The Pro-Life Whole Picture

Part of me is absolutely terrified to write this post. I know, already, that by reading this post is about pro-life, you are likely making assumptions about me. About what I may or may not believe. But stick with me, because I am trying to make a point. (Hopefully succeeding in making a point anyways haha ūüėČ ) I’ve been working on this post for something like a month now. I really want to say it in a way that will be well received. And I am also partially chicken to publish it.

Let me preface this by saying, I am going to use the word we. But I don’t mean it for any specific person. And I don’t even mean it about myself. There are things in here I have not said. I just didn’t want to use something as pointed as you, because I felt that would come off the wrong way. I feel like I’ve already apologized too many times at the beginning of this post ūüėČ

The Pro-Life Whole Picture

But fellow pro-lifers, we have got to talk. If we really want to be about doing what’s best for women. If we really want to be about not just being anti-abortion like pro-choicers say. If we really want to do these things, we have got to start looking at the big picture of the candidate.

Because what does it mean when we say we want to support women, but that the only way to do that is to pick candidates who give lip service to being pro-life but then they have sexually harassed women? What kind of message does that send? Because we pro-lifers fight so hard against being labeled as only caring about the baby and not the woman, but if we give in to candidates who campaign on pro-life but act in a way that’s reprehensible towards women, what do our actions say? Those actions speak far louder than any words do. When we say that we are pro-life, but then we elect candidates who are against things like paid family leave and other benefits that would make parenting a better option for many people, what does that say?

When we say that every baby is wanted and every baby is welcome and then turn around and cut welfare and cut programs that help many people like WIC and Medicaid, what does that say? When we make snarky comments about how you shouldn’t have had children if you couldn’t afford them, doesn’t that go in direct opposition to the culture of life we say we are trying to create?

When we say “all lives matter” (I put this in quotation¬†marks because I recognize that it is a problematic phrase meant to dismiss the concerns of an entire group of people), but then we tell certain people they aren’t welcome here or dismiss their concerns that there is a lot of racism around us and how it affects their lives, what are we really saying? There are so many complicated things in this one sentence alone that I’d like to unpack farther. I hope to at some point.

How can we say children are precious and turn around and continue to cut funding for education and special needs education?

I have, somewhat intentionally, shyed away from specific examples. It’s not that I couldn’t find them, because I definitely could. But more because I don’t want to get this post bogged down by a thousand links and have my point be missed. However, I recently finished the book¬†Overwhelmed*¬†and I did want to bring one specific example to light because I think it so very well illustrates all the other general points¬†and¬†because I would say it’s relatively unknown among people my age. The fact of the matter is, the United States once came very close to having universal childcare. However, it was killed, largely in part, due to Pat Buchanan, who worked for then-president Nixon. I have watched my friends struggle to find safe and affordable care for their children. It almost didn’t have to be that way.

The reality is, when we continue to dismiss the very legitimate¬†concerns of people, when we continue to cut funding, when we continue to refuse to listen, we are hurting our own cause. We are becoming deaf to the big picture. I am not writing any of this to say that abortion is okay. The reality is, I don’t think it is – that for me is very cut and dry. I feel very firmly pro-life in respects to my personal ethos. But I am writing this to say that abortion doesn’t exist in a vacuum – that the other political realities matter too. And we can’t let politicians merely pretend to be pro-life in order to get the votes of a certain voting block. We need real change, not someone who is just saying what they think we want to hear.

I used to think, once upon a time, that a candidate’s position on abortion wasn’t the only one that mattered. But then, I met some in the pro-life movement who I respected and who were older. I thought, therefore, that meant they were wiser. They had lived through more history than I had. And they told me that it was the only thing that mattered. And for a while, I felt that way too. But, I’ve come to realize, that I can respect them and listen to them. However, that doesn’t mean that I have to think the same as them. And I’ve swung back around to my original position. Abortion isn’t the only issue that matters when it comes to who we vote for.

