Posts Tagged 'parenting'

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.

image

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

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.

In Regards to Why We Hit Our Kids

Apparently the post on “Why we hit our kids” was popular. It was also, apparently, an invitation for some less than stellar elements to come out of the woodwork, so to speak. Due to the type of comments I received on that post and the nature of several of them, I will not be approving comments on that post. I will be deleting them. However, I will deal with several themes that pop up in those comments.

Response #1: I was spanked and I turned out okay.

My response: I’m going to quote Elizabeth Esther on her blog in response:
“Even so, in defending spanking we often hear people say: “I was spanked as a kid and I turned out alright.” Um…no, no you didn’t. By defending spanking, you have turned out to be someone who perpetuates violence against children.” (Source)

I agree with Elizabeth.  You have become an advocate of violence.  I also want to point out that you have repressed what spanking really felt like and what it did to you.  I should know.  I definitely stuffed down the anger I felt at my parents for hitting me. I was angry but I couldn’t articulate that anger and I definitely couldn’t show that anger.  My mother was going to spank and disciplining me was the least of her reasons to do so.  I also had to stuff down those feels of anger and betrayal because I didn’t know how to live without my parents.  My parents were all I had.  Spanking was the norm and as a child, I had to put up with it, allow it so that I had a roof over my head, food to eat, the ability to go to school.

Response #2: Spanking was the only form of discipline I listened to.

My response: I didn’t learn to associate the pain of a spanking with not doing a specific behavior.  All I learned is that it was okay to hurt a child as long as you had an excuse.  So spanking wasn’t the deal breaker many make it out to be.  Plus, there is countless evidence that spanking is NEVER effective in changing behavior.  Spanking actually damages the brain.  Many studies point this out.  Again, many people lie to themselves because they cannot acknowledge that their parents actually hurt them.  I suggest reading Leaving Home: The Art of Separating From Your Difficult Family by David. P. Celani to understand this divorce in the brain.

Response #3: Spanking is Biblical.

My Response:  Actually, it isn’t.  The idea that “spare the rod, spoil the child” comes from a poem called Hudibras by Samuel Butler and involved Sir Hudibras making a lewd comment to a woman who promised to get him out of jail (Source).  And the verses that do reference the rod in Proverbs is not the rod that most make it out to be and applies to nearly full grown men, not children.  See Samuel Martin’s book Thy Rod and Thy Staff They Comfort Me to see a full, Biblical explanation of those verses.

Also, several deaths have been associated with the Pearls’  teaching.  Too many “Christian” parenting books advocate spanking and first tine obedience when that doesn’t work.  Even James Dobson of Focus on the Family compares child rearing to cruelly beating a dog.

Hopefully, this will cover the major comments I saw.  I won’t answer the really rude ones.

 

Why Do We Punish Ourselves? | Psychology Today

http://m.psychologytoday.com/em/155167

From earlier this summer, this article looks at a few possible reasons we may punish ourselves and punish more harshly in some cases. 

What would be really helpful would be to look at those who self punish as adults after being physically punished as,children and if the level/severity goes up.  That is, if you were punished as a children, largely through the use of spanking which occurred at least twice a week if not more spankings and those spanking were for different “offense” levels, i.e. spanked for not finishing homework versus say being spanked for disobedience where you took too long to do something such as not putting clothes away in ten minutes when it took you fifteen even though you put the clothes away and they were put away correctly or being spanked for running out into the street with oncoming traffic. 

To me, kids would learn to expect punishment for every failure and not having learned to manage failure and mistakes, choose to punish themselves instead.  Punishment could include self inflicted pain, self beating, negative self talk, withholding food and/or drink from yourself, withholding other items such as not allowing yourself to wear a favorite shirt or outfit, surrounding yourself with people who hurt you physically/mentally/emotionally/etc., talking yourself into staying in an abusive situation because you think you deserve that abusive treatment. 

There are certainly more and I honestly think, knowing my own experiences and things I’ve done to myself, that self punishment becomes a habit because I believe I deserve to be treated like garbage.  I think corporal punishment/spanking/abuse writes people’s brains to accept punishment and abuse and not mercy and love.

