Raised Quiverfull: Skarlet’s Story

A post in the Raised Quiverfull series.

Part 1: Introductory Questions

1) Please introduce yourself before we get started. Are you married or unmarried? Are you in school, holding down a job, or staying home? Do you have children? What religious beliefs or lack thereof do you ascribe to today? Provide whatever additional information you like.

I’m Skarlet, I’m 23 and I’m married, and do not currently have any children. I’m finishing up my last two classes in order to graduate with my Bachelor of Psychology degree, and I’m also working full time. I’m a Christian and studying theology is favorite pastime of mine. Politically, I am most in line with the Libertarian party. Since I got married (5 months ago), I’ve been living two states away from my immediate family, and I have to admit that I really miss them.

2) How did your parents first come under the influence of Christian Patriarchy/Quiverfull teachings? What leaders did they follow and what publications did they receive?

My parents were both christians before they got married, but after five years of attending a church which taught that they should not have any children at all, so that they could better witness to the lost (based on their interpretation of verses like “he who has a wife should be as though he has none..), my parents reacted against that teaching and felt that children are a gift from God. From that point on, they did not ever use birth control.

Because of a dislike for the California public school system (which ranks very low, academically), my parents started looking for homeschool alternatives when my older brother was 5-years-old. My mother had previously been to the Bill Gothard semester, a decade previously, and so they looked into IBLP and embraced that for a curriculum.

So, IBLP was the main influence, along with various books that they recommended, about rock music, submission, the prayer of Jabez, and so on. Also, my mother had connections with other homeschoolers, like Wanda Sanseri (not a fundamentalist) who homeschooled her three sons and wrote books with curriculum on teaching kids to read and write and spell.

3) In what ways was your family a “typical” Christian Patriarchy/Quiverfull family? In what ways was it “atypical”?

Well, we went to church every week, had “Bible time” every morning, and the curriculum that we used centered about the Scriptures. I have 10 brothers and sisters, (I’m the second oldest), and my parents homeschooled most of the children most of the time (I will expound on this point later). Growing up, the girls were only allowed to wear dresses, and none of us were permitted to listen to “rock music,” or date, or read books/watch movies that involved magic (IE Star Wars, Harry Potter, LOTR). Also, corporal punishment was the norm.

Our family was atypical in a couple of ways, I think. First of all, after living under a tremendous amount of pressure from the church we were going to (still the one that was against my parents having kids… needless to say, we were the odd ones out, and experienced a lot of judgment and discrimination about that, and other “convictions,” like rock music) and pressure from my Dad, my Mom finally found that it was too much to handle, too much to try to live under all the “shoulds.” So after I was 12, the family dynamic shifted, because Mom would no longer go along with what Dad said, and there was a lot of bickering between them. Mom also experienced a lot of depression. This meant that I had to take a more primary role in holding the family together, and parenting the parents.

The other way things were atypical is that my family did not homeschool all of the kids, all of the time. Before Mom’s meltdown, there was only homeschooling, but it’s been more flexible since then:

My older brother spend a year at a private school after his graduation from the home highschool, just because he wanted to see what it was like. He became homecoming king that year. My little sister demanded to go to an outside school at age 13, and has been going to public school until now; she will graduate from high school in a couple of weeks. Two of my brothers spent one year in a Christian Private school at one point, and one of my brothers has spent the last couple of years at an alternative private school. My mother still homeschools the youngest three.

Part 2: Living the Life

 

1) What sort of a church did your family go to while you were growing up? Were the other families who attended the church also involved in the Christian Patriarchy/Quiverfull movement?

Well, up until I was about 11 or 12, we went to a legalist and judgmental church that pretty much hated my family. In that church, you were judged if you admitted to any struggle or shortcoming – everyone there always had their “good face” on. And relationships were seen as a means to an end; fellowship was just a way to exhort other believers. The church was against large families, against homeschooling, for rock music, against women wearing skirts/dresses. Also, the leadership wanted the kids in the family to only be in Sunday School, and not the main service, but my parents wanted us in the main service and not in watered-down Sunday school. So there was ongoing conflict at that church, mainly on the side of the leadership and others in that church trying to consistently pressure my parents, and not letting them be involved in any ministry. It was a non-denominational brethren church.