I have struggled in this post to figure out a way to explain this, without offending anyone, but it’s hard. I know, on this subject, I’m pretty sure it’s impossible. Do I still want abortion to be illegal? Yes.¬†But¬†I don’t just want to make it illegal and leave thousands of people unsupported. I don’t want to live in a culture where we’re always thinking we are better than the next person who needs more help than us. Life has humbled me many times and I have learned that it could always be you who needs help.

In many ways, I feel unqualified to write this post. I’m no longer as active in the pro-life movement as I once was. That isn’t because I stopped caring, but because my life got totally consumed for a while by these two small humans I’m raising. I’m trying to teach them to be compassionate and caring human beings. That takes a lot of effort and energy.

I don’t write this to tell you guys how to vote or how you should do your politics or anything like that. I mainly write this because writing helps me process. I’ve learned, sometimes it is the stuff I am most afraid of saying that I need to say the most. I could be wrong – I’m not so arrogant as to think that I have every political problem figured out. But I would like to start a discussion. A respectful, civil discussion – is it still possible to have one of those? I hope so. Life is complicated. I don’t have all the answers. I can only do my best to think and pray and try and figure out every day how to make the world a better place.

What does it mean to you to be pro-life? 

*It was an excellent book, I highly recommend it. 

Image courtesy of yodiyim at

Learn Through Drawing (Review of Draw and Learn Animals and Places)

Disclaimer: I received Draw and Learn Animals and Places for free from Timberdoodle in exchange for my honest review. Regardless of getting it for free, the things that I share here are always 100 percent my own honest opinion. 

Draw and Learn Animals and Places Draw and Learn Animals and Places

Today I’m excited to introduce you to Draw and Learn Animals and Places. I had the opportunity to try this book both with Allen (3 years old) and Dominic (5 years old). In this post, I’ll go over the book, what I liked about it, and what I didn’t like about it. Overall, it’s a solid book and I’m¬†so¬†excited to share it with you!

Draw and Learn Animals and Places

Even though I would say that I am a terrible drawer myself, I feel that drawing is an important skill for little kids. In the front cover of this book, it goes over some of the benefits of drawing which I agree with. Drawing is great for fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination. These are really important skills to work on for little kids. I don’t think that drawing should be the only way that they work on it, but it can definitely be a good part of the equation. The book also mentions that drawing builds a child’s symbolic knowledge, which was a new concept to me. I knew what symbolic knowledge was (the understanding of the concept that specific marks mean a specific thing. IE the letter a. If you know that is a letter a, you have symbolic knowledge. If it just looks like a line on the paper, you don’t). I never thought about this in regards to drawing, but it totally makes sense.

Draw and Learn Animals and Places

Some of the things that I like best about it are the fact that it’s very bright and colorful. The instructions are clear and simple. There are a lot of examples so that your child can see something first before drawing it. Some of the pages have a place for name and date, which is cool because then you can see how they change and grow over time. It feels like a good balance between drawing and coloring. I didn’t count the pages exactly, how many were drawing and how many were coloring and how many were both, but from flipping through, it feels like it’s pretty evenly balanced. As far as skill level goes, it is a part of Timberdoodle’s PreK kit, which we used last year with Dominic. I believe it is replacing Doodle and Draw, Inside, Outside, Everywhere. In terms of the two books, I feel like Draw and Learn Animals and Places is a better fit, it seems better suited for a four year old’s skill set. Some things in this seemed too hard for my three year old and too easy for my five year old, so I would say PreK would be a pretty accurate fit. This would also be a great activity book for traveling.

Draw and Learn Animals and Places

Dominic (5) had this to say about the book. “It’s pretty fun. It brings up my coloring skills. It also gives me size power.” I don’t exactly know what size power is, but he told me that the more size power you have, the better you are at drawing.

Draw and Learn Animals and Places

Nitpicky thing to point out, but I would mention that there are no page numbers. This is just my own personal preference, but I like my books to have page numbers. It’s easier for me to lesson plan and it’s easier for me to communicate with my kids what I want them to do. Plus I think looking for page numbers helps with their number sense.

