real encouragement for real homeschooling moms

raising homeschooled daughters, part one

If forced to name a movie title that best describes my adolescent years, “The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly” would probably take top honors. Seriously, if Dante were depicting hell in 1966, the scene would be played out in the Farmington Junior High locker room with a gym teacher who stood sentinel over damp towels and kept track of our menstrual periods with a red ink pen and a dated journal.  Contrary to what junior high boys imagine, it is most definitely NOT a pretty sight.

One summer I went to church camp and spent the week struggling somewhere between the intense spiritual awakenings that were happening in my soul and the mental confusion of deciding who I was.  In my cabin were several other girls just like me, gawky young teens who had thunder thighs in shorts and swimming cap hair at the end of the day.

But then there was Jennifer.  Her suitcase was full of amazing things none of us had ever seen, let alone used….tanning lotion, a Lady Schick razor, tampons, a padded bra, a bottle of Chanel #5 cologne.  She wore matching Bobby Brooks short sets and got up early every morning to be sure her lip gloss of the day was color-coordinated.  She was graceful and charming and even witty.  But best of all, she had a boyfriend named Rob.

Every morning we all stood around Jennifer as she applied nail polish to her toes and brushed her shiny hair.  We giggled and cooed “Oh, that is sooooo cute” as she put on an ankle bracelet and “You smell yummy” as she dabbed perfume behind her ears.  We stared out the window when we saw Rob, with his dreamy smile and piercing eyes, coming to the cabin.  We sighed as we watched Jennifer go out to meet him, the cabin screen door slamming shut behind her.  It might as well have been slamming shut on our lives, we thought.

When I look back at those times, it is uncomfortable and even painful.  I survived, but barely, and still wear many of the emotional scars that came about simply by being a girl whose rites of passage were marked by many Jennifers, perfect girls whose skin and very lives had no pock marks.

It wasn’t until I grew up and became a mother and started thinking about my own childhood that I realized something….even Jennifer probably struggled with feelings of inadequacy and self-acceptance.  I am certain that Jennifer grew up and probably married someone who wasn’t Rob and now has children and grandchildren. And she probably still struggles some days with thoughts of who she really is.

As bad as it was for me and my friends, I believe girls growing up in the new millennium have new pressures and influences that we never imagined..  The perceived importance of movie stars and music icons grows as media access is at our fingertips.  The openness of perversion seeks to and accomplishes the goal of breaking down the God-given barriers that once protected our children.

As parents, we are in the precarious position of preparing children to live within such a culture while at the same time protecting and coaching them from making life choices based on what is popular within that same culture.  Unless we live in ivory towers, even as homeschoolers, our daughters are exposed to the same pressures and temptations, even when they sometimes come from other Christians.  It is a constant challenge for us.

Now, I contend that this assault on our daughters has a parallel within the culture of homeschooling and over the next few days I will be sharing some of my concerns about raising homeschooled daughters.  I look forward to your thoughts.



  Melanie wrote @

I am really looking forward to what you have to say on this subject, as I have two daughters and homeschool.

  Cindy K wrote @

If I didn’t know better, I may have thought that this grandbaby photo inspired this series of discussions! (Adorable.) 🙂 Wouldn’t it be funny if, every 10 years or so, you put them all together again to see if they congregate in the same way?

I pray that this will be of great benefit to both real encouragement to both real homeschooling moms and real homeschooled daughters. I think it’s a vital topic.

  Corrie wrote @

Wow! Karen, you have a way of transporting people back in time with your stories. I felt as if I was there.

I can’t wait for your series.

  Anne wrote @

It has taken me a long time to realize that I’m not the only one who has struggled with her identity and finding her place in the world.

But how do I teach my daughters that they don’t need to compare themselves to the Jennifer’s of the world? And that they should love themselves, flaws and all? How do I help them so that they don’t have to struggle as I did? Or is that a rite of passage that all girls must face?

