Daughter of the Patriarchy: The Shift

by Sierra

Clear morning light filtered in the empty door of the bakery. I was alone behind the storefront, a wall of bagel baskets hanging like a curtain between me and the rest of the world. My mother busied herself in the front of the store, wiping counters and making coffee as I methodically drew and cut the clear plastic wrap in its long rolls. I wrapped another sponge cake, applied the golden bakery label, and set the finished product on a tray to be stored and sold for the Jewish holidays. It was normally one of the busiest weeks in the store: the owner was Jewish and had many connections with the synagogues in northern New Jersey. We were a hotspot for holiday feasts.

The street outside was still. Taking a moment’s break, I wandered to the front windows and peeked out. A few police cars were gathered at one end of the road, their officers bundled together talking. It was too far away to see their expressions. I tried to swallow the creeping sense of unease mounting beneath the silence of the morning. The television had been abuzz when we left for work, though no one knew what was going on. My grandparents urged us to listen to the radio at work and see if we could find out, but the news was no more conclusive in the shop.

At length a trembling woman in work attire bustled into our shop, her face white and drawn. She had come in for coffee, but she carried a more valuable commodity: information. “They’re saying a plane hit the World Trade Center,” she told my mother. “They’re grounding all flights. They don’t know how many were hijacked. They don’t know how big this is, but they think there’s at least one headed for the Pentagon. We’re under attack.” My mother blanched.

Searching their faces and finding fear, I felt my mouth go dry and a chill overtake my body. I had never heard of the World Trade Center before, much less noticed the buildings on the single occasion I’d been to New York, but this was not the time to admit that. I hastily fumbled with the radio for more details, hiding myself again behind the bagels and sponge cakes as my mother probed the woman for more details. A sober but breathless journalist murmured over the radio that the southern tower had collapsed. Imagining a fiery building toppling ablaze into the Hudson River, I carried the radio to my mother and mechanically told her the news. Our guest stood frozen. She’d clearly left work to visit us, but there seemed little point in returning now. Dazedly, she turned and stepped away, deciding that others needed to be told.

I looked again at the police outside and was gripped with the sudden realization that the final prophecies were surely coming true. My stomach contracted. I felt cold, weak, unable to stand. What had I done with my fifteen years of life? Had I ever really imagined what the end of the world felt like? Did I have the Holy Spirit, or was this the last hour I’d spend on earth with my mother? I looked at her. She hadn’t been raptured yet, but it had to be soon.
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Steadfast Daughters in a Quivering World ~ Part 6: Soul-Binding

[Note: this series is dedicated to Quivering Daughtersby the former-Quiverfull moms at No Longer Quivering.]
by Daisy

My name is Daisy.

I am a good person…but I was a bad parent.

Tragically, by choosing QF/patriarchal fundamentalist methodology as the pattern for my home, believing that it would provide the very best insurance against messing up with parenthood, I messed up. I messed up badly. I hurt my kids and, worse, I silenced them when they tried to tell me about it. Criticizing your parents is, of course, disrespectful and therefore opening a dangerous door that may lead a child ultimately to rebelling against God – and as I believed that put my child in danger of hellfire, of course, I conscientiously nipped dissent in the bud at every opportunity.

As it happens, my eyes were just opening to the dreadful truth that QF had sold me a bill of goods when my oldest child found her voice. I was on the way out of QF teaching, patriarchal Christianity and my marriage when that beautiful daughter tried to describe her pain to me by starving herself almost to death. Shortly after she began her lengthy treatment for anorexia, another of my children found a way to tell me that her soul was in agony. A razor blade and a veritable hill of pills were her loud-hailer.

If you, like me, raised your children in QF until at least their early teens, you may have already had to endure the sorrow of watching your children rise up and call you Monster, or at least, Failure. If you haven’t yet, it is my opinion that, you probably will. And, believe it or not, this is a good, good thing. I do hope your child does not need to resort to the dramatic acts my oldest two did in order to gain your attention, in fact, I would plead with you to listen to them well before that becomes necessary. But I want to encourage you with this:

As parents we should not be afraid of the volume or power or ugliness of the moment – or indeed the many moments – when our child finds her young adult voice. What we really should be afraid of is her silence. That compliant 25-year-old looks and sounds like an adult, but she has a 12-year-old soul. Like the tiny feet of Chinese girls crushed and tightly bound in rags by well-intentioned parents to prevent their healthy growth, that child may be the victim of a sort of a ‘soul-binding’. This disastrous mistake may have doomed her to endure both a crippling emotional agony and an ongoing rage that her mother could dare to insist that such a violent and abusive act was perpetrated because of love.
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Steadfast Daughters in a Quivering World ~ Part 5: Confessions of a Quiverfull Hero

