Archive for February, 2015

I Get It

I get it, okay?

I get that I am a failure. 

I get that you’re disappointed in me.

I get that you hate helping me.

I get it that you wish I was dead.

I wish I was dead.

I get it that it was my fault that I was fired.

I get it that it’s my fault that I’m still unemployed.

I get it that people are embarrassed by me.

I get it that there must be something fundamentally wrong with me.

I get it that I should never have been born.

I get it that I’m just a mistake.

I gett it that if I had just shut up and put up I would still have a job and you wouldn’t have to give me money.

I get it that I should forget standing up for myself and just let people walk all over me.

I get it that I should work on pleasing others and never worry about what I want.

I get that I am a bad girl going to hell.

I get it that I’m unlovable.

I get it that I’m stupid even with two college degrees.

I get it that my only purpose is to get married and have kids and obey my husband in everything even though I’m not married.

I get it that I’m ugly and fat.

I get it that I should hate me. And I do.

I get it okay.  I’m keeping my mouth shut and letting you run my life so you’ll be happy and I’ll be miserable which is what you always wanted. 

If I could just break my arms or slit my wrists, everything would be better. 

I keep applying to jobs but I haven’t heard back from any.  So still a failure.  I know my parents hate helping me and are going to cut me off soon.  My mother has always considered me a failure and a loser and hates helping me in any way and tells me constantly how much a disappointment I am and how I’ve failed her my entire life.  She also reminds me how stupid I am and how my younger sisters are so much smarter and much better off financially and how much prettier they are and how many friends they have and how useless I’ve always been compared to them and how they were perfect children while I was always needing to be punished.  She doesn’t need to use words now to tell me these things.  She just has to call me and I already know the conversation.

I keen doing what everybody wants but nothing gets better.  I do what I want and everything gets a hundred times worse.  Some days I really want to die. The pain is so bad and nothing I do makes it better.  What’s the point?

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Quiverfull and Childhood

Part Three

Warning: I will be talking about various types of abuse in this post and have inserted photos where appropriate.  Be advised.

This post builds off the discussion from Part Two.  I mentioned previously that many girls are forced to raise their younger siblings because their mothers just don’t parent.  Or in the case of Michele Duggar, passes the responsibility of parenting to a daughter so that she can keep having babies.

Since Quiverfull is focused on babies and numbers, children as individuals with needs are in an odd phase.  They aren’t babies and they aren’t married adults.  These two phases are the only ones that matter in Quiverfull.  That’s where the priorities are focused. 

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Courtesy of Google Images

Children are then ignored until they get noticed.  The phase of childhood itself is ignored until someone notices a child acting (as in any sort of movement, not just bad or irresponsible behavior) or speaking.  The phase of childhood is considered a messy wasteland to be conquered by the parents rather than enjoyed as a season of human life. 

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Courtesy of Google Images

First, children are just numbers, not actual individuals with wants and needs and desires. They are soldiers in a battles against the secular world.

Two, children are considered property of their parents.  The parents have rights.  The children do not.  The children are merely objects to manipulate.

Three, children are seen as inherently sin filled and willingly disobedient.  Children are only capable of sin and incapable of virtue. 

Four, children must be homeschooled because any other sort of schooling is un-biblical, full of dangerous anti-Christian agendas, and a means of government interference.

Fifth, children rarely receive medical assistance in any form.due to paranoia about the government and beliefs that any healing is God’s will and can only happen if He desires it.

While there are more, these are a good starting place.

Point One: Children are individuals but not in Quiverfull.  Quiverfull is a movement that emphasizes numbers of people and not actual people.  Add in the distaste for childhood as a phase of life and things get a lot worse.

