What suggestions do you have for those who might to help friends or relatives who grew up/are growing up in families influenced by the Christian Patriarchy/Quiverfull movement?
Remember that it takes a long time for people to change their opinions and even longer to change a whole worldview. Try to focus on any similarities in values that you share with them, and choose your battles extremely carefully. If the parents trust you, they may allow their children to spend time with you unchaperoned, which will give the children a chance to confide in and be affirmed by a non-parental adult. You could make a big difference in their lives!
The best thing you can do is be there. Be available. Be accepting. Don’t judge. Don’t mock. Don’t tell them their beliefs sound insane. If my experience is any guide, that won’t help at all. Just be there for them. Show that normal people can be loving and accepting and live good lives. Just being there will be a testimony that there is a different path they can take, a different way to live. And then, when they’re ready, they’ll come to you.
First off, don’t abandon them. Don’t attack them with questions, they’ll stop talking to you. Try to stay away from discussions about beliefs. Be there for them, tell them that you’ll always help them if they’re in need. Don’t treat them differently.
If you hear about a person wanting to leave me P/QF movement, try to talk to them in private. Tell them about various blogs and pages where they can read similar stories. Understand their fears, don’t push them. Tell them that they can call you any time they want or need, or show up at your door any time of the day. Tell them you’ll always be there, no matter what they do.
Be patient with them. Don’t stir up conflict or try to change them or “fix” them. Just love them for who they are and let time do its work. Don’t accept their evaluation of who you are or where you’re at—you know yourself and what you can handle, and they cannot control you. Try to avoid provoking them, and be aware of yourself and your triggers so you can avoid things which damage you.
Be patient. Don’t tell them unequivocally that the teachings they believe are wrong or bad, just gently share alternative perspectives that have helped you. Be sure to remind them that they have value and worth regardless of what they believe.
When I was 15, I knew a young woman through Martial Arts training. She was about 6 years older than me and an outspoken feminist. But she never said a word against the way my parents raised us. She just made encouraged me. She told me I was strong. She told me she believed in me, and that she could see me achieving amazing things some day. I never really paid too much attention to it, because I knew that anything beyond motherhood was not in my life plan. But all of her words and encouragement came back to me later when I started to walk away from the system. I knew she was someone I could turn to for encouragement. Today we are fast friends. If you know someone who is stuck in the PF/QF system, don’t try to tell them why they are wrong. Instead, tell them how important and valuable they are. Notice and affirm the things about them that don’t fit the box they are required to live in. Maybe one day they will turn to you with their questions. Maybe one day you can help them escape.
Don’t be afraid to challenge their beliefs, but be prepared for them to hate you. The most helpful people for me in college were the ones who frankly told me they didn’t understand and I wasn’t being rational. I got mad and stayed mad with them for months. But I never quit thinking about what they said, and it changed my life.
This can be a tricky one, because any critique of the movement is likely to be interpreted as persecution from the godless. Even if you mean to help and are acting in love, your attempt at intervening may be seen as criticism, which generally just makes people feel rejected and withdraw. I think in many cases the best thing you can do, if you truly care, is to maintain a genuine relationship with the person. CP culture is weird in that it makes a virtue and a goal out of being a one dimensional stereotype of a human being. Simply refuse to see them that way. View them as an individual and treat them as and individual. Talk about any interests they have that are not related to the movement. If you have the opportunity, hang out with them and show that you enjoy their company. Be yourself. Let them see that you are a willing and available listener should they ever want to talk about their feelings or thoughts on whatever topic. Be non-judgemental and non-threatening and who knows? By creating an atmosphere of acceptance, you may be making it possible for them to feel they have somewhere to turn when (I suppose I should say if) they decide to leave and find themselves needing support. Even if they never fully leave, a solid, real friendship may help them maintain their sanity to a greater degree than they would otherwise.