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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Children are sexually abused not just through molestation and rape but also abused through body shaming, purity culture, and dress codes.
Children are psychologically abused when parents threaten them, manipulate situations so that a child fails expectations, play mind games, and through gaslighting.
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.