[Note: this series is dedicated to Quivering Daughters by the former-Quiverfull moms at No Longer Quivering.]
by Daisy

I was only 19 when I arrived at Christianity’s door, bruised and highly impressionable and, because of my family situation, determined to do a better job of sorting out my life than my parents had done. Victims of abuse in their own homes, my parents had learned very early to dissociate from their emotions. Our home was an emotionally sterile one and, although I know now that this is not true, as as child I believed my parents did not love me. I decided that when *I* had kids, if they grew up knowing nothing else, they would know for sure that I loved them more than breathing.

I became the kind of Christian mother other Christian mothers looked up to in awe. My numerous children were admired wherever they went: smart, lively, godly and absolutely obedient. Women used to call on me and ask advice, yearning to be able to produce the kind of wonderful ‘fruit’ I was enjoying in abundance in my children. I would explain the difference between violent abuse and the loving application of ‘the rod’ which turned children’s little hearts away from sin and toward God. I would explain that I spanked sparingly and always in the context of a warm, loving expansive relationship, as part of a ritual that included healthy confession, repentance, and loving forgiveness. Anyone who knew my kids could see that following these biblical parenting principles was paying off big time.

As committed as I was to following the principles I’d come to believe would help me to raise wonderful and godly children, and as invested as I was in the outcome, I was blind to the true state of my children’s hearts. Forbidding certain, and indeed numerous, beliefs and practices which I now see were absolutely benign didn’t make my children lose their taste for them as I thought it would – it just drove them underground. In order to indulge perfectly normal, harmless preferences and cling to some semblance of separate identity, my children were forced to construct a secret inner life to which I had no access and which, of course, added considerably to their guilt burden.

Despite many, many lessons about the love and forgiveness of a generous heavenly Father, I realize now that my children were not able to reconcile the horrors of personal guilt and the fear of punishment against abstract concepts such as Christian integrity and the grace of God. In an effort to explain the kindness and extent of a grace so great it could save even sinners like us, I inadvertently buried my older children in the shallow grave of shame, self-loathing, and later, deep, deep rage. They came to be appalled at the lurking sin monster that evidently resided in their hearts, and endured an abiding self-disgust that their natural bents seemed often to be precisely what God deemed evil.

My older girls were damaged in particularly sad ways. QF standards of modesty caused them to wonder just what was so disgusting or dangerous about their bodies that they needed to keep them so carefully under wraps. Witnessing my unreasonably energetic efforts to submit to their father, my girls learned that even when a man is stupid, petty and a bully, God wants Christian women and their children to bear it with a smile and a prayer. I taught them that heroic hypocrisy was more important than honest misery. Their determination not to repeat my marital nightmare ultimately caused them to question their sexual orientation. Frustrated in the belief that the whole world was conspiring to strip them of their sense of self and squeeze them into a mold for which they were not fitted, my daughters generated lakefuls of underground anger which eventually exploded into terrifying geysers of self-destructive energy.

But I was oblivious to this at the time. I adored my children, poured my life out for them, and simply could not imagine that my best and most sincere efforts at applying what was, after all, God’s methodology might be harming them in anyway.

But it was.
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Steadfast Daughters in a Quivering World ~ Part 4: Acknowledgement & Apologies

[Note: this series is dedicated to Quivering Daughters by the former-Quiverfull moms at No Longer Quivering.]
In this part of our series, the ex-QF moms of NLQ are speaking directly to our own Quivering Daughters ~ though we’ve already said our apologies in person, we want to acknowledge the abuse we inflicted on our children publicly for their sake, though we’re doing it anonymously out of respect for their privacy.

Trigger warning: As painful it has been for us to write these confessions down ~ it may be even tougher for the Quivering Daughters who were on the receiving end of our neglect and abuse to read.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

My children were everything to me. I remember the feelings I had when I gave birth to my first child, emotions that surprised me with their ferocity. I’d spent my entire life focusing on me, more than anyone else, and yet now, after a few hours of the most horrible pain I’d ever experienced in my entire life (so much for the pain-free birthing books I’d read and committed to memory), this bloody squalling thing suddenly became the Most Important Thing On Earth.

I looked in shock at my husband, holding that baby that, up until then, I’d never even seen with my physical eyes, and, my gaze wide with amazement at the power of the raw protective urge coursing through my body, said, “I’d do anything for her. I don’t care if it is a Mack Truck on the highway—I’d willingly let it run over me if it would save her life.”