  Kathleen or Kate, for short wrote @

Karen, I’m always deeply touched by your rememberances of your life. My daughter has fought an incredible fight (even as a homeschooled “sheltered” teen) with her value. She has overcome, and continues, even while we had attended a very “high maintenance” church. I have been concerned about what she would think her value is, but I’ve tried and hopefully have succeeded in some small way, to teach her that her value is based on her preciousness in Jesus’ eyes. Not on any physical or fleshly attribute or accomplishment.

Looking forward to your upcoming posts.

  Cindy K wrote @

Having ruminated and slept since first reading this post, those who have commented have described what I have experienced, too. When you store a memory, you created “reverberating circuits” in your brain. A memory is never just stored one place in your brain. The gym-teacher memory is not apart from the clip board or your embarrassment of having to divulge the details of your menstrual cycle (and whether you have one at all yet) or the look of the tile on the floor or the smell of industrial strength lysol with which they moped the floor. It sets off the whole circuit of those memories, not just one element. Then there are the ripples, as the clip board or the smells and the feel of what your awkward clothing felt like (those AWFUL gym sets we had to wear!) against your skin will set you unconsciously thinking about all the memories that you associate with every single element in the first circuit.

In the crispness of these memories, there is a bitter sweet set of reverberating circuits going off in my own brain. The first girl that wore perfume… The nail polish (which I have not had on my nails in 25 years)… Oh, and LIP GLOSS. I remember Mr. Debelack coming over and saying to a bunch of us “How about a little less Lip Smacker and a little more Work Smacker.” And a flood of memories come back, covering a spectrum from ugly to beautiful with good and bad somewhere in between.

I pray that for all reading this that the Holy Spirit will anoint all those reverberating circuits that get stimulated in our minds, so that He will bring to our remembrance all that He would most like to heal in our hearts and memories. May God do something mighty for both mother and daughter through this little cyber-journey, above all that we can ask or think, as we squeeze all the equity of wisdom we can out of those moments when the screen door felt like it was slamming shut on our lives. May He have His perfect work in all of us for His glory and our good.

  Michelle wrote @

I am looking forward to this series, Karen. I now have my first daughter (after 3 boys!). She is only 11 months old 🙂 , but I desperately want to avoid raising her in the patriarchal way. We were falling into that ditch and I believe we’re climbing out of it now. There will be struggles in her life, to be sure (who doesn’t have them?)… I think this series is more for me-for me to learn a healthy way to raise her.

  thatmom wrote @

Cindy, I can only taken “ownership” of one of those sweet little girls but aren’t they just precious?

  Cindy K wrote @

When are we getting part II, or are you still looking for the perfect picture?

Those four little hens are as cute as they can be! My best friend’s little one was this same age when I first met them and named her my “snuggle buggle.” Now snuggle buggle has a lip ring. (She’s one of the two girls that my friend says I can take credit for if I want to say I have kids.) Boy, those snuggle buggle days are long gone. (Though I have a very good friendship with her, even though she does not snuggle anymore!)

This is the kid who put her hand on her hip and said “There was no flood! I don’t believe it” when she first seriously considered the story of Noah at about age 5. Her mother was SICK that she was so tough. I told her that this would be a healthy trait that she would be thankful for when some guy fed her a line or when someone tried to pass off false doctrine to her! I think she’s a delightful challenge (but I’m not her mom…). Not crazy about the lip ring, though.

  titus2woman wrote @

You know, I have three boys and then a daughter who is two. Recently we went to the mall, and it was very interesting, fascinating, and disappointing to watch her as she observed other women and girls around her. We are mostly home together~so this had to be innate almost at her tender toddler two~but she actually adjusted her behavior as she saw these other girls! I guess until seeing this unfold I didn’t understand at all how deep this is… I thought that good talks might eliminate it all~BAH!

This is a great topic, and I too look forward to reading more of what you have to share! (((((HUGS))))) sandi

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