Points Two and Three go together.   When children are not seen as people, they have no rights or protections.  They are also open to great abuses, neglect, violence, and even homicide.  Since many parents come to believe that corporal punishment and spanking are acceptable means of forcing a child to comply with their demands, many children are physically abused in the name of love and God.  Many use verses out of the Book of Proverbs to justify their spanking.  They also read and endorse abusive parenting methods like Michael Pearl’s To Train Up A Child (which compares training children to training animals and to start spanking at three months), James Dobson (again comparing children to dogs), Rev Bradley, and Shepherd a Child’s Heart.

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Courtesy of Google Images

There is no biblical basis for beating the sin out of children so that they become God fearing adults.  But it is a belief espoused in Pearl’s and heavily hinted at in Gothard’s work (though I don’t know if he advocated corporal punishment). 

Pearl advocated “first time obedience” and demands it of babies.  “First time obedience” is the expectation that when an adult tells a child to do something that child must obey immediately.  Any hesitation, finishing a task already started, or asking for directions on how to do that something is seen as disobedience and must be punished immediately. 

For example: a thirteen month old baby is sitting on the floor, playing with a toy.  He puts the toy in his mouth (babies like to put things in their mouth; this is normal).  The mother sees this and tells the baby to take the toy out of his mouth.  The baby keeps the toy in his mouth because he doesn’t really understand what his mother is saying.  However, Pearl says the child is actively choosing to be disobedient and therefore needs to be spanked right this minute.

But first time obedience is expected of all children.  And being disobedient or even “rebellious” (a vague term that parents use to justify any spanking or to justify their anger and their desire to hit a child). Spanking then becomes the default method of parenting instead of teaching the child why let alone understanding child development in any way.

Children in Quiverfull face lots of violence, abuse, neglect, and are forced to behave in developmentally inappropriate ways. 

Teenage girls are expected to parent their younger siblings. 

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Courtesy of Google Images

Many children face the threat of corporal punishment which I’ve expanded to include not just spanking but any use of hitting as punishment which includes slapping, punching, using some type of implement. 

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Courtesy of Google Images

Many children are verbally abused through threats of corporal punishment regardless if those threats are carried out, through name calling, through insults, and through intimidation. 

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Courtesy of Google Images

Children are sexually abused not just through molestation and rape but also abused through body shaming, purity culture, and dress codes. 

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Courtesy of Google Images

Children are psychologically abused when parents threaten them, manipulate situations so that a child fails expectations,  play mind games, and through gaslighting.

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Children are spiritually abused because they are raised to follow an extreme belief system, are threatened with an angry, vengeful God that is out to get them and can’t wait to see them fail, and through the use of illegal and immoral tactics that are justified by the use of scripture verses.

Children are educationally neglected through the use of homeschooling.  Many parents use homeschooling as a means of isolating their children from others so that the parents not only do not have to teach their children a standard education but so that many parents can abuse their children and not have others know about the abuse.  Many children who receive a homeschooling education are usually very deficient in many subject.  Some children are not allowed to finish or even graduate high school.  This is especially true for girls.

Children in Quiverfull are medically neglected.  Many children are born at home.  If there is a midwife involved, she may be unlicensed. Licensing and training depends on state statute so many midwives are trained and licensed.  But there are those midwives and other medical practitioners who choose to operate outside the medical establishment. And with a heavy distrust of the government, many followers of Quiverfull will actively seek out medical assistance that is not regulated by any government agency.   Vaccines are seen as government intrusion so many parents refuse to vaccinate their children.  Or beliefs false information about vaccines.  Many children rarely see a doctor. Reasons include: lack of parental finances; government intrusion; doctors are typically mandatory reporters of abuse (depends on state law); belief that sickness is merely uncompressed sin and so the child needs to repent and get right with God; the belief that any sickness can be cured by prayer.

Children raised in Quiverfull suffer the most and are given the least amount of help and support.  They may live in an unhealthy home due to abuse, neglect, inadequate shelter, inadequate food, inadequate clothing, and inadequate resources and support. 
These children are victims.  They spend many of their adult years healing from the abuse they suffered, correcting their education deficits, and shedding false and dangerous beliefs and behaviors.

