Generation Cedar

“The sting of that “all-American dating system” was painful enough to jar us to our senses, and make us do whatever it took to keep these precious children entrusted to us out of the same filthy pit.”

It’s rather timely that the last two posts–one about the harm of intimate relationships before marriage, and the other about homeschooling–are back to back because the two are very closely related for my husband and me.  And as I explain that, you might see too, why it can be crushing for people to sling hateful insults at me for my strong stand about homeschooling.  It’s much deeper than education in my eyes.  In fact, that I think homeschooling affords a better educational opportunity than most settings is simply a “perk”.  It’s not the main reason we homeschool.

The single thing that first prompted us to consider homeschooling was our yucky dating history and all the baggage we brought into marriage.  The sting of that “all-American dating system” was painful enough to jar us to our senses, and make us do whatever it took to keep these precious children entrusted to us out of the same filthy pit.

Easy enough?  No.  How would we keep them from embracing the same system that almost everyone does?  If all their friends are dating, how do we steer them down a different path?  They would seem so odd that even if we managed to preserve their hearts and bodies, they’d be wrecked with emotional damage from the teasing!

Our journey to homeschooling was a backward one, with the firm resolution that they wouldn’t give themselves to recreational dating as the starting point. To us, at the time, this decision to preserve them was one of the most important ones we had to make for our children.  And, (knowing nothing about homeschooling), EVEN if homeschooling wasn’t ideal, the protection in this area would be worth it.

Fast forward…of course we found so many more reasons to homeschool than we ever dreamed, but being able to surround our children with a peer group that exalts purity and honor is enough, hands down, to take this path.  Our children aren’t grown yet, but our oldest, at 15,  already deeply understands, longs for, and delights in the expectation of the gift she will be giving to her husband.  I can tell you that purity was not on my mind at that age–it was long gone.  Praise God for His merciful gifts!

So, before the insults are hurled, consider that maybe, from my own deep hurts, my intent in encouraging homeschooling lies no further than doing all I can to save one heart break, one struggling relationship, one family from the devastation that so often the dating game brings.

Oh I know not everyone had such a bad dating experience as I, (by the way, it would probably have been considered a “good” dating experience at the time), but overall, statistics don’t lie, and the general population of young people are being corrupted beyond repair at neck-break speed.  And the fortunate ones who escape STDs, or  pregnancies/abortions, have troubles that await them at the altar.  It’s not God’s plan.

I compare my telling to knowing about a harmful disease that could be avoided.  Would I be faulted for standing on top of a building and shouting the warning?  Seems to me the more you care about people, the more passionate you should be in sharing things you feel will help them avoid harm…but that’s my opinion 😉

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24 Responses

  1. Makes sense to me 🙂 I know that one of the biggest gripes against homeschooling is that our children won’t face the “real world,” but seriously…c’mon! Think back to your own high school experiences: that’s NOT the real world. It’s a petrie dish for rampant hormones, immature emotions, and the characteristic questioning/seeking of the teenage years. The only thing your kids learn from being around lots of other teens who are going through these same things is more questions! Of course, not EVERY teenager is like this, and I have seen situations where a strong Christian teen in a public school was an incredible witness. But, the cold truth is that most Christian teens will end up compromising themselves in one way or another. Just because we don’t throw our kids to the lions teenage culture does not mean they will be completely “sheltered.” I can learn about the realities of war without camping out in the trenches. We can teach our children about the “real” world without leaving them exposed to temptations that are beyond their can to resist at such an impressionable and confusing time in their lives.
    ~Bethany

  2. Kelly, your disease analogy is right on….that’s exactly what’s being thrust upon our children, in the form of dating, among other “normal” practices.

    I think marriage can absolutely be improved by homeschooling, and the philosophy of protecting our children that usually accompanies it. And not just the future marriages of our children, but our own marriages, right now. The stress of worrying over children in questionable environments, issues from their personal safety, to the over exposure of their piers and their influence, to the over-stepping teacher or adminstrator who inserts themselves as a moral authority over the authority of the parents….all are draining on a family in ways that are simply overlooked or ignored. And these are problems in “Christian” school settings, not just public schools, lest anyone think I’m naive. In just our decision to homeschool, my husband and I have breathed a mutual sigh of relief, and are totally on the same page about a crucial issue….that’s good for marriage!

    I have to offer a comparison – we struggled with our materialism (what we initially referred to as financial stress, until we actually looked at what we were spending)when we decided I would be learning a new skill set for a career at home. That decision, once the practical matters were tackled and the spiritual issues healed, was a huge weight off of our marriage. We could do with less and still be more than comfortable, praise God! The decision to homeschool our children was an even more significant relief – more than the removal of financial strain, which is the number one cause of marital discord. We were making marriage strengthening decisions, when we thought we were just making “kid” decisions. Funny how God works that out.

  3. Great post, Kelly. It’s WONDERFUL that you haven’t let your dating experiences embitter you. Instead, you are using them to be proactive in dealing with your children.

