said that had there been more oversight, more government control, she would not have suffered such physical and sexual abuse every day, but maybe only once in a while. Because when she and her family lived outside the US with more restrictive homeschooling laws, abuse went down. Oversight disciplines and often keeps in check even abusive personalities.

        It is an illusion to think that an unregulated homeschool market means freedom. It doesn’t: in the beginning it is a free for all, and then the bullies take over. This is not a critique of capitalism – so don’t read it that way. I am just saying that domineering despots took over long ago, and Christian homeschooling parents still think they are free. Sorry, but that is just so naive.

  9. Well at least you’re clear where you stand. Thanks stating plainly that you see abuse victims as the real threat, and not abusers. Thanks for clarifying that our voices are not welcome. Thanks for upholding people like Michael Pearl, who literally wrote the book on how to abuse your children, a man whose extreme methods of discipline have caused the death of 3 children so far, as a voice of reason in this debate. Thanks for applauding Farris, a man whose organization has fought against laws that would classify “bruises and welts” as child abuse. Thank you for deciding that people who perpetuate abuse are better informed on how to prevent it than victims of abuse are. Thanks. Because that makes it clear that you ARE in fact the enemy of child abuse victims everywhere. And we will overcome.

    I’m sorry, but your convenience as a parent isn’t more important than a child’s right to live. Self-policing? Accountability? Yeah, we’ve tried that for decades now, and the blood and pain of these victims is testifying that IT DOESN’T WORK. You want more of the same? Okay. But then you have a lot of nerve to even pretend to care about abuse victims. Actions speak louder than words. But that’s alright. The rest of us have fought uphill battles against the strong and powerful for our entire lives. We know how to look out for each other when you turn your back on us. And while we’d love to have you as our allies and maybe less children would suffer if you united with us, we will keep going whether you fight us or help us. That’s what we’re good at.

    • In other words, you’re good at destroying the good along with the bad. You’re good at throwing out Christian principles because some have misused them. You’re good at encouraging rebellion because there are some bad authorities in this world. You’re good at teaching hate instead of love.

      How about trying the strategy of forgiveness? It’s a much more powerful force than bitterness.

      • Excuse me? You don’t know whether or not I have thrown out Christian principles. You don’t know if I encourage rebellion. You don’t know if I teach hate or love. You don’t know anything about me other than that I oppose child abuse, Michael Pearl, and Michael Farris. You just want me to shut up and stop making you uncomfortable. Well, I won’t. And I’m not sorry.

        By the way, your idea of “forgiveness” looks more like silencing victims. No thanks. Tell me I’m “bitter” all you want (OH NO abuse victims have FEELINGS about their abuse! How shameful!) but if your idea of “godliness” is to shame victims for standing up for themselves rather than to protect them, I think I am glad to avoid any “god” that you worship.

  10. Thank you for making your position very clear. Thanks for letting us know that child abuse victims are the enemy to homeschooling, not child abusers. Thanks for letting us know that our voices and opinions are not welcome. Thanks for upholding Michael Pearl as a rational voice in this conversation… Michael Pearl, the man who literally wrote the book on how to abuse your children, how to beat them into submission, how to break their wills, how to treat them like animals, and under whose instruction 3 children have DIED already! Thanks for applauding Farris, the man whose organization has repeatedly fought AGAINST child abuse laws, even ones that would define “bruises and welts” as abuse. Thanks for suggesting that the solution to the pain, blood, abuse, lost lives, lost educations, and lost childhoods is MORE OF THE SAME. Self-policing? Accountability? We’ve been doing that for decades and it hasn’t worked.

    I’m sorry, but I value the lives and safety of children more than your convenience. But I do appreciate you being honest. See, victims are used to struggling against the people in power and the men and women who are able to distance themselves from their suffering and make them out to be the enemy. Victims are used to that. And victims learn to overcome that.

    So keep on throwing us under the bus. We will overcome.

    And if this gets posted in repeat, I apologize, but the system glitched last time I tried.

  11. You won the initial battle to keep the homeschooling movement alive by sweeping abuse and an abusive ideology under the rug?!? How commendable.

  12. “Throwing out the good with the bad?”

    As a European, I have heard that from some old folks on the Continent: “oh, but Mr. H. built all those AUTOBAHNS”; “and everyone had a job”; and “the streets were a lot safer then”; and “our youth was so much less rebellious and there was law and order”. Never mind that Mr H. laid Europe in ashes, and never mind those “behaviour modification camps for rebellious folk” (also called concentration camps) and let’s just not be too noisy about those other camps from which there were no survivors.