Why Do People Hit Their Kids?

http://theconcourse.deadspin.com/why-do-people-hit-their-kids-1634802919

As much as I don’t want to go anywhere near the whole spanking/corporal punishment garbage (especially after an article in the Christian Science Monitor today(10/19/14) basically said it was okay to hit kids if done correctly;hell fucking no), this points out one parent’s thinking and why spanking is still wrong.

Spanking Allows Adults to Achieve Revenge Against Children

Spanking is the adult desire to retaliate against the child’s humiliation and embarassment of him/her.  The decision to spank is always done in anger.  Always.  The actual physical spanking may be done without acknowledged anger but anger completely colors the process from the beginning.

Spanking is used not as a means of true discipline but rather as a means of punitive mindless retaliation.  Revenge.  The adult feels humiliated by a child’s behavior and/or words and because the adult is so focused on how other people see them, perceive their parenting abilities, the adult spanks the child to cover up the embarassment and humiliation and to retaliate and seek revenge in response to that humiliation that is in a  disproportionate response to the child’s behavior or words. 

The child does something the adult doesn’t like, the adult becomes angry because they feel humiliated, and so they spank to alleviate those feelings of humiliation.  Spanking becomes about revenge.  In this, the child.”controls” the adult because the adult reacts to the child when a child doesn’t know any better or is still learning or it’s entirely on the adult’s whom.  So the adult spanks to wrest that “control” back and set the supposed balance of power back in order.  Which only lasts until the next time the child does something the adult thinks is wrong or angers the adult and spanking happens again.  It becomes cyclical.  Both lose.

Sp anking is about control.  Not obedience.  Just fear filled compliance.  Not only that but adults spank children because they lack control in their own lives as any control they can have, they take. Even ascribing power to a child who has none so that they can take that power.  Spanking a child is something the adult can control with the child in the driver’s seat “controlling” when they get spanked.  Spanking as control makes the adult feel as if they are in control. 

Spanking is also about power and having power over those that don’t have power and cannot have power.  Spanking is a form of “power” that can be meted out whenever the adult feels like it  and believes that children control the when it is meted out.  In the end, spanking is about assauging the anger and humiliation of the adult through retaliation and revenge on a child that has no power or control or choice or even humanity.

Boys and Girls Shouldn’t Be So Modest

I started this as a reply to geoffhorswood on my last post, lost my reply after I went to look something up, and then decided to turn it into a post to give myself more space.

First, I think the big issue is that modesty and dress standards seen to be inordinately focused on girls and women.  Women are told to cover up, to dress modestly, to consider the affect they have on men and that how they dress can cause a man to lust.  I have read a blog post or two that point out boys and men are hurt by modesty/purity doctrine but the focus by and large is on women.

Second, we are talking boys and girls here.  Children who largely don’t know better or are following parents, adults directions.  Clothes for children, by and large, are things to wear or are fashionable.  You only care about what your friends think and maybe which ever adult is your favorite thinks.  It’s a pretty small world of opinions that a kid cares about which is fine since their world that they engage in is pretty small.  They are just kids.

Third, boys and girls are both being bombarded by the same sexist garbage.  Boys are told that they need to be one way and see girls another way.  Girls are told they need to be and act a certain way and that boys are different and shouldn’t act like girls.  Boys get told that girls are there for boys to use and that girls like being used because girls want to be in relationships with boys.  Girls are told that they need to be in a relationship with a boy and if they aren’t then they aren’t a person.  Neither boys or girls are told that they have worth outside of their genitalia.  Or outside what their bodies can physically do.

Forth, normal childhood development isn’t even considered.  Girls and boys go through puberty.  Girls start developing breasts and curves.  Boys start noticing girls are nice to look at where they might have found them icky before.  Even though there are physical differences between girls and boys before puberty, these differences don’t matter much to boys or girls.  There might be the idea that boys have cooties or that girls are icky but that’s more to emphasize that boys aren’t girls and girls aren’t boys, something other but nothing to worry about.

(I have never understood the concept of cooties.  In third grade, when all the other girls refused to go anywhere near boys because of the possibility of cootie contamination, I was friends with boys.  They were more fun and they liked having me around.  I was good at finding things they had lost and they never put me down.  But I still don’t get the idea of cooties and I’m 32.)

