How We Raise Our Daughters

by lora on November 1, 2007

There has been a great deal of conversation on various blogs recently discussing “hyper-patriarchy.” While reading many of the comments and assessments, it occurred to me that if others were to view my family from the outside looking in, they might believe that our convictions lie in that camp. I have spent the last few days mulling this over and scrutinizing why I believe what I do, and trying to put my thoughts into words. In this series of articles, there are some things I will and won’t do. I will not be naming names of proponents of various ideas, or linking to blogs that have discussions going on– I just don’t want to get into that. I will do my best to be complete in my thoughts and reasonings, though you may have to wait for subsequent articles to get the whole picture. I seldom ever have one reason for what I do. Usually there is a plethora of reasons. If I use “I” in this series, understand that Gene and I have come to these decisions together, and by no stretch of the imagination have “I” come to them alone. Gene and I have few things that we truly disagree on, and usually the disagreement is based on semantics.

One of the first things that struck me on these sites was the use of labels flying around. There are all types of descriptions: hyper-patriarchy, patriarchy on steroids, over-sheltering, feminism, humanism, etc. I have a problem with labels and boxes, because they never seem to fit just right. For instance, I am Reformed in my theology… to a point. I utterly and completely agree with the 5 Points of Calvinism… but don’t call me a Calvinist, as that implies that I agree with all of his teachings. I’m not reformed in my eschatology by a long shot, I don’t believe in dominion theology, and I’m not a paedobaptist… I believe strongly in credo-baptism. If you put me in the “Reformed” box, there is so much you don’t know about me. I wouldn’t even know where to begin with a label for myself in regards to doctrine… so I’ll just call myself a Biblicist. I take the scriptures to be totally inerrant and believe them to be literal, unless a passage is obviously figurative, and I strive to do my best to apply what I have read to my life. I believe some of the problems which scripture addresses were cultural problems, but I also believe too many people dismiss what they don’t like based on that premise.

We began homeschooling Lindsay when she was 5 ½ , after having her in public school for 3 months. I had entertained the thought of homeschooling before putting Lindsay in school, but at that time we had only two girls, and I wanted my “freedom”. We pulled Lindsay out of school after she was molested by two older boys in her class (at times when the teacher was in the room). It was a very hard and traumatic time, but the Lord brought us through it. After we started homeschooling we began to examine many areas in our life to see if they lined up with scripture or were they based upon the traditions of man. Many times we do things because “that’s the way it’s always been done,” without ever giving thought to the validity or the consequences of the action. Since becoming aware of this, we have striven to examine all that we do in the context of scripture.

We have had many conflicts based upon the convictions we have, from both family and friends. Looking from the outside in, things can be misconstrued, and misunderstood. Often people make assumptions based on what they “think” you believe, without ever taking the time to find out why you do something; I’m sure this has happened with our family many times. I know that several times people would make a comment about me “judging” them because they didn’t homeschool, when in actuality, it really didn’t matter to me. For years we were the only homeschooling family in a church of 1,000; there was only one other family having lots of kids, and we restricted the activities in which our kids participated within the church. Though I never said a word about homeschooling (other than to say that we did homeschool) or any of our other convictions to the people I went to church with, they still said they felt judged. My personal belief is they were feeling conviction, and were blaming me instead of dealing with it.

We have many convictions that do not meet the standard of normal, as many would see it. But our calling isn’t to be normal. It’s to follow Christ as closely as we can, doing all that we can to conform to His image. I will briefly discuss why we have these convictions, some of which I will more fully explain later.

