Sons of Patriarchy

by Libby Anne

Yes yes, I know I said it’s about the daughters, but it’s actually about the sons too, and here’s why: Christian Patriarchy may say its about creating the perfect godly family, but, at its heart, it’s about control. Yes, that sounds kind of harsh! Let me explain.

In Christian Patriarchy, parents don’t let their children grow up and leave and make their own decisions. Instead, parents seek to control their adult children. The system only works if everyone stays in their place and does as told. The moment there is an independent thought or contrary life goal, it all falls apart.

Where do the sons come into this? It’s simple. I have brothers, and while things have been much smoother for them than they were for me or my sister, it hasn’t all been fun and games. My mother disapproves of my oldest brother because he didn’t join the military. It says something about his character, apparently. This is small hat compared to the emotional manipulation another of my brothers has experienced because my parents don’t approve of his plans for his life. Why? Because he wants to join military the wrong type of military.

This is the point I am trying to make here: the sons of patriarchy, just like the daughters, will only be smiled on so long as they believe what their parents believe and do what their parents want them to do. As soon as they have an independent thought or a contrary life plan, it’s all over.

I do have one brother who is my parents’ golden boy. Why? Because he is doing everything my parents want, and leading exactly the life they want for him, down to his chosen career path and which college he is attending. I used to be like that, basking in the glow of my parents’ approval. And then I began changing my mind on doctrinal points they considered critical and told them “no” when they told me to break up with a young man they had decided was a bad influence. I went from golden girl to outcast in one single day.

The real irony here is that both of my parents broke with their parents when they began homeschooling us. Neither set of grandparents approved, but my parents said too bad. My parents weren’t raised this way, but rather left the beliefs of their parents and started out on their own. This is actually fairly common among the parents of Christian Patriarchy. Why, then, do they refuse to let their children think and act for themselves?

Because the parents of Christian Patriarchy think they have found the perfect formula to life. They think they know everything, that they have it figured out completely. They think they hold the copyright for the definition of the word “Christian.” If you stay inside their box, you’re all right; if you step outside of it, you’re damned. It’s all about control, about keeping you on the way they think you should go.

As I watch my brother try to navigate the most trying years of a young person’s life on his own, I can’t help but shed a tear for all the sons of patriarchy. If you are one of them, let me assure you, there is nothing that will make your parents happy except doing exactly what they want. So don’t even try. Make your own life, your own way, your own decisions, your own hopes and dreams, and leave the box your parents built for you. The world is a much bigger and richer place outside.

Discuss this post on the NLQ forum!  Comments are also open below.

Libby Anne lives with her husband and toddler somewhere in the U.S. She has left patriarchy for feminism and has found freedom. She is a graduate student with big plans for her life. You can read her blog at Love, Joy, Feminism.

Read all posts by Libby Anne!

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  • Young Mom

    Yes. It is so about control! And they will never truly be pleased, even when my husband and I were doing everything “right” and we may have been portrayed as the “golden child/success” to all of our siblings and all of their friends, all we heard from them was how we could be doing better. My husband had his work cut out for him trying to break out of his Dad’s control. Many of these young men are denied college education in favour of “apprenticeship”, often in their Dad’s home business. So even when you start to figure out the truth, you are painted into whatever corner your parents decided God called you too, you have no qualifications to do anything else, and you may even have your own little quiverfull family to support.

  • Another Halocene Human

    The answer to “why” is that they need constant affirmation and reassurance to continue on a path that is so outside their familial tradition, the outside culture, and movement in science and society. They have a desperate need to belieeeeeeeve, and you are “sharper than a serpent’s tooth” when you gain a mind of your own and refuse to play the role of buffering them from cognitive dissonance any longer.

    Also they have set the stakes so damn high than their children’s rejection of their way of life is *more important than life itself*. It is, of course, a judgment on their parenting as well. Either they were lousy Christians for having their “seed” fall away–or, worse, they would have to accept, as Vicki so bravely did, that they had hurt their children in some way in pursuing a mirage called evangelical fundamentalist religion.

  • Another Halocene Human

    Groomed for the family business, too, and not given options? Sick. Some parents are not worthy of the name. They are predators who prey on their own children. People like that are attracted to old time religion because it affirms this notion of children (and wives) as chattel.

  • Soldi

    Honestly, it kind of sounds like the parents of the Patriarchal Movement decided that they knew everything there was to know as teenagers and never outgrew that attitude.