After that, we went to a small little non-denominational church. The people there were very nice, but we were the only family going there, who had more than three kids. The pastor was old, and when he retired, the family moved on another similar church – Community Bible Church. In this church, though, there were several other large families, and a bunch of them were homeschoolers as well (but not ATI), though most of the girls also wore dresses and skirts.

2) In many ways, every Christian Patriarchy/Quiverfull couple has a different dynamic. What sort of a dynamic did your parents have? Was one more sold on the Christian Patriarchy/Quiverfull ideology than the other? Or, if you grew up in a broken family, how did this affect your experience?

My parents equally believed the CP/Q ideal, but my Mom was more practical about making it reality it than my Dad was. My Dad has asperger’s syndrome, and so he’s not a people-person at all. He is most comfortable dealing with “things,” and letting my Mom deal with “people.” Up until I was 12, my Dad was unreasonable toward my Mom, and she always just tried harder, to please him. After she got to the point of not being able to take it anymore, there was a lot of discord between them – mainly regarding childrearing (Dad always criticized and never encouraged or instructed) and money (previously, Dad was misery, and now Mom spends money without any oversight. Neither extreme actually works).

3) How often did you, your siblings, and your parents read the Bible? Were you guided by your parents or pastors in how to interpret the Bible, especially certain passages, or were you generally free to form your own ideas about what the Bible said?

Every morning, we had “Bible time,” in which Dad read Scriptures to us, or else we read our own Bibles. We went through the AWANA program, and so Scripture memory of verses here and there was a weekly exercise (and a fun one, in the case of my family). In our schooling curriculum, we would do monthly greek word studies on a verse from Matthew 5-7. Also, our handwriting exercises often included copying passages of Scripture. For school, we also often memorized full chapters of Scripture (at a rate of two verses per day). Mom would usually write up the relevant passage of Scripture on paper, in large colorful words with symbols drawn in (like, the words would also be a picture of what they were talking about). It made it very easy to memorize the verses and to see what they were saying. All of this was without specific interpretation provided.

We did receive Scripture interpretation in sermons on Sunday, but like the Corinthians did, we also we trained to compare everything that we heard against the Scripture itself. No specific interpretation of Scripture was taught dogmatically, except for the basic idea that the Bible says what it means, and means what it says; If it had meant something else, it would have said something else. Thinking about Scripture for oneself, “meditation,” was an encouraged practice regardless of what conclusions it led one to. The only real advice was that if you have an interpretation of Scripture, it should agree with what the other Scriptures say, because the Bible doesn’t contradict itself.

4) What role did race play in the Christian Patriarchy/Quiverfull community in which you grew up? Were there any black or hispanic families? Were they treated differently?

The initial church that we went to had a Spanish ministry, which included a separate service for those who only spoke Spanish. Since this primarily drew in people who did not speak English, I never personally got to know them. Other than that, we also had Hispanic christian neighbors, who we got along with very well, and some friends of my Grandparent’s were Hispanic. We are friends with them to this day. There was one black couple in the church we went to until I was eleven, and similarly one black man in the church we went to after that. But they were never treated or seen as any different as anyone else. We are all made in God’s image, descended from Adam and Noah. Our community was pretty “color-blind.”

During the most recent school-year, in fact, my sister (who goes to public school) talked Mom into letting a friend of hers and her mother stay with the family, so that the friend (who is black) could go to her school with her (which is better than the school the friend had previously been going to). No one sees this friend as any different (better or worse) than any other agreeable friend that Hope has brought home from time to time.

Part 3: A Gendered Childhood

1) 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.

2) If you were an older daughter, do you feel that you were expected to play “mother” for your younger siblings? Explain.