Like I said, overall we really like this book. I would definitely recommend.

Do your kids enjoy drawing? How do you work on their drawing skills? 

Baby Wipes Containers Upcycled Into Spice Containers!

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Let me tell you a story. This is going to be a very short story. Actually, to be honest, you can’t even really call this a story.

But once upon a time, Nick and I we were pretty broke. Not that we are like rolling in the dough now, but considerably, things have improved.

Most things I found ways to wait for or to make do without, but one thing that I always wanted was spice shelves – or some sort of organizational system for spices. I was tired of not being able to find spices that I knew we had. I was tired of realizing that I’d accidentally bought the same spice twice.

But I couldn’t find the money to buy a fancy organizer.

So I started to look around my house, to try and figure out what I¬†did¬†have in abundance. And it turned out, that thing was baby wipe containers. If you have ever used baby wipes, you know that those containers are pretty sturdy.¬† So when we used them, I didn’t just want to throw them out. I held onto them because I knew they would be useful for something else. (And it turns out, they are useful for storing many things – we have different baby wipe containers for markers, pens, and pencils for example). We couldn’t use most of them for baby wipes anymore because one of my kids had broken the lids.

So when I realized I had a bunch of these, I thought, there has to be a way I can organize these to hold my spices. And so I started arranging the spices in them until every spice had a place. Then, I took a post it note and taped it on the front of the container and on that post it note, I wrote everything that was in that container. Then I lined them all up in my cupboard. Like this! Ignore the peeling post it note, I did tape it on better after I took this picture.

Spice Containers out of Baby wipe containers - baby wipe containers upcycle

I have been using it this way for at least a year – probably longer. They hold up really well to abuse and pulling in and out of my cupboard. I can find everything easily and I don’t accidentally buy duplicate spices anymore. Actually, the other day Nick said “We could get you real shelves.” And I actually turned him down because I like it so much I don’t want to change it. Though I think I would like to alphabetize it soon, but I admit, I have an addiction to alphabetizing things! I’m surprised I didn’t do that from the start, to be honest.

How do you upcycle your baby wipes containers? How do you organize your spices? 

On the Struggle to Be a “Good Mother”

What does it mean to be a good mother?

Picture of the mythical good mom that I think I’m not but can’t define.

I don’t know if you all are like me, but I have to admit that I struggle with feeling like I am not a good enough mother. I often feel like I am a bad or terrible mother. I promise you, I am not writing this to elicit comments from you all that I¬†am¬†a good mother, but stick with me and you’ll see my point eventually.

I think the most frustrating part about this is that if you asked me to define a good mother, I don’t even think I could. I have a ton of friends who I would classify as good mothers. And none of them parent the same. Or I would come up with artificially¬†high and inflated standards like always does the dishes or other ridiculous stuff like that.

It seems pointless to strive for something that I don’t even know how to define. But I have this very concrete fear of being a terrible mother. And sometimes, I even¬†feel¬†like a terrible mother. I get caught up in all the things that are going wrong. Like the fact that one of my kids is very whiny and I try soooooo¬†hard not to give into his whining, but sometimes I’m just tired. Sometimes I’ve just hit my whining limit. And the fact that getting the toys picked up before bed is a struggle almost all the time. I feel like there’s some mythical mother out there who doesn’t yell at her kids, whose kids always pick up their toys, and who is somehow impervious to whining. I feel like somehow if I just try harder, I can be her. I can be this amazing magical mom.

But I can’t. I’ll never be perfect, no matter how hard I try. And lots of times I think this struggle to be a good mother is just my perfectionism expressing itself in a different way. And perfectionism is a trap. Perfectionism is a slave driver that will whisper in your ear that you failed because you aren’t enough. That you should try harder. That you should always try harder, even if you feel like you’re already trying with everything you’ve got.

