What do you think is the biggest way being raised in a family influenced by Christian Patriarchy/Quiverfull ideas has influenced who you are today?
I feel grateful that I have seen the world through two completely different worldviews. I feel like it makes me able to relate to more people, which is useful in my profession because I have to facilitate interaction between people from very different cultures. It also helps me understand both sides of the political divide in the US and reminds me not to demonize people that I disagree with.
I’m more afraid of what others think of me than is healthy. Growing up, what others thought mattered a great deal, as did conforming to a perfect ideal. Pleasing my parents and being accepted in my like-minded community was just about as important with pleasing God – actually, in many ways the two were conflated. The result is that I desperately want to please everyone. But I can’t. And that’s hard to let go of.
A couple other things as well: I have sort of PTSD-like symptoms sometimes from what I went through while leaving my parents’ beliefs, and I am still trying to wrap my mind around what life with a career – and with only a few kids – actually looks like. Having spent so long expecting to be a homemaker, homeschool, and have 10+ children makes re-imagining my life a long-term challenge.
That’s the toughest question on here. I honestly don’t know. I think it has made me value my option of choice more. Choosing what to eat, what to wear, what to study, what to do, which friends to have, all of that. You know, lots of people sit on their chairs and talk about the “land of the free” and think it’s all handed to everybody in this country. No, it’s simply not. We still live in a world where people do NOT get to choose what to do, think, wear believe, even whom to marry. It makes me so angry when people tell you “Well, it’s a free country, you can do as you please if you don’t like the way you live”. No, I can’t. I can’t because I was taught it was evil, and I have no right, and I’m too stupid anyway. I can’t because my parents have taken that right away from me for over 20 years, and I can’t because I wouldn’t know how to, and even if, I’m so scared to do it. So many young people can’t. Choosing all of these things is still a privilege in the world and even in America, and it’s one you have to fight to get it, law or not.
Yes, it has made me value choice a lot more. Even if it’s only the fact that I ate Pizza today, and not something else.
I think I have a better appreciation for multi-generational relationships, and I think that I place a lot of value in cooking a meal from scratch and then enjoying it together with the whole family. These things aren’t really unique to CP/QF families, but they definitely define who I am and are a direct result of the values my family holds.
Wow, that is a hard one. I think the biggest way it affects me right now is just how much self-doubt I have. I really have a hard time believing that as a woman I am actually smart enough to succeed in school or hold down a job. While I feel as if I have made huge strides in my confidence and self-assertion in my relationships with my spouse and my children, I still sometimes feel as though I will never be good at anything except having babies and cooking a really good meal.
Without a doubt, the biggest thing my childhood affected was my self esteem. I was taught that I was worthless without God, without a gentle spirit, without a man, without a womb. I struggled constantly to be everything they wanted me to be, and I always failed. I had no respect for myself, and I lived in a constant state of shame. That shame has followed me into my adult life. I have incredibly high standards for myself in everything from school, to relationships, to body image. I constantly shame myself into achieving my goals, and when I am unable to achieve even one of them, I beat myself up about it. It’s painful and exhausting, but I don’t know any other way. I constantly feel like I will never be good enough, strong enough, pretty enough, thin enough, smart enough, old enough, religious enough, you name it. I am plagued by the idea that I will never be enough.
My background has made me very thoughtful. I used to write endless essays trying to convince myself of things my church believed. It taught me a lot about who I was and what I wanted, even if those things were “wrong” to my church. I became an academic because I never stopped thinking about how and why the world was the way it was. I believed in my heart of hearts that women were equal with men and that submission was a moral wrong. That never changed, although I masked it with flowery Biblical ideas.
My experience of being the “wrong” kind of woman has also given me a lot of sympathy for LGBTQ kids and kids of color who grow up being hated for who they are (and great respect for the adults they become). I know what it’s like for your heart to tell you who you are and everyone else to tell you that you’re the opposite of what you should be. Anyone who’s had that experience is my kindred spirit.
I think the most devastating impact of CP/QF is the way it can make a woman feel that her mind, emotions, and spirituality do not truly belong to her, but are the responsibility and in some sense the property of her authority figures. This is a very insidious and deeply destructive sort of tyranny, an attack on one’s very selfhood. Learning to individuate without guilt has been an intense process for me, and one that is still far from complete.