I was the second older, and I was the oldest girl, but I was not expected to play mother for the younger ones initially. It was after I was 12, after Mom was in crisis and was always fighting with Dad or feeling tired and depressed, that I had to start taking care of the household quite a bit. This was not assigned to my by my parents, it’s just that I had a very vested interest in school happening, or the house being kept clean, or little kids being listened to, and many times, if I didn’t make sure that it happened, it didn’t happen.

My mother would alternatively be glad for the help, or else feel criticized and undermined that I felt that she wasn’t doing a good enough job herself. Two of my younger siblings minded me taking that role, they were just below me in age, and didn’t like me being “bossy.” All the rest of my siblings didn’t mind, supported the role, or actively loved having me in the role.

3) In what ways were boys and girls in your family expected to dress or act differently from each other? Were there certain things it was appropriate for girls to do but not boys, and vice versa?

All the girls wore modest dresses or skirts, and the boys wore pants or shorts. Other than that, we all engaged in the same schooling, same chores, and same activities. We all climbed trees, played capture the flag, played board games, played with airsoft guns, and everything else. The only exception I can think of is that Mom had me learn to sew, but did not teach any of the boys to sew (until David Thomas decided that it looked fun, and then he was provided with the same learning materials that I was).

4) In what ways were boys and girls in your family raised differently vocationally (i.e., the boys pushed toward careers and the girls pushed toward homemaking)? How did this play out as you came of age (apprenticeship, college, staying home, etc.)?

Well, our parents taught that raising children was an important role of the family, and that stay-at-home Moms (or Dads, if they wanted to have the Mom working) and homeschoolers were able to give the children the teaching and attention that would get them farther in life. Other than that, no direction or push was given regarding what careers any of us should go into. The only thing my parents insisted on was that all children should get a college degree.

When I was 18 and out of high school, I wanted to immediately move down to Southern California and work at Disneyland, but my parents insisted that I should get an Associates degree before doing that. So I honored their wishes and did that. And I’m glad I did! (After I got my Associates, then, I worked at Disneyland for a while. Best job I’ve ever had. I’m currently working to complete my Bachelor’s degree). On the other hand, I do want to take care of my kids at home (not daycare) when I have them, and want to homeschool them. I want them to have an awesome experience like I did. So, obviously those values about child-rearing did sink in. I would equally be glad if my husband taught the kids and I worked, though, so it’s not about gender-roles.

Part 4: Homeschooling

1) Why and when did your parents originally decide to homeschool? Did their reasons for homeschooling change over time?

Initially, my parents decided to homeschool because they believed that home-education provides for better academic success, with individualized progress, along with better subject matter (education focused on character and Scripture and excellence in life), and also protection from the ungodly influences in public schools (sex, drugs, rock n roll, rebellion), and private schools (hypocritical attitudes, etc).

These reasons were also the ongoing reasons for homeschooling. As I mentioned in regard to a previous question, though, not all of the kids were homeschooled all of the time. My little sis NEEDED more social connection, so she insisted on being public-schooled from age 13 throught now (age 17). After graduated from our high school, my older brother wanted to spend a year in a private christian school, and had lots of fun; academically it was all easy for him, and socially, he was able to become homecoming king that very year. Two of my younger brothers spend one year in that same private christian school, because they wanted to and my parents let them. And one of my younger brothers has spent the last two years at an alternative private school, but my parents are now wondering whether to pull him out or not, because the tuition rate just doubled and it’s hard for them to juggle all the costs.

My mom still homeschools the youngest four. [5 of us are over 18, one is graduating next month, one is the alternative private school, and then the youngest four are being homeschooled currently].

So, I believe that my parents had some ongoing concerns, but they did not let those concerns take precedence over other concerns or other freedoms and requests that came up over time.

2) Briefly describe your experience being homeschooled, including the amount of interaction you had with other homeschoolers or non-homeschoolers (socialization) and what sorts of textbooks or homeschool program your family used (academics).

