Troubling Finds in Chicago

I spent the last week in Chicago with my brother-in-law’s family.  The visit was nice, but difficult for my husband, as his brother has changed so drastically in the past few years, or at least his wife has.  He is homeschooling his 4 children, which I don’t necessarily disagree with if you’re actually going to teach your kids something, however; when I asked what the kids were learning about, the response was troubling to say the least.  “Well, S can read, so…”  So, what? Well, apparently all she needs to know how to do is read, and God will do the rest.  God is, apparently, more important than knowledge (or tolerance).  That was evident when the oldest, upon hearing that the friend I was meeting up with (Laura, from The Sarchasm) was a witch, said, “Did you know that witches sacrifice children?”  There was a tactful dismissal of that little tidbit with an explination that people who are not involved in a religion and don’t know people of the religion often make incorrect assumptions.  Witches, for the record, DO NOT sacrifice children.  They also referred to the Jews as “the Israelistes” and made it clear that the only people who belong in the Holy Land are the Christians.  Their 8 year old was reading a book about female martyrs, etc…  In other words, it was a complete break from what we expected.

God is also more important than discipline, given the behavior of the children.  Not once, during the entire trip, did they do anything their parents asked.  It’s not that they can’t obey.  The eldest did absoulutely everything I told her to do, without question, but ignored my husband, her parents, and another cousin who also visited.  The oldest boy climbed over rocks separating the people from the animals at the zoo, nearly falling into the elephant enclosure.  He also ran off at the arboritum (not for the first time, might I add) and was not recovered for nearly an hour (but not before he began destroying a beautiful nature sculpture).

The visit raised many concerns for my husband.  The education of the children is troubling, and I should mention that most homeschool families do not take this minimalist approach to their children’s schooling.  My in-laws have become the kind of closed-minded Christians we make it a practice to stay away from.  We are already worried about the influence their children will have over our son, and it’s troubling because this is the only family my husband has left.

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17 Responses to “Troubling Finds in Chicago”

  1. July 28, 2007 at 11:09 am

    That’s a tough spot you’re in. It’s bad that it’s the only family he’s got left. I am often reminded by a friend of mine with whom I have these types of discussions about our own families that you can’t choose your family and that sometimes, even though we feel like there should be some obligatory deep connection, that sometimes that fades. Blood or not, if someone is living in a way that is so antithetical to your beliefs, you sometimes have to put some distance there, and sometimes it’s painful but necessary.

    It’s was great to meet you and your family. Hopefully we’ll get out that way someday.

  2. July 28, 2007 at 5:09 pm

    There’s not much you can do but make sure that your kids arent influenced by theirs, but that you set a good example for them (both sets)

  3. July 28, 2007 at 8:13 pm

    Some people are very good at home schooling. Others are …. well let’s just say not.

  4. July 29, 2007 at 1:29 am

    homeschooling sucks

  5. 6 unitedwelay1
    July 29, 2007 at 8:43 am

    Homeschooling doesn’t suck. My husband and I would do it, and would do it well, as we are both teachers. If it’s done with an emphasis on actual learning can be great. There are a lot of organizations out there that get homeschooling families together, and if you get your kids involved in social activities, it’s really good. An emphasis on god rather than learning is scary.

  6. July 29, 2007 at 9:19 pm

    Witches sacrifice children? If you didn’t hear that from a relative, it would have been funny.

    I heard this one for the first time in San Francisco. A co-worker of mine refuses to let her daughters read Harry Potter, because Harry Potter gets children into witchcraft. Imagine that.

    The next time I talk to one of my Wiccan friends, I’ll have to ask them if it was Harry Potter that got them into witchcraft. I have a feeling they’ll give me a funny look. (I think the Wiccan religion is waaaay older than Harry Potter, but what would I know?) And yes, I’m aware not all witches are Wiccans. I’m just sayin’.

  7. 8 unitedwelay1
    July 30, 2007 at 7:38 am

    If I didn’t hear that from an 8 year old it might have been funny. I heard about the ban on Harry potter. The kids aren’t allowed to read it, and their mother winced every time we mentioned it – an older cousin who was also visiting is a HUGE fan.

  8. July 30, 2007 at 10:09 am

    We live among a very large group of people who homeschool and I must say that without exception, their children are the most intelligent most well behaved group of kids I have met. The parents collaborate and share resources among themselves and are very diligent about regular learning hours, most longer than the local public schools hours of operation.

    I too would home school my children when they are old enough if one of us would become a stay at home parents. But right now we both enjoy our jobs tremendously and neither of us wants to quit. Instead we will probably supplement teach our children unless we decide to send them to a private school.

  9. July 30, 2007 at 3:57 pm

    That can’t be easy. For the most part homeschooled kids do better academically and are perfectly adjusted socially provided the parents do the necessary legwork and networking in order to make that happen. Doesn’t sound like it with your inlaws.

  10. July 30, 2007 at 5:01 pm

    Welcome back 😉

  11. 12 unitedwelay1
    July 30, 2007 at 5:47 pm

    Our goal is to supplement teach (even if they go to private school), and I’m really glad to hear that other people are doing it!


  12. 14 unitedwelay1
    August 2, 2007 at 7:50 am

    That’s basically what it is, and I don’t have a problem with that, as long as they’re actually leaning history, science, math, and literature as well. As it is, these kids go to school 3 hours a day and learn virtually nothing.

  13. 15 growinginpeace
    June 4, 2008 at 11:33 am

    While I don’t homeschool, I do supplement teach them. Right now they are little so they aren’t in all day school, but even when they are, there’s still plenty of opportunities to extend the lessons on weekends and during breaks. In fact, my oldest daughter’s K teacher told me that emerging readers can lose 2-3 reading levels if they don’t keep up with practice over the summer. And since I used to be in the biosciences, we do science experiments at home.

    I didn’t even realize that people felt that way about the HP books. I inherited a few of them from a colleague of mine who passed away. I was planning on starting to read them to my oldest at some point.

    Hmmm, I used to read Stephen King novels as a teenager. I wonder if my mother should have been worried about the content of the books I checked out of the library. She never said a thing about it. I would have hated if she censored my reading material. Fortunately, we never even discussed it.

  14. 16 unitedwelay1
    June 6, 2008 at 7:11 am

    I think that people get a little carried away when it comes to the content of fiction novels. As long as your kid knows the difference between fiction and non-fiction, there’s nothing to worry about – assuming you’re making sure that your child is reading age appropriate books.

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I am not perfect. I do my best to practice what I preach, but I am human. My mantra is, "DO NO HARM". I may not always succeed, but I will always try. My goal is to be a better person today than I was yesterday.

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