real encouragement for real homeschooling moms

responding to anthea from the last entry

Hi Anthea and thank you so much for speaking your heart. You have so many comments that I would like to address so I decided to do that in a full post rather than a response. I hope I am able to clear up any misunderstandings of where I stand on these things.

What you are describing in the UK about not having the luxury of falling out with people is exactly how I would describe the atmosphere of homeschooling here in the US back in the early years of our experience, the mid 80’s and early 90’s. When we began homeschooling, there was only one other homeschooling family in my county and only a handful within a 100 mile radius, most of whom we didn’t even know existed. When we began to network, it was a tremendous source of encouragement to many people and we could have cared less about discussing the things that are being discussed here and elsewhere in regards to the patriocentric teachings. It was much like being in the pro-life movement is today in the US, in that we freely network and work alongside those who have very different theological views because we have one mission, that of bringing an end to abortion on demand. Likewise, homeschoolers ought to have the goal of encouraging each other along this journey and to do all we can to help preserve the rights of others to homeschool, no matter what their religious preferences or convictions.

However, what I see happening is that while I see myself drawing a larger circle to include people within the circle of homeschooling encouragement, I see many circles getting smaller and smaller. Just this list that Doug Phillips shared as his goals for homeschoolers shows that many wonderful homeschooling families will feel like they must either participate and support his list or be outside the circle. (see this response I had to similar thoughts about a year ago.)

Since about half of the homeschooling conventions around the country choose to invite leaders who hold to this message as keynote speakers, the message is being sent loud and clear that these non essentials are, in fact, essential. Do these speakers have the liberty to teach these things? Absolutely and if that is what is being promoted by conference planners, I am sure it will continue. But you must remember that it leaves no option for those outside of this paradigm to enjoy homeschooling conferences in many areas of the US. And it also sets up adversarial relationships where none should exist. CHEC and others have the freedom to teach what they will but it is also true that other homeschooling families have the right to establish their own state organizations and conferences in order to provide a different perspective on Christian homeschooling.

You have also observed that we must be careful to not promote “guilt by association” in a manner that seeks to discredit others. There are two sides to this coin. Absolutely we must be careful. For example, if I know so and so participates in a homeschooling co-op with a friend who states that it is a sin (or unbiblical or unwise, however it is worded) to send a daughter to college and uses Numbers 30 to support this view, I would not necessarily avoid associating with that person. In fact, there are too many variables to consider. However, I would be wise and cautious and observe to see if those teachings were also being absorbed by my friend and I would certainly exercise caution and not allow my child to participate in the co-op. I would also feel compelled to share my concerns with my friend, showing her proof of the teachings of her associate. I would be diligent and watchful.

It is interesting that we, as parents and homeschoolers, are so quick to screen our children’s influences, whether they are movies, friends, or church activities, but we don’t want to apply those same principles in our own relationships. I have noticed that sometimes homeschooling moms are the most peer dependent people I know simply because they so desperately want to do it right! The old adage “bad company corrupts good morals” can apply to us, too! The Bible calls Solomon the wisest man who lived but also tells us that “When Solomon was old, that his wives turned his heart after other gods; and his heart was not loyal to the LORD his God, as was the heart of his father David.”

On the other hand, just because someone is a keynote speaker at an event alongside someone who has aberrant theology doesn’t mean that he is also suspect in his theology. I am not sure what you are referring to, but if it was the CHEC leadership conference that was held in Indianapolis in March of 2009, I have concerns about each of the speakers there and as yet haven’t seen anyone who shared the platform with Mr. Phillips or who attended the conference refuting his teachings that I discuss in this article. (If anyone has information to the contrary, I would really appreciate it.) I am always willing to give the benefit of the doubt, though I think we must place a person’s writings and teachings into the context of their entire body of work and life example.

You also expressed concern about John being “hurt” and suggested that this might cloud his judgment. I cannot speak for John, but I will speak from my own experience and about my own motivation. I believe that many people go along in life and are spared the experience of spiritual abuse, which is, at the core, what these things are. It often takes a personal experience, as it did for me and many others I know, to open their eyes to a situation. Does being hurt disqualify someone from speaking about their concerns? Not necessarily and often it is what the Lord uses to bring us out of spiritual bondage or blindness.

