I have come to a conclusion….homeschooling moms are tired.
I know this isn’t exactly a newsflash but it is true. Between all the schoolwork, dishes, laundry, toilet scrubbing, gardening, shopping, vacuuming, nursing, cooking, baking, caring for little ones, listening to older kids, and taking them thither and yon to events, lessons, games, practices, church commitments, birthday parties, etc., moms are tired. I would tell them to take a nap but just the logistics required to pull that off are nearly impossible most days. And this doesn’t even begin to address the emotional exhaustion that adds to the mix. Homeschooling moms are tired.
Here is another conclusion that I have come to based on my own experiences and on the feedback from these podcasts….homeschooling moms who go to churches that are part of the FIC movement are really tired but are shamed into never saying that they are. Let’s take a look at just a few things that are required of women in more than one FIC church:
• militant fecundity is central to their roles: Churches schedule special nights where movies are shown that tell them they must out produce the Muslims who have an average of 8 children. They must marry young, have as many children as possible, often in a “racing” atmosphere, and some practice early weaning to increase their fertility. Young couples feel the expectations of having honeymoon babies and though many couples practice birth control, they keep it under wraps.
• frequent hospitality is expected: Sunday becomes anything but the Sabbath, Sweet Day of Rest as families must prepare meals to take for weekly potlucks and often for guests, some overnight, who drive 2 to 3 hours each Sunday for worship services. Families are encouraged to practice Sunday evening fellowship in their homes and also at least one day during the week. Because of the view of how the Sabbath is to be observed, this sometimes begins on Saturday evening and also means there is not to be carry-out food purchased on Sunday. Some churches do not allow rowdy play among children on the Sabbath either, adding to the tension.
•Since age segregation is a sin and since there is no nursery, moms rarely have a break from childcare. While little ones in worship should never be discouraged, the long nature of these services along with the unrealistic requirements of the behavior of small children creates tension and shame among moms. Adversarial child rearing methods are expected of all parents. Leaders in this movement have stated that children might have to be spanked up to 30 times a day and that each time requires “spanking unto repentance.” Several moms have shared their concerns that they have seen children removed from the service 4 and 5 times to be taken into spanking rooms, harshly punished, and returned so as to train them to be completely still in the pews. Other mothers have stated how frustrating it is to hear or see the little ones coming and going into these room, to hear the hits and the crying, and especially for their own children to witness it. If they are moms who have chosen a grace centered approach with their own children, they feel judged and shamed. Adding to this is the frustration many have over never being able to participate in worship and spending years if not decades in nursing mother rooms that typically have no speaker system for at least hearing a sermon. Since their time for Bible study and meaty theological discussion is limited at home, they are frustrated.
• Real relationships are an enigma to many women: Many moms, though they are interested in having some sort of involvement with their kids as they become young adults, think the level of control in these circles is way out of line. Betrothal is the norm and is even taught as well as practiced; even some arranged marriages are starting to pop up. As has been mentioned in the previous post, ridiculous control over that process is expected and if a family chooses to have a different approach they feel judgment. Relationships with younger children are also a struggle because of the hierarchy that has been established and the organic nature of shifting from mother/child to mother/friend is absent. Many FIC’s teach parental authority that goes way beyond Scripture. Several have expressed their concern for young people who are in FIC’s and are only biding time to leave home and church. I personally know this is true and have corresponded with a few young men and women in this situation. They are not only questioning the FIC beliefs but Christianity in general. Moms are worried and fearful, especially for their daughters, their future marriages, and that they will be as tired as all the women around her are.
• Women are disenfranchised: In many FIC’s, women are not allowed to be voting members in their own right, even if they are single mom heads of households, and they are not allowed to be part of congregational meetings or public discussions in matters that affect all church members. The assumption is that they can privately express their concerns to their own husbands but not their objections to church polity or policy. Though many women in FIC’s actually consider themselves to be complementarian, they see the ever increasing slip into patricentricity in their churches and they are horrified. More recently holding Old Testament patriarchy up as a standards scares them; they wonder if the obsession for Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob will bring about polygamy. The disregard for the government and the fear that is instilled in them, similar to what happened prior to Y2K, makes them realize that external accountability is not a possibility for them.; church and husband authority are all that matter. They also are concerned about the pressures they see their husbands experiencing…..supporting really large families on one income, the stress that husbands to have their own businesses and not “increase the gain of others,” the teachings that they are prophet, priest, and king in their homes, thus responsible for all the spiritual lives of their wife and children, the man role playing they are supposed to embrace, the adversarial relationships. More than one wife has told me how happily married they were until patriarchy destroyed their homes. Some survive; others do not. Since many teachings include the idea that everything is somehow the fault of a woman and her lack of submission, she is again shamed and defeated. She is then told that her health problems are the result of unconfessed sin and forced to “repent” of whatever the leadership says her sin might be.