Quiverfull and Motherhood

I love it when people post comments because they end up helping me think more on a topic I’ve posted about.  I only scratched the surface in my last post on Quiverfull and I consider that one as providing the background and context for future discussions of Quiverfull.  Or to put it simply: Part One.

So this is Part Two.

I received a comment on the previous post and my response included issues that I hasn’t covered in that post. I felt another post was necessary. I am going to use the Duggars as my example here, largely due to the fact that people are familiar with Jim and Michele Duggar and their 19 children as a result of their following Quiverfull beliefs.  Though people many not know that the Duggars are Quiverfull, Gothard followers, follow Patriarchy (which is another damaging belief system that basically comes down to men are superior and women are inferior so they need men to rule and protect them using Ephesians 5:22 as justification), use courtship instead of dating, homeschool using Gothard’s material, and home church.

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Photo courtesy of US Weekly (because that was the only photo I could download and not have it end up opposite of what I wanted)

Michele Duggar likes to be pregnant and has said so in interviews.  Pregnancy is about her and her status as a child bearer.  For her, being pregnant makes her feel good.  Being pregnant keeps her in the spotlight and actually attracted the spotlight in the first place.  She is famous for giving birth to 19 children.

Pay attention to that last sentence.  There are two important words that highly illustrate the mentality of Quiverfull: giving birth.  That’s it.  These women get pregnant and give birth and then their job as mother is done.  Michele nurses and cares for a baby for the first six months of it’s life and then hands it off to a daughter to raise from there on out.  And then Michele gets pregnant again and the cycle starts all over. 

To Michele and many other women who follow Quiverfull beliefs, the mother only has to get pregnant and give birth, maybe take care of the baby for a few months or a year before an older siblings, almost always a daughter, is drafted into motherhood to raise her sibling.  Michele only gives birth.  She doesn’t nurture or raise this new child in any way except maybe homeschooling, at least nothing beyond those first six months.  Michele likes babies but her actions say that she doesn’t much care for children beyond how they make her appear to others.  And in Quiverfull, appearances matter.

Many women behave in the same way.  They get pregnant, give birth, and at some point an older daughter is drafted into motherhood to raise their younger siblings. Remember, Quiverfull emphasizes having as many babies as possible.  And the focus is on babies. 

Children are seen as a rebelling, disobedient, demon possessed spawn of satan stage between baby and marriage.  Childhood and adolescence don’t exist or are ignored.  

For many Quiverfull women, having children is a selfish act, not a selfless one. 

The Catholic Church teaches that marital sex is for two intertwined purposes: unity and procreation.  Or more colloquially: bonding and babies. 

You can’t divorce one from the other.  Marital sex cannot be just for pleasure and it cannot be just for babies.  By making marital sex about sex or babies, you make marital sex a selfish act where one spouse uses the other for their own gratification.  That’s not healthy marital sex.  Marital sex that embraces both bonding and babies is selfless because it becomes an act of complete self-giving to each other.  Marital sex is intimately vulnerable self-giving.  Your spouse becomes more important than you.

In Quiverfull, it’s all about the babies.  The mothers are treated as if they are broodmares.  Many mothers treat themselves this way which is truly horrific.  Babies and children become a commodity, not individuals made in the image and likeness of God who need a mother and father to nurture and love them and disciple them into adulthood.  Quiverfull is all about numbers not people.

So the child bearers abdicate mothering their children, at least after a daughter is considered old enough to be thrust into raising her siblings.  It’s justified as practice for raising her own children in the future. 

Michele gives birth to Baby.  She nurses Baby for six months before she picks Sister to raise Baby.  Sister in now Baby’s mother and will do all the diaper changing, potty training, getting dressed and fed, putting Baby to bed, teaching how to Baby how to tie his shoes, comforts Baby after a bad dream or a fight, teaches Baby to read and write, teaches Baby not to write on walls and how to get along with others, disciplines and corrects Baby, and how to play. 