We got most of our socialization from church and Awana, developing groups of friends at those places. In my teenage years, I dedicated a lot of time to socializing, but before that point, I only saw my friends maybe 3 times a week: at church, at awana, and maybe hanging out at the home of one of my friends. We also took one writing class together with a group of several other homeschoolers for a year or two.

For Curriculum, the focus was the Wisdom Booklets produced by IBLP. Additionally, for the young ones, my Mom used phonograms and Writing Road to Reading book to teaching reading and writing, along with the Pathway Readers. When teaching us to make letters, she would start with having us draw letters in a bin with cornmeal; it was like drawing in sand to make shapes. Other academic supplies were picked up here and there, not according to any one standardized program. We used Developmental Mathbooks, along with CalcuLadder math sheets and Quarter Mile Math, and then Saxon Math Algebra. We learned the Pudewa system of writing papers, and The Drawing Textbook by Bruce McIntyre for art. We additionally had various history books, science textbooks, and textbooks about economics. Reading through many classic works of fiction was also part of the curriculum. My Mom also used Switched-On-Schoolhouse software during one year.

3) What do you see as the pros and cons of having been homeschooled? Do you feel that your homeschool experience prepared you well socially? Academically?

I think that one of the cons of homschooling is that the result can vary so much, depending on the intelligence, creativity, character, and moods of the parents. The pros were that the material was always interesting and engaging, there was free time because of a lack of “homework” after 3 pm, I learned a lot about the Bible and about life that I don’t think I would have learned in public school, I personally do not like the atmosphere and methods of public and private schools and so I myself enjoyed not having to be there, and I liked the fact that there was a set amount of schoolwork for every day. That meant that if I was diligent, I could get ahead, and then have more free time. I loved it.

Socially, I had a bit of trouble in my early teenage years. Before I was a teen, I got along fine with everyone. Then between years 11 and 16 I hit my awkward stage of not knowing where I fit in, and not understanding all of the social norms. After 16, I had figured it out and gathered the skills that I needed. From then on, I’ve felt very adept at socialization.

Academically, I think that my background provided me with a very solid foundation. I’m about to graduate with my Bachelor’s degree in Psychology, and I have not yet finished a class with less than an A. Can’t ask for much more than that.

4) Do you perceive of your academic or social abilities differently today than you did when you were being homeschooled?

The only thing that has changed is that, after having a standard form of measurement used in grading my work throughout college, I am more sure of myself. I used to think that I had a good grasp of academics. Now I actually know for sure that I do.  Socially, I was always very precisely aware of what my skills were, and were not, and agree with those assessments still.

5) Do you plan to homeschool/are you homeschooling your children? Why or why not? If you do plan to homeschool, in what ways will you/do you do it differently from your parents?

I do plan to homeschool my children. I feel like I have a very rich background, one which I would not give up for anything in the world. Academically and mentally (logically), I am very content with where I am now, and the level of interest in knowledge that was always inspired during my homeschooling experience. I wouldn’t want my own children to have less.

I don’t know whether I will do it differently than my parents did. I think that they had a very balanced and flexible system of schooling, and I want mine to be equally helpful, balanced, and flexible. There is no cookie-cutter mold. A method of teaching one child might not help another of my children, so there’s room for more than one method. One thing that I would change, though, is that I would add more teaching about politics and economics, because I left high school feeling that I really didn’t understand the political system. Another thing I would change is that I would have more hands-on learning, and would make more subjects immediately applicable to real-life situations. We are fundamentally more interested in something if we can see it’s practical application.

Part 5: Purity

1) What were you taught about physical purity, emotional purity, and courtship and dating? How was sex education handled?

My family taught us early on that dating was a bad idea, that it leads to insecurity (in the case of judging self or trying to change self to be good enough for some crush that does not reciprocate the affection), unnecessary emotional suffering, and of course that it would be giving away part of one’s heart, while breaking-up is practice for divorce.

Courtship was “the way to go,” and we were not supposed to court anyone until we were old enough to get married. Because, they said, the difference is that courtship is specifically designed for a serious relationship where you are looking for someone to settle down with, and believe that God’s will is for you to be with that person. [Dating, on the other hand, was seen as just messing around.]