Spiritual abuse is a powerful tool that is used, most often, in the most subtle of ways. For example, few of us would respond positively if someone tried to pass off a particular extra biblical teaching by out and out saying it is sin and that we are in sin by embracing it. But by cloaking it in jargon such as “X, Y, and Z” are “not wise” or “not Christian enough,” it can sound innocent enough on the surface. It isn’t until we examine our own convictions and realize that we are being challenged on a personal level that many of us get it and start holding up the teachings to Scripture. And sometimes being inside a movement, as I was within the patriocentric movement, allows you to see things that others miss, the nuances and particular language, that helps you understand agendas and teachings so when you come out of it, your radar is in tune!

I think it is also important to differentiate, especially on a personal level, between being personally offended by someone and examining their teachings as we search for truth. Sometimes those lines are blurred, especially if we have experienced great personal pain and suffering because of those teachings. That is why we must always seek to look at teachings from several angles and to seek counsel and input from others in order to hold ourselves accountable.

You have also suggested that it is important for older men to be involved in instructing the younger men about these things and I agree. One of my greatest concerns has been how there is an “ideal” man established as a model for “manly manhood” that can create discontentment in wives and children and can cause real marriage problems. As John so eloquently talked about the one size fits all of godly womanhood, the same is true of godly manhood. The end result can often be disastrous as moms and dads either just give up on fulfilling someone else’s expectations or they grieve over the fact that their children don’t and won’t fit into the paradigm, causing pain and hurt in the most tender of relationships. I come back to the basic premise of my purpose here, to encourage moms as they build real relationships with their children. These paradigms neither encourage or build. Those who speak to another way of fathering children….Tim Kimmel, Clay Clarkson, Jeff Van Vonderan, among others, are never listed as speakers for these events. Why?

You referenced the TW blog and I want to briefly talk about that here. That blog initially was started by my daughter and me under the name “Got Me A College Girl” as a place to encourage families that a college education is a good thing for women. We had many readers of that initial blog and even were written up in an article on by a regular reader who is also a free lance writer. After a while, both of us took a break from writing that blog and decided to come back with a broader number of topics other than college for girls and included several others who were interested in writing about various topic, thus the title was changed to True Womanhood.

Then several years ago when the book So Much More by the Botkin sisters was released and the corresponding film The Return of the Daughters came out, the topic of patriocentricity began to take center stage on that blog. Some of the regular contributors weren’t all that interested in the topic and began to drop out of the discussion. (Some of them were participants via their name on the contributors page only.) At this point, most of those contributors are now gone, for a variety of reasons. That has left me the job of moderating thousands of comments and I didn’t put comment moderation on as I should have and I have publicly stated that I am sorry for that.

Several weeks ago I put comment moderation on and began to go back through the nearly 20,000 comments on that blog, most of them dealing with patriocentricity, and began to see a pattern emerge. There were a handful of people who never participated in any of the discussion but who continued to drop by in order to bate regular commenters and fights broke out. I believe if I chartered what I saw, I could provide a very clear pattern for what was going on. I also began to get spammers and, most recently, personal attacks on me which are coming from obvious sources that seek to discredit my thoughts on the topic of patriocentricity so for the time being I have placed that blog on comment moderation and will do the same if I see any of the same patterns emerging here. As much as I hate to do that, it may become necessary.

I am the first to admit that sometimes comments get snarky over there but for the most part I have been really impressed at the gracious attitudes I have seen. Some blogs have an overall tone of meanness and, while TW has its moments, that is generally not the case. I am sorry if you were offended by the discussion there and I always welcome e-mails to discuss concerns both with that blog and this one.

Anthea, believe me, I would much rather be writing about rhubarb and siting on my deck with a cup of tea! Most of this blog, in the big picture, is given to the positive. Sometimes I choose to speak out against patriocentricity simply because I see such a correlation between warning and encouraging and I am increasingly seeing the dangers of this movement and the fruits of its having gone unchecked for so long.

I know there are many within the homeschooling world who have the same concerns but who are hesitant to speak out because they have their livelihood to consider, they depend on their acceptance at homeschooling conferences to support their families. In the privacy of their booths in convention halls, they spill their guts and express their concerns, too. I, on the other hand, do not make money from anything I do and I have nothing to sell. In fact, we have lots of money invested in sound and recording equipment that we will never get back and we don’t care! Both my husband and myself have a heart for this ministry. I have one goal, that of encouraging homeschooling moms. Part of that encouragement is to warn of dangers to both moms and to the wonderful journey we call homeschooling. I hope this helps you understand a little better what I am hoping to accomplish in these sorts of articles! Please feel free to drop me an e-mail if you prefer!