A thirteen year old girl is now a mother to her baby brother.  And many times she is also mother to a toddler, a five year old, a six year old, and an eight year old while also having to clean most of the house, cook for ten people, complete her own homeschooling work on top of teaching a few of her younger siblings while also making sure she dressed in a pure and modest manner, read and memorize passages of the Bible, and obeying her parents while trying to avoid being spanked and/or other punishments for real or imagined infractions.

Quiverfull not only damages adults but also children, especially the girls thrust into adult parenting responsibilities that they should not be forced into.  A thirteen year old girl is expected to behave as an adult but gets punished as a child.  She rarely gets to have friends outside her siblings and what few friends she may have are chosen by her parents as long as they believe and act the way the parents want.

So Quiverfull:
-Emphasizes huge families
-Family planning is forbidden for any reason (health, finances, ability to care for other children)
-Women are expected to give birth to as many children as possible and their health doesn’t matter
-Babies are seen as a commodity
-Children are forced into parental roles to keep the cycle of permanent pregnancy going
-Women are only valued for their ability to get pregnant and give birth, not to be an actual mother
-Girls are expected to follow in their mothers footsteps by getting married and having large families after first having raised many of their own siblings
-Quiverfull is justified through the misinterpretation of Scripture verses

Quiverfull is Dangerous

Quiverfull is a fringe procreation movement with its name coming from Psalm 127:3-5 which states “Certainly, sons are a gift.from the LORD, the fruit of the womb, a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the sons born in one’s youth. Blessed is the man who has filled his quiver with them.” 

Adherents believe that families should have as many children as possible.  There is no concern for a mother’s health, for a family’s finances or needs, and is seen as a reaction to secular culture.  Children born into this movement are seen as soldiers fighting against a corrupt United States (it is a very American centric movement as are many of the other movements/beliefs tied with it) that can be brought back to Christianity (usually a very narrow, fundamentalist Protestant version) through high numbers of births and raising these children in this belief system.

It is a movement that is touted as pro-life when in reality it very antithetical to life.  Babies are seen as commodities instead of people, as individuals.  Women are to have children at all costs, even at the cost of their own life.  Women are expected to have a baby just about every year.  The parents act selfishly in having babies to fulfill what is considered godly belief and behavior.

These women are also expected to homeschool these children.  Girls are raised to follow in their mothers footsteps by getting married and having large families.  This all justified as being godly and biblical.

Many children are born into families that are headed by parents where at least one parent has a college education which is surprising considering that children born into this belief system are forbidden from going to college. Though there are also families headed by parents that only have a high school education, if that.  Many of the children in this movement barely receive a high school education, if that. Most of the children in this movement are homeschooled, usually by parents who lack the ability to teach academically.

The father is the only employed member of the family since it is considered sinful and against God’s will for women to work and/or work outside the home.  Women are only allowed to be wives and mothers.  Education for girls (beyond the minimum, usually high school) is discouraged and early marriage after “courtship” is encouraged. 

Most of these families have little income so will at times suffer from a lack of necessities such as food, proper clothing, housing, education (even with homeschooling), health care, and dental hygiene.  Many suffer all these things almost constantly during childhood. 

Corporal punishment is also heavily pushed so many also suffer from abuse.  Not just physical but emotional, mental, financial, spiritual, and even sexual abuse.  Verses from Proverbs and books by the likes of Michael Pearl, Reb Bradley, Bill Gothard are used to support spanking and child abuse and prove that this “Biblical.”

Anything that may be seen as government interference or intrusion is considered evil and refused or looked at with suspicion.    Such groups such as Child Protective Services are warned against and followers are told that they will take away your children because you homeschool (which is patently wrong and illegal).  Fear is a common tool to coerce and force compliance of behavior of children and even adults.