I was hurt most by this whole doctrine, not by my own family, but by the family of the first guy I ever had a crush on.  I didn’t tell him I had a crush on him, but it must have been obvious.  And I did tell him that I liked him  (though I did not realize at the time that “like” was also used to mean a romantic affection).  Anyway, his family from then on viewed me as trouble; as some insipid teenage girl trying to seduce their son, and of course the son went along with that theory as well. That hurt.

With the physical stuff, I was taught that kisses and sex should be saved for marriage. Sex was never viewed as something shameful or bad, but just as something important – that it was a oneness connection thing, and you only wanted to have that oneness connection with one person. Also, that getting heavily physical before marriage (for-play and stuff) would leave the girl wondering if the guy really loved her, or whether he just enjoyed the personal satisfaction that could be gained from her. As for sex ed, there wasn’t much of that provided at all. My Dad gave a VERY short explanation of what it was, when I was 12, and as that time it sounded “disgusting” to me, just the whole concept. Later in my teens, when it started not sounding so bad after all, I did my own research in books and online. Learned everything I needed to know.

2) Did you participate in a parent-guided courtship? If so, what was your experience? If not, why not?

When I was 16, I found two close friends who were guys, and we hung out all the time. For the first year, there, my parents insisted that I ALWAYS take along a sibling as a chaperone. Eventually, though, I persuaded them that they could trust me, and so there never was any chaperoning after that, which was nice.

I was 17 when I got into a first sort-of semi-relationship. This guy liked me a lot, and at the time I liked him back.  He asked my parents for permission to court me.  They hummed and hawed about that for about 7 months, not knowing whether to say “yes” or “no.”  Thus, we were in a kindof-relationship for that time. Finally, though, they made up their minds and said “no.”  At the time, I allowed my parents veto-power, so I told him that we wouldn’t be together.  In retrospect, I’m very glad I didn’t end up with that guy. Me and him would have driven each other crazy; I just couldn’t see it at the time.

The next guy I agreed to date-seriously.  See, since the main difference between “dating” and “courting,” that I could see, was the courting was seriously looking for a lifelong mate, I figured that serious dating works just as well (though I also kissed the guy regularly). A couple months later, my Dad had a chance to sit down and talk with him. At that point, my Dad didn’t flat out say “no,” but he say that he didn’t really think my boyfriend was a christian.  I took that seriously, and confronted my own denial about it (I had always tried to convince myself that he was just a “carnal christian” but would grow spiritually).  I ended up breaking up with the guy. Later he abandoned all pretenses of christianity.  Boyfriend after that, Dad approved of, but I ended up breaking up with him.  Finally, I started dating my now-husband, and he only spoke to Dad for permission before proposing to me. But, we ended up eloping six months before our scheduled marriage date, lol.  Me and hy husband both had the same ideas about waiting to have sex until marriage, and that’s what ended up happening.

3) How do you feel about purity and courtship teachings today? Have you rejected some parts of it and kept other parts of it? How do you plan to handle these issues with your own children?

I don’t know, really, about courting and dating. I do not think that letting parents have veto-power can be a very healthy thing, but at least listening to the parents’ opinion about the relationship is necessary, just for a reality-check.  I think that some dating is a good thing. I wouldn’t have known my preferences in guys if I hadn’t dated a couple. On the other hand, dating can lead to severe emotional suffering when things don’t work out.  But if a person wants to face that sort of risk, I think it should be up to them.

Regarding purity, I do still think that sex should be saved for marriage. Saying that kissing should be saved for marriage is going too far, though. I think I’ll handle these issues with my own children just by talking about the various viewpoints, and my thoughts, and my experiences, my recommendations, and letting them have an amount of freedom to think about it and decide what they think and where they want to go with it.

I’m not sure if birth control falls under the category of purity or courtship, here, but I think this is the closest category. Unlike my parents, I do believe in birth control  (not abortion, though).  I also want lots of kids, but not yet.