I talk with Nick about this. I talk with him about it so much so that he’s exhausted. Because in his eyes, I am a great mother and he¬†doesn’t understand how I question this. But he texted me something once and I have held onto that text in all the hard times. And what he texted me was the three most important questions that I should ask myself every day to try and figure out if I’m a good mother.

So here, for you, are the three questions. In case it helps you the way it helps me.

Do you love your kids?

Do I love my kids? Yes, I absolutely love my kids. I do this, every day, without fail. There’s no time that I’m ever not loving them. Even when they upset me. Even when they drive me up the wall. I¬†still¬†love them. This love for them makes me a good mother. Even my imperfect love, it’s still love.

Are you trying to do what’s best for them?

I am a research personality if you didn’t know that already. I like to read and research everything. And parenting is no exception. I have read so many pregnancy and parenting books that I have all this knowledge in my head. Sometimes, it’s too much knowledge. But still, at the end of the day, I take this knowledge and try and use it to make the best decisions that I can for my kids. Sometimes, what’s best for them changes – sometimes we get more information. But still, I am trying to do what’s best for them every day, and that makes me a good mother.

Are you working on raising them in Godliness?

My husband and I both believe in God. And we both believe that it is important to pass that faith onto our children. And that that faith is more than just showing up for church and Sunday school on Sunday mornings to check a box. Even though this is the last question, it is the most important. If my kids are perfectly behaved angels all the time, but they don’t know God, it’s meaningless. If they can do calculus and write 10 page essays, but don’t know God, it’s meaningless. Our works can’t earn us heaven and neither can my kids’ behaviors. This is the big picture. And sometimes in the day to day, it’s easy to lose track of the big picture when you’re just trying to make it through another 5 minutes.

While I still have days where I struggle, when I try to keep these things in mind, it definitely helps. Nobody is perfect – even me – but in the day to day struggle of things, it can definitely be easy to lose track of the things that are going well. It is much easier to focus on everything that’s going wrong.

How do you define being a good mom? Do you struggle with feeling like you aren’t a good enough mom? What questions do you need to ask yourself?¬†

Homeschooling And Triathlons Aren’t For Everyone

Homeschooling and Triathlons Aren't for Everyone

Not an actual picture of me running. Because I don’t.

Homeschooling isn’t for everyone. And neither are triathlons. And that’s okay.

Now, you may think these things are not related and you may be correct. But, if you allow me a little leeway, I will use the triathlon as an illustration. And don’t worry, my goal is neither to convince you to complete a triathlon or to homeschool.

I actually hope this will be, in some ways, encouraging. I see it a lot that anyone can homeschool. And while I understand that to be well-intentioned, I don’t think I actually believe it. And I think it does both the homeschool community and people outside the homeschool community a disservice.

But what does this have to do with triathlons?

Well, I believe they have several things in common, believe it or not. Also, I feel like this is a fraud having never prepared for a triathlon myself, but it’s the best thing I could think to compare it to. By the way, if you have completed in triathlons and you feel like something I said here is totally off, please¬†tell me¬†because I’d love to make this post even stronger.

You need preparation.

You wouldn’t just wake up one morning and decide to complete a triathlon unless you were already a super athlete. But for an average person like you and me, doing that without any training beforehand could lead to failure – not to mention risk of injury.

Now, I’m not going to say that you need to have a teaching degree to homeschool, because I simply don’t believe that’s true. But, I do believe you should at least have finished high school – at the bare minimum. But, beyond that, the training I mean mostly involves research and reading. Before you start, you should ask questions of other homeschoolers, you should read books and blogs about homeschooling, you should have a good idea of what you are committing to and what your responsibilities to your children are. You should know and understand the laws in your state. I strongly believe that preparation¬†is a crucial part of being able to successfully homeschool – no matter what your style. If you’re an unschooler, you should read a lot about unschooling. In fact, in general, you should probably read about the different homeschool styles to figure out what will work best for you. And it’s not like you have to be married to one homeschool style or method or even to homeschooling in general, but doing at least¬†some¬†reading will help to prepare you.