Fifth, boys and men are visual, so yes they are going to look at the opposite sex.  There is nothing wrong with looking.  Self-control is necessary but boys haven’t learned it yet.  They know girls are nice to look at and that many girls want to be looked at.  The problem lies in the reason they are looking and the way they are looking.  It’s one thing to notice a girl walking by who looks nice and is dressed nicely.  It’s another thing entirely to stare at that girl and want to undress her because she’s wearing a skirt and a blouse that fits close.

Which leads to number six.

Sixth, is the way words like lust, sex, attraction get defined and used. 

Lust is the disordered desire for sex and/or thinking about a person and using them to become sexually aroused for their own personal pleasure.  But that’s not how lust is usually defined.  Lust seems to end up meaning the finding of a person of the opposite sex attractive or even sexually attractive.  This definition of lust doesn’t refer to disordered desire or an inordinate focus on sex.  This definition focused on normal attraction.  A man can find a woman attractive but not think of her in a sexual way.  This is normal however modesty/purity doctrine says just looking at a woman is almost lust and finding her attractive is lust and that’s like having sex with her which is definitely a sin.

Sex is any act that stimulates and/or involves the genitalia of a person.  Just thinking about a person is not sex or lust.  Finding someone attractive is not sex.  Using a person for your private sexual fantasies is lust and if you self abuse, then it involves sex.

Attraction is finding qualities and/or attributes of a person that you like and possibly admire about that person. A man can find a women with blue eyes attractive.  A man find another man ‘attractive’ because he admires how he treats his family and his coworkers.  There is no sex involved.  Just appreciation and admiration of qualities of a person.  Don’t worry men, you can keep using admire instead of attractive but I’m pointing out that attraction isn’t based merely or solely on sex, if at all, in many cases.  It’s largely about appreciation and admiration.

These  terms gets misdefined or strongly wrongly defined and then get bantered about as if everyone agrees to the same definition.  That’s a major problem.

Seventh, boys and girls are taught to be ashamed of their bodies.  Girls are told that looking like a girl and having curves is a bad thing because boys look at you and therefore you are causing them to lust.  No explanations.  Just blaming.  Boys are taught that girls shouldn’t be looked at because they might like them and will start listing after them because girls dress in a manner that invites lust and boys can’t help it if they lust. 

Girl are taught that they are need to hide their shameful bodies and boys are taught to be victims and helpless.  Both boys and girls are taught wrong.  Neither are guilty.  Both are forced by adults to adhere to their impossible standards.

Both boys and girls need to be taught and reminded that they are human beings made in the image and likeness of God.  They are not objects.  They are not victims.  They are not demons.  They are not destroyers.  They are not helpless.  They can learn how to treat people with respect and dignity.  They can learn to treat themselves with respect and that they don’t have to hold themselves to somebody else’s impossible standards.

But it starts with parents.  I’m not going to point fingers or blame.  I will point out that parents are the first teachers and that they are the ones who kids will listen to first. 

Teach respect. 

Teach boundaries and that they aren’t to be violated. 

Teach not to judge on physical appearances. 

Teach that modesty isn’t about dress codes but about behaviors and attitudes and how we see ourselves in light of our being children of God. 

Teach boys to respect girls and girls to respect boys. 
Model it yourself because actions speak louder than words.

Learn the real definitions of words not what you think a word might mean.  You’ll be smarter and more knowledgeable and won’t make stupid mistakes and maybe better at doing crossword puzzles.

Challenge modesty and purity doctrine and how they are taught to kids and stop the focus from being exclusively on girls and how they dress.

Don’t demand behavior and dress that you don’t do yourself.  Again, actions speak louder than words.

Don’t shame.  Put downs only make you a bully and nobody likes a bully.

Give second chances. Nobody can change overnight.

Support and praise go farther and last longer than shaming and bullying.  Applaud effort.

Remember, just because someone is selling it doesn’t mean you have to but it.  Don’t buy into the lies about sex and clothing and how people are just objects to be used. 
NOBODY IS AN OBJECT.  EVERYONE IS A PERSON ACTUAL AND WHOLE, WORTHY OF DIGNITY AND RESPECT.


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