4) Do you feel that the purity and courtship teachings you were raised with still have lasting impact on your life today? If so, how?

In a way, I do think that those teachings have had a lasting impact on my life. For one thing, I don’t think that divorce and re-marriage is a good idea, which goes along with the ideals about oneness being forever (fix it, don’t throw it away).  Also, I feel quite satisfied with my choices in dating (even the relationships I regret, I’m glad to have the freedom to try and see how it worked out) and marriage, and waiting to have sex until marriage.  So that enjoyment of the way that things went and the way that things worked out is something I get to keep. My and my husband enjoy a very positive sexual relationship. We have our conflicts, but sex is never one of them.

Of course, I’m also glad that my parent, along with the teachings, gave a huge amount of freedom and acceptable. That’s the way to do it. Give your teenage kids all the advice your heart desires and believes in, and then let them do what they will with it.  So it’s not just the teachings that have effected me, it’s also the way my parents handled the teachings.

Part 6: Questioning

1) How were you first exposed to “mainstream” American culture? What were your first impressions?

I feel like I was exposed to mainstream culture a little bit here, a little bit there. Up through the time I was 17, all of this exposure came through people at church and my christian friends. Now, of course, they were similar to me in christian beliefs and the expectation of purity before marriage, but everything else from skirts, to homeschooling, to large families, to rock music, to dating, to general outlook on life was different. I remember when I was like 10, and another christian girl was mocking me because I had never heard of Brittney Spears. It really was like two different cultures.

Later, when I was 18, I went to a community college, which was less abnormal or interesting than I expected. At age 19, I moved to Southern California and worked for Disneyland for a while. But everything was just like I expected it to be: pretty normal, normal people, normal mix between Christian and non-christian and other religions going around, varying tastes in music and clothes, different people making difference decisions about substance-use and relationships.

Growing up, I always accepted everyone’s life choices and beliefs, but I didn’t always understand it.  Like, they seemed to view the world completely differently than I did, and it took a while to decipher it all. By the time I was 18, I had it all pretty much deciphered, and nothing surprised me. It made sense why everyone was doing what they did.

I found out as a kid that people are often very hostile to different belief systems, and feel judged if you choose to do things a certain way that they don’t choose to do it. So as an adult in college or work, any disagreements I had with the way someone lived their life, I kept to myself, unless my opinion was asked for, or I was close to the person. To this day, though, I struggle when I feel like I’m in a group of people who are similar and I’m the odd one out; it brings back memories of being different when I was a kid, and having people be hostile to me because of my families beliefs and values, it makes my heart race.

2) What first made you question the beliefs you were raised with? Was this initial questioning a frightening or liberating experience?

Honestly, it was peer pressure that made me first question my beliefs. It was like:  “I’m being picked on for these beliefs. Is it worth it? What am I standing up for and why? Is it worth rejection and pain?” It was neither frightening nor liberating; it helped me to clarify my own thoughts, which slowly evolved over the years, but it also scared me that people would hurt me if I didn’t agree with them (which people did many times).

Gradually, I did not think that girls should have to only wear skirts and dresses. I didn’t think that rock music was evil, though it does have a different mental effect than classical music  (for instance, I can study better with classical music in the background).

Regarding patriarchy, I view authority as servant-leadership, the reason for ruling is to provide and protect, which means that civil disobedience can be a very important aspect of feedback if the person is charge is being unreasonable and will not listen. And if they do wrong, bringing in third parties can be very helpful. [But my family never believed that a female should always be under the authority of a dad or husband. Just under parental authority until adulthood, and then under husband authority after marriage. But my parents also grew to take the verse seriously that says husbands and wives should submit to each other; which means that with the male as primary leader (with the servant implications of that), the woman also has authority and say.]

My parents never believed that their kids were supposed to be clones of them, though, they just viewed kids as a blessing from God. So I didn’t deviate from that idea. But, my parents also don’t believe in birth control, and I don’t agree with that anymore. I don’t believe it’s always practical to not use birth control.