I was absolutely, totally and emphatically in love.

So when a woman from church gave me an innocent looking white book with an Amish-style family on the front cover, telling me it was the best book on raising children she’d ever read, I was interested. Two pages into it, I was hooked. Here was a man telling me that there was a sure-fire way that I could raise my child and guarantee that she would grow up to love and serve the Lord. As a devout evangelical conservative Christian, there was nothing more important to me than that. As bad as a Mack Truck accident might be, there was no “accident” or situation worse than the thought of my child not growing up to follow Christ—because that would mean an entire eternity of Hell. A Mack Truck can’t begin to compare.

So with my mother-love highly aroused and my fears fully engaged, I read, page by page, all about the way to ensure that your children are properly trained so that they will grow up to love and serve God.

If I could sum up the message that this book spoke to a young mother who deeply loved her baby, it was this:

“Momma, your baby is a sinner. He/she will try to manipulate you. Things like a child not liking a diaper change and squirming to be free are an example of a sinful will attempting to dominate you. You may think this is a little thing, but it’s huge. Why? Because if you let the child dominate you, the child will win. If the child wins, the child will learn that rebellion pays. The child will then grow up to probably reject God and go to Hell, because a rebellious heart will not want to follow God. So, Momma, never ever let your child win. Your child’s exertion of will [which includes anything you deem unacceptable---grumpiness, for example] is an act of war, and parenting is about the parent winning any and all battles of wills.”

I loved my baby. How grateful, absolutely grateful I felt, that someone was there to show me the way. Now, at last, there was hope! My baby would get the joy of growing up in a home where things were done right. She wouldn’t have to go through the things I went through! No, she was going to have a godly home where she would be trained properly, and she would grow up happy and obedient and full of love towards God. It was so exciting.

So exciting that I bought ten of those books and passed them out to my friends so that they could all join in the delight of knowing we could raise our children in a way that would ensure both their happiness now and their eternal future in Heaven.

I didn’t know. If I could go back now and re-do the way I parented that little baby, I would. Out of all the things in my life that I deeply regret, that is the most painful, the most difficult, the most horrific set of memories to revisit. Because the thing is, I love my children no less now than I did then. It’s still a ferocious mother-bear kind of love. It’s still so powerful it is palpable.

But seeing your children as enemies in a war creates a fundamental crack in the parent-child relationship. Even if there is the most powerful love in the universe on the other side of the crack, the divide is still there…including the distortion of communication it causes. I entered into a performance-based parenting model out of love for my child. But that model does not feed love, or nurture love, or engage love.
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Steadfast Daughters in a Quivering World ~ Part 3: Perception

[Note: this series is dedicated to Quivering Daughters by the former-Quiverfull moms at No Longer Quivering.]
by Vyckie

So what is “abuse” and who gets to define it? Steadfast Daughters devotes a considerable amount of time and mental energy to this question. The trouble with making definitions central to the discussion is this: there’s no way to do it without being condescending, petty and dismissive of Quivering Daughters who are reporting their highly personal, and necessarily highly subjective experiences of emotional and spiritual abuse.

There is no objective way of defining and quantifying “abuse” ~ no way. Sorry. Try it if you must ~ but you will lose.

Too many factors affect our perception and judgment. We all perceive the same experiences differently ~ it can’t be helped since no two people are all alike. It is even possible for the same individual to perceive the exact same experience differently depending on mood, health, energy-level, etc. One day the dish water is too hot and scalds our hands ~ next day, same temperature ~ but we’re freezing and this time it feels good. We have different levels of pain tolerance, our focus and ideals change making once appreciated behavior suddenly intolerable, memories fade, memories emerge … there’s really no way to predict ~ and there is no way to control.

Quiverfull moms want their daughters to feel secure ~ unaware, perhaps, that to the daughters, “security” is associated with prisons and confinement. Daddy wants to protect his girls ~ his daughters feel controlled and possessed. QF parents enforce standards of modesty ~ thinking this will affirm their daughters’ worth and instill a sense of value and self-respect ~ instead, their daughters feel like freaks and just want to be normal ~ rather than feeling modest, they feel that they are drawing unwanted attention to themselves because they cannot blend in with a crowd.

Consider too, that the majority of first-generation Quiverfull Believers were saved out of horrific backgrounds ~ their childhood was often SO outrageously dysfunctional that as children they longed for and would have been exceedingly grateful for the sort of lifestye which they’re providing for their own families. Let me explain.
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