  Don wrote @

Hi Karen,
My husband and I just helped a young woman who is 22 years old leave her home. She had no driver’s license, high school diploma and had never had a job. Is there any way I can contact you via e-mail? I need some ideas on how to encourage her.


  thatmom wrote @

Hi Paula,

You can send me an e-mail at

I am praying for this girl right now.

  Paula wrote @

Thank you. I sent you an e-mail.

  Kathy wrote @

This is for Anthea, also (btw, I wasn’t the Kathy that responded on the last post). I enjoyed the thoughtful dialogue which she initiated, and, as always, your answers, Karen. I am not a confrontational person, so I wince when the language gets snarky on some of the boards, too.

I do confess to using the term “patrio”, but this was mostly to save time, since my tendency is to write long responses. 😉 I don’t think of this necessarily as an epithet–I think we perhaps use nicknames and slang more commonly in the US. I am sure people could think of many, with varying degrees of sarcasm attached. A lot of them do go along with religious persuasion (“Bible thumper”, “Fundie”, and then there’s the “prairie muffin”). My ire does get aroused when I think of the Pharasiac false teachings and spiritual abuse encouraged by patriocentricity, so I guess I plead guilty to using some terms I felt described the worst offenders (leaders). I could play the “spiritual” card and say that Christ called the Pharisees some pretty nasty things–of course, I’m not on His level of holiness and pure motives. As far as “patrio”, it was just a convenient, mild (in my opinion) shortcut–I could try “PC”, but that would really get confusing.

In all seriousness, I hope you continue to read here, Anthea. I appreciate the sincere, challenging thinking, and hearing points of view from worlds outside American homeschooling.

  Luke Holzmann wrote @

Keep up the encouragement! I appreciate it a lot, and I’m not even a homeschooling mom [smile].


  Anthea wrote @

Hello Karen

I can’t believe you took out so much time to respond to my observations — I appreciate that very much indeed! I have only just read your post, as I was helping my husband with some other stuff. My post was long because I had spent quite a long time reading the links and articles on this topic, and I had washed a whole lotta dishes lately. “Why do men use every dish in the house to make cheese on toast?” I cry. God answers, “Cos it’s the only way I can give you thinking time!”

Thank you for the detailed background on the problems thrown up by the increasing prominence of some homeschool writers and speakers, who are rather excitable, to say the least. You know, you hit the nail on the head when you mentioned peer pressure. I am blessed to have a husband who is a naturally counter-cultural man. He will swim against *every* tide — even if he’s wrong! But we are able to resist the siren call of the crowd more easily as a consequence. Looking at what other home edding families do can be a mistake. It’s fatal to our peace of mind. Discontentment can poison our endeavours, or push us off the unique course that God has set for us as a family.

I did not realise that a particular view is dominating the home education conventions, etc. And of course that would influence those new to homeschooling. People are also looking for a quick fix, the magic bullet that will guarantee success. The latest one seems to be “Teach ’em Latin” or “Courtship”. These things are not wrong, but I, even as an inexperienced mother, doubt that there is a magic bullet. Am I missing something?

I was going to suggest Clay Clarkson as a Titus 2 man. That “Whole-Hearted” homeschooling manual is lucid and quietly authoritative. I will look up the other names you mentioned. We definitely need more elder statesmen of the homeschooling community to step up and speak up. The younger ones should be busy with their own kids! I always wonder: if someone has a bunch of children who are still being raised and taught at home — the mum and dad do not really have time to go haring about the country on speaking tours –especially a BIG country like yours. What’s happening back at home?

I do value your sober words of warning and encouragement. It’s an education for me. Few writers have commented on the personal and familial impact of patriocentricity. I realise that we shall have to guard our homes and hearts from false teaching that is 3 degrees off course. (It seems so close to the right path, but you end up in Liverpool instead of Los Angeles.)

You can reassure Kathy that I love popping in here far too much to give it up.

Thank you for giving so much attention to my sink-side musings.


  thatmom wrote @


Sink-side musings are often the best. For me, mine always come while in the shower and I attribute it to the increased blood circulation to the brain!

  thatmom wrote @

Luke, thanks for the encouragement from a homeschooled man and dad! 🙂

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