3) What did you struggle with most when you were in the midst of questioning and/or leaving Christian Patriarchy/Quiverfull ideology? What was the hardest part?

Probably the hardest part was the issue of rock music, because that’s where most of the conflict with other people was. No christian or non-christian was fine with the idea that we didn’t listen to rock music. There was endless pressure, mockery, and criticism over that. So the added emotional pain and pressure made that issue the hardest to resolve in my mind. When I started thinking that listening to rock music was okay, then I though “does this mean that I’ve taken all the blame for a belief that isn’t even valid?”  So, their pressure made it harder for me to leave behind that point of view.

4) Among those you grew up around who were also raised with Christian Patriarchy/Quiverfull ideology, what proportion has remained in the movement and what proportion has left?

Well, about 0% of the people I grew up around were in that movement, other than my family. One family I knew is more similar to that movement now than when I was young, because they are now a large family that homeschools. Another three families that I met as a teenager also are large families that homeschool, but they are all still doing that. But none of them are cultish, or Bill Gothard followers or anything. Just large homeschooling families, if that counts.

Part 8: Adjusting

1) Do you still feel as though you are “different” or that your past experiences emotionally isolate you from society?

I’m afraid I have to answer “yes” to this question. Like I mentioned previously, while my family was a large homeschooling conservative-christian family, the people I grow up around were not. I never felt that I really fit in, except with my own family. That feeling still follows me around; I feel like the odd one out even when I’m not.

2) Since most of the world doesn’t understand Quiverfull/Christian Patriarchy culture, do you feel this creates barriers in friendships or in romantic relationships? Do people have a hard time understanding you and your past?

My past has never created any barriers in friends or romantic relationships. People tend to understand anything about my past that I either mention, or explain to them in the context of some thought or ideas I’m having.

3) 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?

It’s hard to say what part of my life has been effected by my upbringing. If I did not come from that background, I believe that I would think differently (as a result of different schooling), I would not feel as fond of the ideas of family and homeschooling, and I would probably have ended up with a different preference for guys, based on different relationships that I would not have had. I probably also wouldn’t hold to morals that I do today. So, really, it’s hard to figure out which part of me was not effected, other than my natural personality.

4) How did you perceive your childhood at the time compared to how do you see it now?

I saw it as bitter-sweet at the time, and see it as bitter-sweet now. It had its ups and downs, benefits and drawbacks.

Part 9: Helping Others

1) What advice do you have for other young adults currently questioning or leaving Christian Patriarchy/Quiverfull ideology?

I would advise them to study different ideas and hang around christians and non-christians of various cultural or sub-cultural backgrounds, and really find themselves. I would also advice them, regarding their past, to take the good and leave the bad.  If something was helpful or worked, then don’t through it out with the bad.

2) What was most helpful to you when you were questioning and/or leaving the Christian Patriarchy/Quiverfull movement?

My parent’s acceptance and freedom-loving orientation. They gave me the freedom to be who I wanted to be, and to find out what I thought about things, as I matured.  My parents figured they have given me all the teaching and advise that they could, and the rest was up to me to utilize it or not. That freedom and acceptance really helped me to become who I am.

3) What helps you the most today?

I don’t feel that today I need any beyond regarding my past.

4) What suggestions do you have for those who might [want] to help friends or relatives who grew up/are growing up in families influenced by the Christian Patriarchy/Quiverfull movement?

I would say that sowing seeds of truth-seeking, freedom, and unconditional acceptance would make the most difference.  Everyone currently growing up in that culture should know that they are unconditionally accepted by the friend seeking to help, and should hear this advice:    Love all,  only believe things if you’ve studied and thought and still think they make sense,  gain trust (from the parental figures),  and demand freedom when feasible.

For those who have already grown up in the culture, I cannot give one-size fits all advice. It would depend on the specific person, their own experiences, their current beliefs, and what they feel were the benefits and struggles that results.

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.


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