A support system is extremely helpful.

Now, it’s not necessary, but I think that in many hard things in life, having people cheering you on is extremely helpful. Could you do without it? Yes, but it can be a lot harder to motivate yourself on when it’s just you during the hard parts. Can you run a triathlon without it? Absolutely. Can you homeschool without a support system? Yes. But on the hard days, it makes such a world of difference to have people behind you who support why you are homeschooling and to validate that you are going to be able to do it. It’s a long, long race, homeschooling is.

One caveat, I don’t believe you should homeschool if your spouse is not on board. They are¬†their¬†children also – you should do your best to work out a plan for them that you can both feel good about. Otherwise, it can lead to a lot of conflict and stress in your marriage, which will affect your children.

You might hate homeschooling.

I don’t compete in triathlons because I hate running. I just do. No matter how much cool music or podcasts I listen to, I find it boring. Don’t hate, runner friends hahaha. The biking part would be okay. But I also don’t like swimming so ūüėČ

But, some people just hate homeschooling. I’m not talking about people who hate it because they don’t understand it and who think that no one should homeschool. But if you don’t enjoy trying to teach your children or being home with them all day, that is okay. Like I started this post out, it’s not for everyone. And if you try it and don’t enjoy it, it is okay to quit. Or change things. But it really is an always on, never off type of situation, so if you don’t enjoy it, it is okay to recognize that and not try and force yourself to keep doing something because you feel like you “should.” I love homeschooling so, so much. But it is also really, really hard. Sometimes the hard things are worth doing, but there’s no medal for forcing hard things upon yourself. It is okay if you don’t want to homeschool.

Homeschooling doesn’t guarantee anything.

Competing in triathlons doesn’t guarantee that you’ll be super healthy and never get sick. In the same vein, a lot of people think that homeschooling will guarantee you certain things. That you will have a good relationship with your kids. Or that they will never go through a teenage rebellious phase. That they will never have to deal with bullying. Or that they will be protected from the influence of drugs and alcohol. And so on and so forth. Basically, some people view homeschooling as a utopia where they can control every aspect of their child’s life.

But that’s not the reality. Homeschooling is not a guarantee that any of those things will or will not happen. You can’t treat it as a cause and effect equation because there are other human beings involved. They have their own free will too and homeschooling will not protect your children from every evil that is out there. Sometimes people in my homeschooling group will post links about school shootings or other terrible things happening in schools and be like, I’m so glad I homeschool.¬†(I hate that by the way. But maybe that’s for a different post?)¬†

But the reality is, that it can not protect you. Homeschooling is not your savior. There have been shootings at churches and movie theaters and malls. Bad things happen everywhere and homeschooling doesn’t make you immune from them. There is no guarantee of safety or of future behavior with homeschooling.

Bottom Line

Homeschooling is not for everyone. You should not feel guilty if you don’t feel like homeschooling would be a good fit for your family. There are many, many ways to educate your kids and have them turn out well. Homeschooling doesn’t own the market on being the “best” way to educate your kids. What’s good for one kid is not necessarily good for another. If you choose to homeschool, you need to be prepared and I¬†definitely¬†recommend a support system. And lastly, it is not a guarantee of anything – not your children’s safety, not your children’s behavior, not your children’s life. We aren’t promised anything. Homeschooling included.

What would you compare homeschooling to? What are some of the reasons you homeschool and what are some of the reasons that you think people should not homeschool? 

Picture from Stockvault by user cory finlayson

Why I Support the Coalition for Responsible Home Education

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Since in the last post I wrote, I tackled why we won’t be joining HSLDA, I thought today I would talk about why I support the Coalition for Responsible Home Education (CRHE). I would not say that these are flip sides of the same coin, but they¬†are¬†related. And, while it seems as HSLDA tries to deregulate homeschooling, CRHE strives to promote reasonable regulation.

