Hi trynity7! Welcome to the forums. I read your post with interest and I appreciate your point of view, but there were a couple of places where I differed.
First, let me say that I did not prefer either family. As with most episodes, each family represented an extreme and I think that somewhere in the middle is the best place to be.
Unlike you, I thought that Paul was VERY controlling of his children and tried to squash any little bit of independent decision making or individuality in them. Yes, I agree that children should respect their parents, but parents also need to remember that children are people too, not just miniature carbon copies of themselves. They need some freedom, within limits. As an example of something I found very controlling: each child asking in turn to be excused from the dinner table and having to wait for Paul to tell them that they could leave with him exercising all the power about whether he would say yes or no. I did not get the impression that this was a formality of good manners; instead, I got the distinct impression that it was his way of controlling even their smallest actions. As I was growing up, if everybody at the table appeared to be finished or nearly finished with their meal, the children could politely excuse themselves from the table. Sure, some parents might not want to give their children that much "liberty" but is there a reason that at the end of the meal that Paul could not have just made a blanket announcement that anybody who was done with their meal could be excused? Why was it necessary to get each child to specifically ask him for permission as he lounged at the head of the table? Or, once the first child asked to be excused, he could have given blanket permission to all of them (holding back any child who did not eat his vegetables or whatever on a case by case basis).
As for homseschooling and socializing, it sounds like you do a great job of making sure that your children get out of the house and interact with other children their own age. I didn't get the impression that Paul's family takes the same measures. We saw the oldest daughter at ballet, but they made a point of saying that she is not allowed opportunities to socialize with boys her own age. What about the rest of the children? Did they give much indication of what kinds of opportunities they had to meet other kids their own age? Even if they go to the local playground on a regular basis, aren't they likely to meet some of the same "bad apples" there that they would meet at the school?
I'm also curious about what can be taught via homeschooling. I am asking out of curiosity and ignorance of that sort of system, so please do not take my questions as being a judgment of that lifestyle. How do handle teaching such a wide variety of subjects? What do you do when a child gets to high school age and much of the subject matter moves beyond the "common knowledge" that most adults possess? Can one parent really handle teaching Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Western Civilization, U.S. History, Government, English Literature, American Literature, Computer Science, Algebra, Trigonometry, Calculus, and a variety of other subjects? These are all subjects that I had to take in high school and I know that my parents could not have taught them to me. Also, what do you do about equipment? Do most homeschooled children have access to science labs to do the experiments that are part of the usual coursework?
I'm also curious about the connections between intellectual and social growth and how they are handled for homeschooled children. I noticed that the history book that one of the children was reading could be described as rather "specialized." I'm currently working on a PhD in American history and I felt that the children were being shortchanged in their understanding of that subject. I am not saying that they should not use that textbook, but I would suggest adding another text to provide balance and an alternate interpretation so the children have the fullest possible understanding of the course of American history. Similarly, if they were in a classroom with children from diverse backgrounds they would be more likely to be exposed to a variety of ideas on many different subjects, not just history. That kind of exposure would help their critical thinking skills as they learned to evaluate the material they were learning, regardless of which interpretation they ultimately decided was the best. After all, people in the outside world are going to hold different ideas than they do, so they will need to learn at some point how to get along with those people.
I can understand any parent wanting to impart their values to their children, but at the same time I think it is possible to do that without so rigorously controlling what kinds of people they meet and what kind of information they get exposed to.