One conviction that we have that has come under fire online in these recent discussions is that our daughters will stay under our roof until they are married. We have many reasons for this, some of which I will list here. We don’t feel that it is good for any person to live alone. The reasons for this are many, but a few of them are: safety; we believe that God didn’t intend for us to be solitary; and accountability. We have been asked, “What if they don’t marry?” The answer is that they can live with us forever. Our daughter Sarah will be doing this because of her disabilities, and our other daughters are free to do this as well. Our daughters don’t see this as restrictive or unkind, but as loving. How unloving is it to say to your child, “When you are 20, you either go to college or get a job and move out.” We love our children and love being with them. We are all best friends. I am so blessed that God gave me 5 daughters to be great friends with for the rest of my life. Don’t get me wrong… I don’t believe in being “buddies” with your kids to the point of not parenting, but my girls are now older, and deep loving friendships are growing.

Our daughters will not go to college. We believe that God’s role for a woman is to be a wife and mother, and a college degree is not necessary for that. The college atmosphere is not God honoring, even at most Christian universities. I know many adults who went to “Christian” universities who tell what party schools they were. We are told in Ps 1:1 not to sit in the counsel of the ungodly, and the truth is the university system regards those with a conservative, Christian worldview to be narrow-minded and unintelligent. (I will delve into this topic in greater depth later)

Our daughters will not have jobs in the general marketplace (unless there was some dire unforeseen circumstance). This is a conviction, and we don’t believe that others who let their daughters have jobs are in sin (just as a point of clarification). We believe it is our job to protect our daughters from potential abuse and mistreatment, and by them working under a non-Christian man and having to answer to him (in essence giving him authority over her) she loses that protection. Our daughters are free to have home businesses, or a business where they might have a booth somewhere (craft show, farmer’s market ) and we see that modeled in the Bible. Not having a job also gives them the freedom to minister to others as the need arises.

Another area that was attacked online, which falls into one of our convictions, is women going into the mission field alone. I know that there were women who did this and did great things, but I can’t base my convictions on what someone else has done. I have one place to look and that is scripture. This is another thing I won’t call sin, I would describe it more in terms of “not the best”. Part of this conviction also comes from my belief in raising indigenous pastors as opposed to sending tons of missionaries to live in other countries.

We have strong convictions in regards to the type of church we will attend. We have tried to work within the classical church (those not focused on homeschooling and family integrated), churches that had homeschoolers but weren’t family integrated, homechurch, and a family integrated church. We are currently attending a family integrated church which we enjoy greatly, but because it is nearly an hour away, it prevents us from ministering in the way we feel we should. We are in deep study over what church is and should be and how that should be worked out in our lives, so therefore we don’t have any firm conclusions on what we will do in the future in regard to this.

We will only homeschool our children, and all of our girls feel the same way for their future families. The benefits to homeschooling are numerous, as are the detriments of the public school system. We homeschool for a myriad of reasons, some of which are: the ability to train our children in God’s way; being able to meet their individual educational and spiritual needs; and we just love being with our kids. I can’t imagine only getting a couple of hours with them a day… and they can’t imagine being separated from each other for most of the day.

Our educational system would best be described as unschooling/delight-directed studies, with a dash of Charlotte Mason thrown in. Once again, the boxes and labels really don’t work. I have always been adverse to the duplicating of the public school model, and the classical model. I have found that my children don’t operate to their best ability in that setting.

We believe that girls should dress modestly. This does not mean in Georgian or Victorian clothing as there is nothing more modest or holy about clothes from a past period in history. My girls love to dress in historical costumes and period pieces, when appropriate. They have also modeled some of their contemporary clothes after historical dress, but we don’t feel as some do that you have to dress in such a way to be more spiritual. We also don’t believe it is a sin to wear pants, as some do. We encourage the girls to wear dresses most of the time, wearing pants when appropriate.

We are selective in what the girls read, but not hyper-restrictive. Lindsay, 22, can read what she wants, but doesn’t choose to read trash. I think it’s important to note that Lindsay has a lot of freedom of choice about what to watch and read. She has shown herself to be very discerning and level headed, not wishing to read and watch things that are inappropriate.