Why I support the Coalition for Responsible Home Education

I know, in writing this post, that not many people are familiar with CRHE, so in case you aren’t, CRHE like I said, stands for Coalition for Responsible Home Education. They are a non-profit, non-partisan, non-religious organization that advocates for homeschooled children. They were founded and created by adults who were once homeschooled children themselves. As far as what they do – I think they say it so much better than I could. “We conduct research, create resources, and promote sound homeschooling¬†policy.¬†We are committed to advocating for¬†common-sense laws that respect freedom of choice in education style and methodology but contain the checks and balances necessary to ensure the wellbeing and educational success of all homeschooled children.” (Source)

I know that, for many homeschoolers, they don’t want the government in their business. But I guess, I’m not many homeschoolers. I’m my own person and I think that the government can absolutely be beneficial in many circumstances. The government does things for me that I don’t have the ability or desire to do on my own. Then there’s the other side of the coin – where people claim that there isn’t abuse in homeschooling or that people who abuse their children aren’t real homeschoolers.

But I can’t deny the fact that unfortunately, some parents (too many parents) have used homeschooling as a cover to abuse their children or to hide their children from accusations of abuse. In my ideal world, we wouldn’t need to be having this conversation because everyone would treat their children with love and kindness. But unfortunately, that is not the reality we live in, and too many kids are being abused.

For me, I love homeschooling. I think it is one of the biggest blessings in my life. In my (admittedly biased) opinion, my children are thriving. But unfortunately, it is not a positive experience for every child. And for children whose parents are using homeschooling to hide abuse, it is not only a terrifying situation, but it is a potentially fatal one. For me, I would subject my children to more regulation and oversight of our homeschooling, if it meant that fewer homeschooled kids fell through the cracks.

Sometimes you see horror stories in the media about terrible things that happened to homeschooled kids. Some of these have happened in my own state. I don’t want people to look at those cases and say, all homeschoolers are like that. But on the flipside, I don’t want to sit by and do nothing when these things¬†are¬†happening. Child abuse and educational neglect¬†do¬†happen in the homeschool community. No, they are not happening in every family. But,¬†I don’t want to shrug and say “It’s not my problem” because I value this community.

And this is where I kind of dovetail with CRHE. We have, I feel, the same goals in mind. We want to protect children. They are very straightforward about their policy recommendations (pro tip: I found them easier to read if you click the link at the top that says read as a PDF). I think having concrete changes that we could make is extremely helpful. It helps to give a roadmap of how to change things. It doesn’t just say this is a problem. It says, here are some things we could do to make the problem better. It also helps you to realize that they aren’t asking for anything unreasonable. If you read the suggestions as a PDF, they often make notes of where this recommendation or similar is already part of a state law.

Our children are counting on us to do better for them in so many ways. I see this as part of those ways. If you want to learn more about CRHE, I encourage you to visit their website.

Have you heard of the Coalition for Responsible Home Education before? What do you think that we could do better to protect every child in our community? 

P. S. Did you know the Coalition for Responsible Home Education also provides information on the laws of every state? I find this information to be¬†much¬†more thorough than the information HSLDA provides. Plus¬†you don’t have to put in your e-mail to read it.¬†

Logo used with permission of CRHE! They were not in any way, shape or form affiliated with me writing this post. However, when I knew that I was going to be writing it, I reached out to them asking for permission to use their logo in my post and they graciously agreed. 

4 Reasons We Won’t Be Joining HSLDA

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I have to admit that writing this post makes me very nervous. In many homeschooling circles/groups, to question HSLDA or to say anything negative about them is equal to heresy. HSLDA always has the best interests of homeschoolers at heart – right? Well, I disagree. And in many groups, when people¬†come in and are new to homeschooling and they want to know where they start, often¬†times, the first comment¬†is referring them to HSLDA. And if it’s not the first comment, it’s within the top five. Of course, you need to make the best decision for your family, but in this post, I’m going to lay out the reasons that my family¬†won’t¬†be joining HSLDA.