Quiverfull is also dangerous to men.  They are expected to get married at a young age so that they can father many children, typically are the ones to carry our corporal punishment, expected to rule the home as a leader which ends up being a dictator or tyrant, and determine who their daughter(s) may marry.  They also discouraged from going to college (too worldly) and so have to find work with a high school diploma. 

More information just Google “Quiverfull Movement.”  The Wikipedia entry is especially helpful. 

The blog No Longer Quivering (http://www.patheos.com/blogs/nolongerquivering) has stories from those who were in the movement. It also provides useful information and support.

Homeschoolers Anonymous (http://homeschoolersanonymous.wordpress.com) also has stories from the children raised in this movement because homeschooling is tied up with Quiverfull.

I also suggest Recovering Grace (http://www.recoveringgrace.org) which deals with Bill Gothard and his promotion of Quiverfull, plus his homeschooling curriculum, spiritual and sexual abuse.

Spring

But I thought it was February?

No, really.

It was nice enough weather, sunny and warm, that I was able to walk to the library without a jacket or sweatshirt.  I think it was upper 60s.  I remember when that used to be cold.  I’ve turned into an  Oregonian.

Bad Religion : Quotes

“Over the course of a decade or so, a large swath of America decided that two millennia of Christian teaching on marriage and sexuality were simply out of date.  This leap came first; the rationalization trailed behind…[By] 1970 many more people wanted to believe these arguments because of the new sexual possibilities associates with the birth control pill.”

-Douthat, Ross. (2012). Bad Religion: How We Became a Nation of Heretics. Free Press: New York. p. 70.

“By separating sex from procreation more completely than any previous technology…the birth control pill also severed the cultural connection between Christian ethics and American common sense. For the first time in human history, it was possible for the poor and middle class as well as the rich to imagine being safely promiscuous.” (emphasis added)

-ibid. p.71.

Discipline and Spanking

Many are probably already aware of the Pope’s remarks last week about a father who disciplined his children. However, everyone has assumed that he supports spanking.  Nowhere does the Pope mention spanking.  He does mention that the father said he smacked his children but not in the face. 

I have yet to read in any of his remarks a support of spanking.  However, stepping back and looking at the whole anecdote reveals something much more necessary and useful: the importance of disciplining children, especially by fathers.

Before I go further, I want to clarify terms especially in regards to the term discipline.  Discipline is very closely linked to discipling which is the method to teach a disciple.  And disciples are followers of Christ.  So disciplining should be teaching children how to become a disciple, a follower of Jesus.  Discipline is not punishment.  It is teaching a person how to be a disciple.  Discipline is learning how to be a true follower of Christ by being the you God created you to be.

Spanking is pure punishment and retribution.  It does not have teaching at its core.  It is focused on pain and humiliation.  It is an action based in anger.

So back to what the Pope said.  He is pointing out the necessity of fathers to teach their children to follow Jesus.  That is the point of fatherhood.  Not just to raise children to adulthood but also to disciple children so that they follow Jesus.  To be faithful Christians, faithful Catholics.  And fathers play a very key role in this discipline.  That’s why the Church requires that those married in the Church promise to raise their children Catholic, not to keep up membership but to teach the faith with love so that children become true followers of Jesus.

So disciplining a child is not punishing a child for wrongdoing though that is what people assume it means when they hear the term.  But that is incorrect, even false.  Disciplining is teaching how to follow Jesus and live the life of a Catholic Christian.  Correcting behavior is part of that but punishment is not.  Punishment is about harshness and emotional reactions to what you perceive as bad behavior, a reaction based in anger as a means of retaliation for feeling angry.

Fathers are necessary in truly discipling children in the faith, not just as teachers, but as role models as well.  But most importantly as fathers.  Every child needs a father along with a mother.  Every child wants a father and mother.  Both teach and shape a child into a whole adult disciple. 

Is this easy? No.  But is it worth the effort? Yes.


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