03 April 2008

Second Thoughts - Co-op Dress Code

I apologize for the repetitive blogs on the same subject, but writing my thoughts is very helpful in processing them. I know that over the years, I have blogged about why we homeschool our children - one of the predominant reasons is to bring them up in an environment that is not hostile to our faith. Another prevailing factor is that our schools are organized after the Nazi Germany model, whose primary goal is to make children good citizens, compliant members of state who obey without question in a homogeneous society, blending in and making no disturbance. I think it may be time to re-read Farenheit 457, 1984 or Brave New World.
What about biblical authority? I can just hear that question floating through cyberspace. As parents, we have never wanted our children to be blindly submissive to every authority. Hitler's regime taught us that there is a time to question authority. We also do not want our children to be subversive, just for the sake of rebellion. This has even meant allowing them to question us, their parents, and we have found their arguments for equity, their quest to be heard to be often right and good. Sometimes their logic is flawed and we point that out, but sometimes our logic is flawed.
Our desire for our children has always been to discern right from wrong, truth from error, and when to take a stand. I think it may be one of the reasons that even if the kids are okay with the new level of control just so they can continue on at co-op, I may not be. If through the processing, I determine that it is wrong, I am not sure that I can just let it go. I might be able to for their sake but I have a feeling that every Monday morning, it would sicken me anew to feel like my kids have to pass through inspection, and be deemed worthy.
One major error I have encountered among Christian parents is the desire to indoctrinate their children, which often is quite cult-like behavior. While I want to have an influence on my children, I never want to usurp their ability to think for themselves. I am not afraid of the hard questions, or the ones for which we have no answers. I don't do this perfectly, but it is an ever present goal.
I am not sure where I will land with this. I know that it all makes me very uncomfortable. The question was tossed out at the meeting that if we are a co-op, why were we not all involved in the decision making process. The answer given was that "leaders lead", which in my opinion didn't answer the question. I believe there was a second part that went unspoken, leaders lead, the rest follow without question, which sends a shiver up my spine.
After the first comment on this post from my dear sweet Alisha, I had to be sure to make this statement. Each family has the right to make the best choices for their family, their situation, their lives. Period. My focus here is freedom - and if we don't respect the freedoms of one another, then all is truly lost for all of us. We are obvious evidence that you can go through "school" and still come out on the other side, independent people, capable of thinking for yourselves, etc. (although I would have to admit it took me years to get here) and that a lot of it has to do with parenting, not just as school. Like Alisha said in her comment, "to each his own", although we've gotten so used to hearing it - it is true that the quest for freedom is empty unless it means freedom and respect, even when we make different choices, for all.


  1. I'm passive and non-confrontational; especially in regards to things that are not against the law, harmful to others or that won't make a difference to me in the next 5-10 years. Clothing is simply what it is........clothing. Something to cover our naked bodies. We as a society have made it into an external fashion statement of who we are or would like to be internally. A lot of people use it as a way to transmit where they are economically - even if they really can't afford it. This,more than not causes people to go into debt, because they want to look a certain way and make everyone else think they are top of the line people dressed in the best the stores have to offer. In regards to the Goth/black attire, I have to say that people should be able to wear black. However,there is a stigma with the goth attire and from my experience in the public schools growing up - those that dressed this way (different than the norm) were, in fact, different. The ones I new of were into drugs, they were homosexual, suicidal, into witchcraft and quite frankly, they were frightening. This did not pertain to just those that dressed goth-like. I guess it was just more noticeable because they did want to stand out and draw attention to themselves. This, I'm sure, is not true of everyone who dresses this way - it's just what I have personally experienced. I know that my perspective is different. I do not homeschool - my son attends public school and my husband is a teacher. I respect everyone's decision to do what is best for their family - as I deserve the same in return. I don't put down or say derogatory remarks about those that choose to keep their children at home and away from the "controlling, conformist public schools." Instead I learn from, take in and digest everyone's choice to live their lives in a way that fits their needs, desires and preferences. In short - to each their own.

  2. I best process my thoughts through writing as well.

    I suppose it also comes down to the spirit and motives behind this decision. Sometimes the motives are well and good but somehow the details become misguided.

    Perhaps you can write those leaders an e-mail expressing your concerns? Give them the benefit of a doubt and write with a spirit of kindness. With the decision "made" maybe they've had time to think this through a little further. And perhaps concerns have been expressed by others as well.

  3. I like reading your thoughts, I choose freedom :)

  4. I'm with Stephanie. Freedom. I will not sacrifice MY kids for someone else's ideas of moral virtue. Life is too DAMN short. Live, learn and be free.

  5. screw 'em. you have been there, done that. run like hell & don't look back.

  6. So interesting - that on the same day we both posted something that mentioned Hitler!!! Weird, girl! You'll have to check out my hot button topic over at my silly little blog and you'll see why I mentioned Hitler as well. Anyhow, I think a big part of this relates to how absolutely terrified people are of their children, especially their teenagers. I've always totally respected you for the way you allow your girls to express themselves through makeup, etc. You are a super mom! I think if I was at that meeting my head may have exploded. That's how well I deal with people telling me something has to be done a certain way. After exploding, I would probably also recommend that they ban Mom Jeans and anything with front pleats or shoulder pads...but we all have a different definition of evil.

  7. Hey Jewls,

    Wow, I am astounded but at the same time not surprised. I really thought that level of control was limited to the Carolinas though. I thought the rest of the country would be more accepting, more progressive, even as homeschoolers. I guess I thought wrong.

    You stated in your first post that your children were willing to to comply in order to continue co-op. I think this is the opportunity for lots of life lessons. Let them make the decision and really work through all of this with them. Ask them questions that will help them question the motive behind this control. They can continue to participate but with a mind that is going to challenge and sift. That's a good thing. All of their life they will be put in situations where they have to decide to what extent will they comply.

    Personally, I think my kids would probably comply if our co-op suddenly came up with this rule. However, I am not sure about the length of hair. My oldest son wants his hair long to cover his ears ... and believe me they need to be covered. Just this week he had to wear a bandanna in order to volunteer in the kitchen at Meals on Wheels. He did so willingly but it really is a blow to expose those handles .. um, his ears like that. LOL! He would not do that week after week after week.

    I do have to disagree with amatthews. against the law, harmful to others, or won't make a difference to me in the next 5 - 10 years. Well, there is an insidious mindset underlying these decisions that really could make a difference 5 - 10 years from now. That is the battle. It is not about clothes. That is why you could comply but still battle the real threat here with your children. I agree with someone else though. After managing the clothing, they will probably move on to something else. It is all about power. Thus the leaders lead statement.

    Another thing is I do believe that clothing is not merely clothing. Obviously, clothing does make a statement. As an artist, what I wear is deeply connected to who I am and it's not about making a fashion statement or flaunting my riches. In fact, my dream is to sew all my own clothes because I rarely find the style that I like.
    Again, obviously clothing does make a statement, does provoke thought and conversation and that is exactly why this is such a big issue in this co-op. If it weren't such a big deal, then they wouldn't be worried about trying to control it.

    For what it is worth, if you decide to protest and not return to co-op, you probably won't ever, ever being returning since you are challenging their world view and authority. Go out with a bang and write a manifesto. Send it out to all the members. You might be surprised to find others who agree with you.


Awaiting your words......
♥ Juls ♥