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Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Higher Education for Homeschooled Girls?

My head is spinning. My confusion began with a blog post about What To Do with Unmarried Daughters, which led to a post that looks like it could have been written in the 1940's at best.  It made me mad... really, really mad to come to the full realization that there are people who still raise their daughters differently than their sons.  I knew they existed... I homeschool.  I've met them.  But, I've always thought these were isolated cases.  I never realized how strongly some people felt that education for a girl was pointless.

I feel like if we, homeschoolers raise girls with the single-minded purpose of homeschooling their own, and load their homeschool lessons sewing, cooking, cleaning, and maintaining a house, we are treating
them no better than the world treats them.  Girls get objectified in the media, in the workplace, and on the street by making their gender more important than their minds.  But doesn't holding back education and achievement reinforce that that same gender objectification? Aren't we telling them, "you are girls, you don't need to be smart, you just need to find a guy and have his children"?  I don't think that is any worse then getting a 16 year old a nose job to raise her "self esteem".

This is really hard for me. I feel like I am straddling a fence here, because I do have higher standards for my kids, based on my Christian values.

  • My kids don't date for the sake of dating. 
  • My kids don't believe in sex before marriage. 
  • My kids believe in conservative values.
  • My kids were raised going to church, but not necessarily to youth group. 
  • My kids dress modestly.

Interestingly enough, none of the bullet points above were purposely planned or demanded of them.  Yes, we brought them to church.  Yes, we purchased clothes, and took them to the mirror when things didn't look quite right.  Yes, we have had conversations about conservative issues, but we have never laid down strict rules, and we have never issued ultimatums or punishments.  I feel like we raised them gently, and lovingly, and demonstrated good values, and so our kids followed them.

So with all of our Christian Values, there are also things that I won't do because I don't feel they are in the best interest of my children.

  • I did not hold back on science or history.  We taught from both a Christian and Secular point of view. 
  • I did not restrict media... not even internet access, with the exception of child safeties.
  • I taught both children to cook and clean, not just my daughter. 
  • I put no expectations on either child to homeschool their own children. 
  • I make absolutely no academic differentiation between the children based on sex. Any differences in my kids' education is based on their interests and strengths.  

If all of this makes me an oddball in the homeschooling world, then so be it, but I have an idea that I am not really that alone.  I have noticed that there are a lot more homeschooled boys in college than homeschooled girls, but there are homeschooled girls in college, furthering their education and charting their own courses in life. I feel that is how is should be. I feel like just like with boys, our job is to raise your girls to the best of our abilities, and then trust them to make their own decisions.

ps.  I especially feel like girls whose personal goal is to marry and have children should continue their education and follow their own interests.  My reasoning: smart, fulfilled girls pick smart, fulfilled boys and vice-cersa.



Blondee said...


This is something that we as a homeschooling family have been judged harshly for in our own community. Our daughter wants to be a large animal vet when she is an adult...so we are laying on the maths, the sciences, and the reading. Just as we do for our son who wants to work for the FBI. Mayne local families feel strongly that girls should be taught a skill to have a part time job to occupy themselves until they marry. Then they should just be a homemaker and someday a mother and let go of their 'skill/job'. I find this ridiculous! I'm a full time Mom, homeschooler and a hairdresser. Yes, I make appts around my kids schedules, but I am completely capable of cooking meals, keeping house, seeing clients and rearing/education children without feeling I need to just wait around the house in order to do it better. I think it's sad society still thinks in order to be a good wife and mother we need to keep our girl's dumbed down. Especially with the divorce rate as high as it is, a girl needs an education just as much as a boy.

Happy Elf Mom said...

What are they doing all day with these girls, is what I wonder. I am thinking it is also that the parents want to use the child as free labour or (um, and maybe you don't want to think too deeply on this) are afraid of their daughter's awakening sexuality.

Ahermitt said...

I feel like its all about respect Happy. If you treat your daughter like cattle or a possession then you will lock her down in this manner. Or you could respect her as an individual and worry more about her heart than her sexuality. But here's how I see it. Take care of her heart and you won't have to worry about the latter.

Melissa B. said...

I have to say I definitely agree! I wasn't homeschooled at all growing up, but went to college, got my Bachelors, and am now a stay at home mom, planning to homeschool our child (and any other children we may have). I think the point of homeschooling should be not just to prepare them for one path (ie being a stay at home wife/mother) but to prepare them so that they can take any path they choose - whether that's college, the military, a trade school, a tech school, a stay at home mom, a world explorer or more. I don't feel it's right to limit my children by deciding when they are young to just train them for one thing. No, I want to train them so that when they are older, all options are open to them.