The Quiverfull system pushes daughters into marriage before ever giving them a chance to figure out who they are. Given the admonition against having “teenagers” and the interpretation of any difference in thought or practice as “rebellion,” Quiverfull daughters have no chance to grow up or mature. Then they marry. Then what happens?
I married young. Upon many occasions i have seen marriage used as an escape for adult children, trapped at home by parents and the Patriarchal lifestyle. Two kids, caught in the system, clinging together for dear life. I like to think that desperation had nothing to do with my decision marry, but it was defiantly the force that put me in the position in the first place.
When I married, I had totally rejected male headship, female submission, and my parents’ fundamentalist religious beliefs and conservative politics. I still, however, intended to have five or seven kids, be a homemaker, homeschool, and use the Pearls’ discipline methods. This was fine with my new husband, who though personally progressive had grown up in a conservative family and liked the idea of having a stay at home wife where responsibilities were split and the idea of teaching his children self-discipline, something he felt like his own upbringing lacked (to clarify, he had never actually read To Train Up A Child). Being a natural teacher, homeschooling also appealed to him, as did the idea of a large, energetic, bustling family.
Fortunately, my husband is understanding and accepting. He realizes that people change over time, and he doesn’t see me as his subordinate or expect me to echo his opinions. He has listened to me as I’ve explained why I’ve changed my thinking on these issues, and he has come to largely agree with me on many of them, especially on sending our children to public school and on not spanking. We still have our differences – I’m thinking two kids, he’s thinking four – and our disagreements – he thinks I let our daughter get away with too much – but it’s nothing we can’t work with. Furthermore, he understands my desire to work, whether from home or outside the home, and simply wants us to make sure we don’t each end up so caught up in our work that we relegate our children and family to second place, with which I wholly concur.
One of the key problems with the Quiverfull mentality is that there is no room for individuality or personal growth, for maturity or difference of opinion. Indeed, all of those things are interpreted as “rebellion.” My parents thought “finding yourself” was a ridiculous concept. The expectation is that children will mine what their parents believe and somehow “make it theirs” without ever asking questions or considering alternative ways of seeing things. The unfortunate result for many daughters is that they marry before thinking for themselves and end up potentially stuck in a suffocating situation, expected to be a submissive homemaking wife and quickly saddled with several children but suddenly wanting so much more. Those daughters who start thinking first and then marry understanding men as a means of escape have an easier time of it, but finding yourself within marriage is no piece of cake even with an accepting spouse.
I am very much an admirer of my fellow blogger Lisa, who left her Quiverfull family in order to avoid being forced to marry the man her father had picked out for her. Lisa could easily have ended up in Melissa or Ellen’s position, but instead she started asking questions and then bolted. She is now back in school, and she doesn’t plan to marry or settle down any time soon. Instead, she wants to find herself first. I heartily approve and part of me envies her that.