    If most of what you get are “survivor stories” – the system is fundamentally flawed and you should abandon it. Not least, because it has nothing to do with the teachings of Jesus. But faith is not your central topic anyway, is it?!

  13. If leadership doesn’t take care of internal problems at the onset they come back to haunt them. Internal problems should not have been “swept under the rug during infancy”. They should have been addressed so the foundation would be strong. The initial battle wasn’t won. The initial battle was for the fathers to respond to their own internal issues before dealing with external threats. Our countries founding fathers failed to deal with the issue of slavery and it cost us a civil war a hundred years later. Patriarchy has also pit father against child and the carnage is there for all to see and read about.

  14. I stand with Farris, too. You make some great points, but I will challenge you on your point about HARO. They’re edgy, and I don’t jive with their government solutions either, but they are far from our biggest threat. They’re our alumni who have grown up through the first generation of homeschooling, able to point out our blind spots much better than us. I can make the argument that, without them, we wouldn’t have seen the downfall of patriarchy. They’ve been a thorn in our sides, and that thorn has been a blessing.

  15. I agree with Michael Harris’ statement, but like several of the comments before mine, I don’t agree with your position on HARO. HARO is an internal auditor, not an external threat. The home school community needs an organization such as HARO, which knows our system, inside and out, and is willing to call us out when we mess up. We need our checks and balances just as much as any group of people. I don’t agree with HARO’s advocacy of government intervention, but we need an independent NGO with the purpose and authority to provide accountability to the community.

  16. Thomas Umstattd,
    Please explain that cryptic comment regarding Michael Pearl. Are you saying people can/do ignore his extreme (patriarchal) views, but aught not ignore Michael Farris? It seems you may be misunderstood by other commenters?

    • Oops.. I now see the link at the beginning of the article to Michael Pearl’s site. So are you supporting Michael Pearl? His article leaves much to be desired. He doesn’t seem to see how his book (s) have been used to give permission to engage in all kinds of abuse. He is one who makes his opinion to be the revealed will of God, just as Farris pointed to this fallacy in the Patriarchal movement.

  17. Dear Thomas

    I have appreciated many things you have said, however I would like to point out a couple of things with this article that I think indicate an inappropriate view on child abuse.

    You said, “In the early days our party line was “Homeschooling is perfect. No regulation needed.” This line of argumentation was good and helpful during our infancy. We needed to sweep internal problems under the rug so we could focus on external threats.”

    Do you realise some of the internal problems that you have effectively dismissed include severe child abuse? Homeschoolers Anonymous did a survey in 2013, and discovered shocking statistics of abuse. I grew up in one of the better homeschooling families and I still suffered abuse in multiple forms. This includes, educational neglect, spiritual abuse, physical abuse, sexual abuse, and emotional abuse. Please read again, I grew up in one of the “better” homes. My father didn’t prescribe to the patriarchy doctrine. It still severely damaged me via other means.

    After over 2 years I’m still seeing medical practitioners on an extremely regular basis about my complicated mental illnesses stemming from suffering large amounts of abuse at a young age.

    You said, “Saying that something is uncommon is no excuse for inaction. Even one bruised and battered girl crying herself to sleep is too many.”

    You are absolutely right. This includes those who’s troubles were covered over to get the homeschooling situation started, and THIS is why the homeschooling system needs to be open to government regulation and checks from particular home school officers, who check the children on a semi regular basis to ensure they are not being abused or neglected! No, we don’t need the governments taking children away from good parents, but parents need to be aware that they can’t neglect their children and get away with it. Normal people do stupid things. Homeschooling is showing large deficits for many of those who were brought up by it. Not all, but many.

    And our parents forgot something. If we did indeed learn to think for ourselves and things were covered over, then do you think the next generation are going to want to homeschool their children when they themselves didn’t get taught math past 6th grade or any higher level sciences, or any subject for that matter that the child couldn’t learn by picking up a textbook and reading it?

    Many homeschooled children aren’t going to homeschool for these very reasons, and I think the homeschooling movement needs to take a long hard look at themselves for what they have done.

  18. What crap. As a homeschool alumni, I can only say that I was taught *my entire life* that the test of my parent’s godly homeschool practices was my success as a homeschool student. My ‘godliness’. My conservatism. My republicanism. My ‘modesty.’

    Somehow, when all of us alumni aren’t exhibiting these characteristics you promised to our parents, it is now our fault instead of theirs? You can’t have it both ways, sir. If the product of your movement is threatening your movement, you may want to reconsider your position.

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