    Kelly said:

    “but being able to surround our children with a peer group that exalts purity and honor is enough, hands down, to take this path.”

    I whole-heartedly agree w/ this statement. But HOW do we find this for our children????!!!!???? We have been searching and searching for years for even ONE family who has at least SOME of the same priorities as we do. We haven’t found one yet. What can we do?

  4. Mrs. R.,

    Wow…I take this for granted so much. We are literally surrounded/immersed with families who are like-minded…which is why I chuckle when someone asks, “How will you ever find marriag partners for your children?”

    Have you checked into the different homeschooling groups in your area? To see if there are families hanging out there? What about churches? I think you might be more prone to find families embracing this model who belong to family-integrated churches.

    I know quite a few families who have moved to be closer to a cell of like-minded families–it’s just that important to them.

    But that’s about the best suggestions I can think of…

  5. I have exactly the same question/problem as Mrs.R We have been home schooling for 13 years and have whatched all the other parents give in to the whole high school dating trap.I have witnessed so much pain in these once happy innocent faces. I am praying and trusting God for my childrens spouses.We have no other families in our area that believe the way we do.

  6. Why not just “engage” them to the right partner from the right family at birth? That’s what I’d do.

  7. Wonderful post.

    I know what you mean, especially since our two oldest are now of an age where this is becoming an “issue” (or at least others think it should be). It is such a blessing to have a spouse that is on the same page! I can relate to moving past the pain of past relationships.

    Part of the pain, I think, is learning that things didn’t have to be that way. I think about how it was presumed that sixteen and seventeen year olds were expected to be dating at my high school. I think about the tight designer jeans and mini skirts that were considered to be stylish. I think about how the whole culture just mindlessly bought into these standards that would ultimately wreak havoc on the emotional, spiritual, and physical health of young people (can anyone say “bulimia”, “anorexia”, STD’s, etc.)

    Oh, and let’s not talk about all the “double messages” that were being sent out: “Girls, you should be chaste, but try to date as many people as you can so that you can find the “right one.” Oh, and while you’re at it, you’d better try to learn how to be a good kisser or you’ll never make him or yourself happy.”

    I don’t mean to lump all the blame on society: I believe God always gives us a route of escape from committing sin. But I wasn’t much more than a child. It would have been so nice if I hadn’t just been thrown into the deep end and expected to swim.

    Sorry, I got back on the soapbox again. Wow, Kelly, you must have really struck a nerve! :-).

    BTW, regarding our two oldest. They aren’t really bothered by the no-dating thing. What they are bothered by is when people (some of them complete strangers) ask why they don’t have a girlfriend yet. (Incidentally, they are REALLY impressed with the way Josh Duggar handled his courtship and engagement) We’ve been mulling over some nice, godly responses they can give to these presumptuous comments. The best one we have thus far is “I’m waiting for God to show me my life parter, just like He did for my dad.” (Hubby loves this one). Any other suggestions along these lines would be welcome.

  8. I too have trouble finding like minded families in our area. I will be joining a homeschool group this fall when we start homeschooling our oldest. I’m hopeful to find other Christian families there that believe as we do. We’re praying…

  9. One more thing…
    Did you see the story over on One News Now about how the ACLU is trying to force public schools in Tennessee to unblock pro-LGBT websites? Hmmmm…

  10. We homeschool our only child, and we too are partly doing it to protect her from what we engaged in. She just turned 9 and knows that God has the right one for her. She will not date, nor does she want to. We have not found like minded peple yet. Although when I tell friends why we won’t let our girl participate in recreational dating, it peaks their interest; so maybe we will soon? ;}. But I am not worried about it because I am not in charge of who my daughter marries: God is. To assume that I have to surround her with future husband possibilities is saying I know who she is to marry. God has already picked her husband and He knows exactly how to put them in the same local at the right time. BTW: I am not saying anything negative about those blessed enough to have that kind of support around them in various families. Only saying this to encourage those who don’t.
    Kelly, please continue to encourage those of us who are “out there” on these types of decisions and encourage those who are not yet there to be challenged and to seek the Lord. I know the Lord has set you up for this ministry. Awesome Job. Sorry for length.

  11. Great post (as normal). 🙂
    Wonderful thoughts. My husband and I also want to protect our girls from the mindset that we had as “teenagers” – open their minds to see beyond the cultural norm. I’ve told them that they are so blessed to know that there’s a better way to do things. (When I was their ages, I thought I was supposed to start dating at 16 – kissing earlier. That it was good to have boyfriends – made you special, etc. It’s not what my parents told me – but it’s what culture expected and I never heard that there was another way. I was so inside the box that I didn’t even know there was a box.)
    I’m so thankful that, in so many ways, our kids are looking to the Bible rather than culture to make their decisions.
    God is so good!!!!
    Thanks again for your blog. I look forward to reading your posts. 🙂

  12. The disease metaphor is right on, as it’s actually true that you are protecting them from actual diseases. I read recently that having “just” 2 partners in your life means that you have been exposed to all sorts of dieases.