But I suppose before I do that I should back up a bit and explain what HSLDA is, in case you are not familiar with them. HSLDA stands for Homeschool Legal Defense Association. They are a homeschool advocacy group. They state their mission as, “to bring together a large number of homeschooling families so that each can have a low-cost method of obtaining quality legal defense.”

So now that that’s out of the way, let’s jump in.

4 Reasons We Won't Be Joining HSLDA

I disagree with HSLDA’s fear mongering techniques.

I think that the reason that HSLDA is so popular is that they have really used fear to sell their product. I have even seen people who say, well, I don’t agree with a lot of what they do, but better safe than sorry. It’s viewed as a protection from the overreach of the government. Protection that HSLDA has convinced homeschoolers they need. Then those homeschoolers convince other newbie homeschoolers they need it. And so on and so forth.

And like I said in my opening paragraph, HSLDA is suggested to new homeschoolers extremely frequently. So, in the beginning, I too signed up for their newsletter. It was the best thing to do right? Well, if you’ve ever seen the inbox of my old e-mail (which at the time of this writing has over 230,000 unread e-mails – no, not a typo), you know that I rarely deleted e-mails. ¬†And I also rarely unsubscribed from things.

So, this has left me a treasure trove of HSLDA e-mails from which to draw from to help describe their fear mongering techniques. They frequently use hosilte/aggressive words to describe school or government officials. Words like threatened or targets come up over and over again. I’m not there and I can’t say that they didn’t threaten. However, when it’s used in many instances, it starts to look like a pattern. Often times the cases they handle are misunderstandings between school officials and what’s actually required of the law and these are frequently cleared up with a letter or a conversation. Yet, HLSDA frequently continues to paint these interactions as malicious on the part of school officials. As if all school officials are out to get your children. It does sometimes happen that school officials overreach and ask for more information than is required by law, but saying things like “a chilling letter” and “dangerous education regulations” set a tone of fear and the bad guy boogeyman lurking in the closet.

If there’s a real problem, I will care about it. I’m the kind of person who does. But I don’t appreciate being made to feel like there’s a problem with scary fear mongering language. It’s not how I roll.

Your money does not guarantee help.

HSLDA takes a fee every year of (at the time of this writing), $120 or $1000 for a lifetime membership. I see this talked about in homeschooling groups as a for sure thing. That if you ever get into any legal trouble, that HSLDA will help as long as you’ve been paying the fee. It’s treated as legal insurance, even though they are definitely not.¬†And many homeschoolers will say they have them “just in case” and “better safe than sorry.”¬†However, they can refuse the case of anyone they choose. As it says on their website, “we cannot¬†guarantee¬†representation in every case.” And while they are just anecdotes, I’ve heard many stories of them doing just that. Especially for secular homeschoolers, even though they say they accept all faiths.

Additionally, what you may not know is that when you sign up, you are agreeing to keep records. This is to help in your legal defense, which is, of course, not a bad thing. I keep records and so do many others. But many states do not require record keeping, so in some ways, they are putting an extra burden on you. The irony of requiring you to keep records when many of their actions against the government are keeping the government from looking at those records is not lost on me.

I don’t always agree with who they help.

Additionally, as 501(c)(4), they are allowed to endorse candidates and campaign politically. I don’t want to send my money to them not knowing what candidates they will endorse or put money behind or what laws they will lobby for. Just like I investigate the other organizations I donate to, I would consider any payment to HSLDA to also be a donation of sorts. Even though they say member dues do not go to fund that, that is still their tax status and reality. They are a conservative organization – there is no doubt* about that – and anyone who has known me for any length of time knows that I identify politically as a moderate/independent and not a conservative.

