Raised Quiverfull: Siblings and Responsibilities

How many siblings did you grow up with? Did responsibilities in your family differ by gender, with the girls having certain chores and the boys having others? Explain.

Joe:

My Mama was a very unique woman.  I’ll explain in a bit.  But first, I was the dead middle child of seven siblings.  The oldest was a girl, then twin boys, then me, then two more girls, and finally, the baby of the family, a boy.  If you’re familiar with any movies or television shows, you might see that it is regularly portrayed that siblings hate each other.  Especially boys hating on girls and the other way around.  Due to the abuse we encountered throughout our childhood from Mama, we were much different than those portrayals.  We banded together and all held a sort of kinship and “I got your back” attitude.

As for chores and responsibilities, they did not differ by gender.  Not in the least.  My mother was a veritable slave driver – on me.  It was my job to wash all the dishes, scrub all the floors, pick all the dandelions in the yard, vacuum, you name it, I did it.  Many mornings, I wasn’t even allowed to wear clothes while doing the dishes at 6AM.  The other siblings had other chores and responsibilities partitioned between them but none as much as me.

The only gender differences that we had was in the way we dressed.  Boys could dress any old way except we couldn’t wear t-shirts and shorts in public and also had to wear a shirt while swimming.  The girls, on the other hand, had to wear dresses and skirts, which were always out of style and threadbare.  Needless to say, they led a miserable life, being picked on endlessly all the way through their school years.

Latebloomer:

I have a younger brother and sister.  Looking back, the most obvious gender difference was that I was supposed to cook and sew, but my brother wasn’t.  However, he had to do the “dirtier” jobs of emptying the trash and taking care of the pets.  All three of us were all expected to contribute to daily kitchen cleanup and other household chores.

Libby Anne:

There were a dozen or so children in my family, give or take. Some chores – like kitchen cleanup and weeding – were shared, but others – like laundry or mowing – were strictly divided by gender. The girls did more work in the house, cleaning, vacuuming, etc., and the boys did more work outside, mowing, digging ditches, etc. I can’t imagine any of us girls being asked out to shovel gravel, but at the same time, one of my brothers did some of the cooking as part of his chores for a while, so the division between girls’ work and boys’ work wasn’t so strict as to leave no room for flexibility.

Lisa:

I “grew up” with 10 siblings, but I have more now – one more sister who was born about a year before I left, and another little sister who was born in 2011. We are more girls than boys, but the two kids after me are both boys, so I was much older than my sisters. I was pretty much the leader of the girl pack, supervising all housework we had to do. The girls had to do all kinds of housework, the boys had to do minor tasks such as making their own bed. Real housework wasn’t for boys.

All housework chores were given to me, first of all, and then it was on me to make distribute the tasks among the girls, to see that everyone did what they were supposed to do and that the work was done well. If something went wrong, I was punished along with the offender, or it was simply me getting punished with an option of punishing the offender myself. Say, if the sweeping wasn’t done clean enough and I had given this task to my sister, I would face the consequences for her failure as well. The smaller ones who couldn’t do things by themselves just yet were paired up with older ones to instruct them as well as to delegate chores themselves. It was pretty much run like a business.

The boys took care of things like gardening and fixing things up, changing light bulbs etcetera. Generally I feel like the boys had more free time, but then again, they also had to study harder for school as they were supposed to be providers later. But my brothers are smart and not doing their school resulted in harsh punishments, so they all got their work done pretty quickly and had time to go outside, play games in the garden and such.

Mattie:

As I said, I’m the oldest of nine kids. There are four boys, five girls. Most of the older kids are girls, so we did a lot of the chores involved in running the household and helping with the babies. Everyone pitched in, though. I mowed the lawn. My brother changed diapers and babysat. The only gender-segregated chore assignment was that taking out the trash was a guy’s job (usually) and doing the laundry was only for the girls.

Melissa:

When I left home there were nine of us, and two children were born after I was married and living elsewhere. My dad felt that both boys and girls should know how to do basic care around the house. He often said that as the head of the house he was ultimately responsible for everything that went on there. So he felt that the boys should know how to clean up the house and do laundry in case they had to step in and help their wives someday. So I would say that the young children had very similar chore expectations regardless of gender. As we got older the girls were expected to start cooking meals, I do not remember the boys being required to do this, but that could be because none of them were old enough when I left home. Girls were also expected to do more childcare than the boys. I do know that my Dad was uncomfortable with his daughters doing “men’s work” such as errands outside of the house or mowing the lawn.

Sarah:

I have ten siblings: six sisters and four brothers. Three of my brothers are much younger than me, so I never saw them treated as anything other than babies. I have one brother about two years younger than me, and there were major differences in the way he was treated. He was expected to mow the lawn and take out the trash, chop wood, build fires, and occasionally mop the floor. The sad part is that my brother has always had an affinity for cooking, but with all his other tasks, he never had that option. As a girl, I was expected to learn all the “womanly arts.” At around age ten I was required to get up early every morning and make breakfast for everyone. I also made dinner at least three nights a week. My mom always said it was because I “loved to cook,” but any enjoyment I got out of it was soon lost.

Sierra:

I had no siblings. My father performed no chores. My mother and I ran the house.

Tricia:

Because my mother had medical issues that made her doctor strongly advise her against having many children, I had “only” five siblings. In that regard my parents were QF-lite, you might say, as many others would have chosen to ignore the doctor’s advice out of faith in their QF beliefs.  In fact, my poor mother was occasionally questioned and criticized by nosy QF advocates about her personal medical issues and decisions, which would always fill me with disgust. QF-ers can be very self-righteous and ignorantly opinionated in addition to being crazy, imo. I have very little tolerance for the QF mindset now, and it irked me even at the time when I supposed it was “godly” to have a very large family if you could.

Chores were divided along stereotypical gender lines. My brothers helped out with yard work, home repairs, took out the trash, etc. I helped with dishes, cooking, cleaning, laundry, and the care of my younger siblings.

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Raised Quiverfull Introduction — A Gendered Childhood Summary

About Libby Anne

Libby Anne grew up in a large evangelical homeschool family highly involved in the Christian Right. College turned her world upside down, and she is today an atheist, a feminist, and a progressive. She blogs about leaving religion, her experience with the Christian Patriarchy and Quiverfull movements, the detrimental effects of the "purity culture," the contradictions of conservative politics, and the importance of feminism.

  • http://christiancompletely.blogspot.com/ Skarlet

    “How many siblings did you grow up with? Did responsibilities in your family differ by gender, with the girls having certain chores and the boys having others? Explain.”

    I am the second oldest child; I have one older brother. In all, I have eight brothers and two sisters. I am 23, Hope is 17, and Elizabeth is 6. So there are significant age gaps between the girls. No wonder we all ended up half-tomboy.

    Responsibilities did not differ by gender. We all had to do the same chores at different points. Chores would be switched between people now and then. Sometimes they were assigned by Mom. Sometimes they were award point value, based on difficulty, and we took turns choosing chores until all the chores were spoken for, and everyone had chores that were within their age-range of challenge. (So that the younger ones didn’t have to do jobs that were too hard for them). Inevitably, we would continue with those chores until a number of people were tired of their own chores, of tired of the way someone was doing (a poor job of) his chores. And then we would all switch chores again.

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