We believe in courtship, not dating. Courtship is a very vague term and doesn’t have a set definition or way that it works out. We don’t believe in “the Biblical” way to go about courtship. We are just trusting the Lord to direct us in this. We have come to see over the last couple of years that each situation is different, and to try to set in stone rules about how it will and won’t work out is sheer folly. Along this line, Lindsay regularly communicates with guys and girls who are homeschool grads via HSA and has made great friendships. We have found that when the parents are too restrictive over guys and girls talking to one another, it really just breeds more confusion and heartache. When they are allowed to be friends, without the pressures of dating and boyfriend/girlfriend being present, things seem to work much better.

We have strong convictions about family evangelism. Evangelism is one of the core teachings in our family. We take the girls out to hand out tracts and Lindsay has gone to Mexico (with supervision) and has gone witnessing on the streets with Gene.

We shelter our girls, but not as many do. Many teach that anyone who isn’t a Christian is our enemy and evil. While God’s wrath does abide upon those who are not His due to their fallen state, as Christians, we are to love everyone and have compassion on them. We teach our girls, and they see first hand when out witnessing, that there are many in this world who are lost and need Christ. Those that are living in nice homes driving fancy cars are in the same eternal desperate straits as the drunk homeless man on the street. It isn’t the environment or outward appearance that seals your eternal destiny, but the condition of your heart. Some would be appalled that we let our children see the dregs of society, much less have a conversation with them, but how are they going to learn compassion for them, if they aren’t allowed to practice compassion? What better way for them to learn it than when they have their parents there to protect them?

Since it is Halloween as I am writing, I want to share an incident that was related to me. This shows how some are not teaching/showing Christ’s love or compassion to others. A friend told of how he would take his child into Wal-Mart at this time of year. As they would go near the Halloween section, the child would begin to state that Halloween was “evil” and “wicked” in a very loud voice. They thought that it was great that their child has such a love for God. He turned out to be a pastor and his parents proudly tell this story as an example of how God was using him as a small child. Ya know what, he does the same thing as an adult. He told one man that his wife dressed like a temple harlot because she wore long shorts around their house. This is in no way exhibiting the love of Christ. When the woman (who was a sinner) anointed Christ’s feet with oil, did He say, “get away, you sinner?” No, he showed her compassion and love. It was the Pharisee who judged her. What picture of Christ was portrayed by that child shouting, “evil” and “wicked” in Wal-Mart? Did his heart break for those who were lost, or did he heap condemnation on them? I’m not saying that we sugar coat sin; we don’t. Homosexuality is wrong, and my children know that, but it is not necessary to tell a gay person, “God hates homosexuality.” You know what else God hates? A proud heart. This encounter Gene had while witnessing will make my point. Gene was standing on a corner in downtown Houston when a gay couple approached him. Gene offered them a tract and one of them said, “I suppose you are going to tell me I’m going to hell because I’m gay?” Gene said with sincerity, “No, I’m not. You’ll go to hell for being a liar, a thief, and a murderer at heart.”* He was then able to share the full gospel with the man, who listened intently. The truth is, it’s not our actions that condemn us, but our hearts. Our actions are just an outward manifestation of what our hearts are like.

We are very careful of our daughters’ associates, and they are becoming more and more discerning in this area as well. We have seen first hand the devastation a wrong acquaintance can cause. We have seen friends sway our daughters’ minds, encouraging them to do things they knew were wrong. When they were removed from the influence of this friend and things were shown to them according to scripture, they were dismayed at the fact that they had been so easily swayed. We have been shown that “Bad company corrupts good morals” is true many times.

I have delineated what our family believes, not implying that those who don’t do it our way are wrong. Nothing could be further from what we believe. It would also be ridiculous to imply I don’t think we are right in what we do. Why would we be doing what we do if we didn’t believe it to be right? The key is that it’s right for our family.

*If you are not familiar with our evangelism ministry and would like to know more about it, you can visit our ministry website.

Other Articles in this series:

The Perfect Family

About College

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