Book Review

Book Review: Facing Our Fears: How the Voices of Homeschool Alumni Can Help Homeschooling by R.L. Stollar

Rating: Five out of five stars

facing-our-fears-2014-page-001I was homeschooled from kindergarten to tenth grade (I was doing tenth grade work at the age of 13). My homeschooling experience, with its ups and downs, was overall an experience beneficial to my future in private high school, private university, and beyond. But I also know the negatives that come along with the practice, and this book addresses them not as an attack on the homeschooling community, but as a piece that opens dialogue to traumatizing factors of homeschooling and offers solutions to face it as a community.

“Homeschooling is not simply something done by parents; homeschooling is something that is also experienced by children” (Stollar, 8).

With this quote setting the tone for the book, it focuses on three main sections: child abuse, mental health, and poverty. At 67 pages, including the cover and citations, it is a quick read; but that doesn’t make it any less powerful.

The child abuse section discusses how some homeschooling communities turn a blind eye to the abuse, followed by suggestions on how to open the dialogue between parent and child, and action steps to take when abuse is witnessed.

The second section is about mental health, and how various aspects of homeschooling can affect current and future mental health. Raised in the homeschooling environment of perfectionism, I now have anxiety over perfecting every task I undertake. Spiritual abuse is also discussed in this section; some religious upbringings have lasting effects of shame and guilt for things that may not even be the individual’s fault, such as abuse.

The last section discusses modesty and purity within various Christian sects. I have personally experienced this upbringing; as a child, I was given books on modesty, how to “be a Christian lady,” and how I might “lure my Christian brothers into temptation” if I dressed immodestly. I was given a ring that said “True Love Waits” from the True Love Waits program and made to sign a “contract” vowing to not have sex until marriage. I was told that sex before marriage was immoral and I would become “damaged goods.” When I became sexually active as an adult outside of marriage, I felt no different, but those thoughts still lingered that I was “damaged goods,” and I was somehow worth less. This came with marginal guilt until the realization hit me that I was more than my body. These are issues that the book discusses, and connects to the previous sections.

Each section has quotes directly from the Homeschoolers Anonymous blog that were submitted by homeschooled alumni talking about their experiences. Each is sourced at the end. As a homeschool alumna, this cause is very close to my heart.

This book is available for free on the Homeschoolers Anonymous blog. I recommend it to anyone: those within and outside the homeschooling community.

This review is also available on Goodreads.

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