The Duggars: When Homeschool Idols Have Clay Feet

Though I’ve never watched the Duggars on television, only a hermit would have to be unaware of them, because they’re all over the Internet too. And we’ll be inundated with Duggar reports now that the media has discovered an unreported scandal in the Duggar family some years ago.

This large Christian homeschooling family became idols for some people, who were stunned by their ability to raise children who were so different from the rest of the world. But now we’ve learned that they’re not so different after all; they have clay feet like everyone else, and the specific incident that has caused all the commotion was actually criminal in nature.

I have strong opinions about what went on with their eldest son, but my purpose here is not to air them. I’m more concerned about what this revelation will do to the average person’s conception of homeschooling, and the average Christian homeschooler’s perception of what a homeschooling family can really be. I hate that this news casts a negative shadow on homeschooling. But many in the homeschooling community have asked for this by putting these people on a pedestal.

Indeed, since homeschooling began getting major attention 20+ years ago, some Christian homeschooling families have put themselves up on pedestals, just as the Duggars did, and in every case I know of, they eventually came crashing down, leaving disillusioned homeschoolers in their wake. Without naming names, I’m thinking of a Christian homeschooling mom who was a gifted public speaker with a hidden dark personal life, a Christian homeschooling dad who ran a successful business but let his weaknesses take over and destroy his business and hurt his family, a man who ran an empire that mesmerized many homeschool families while he took advantage of young women volunteering for his organization… you see, the Duggars are just the latest in a series of people in the homeschooling sphere who become idols, gain tremendous popularity and then disillusion those who admire them by crashing and burning in a spectacular way.

If you’re one of the disillusioned, please don’t let it sway your good opinion of homeschooling. For every one of these people who give homeschooling a black eye, there are hundreds of hardworking parents who are giving their kids a healthy, happy home life along with a solid education. They don’t go about trumpeting themselves, and they avoid pedestals, but their families are living proof that homeschooling works. Maybe you’re one of them.  🙂

My hope is that more and more homeschoolers will learn to trust their own instincts instead of looking for high-profile homeschoolers to imitate. Maybe this latest episode of “Crash and Burn Homeschoolers” will convince them to change the channel.

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