  13. Louise – I agree with you that (at a certain age) it is appropriate and important to discuss the facts of life with our children (at that point, they are probably young adults). But I disagree completely that expecting your children to remain pure until marriage is a form of repression. I fully expect my children not to do drugs (neither my husband nor I ever did, nor did most of our close friends). Even though “experimentation” is the norm, and even though I will inform my children at the appropriate time about the effects of drug use, I will NOT permit them to indulge in that sort of behavior under my roof. Once they are grown and out of my house, of course, I have little recourse except prayer if they choose to go against my advice and wishes. But, while they are in our home, they will behave as members of our family are expected to behave. I don’t want to repress them but it is my sacred duty to protect them. Just because I homeschool my children does not mean that I am shielding them completely from the world. We have family members and close friends who have premarital sex, are unwed parents, have used drugs, curse like sailors, do not attend church, etc., etc. None of these are appropriate courses of action in our household, but certainly our children will be exposed to them, because we do not believe in shutting out friends and family members because their behavior does not align with ours. However, we will speak with our children about the fact that they are not to engage in such behavior and WHY (because it is destructive to their well-being and most importantly, because it is destructive to their relationship with God).

    Lastly, on a purely factual matter: your assertion that STDs and teen pregnancy are a result of oppression or denial of information to children is inaccurate. While teen pregnancy is down (actually due to a rise in oral sex and a simultaneous drop is conventional sex, rather than to sexual education), STDs are still very much on the rise, despite all the “education” children today receive on such matters. Promoting purity in families (which I would not consider oppressive by any means) is not the cause of these things or even a prime factor. Every single person I have known with an unwed pregnancy or an STD has come from a family that did NOT promote purity, educated their children on the uses of contraception, and permitted premarital sex. The facts just don’t jive.

    I do respect your opinions; they are, of course, ones I have heard many times. And I really do support the sort of open communication you seem to be promoting. But, there is a difference between open communication with our children and laissez-faire permissiveness of what God has clearly told us is sin–and what He clearly tells us as parents must be a matter of discipleship in our homes.

    Certainly, when Kelly speaks of surrounding her children with like-minded teens, she is not saying “at the expense of them ever knowing any person who isn’t this way”. Think about it logically: if you wanted your child to succeed as a musician, you would surround him with experiences and people who would help him to achieve those goals. If you wanted your children to not play with guns, you wouldn’t drop them off, unattended at a rifle range. If you wanted your child to eat more heathfully, you wouldn’t stock the pantry with ho-hos and twinkies. As parents, we are responsible for providing nurturing environments for our children; the company we expose them to is a part of that environment, and any child development specialist will tell you that environment has a huge impact on the future choices of children.

    ~Bethany

  14. Bethany,

    I’m sorry–I deleted the last comment before I saw your rebuttle. I deleted it because, well, nevermind 😉

  15. of course you don’t want to post anything the could possibly be correct. Well I know you read it, I could care less whether anyone else did. Cause when your kids end up impaired you’ll have that one comment left in your conscience.

  16. Louise,

    LOL! Why are you here again? If my children were impaired, I think I’d know it by now. If the hundreds of homeschooled children I know who are grown (in various stages of life–college, married with their own children, businessmen, etc.) were impaired, I think we’d know.

    Either you’ve never really known anyone who homeschooled, or you just enjoy picking fights.

    Not interested 😉

    When it works, there’s no arguing against it. It’s as if you were to tell me that the sun really doesn’t rise each day–nothing you can say convinces me of a fact that I see 😉

    Better spend your time arguing elsewhere!

  17. Along the same lines, the Washington Post ran an article about the benefits of marrying young & not spending your 20s… well, not wasting your 20s (or 30s or 40s!) The article is here:

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/04/24/AR2009042402122.html?hpid=opinionsbox1

    (When secular authors pick up on what I’ve heard from many wise women for so long – it’s very gratifying, but funny in a way. God’s plans are SO much better than man’s!)

  18. I am a new sahm and was considering homeschooling my three year old. It’s been years since this post but I was wondering how your family is doing now? Now that the kids are a little older how are they handling the world? Are they working?

    1. They are doing well, and there are is enormous supply of resources that document how beneficial homeschooling is if you Google it. Here’s a post I wrote today about my adult daughter (http://raisinghomemakers.com/2013/adult-daughters-at-home-and-the-homemaking-profession/)

      My sons work at their young ages, for my husband and father and homeschooling has given them a tremendous freedom to become skilled in many areas–a huge asset for their future.

      Our desire though, is focused more on entrepreneurial endeavors. We *hope* to avoid a corporate life for our children, so that makes our training and approach different than some.

      Here’s one resource:

      http://seattletimes.com/html/opinion/2002652185_woman29.html

      Also, you should spend some time reading John Taylor Gatto, a retired, NY school teacher.

      1. Great thank you! That helps me out a lot. I lose my way and get frustrated sometimes. But when I read your posts and blogs I feel better and encouraged. Also would it be possible to see an example of how your family daily routine looks like? Yours and the children?

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