I don’t agree with what they did in the case of the Romeikes. (I almost wrote a blog post about this back when it happened, but couldn’t express what I wanted to say well enough). I believe that the Romeike family had other options. They could have immigrated within the EU to another member state where homeschooling is legal and because they are members of the EU, immigrating between countries, from my understanding, is easier. However, I believe that HSLDA chose to encourage them to come to the United States because they were trying to set up a court case to prove that homeschooling should be a human right. They were using this family as pawns, I believe, and I was not okay with that. If I paid dues, my money would have been used to help support that court case.

I also disagreed with their handling of the Cressy case. In this, they painted the state government in New York as being completely out of line. However, the Cressys failed to file their homeschooling paperwork for¬†over seven years. Now, you can argue about whether or not the law in New York is too restrictive. I don’t feel it is, but some people do. Either way, as long as that law is in place, it needs to be followed. Say you didn’t do your taxes for 7 years and the IRS came after you. Would the IRS be in the wrong or would you be in the wrong? You would be, of course. I don’t want my money to be used to support people who were breaking the law. It feels like a slap in the face when I work so carefully to follow the law. I would say that it wouldn’t have been so aggravating to me if they hadn’t painted the government as being so atrocious. The government was doing their job.

Lastly, while I will say, first and foremost, not all HSLDA members are child abusers, they have defended some in court. I will tell you that this paragraph contains some disturbing accounts of child abuse. There’s the parents who were later convicted of child abuse after their children suffered multiple broken bones (including a fractured spine and skull) and failed to seek medical attention for them, among other things, – their HSLDA affiliated lawyer said they were just a good Christian family being persecuted. They defended the right for another family to homeschool after 5 children died in their care. At least two of those deaths were ruled homicides. This includes their six-year-old daughter who had bleach poured on her and then they never sought medical care for her. They successfully won the right for this family to keep homeschooling.

While, like I said, not all HSLDA members are abusing their children, if I paid into HSLDA, those funds are used to defend other homeschoolers. I don’t get to pick and choose which people my funds are used to help. I want to stress again that not all of the families they defend are child abusers. However, when they are, I can’t untangle my money from that after it’s gone from them. And I don’t want my money being used for that.

(Side note: I find, quite frequently, that whenever it comes out that CPS removed children from a homeschool family, it is often assumed that CPS is in the wrong and that, of course, they are a good homeschool family and CPS is just out to get homeschoolers. I remember a case in the last few years where several children were taken from a homeschool family and everyone was railing on CPS as the bad guys, but later it came out that they were living in basically a shack that only had walls on three sides and was completely open to the elements on the third side and if I recall correctly, there was no clean running water either. I remember listening to an interview with the mom that she posted online to try and prove how the police were persecuting them. I remember thinking, it really sounds like she is trying to bait the cop into shooting her. (I can’t find this interview again at this time.) This CPS and homeschoolers thing deserves a whole separate post which I will write some day).¬†

I trust my state organization more.

For a while, HSLDA had incorrect information on their website about how to homeschool legally in Wisconsin. They kept this information up for quite some time. This was despite being contacted by local state organizations here on the ground in Wisconsin. Eventually, they did change this. Regardless, I know our local advocacy group has a clean record. Furthermore, they live here and have a much better understanding of Wisconsin. Plus, they have a bigger investment here in a way that only other people who are homeschooling here can have. It is in their best interests to be honest and transparent because they also homeschool their children here. WPA did a lot of work in the state of Wisconsin and if I ever had trouble, I would turn to them. They’ve earned my trust.

Bottom line, HSLDA does not speak for me as a homeschooler. That is the main reason why I will not let them put my money to work for their agenda. Writing this post has made me nervous, however, like my vaccination post, I feel that there are not enough voices in the homeschool world speaking for those who are choosing to opt out. I am opting out of HSLDA and I will stand behind that.

Do you feel HSLDA provides a valuable service to homeschoolers? Or do you feel like me that this is an organization not worth giving your money too? 

*This article linked in this sentence is also a good article containing well-thought out criticisms of HSLDA.

Additional Sources:

Photo by Faustlawmarketing at, text added by me. 

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