Bea M.: “Unchecked power is perilous”

“In my profession, I understand that teaching is a skill. Parents may love their kids, and even be educated themselves, but that doesn’t make them teachers.”

I was homeschooled from kindergarten through 12th grade. I am the oldest of five children. We were a very traditional, religious family. My mother and father both hold bachelor’s degrees. My father worked and my mother stayed home. 

I am in favor of responsible home education, and feel additional oversight is necessary. 

My educational and social opportunities were very limited. My mother was overwhelmed with young children, and isn’t a professional educator. She wasn’t able to teach (and didn’t prioritize teaching), leaving me with books and answer keys to teach myself. While she enrolled me in some activities and co-ops, I didn’t have daily interaction with other children. She was very absentee in her approach. 

As the oldest, I was the caretaker for the younger children for a good portion of the time, which limited my academic success. As I grew older, I came to realize that the home environment was toxic. Because we had little exposure to the outside world, we didn’t have a baseline to understand how other people acted or felt. We were sucked into a mentality that the “world was against us.” When people don’t have enough interaction with the community, they forget what is normal, appropriate, and acceptable. 

My parents failed to properly educate us. They bullied me, and often twisted reality. Because we didn’t have other supportive adults in our lives, no one was able to step in and prevent this behavior, which ultimately escalated to abuse.

I no longer have any contact with my parents. 

I grew up and now have a husband, a son, a great job, and a master’s degree in an education-related field. In my profession, I understand that teaching is a skill. Parents may love their kids, and even be educated themselves, but that doesn’t make them teachers. Teachers are trained to communicate complicated concepts; they are trained to recognize signs of abuse, learning disabilities, and illness. 

I’ve had friends diagnosed with autism, hearing loss, ADHD, depression, and anxiety as adults. This could have been caught as children had they ever been exposed to trained professionals, but they were homeschooled. We agree it would have been better to be in the public school system. 

Some people are fortunate to have a good experience with homeschooling. That’s great! However, not everyone does. Ultimately, homeschooling gives parents complete, unchecked power over children. Unchecked power is perilous. Responsible home education will provide the checks and balances necessary to ensure children are safe and have access to educational opportunities. 

Bea M. was homeschooled in Minnesota from 1992-2007. For additional thoughts and experiences from other homeschool alumni, see our Testimonials page.

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