Quoting Quiverfull: “Immoral” Decision?

QUOTING QUIVERFULL is a regular feature of NLQ – we present the actual words of noted Quiverfull leaders and ask our readers: What do you think? Agree? Disagree? This is the place to state your opinion. Please, let’s keep it respectful – but at the same time, we encourage readers to examine the ideas of Quiverfull honestly and thoughtfully.

From the blog The New Homemaker posting “Quiver-Full Convicted” by Dawn Friedman

Kay Lind (not her real name)  has six children. Her first three were born with severe disabilities.

“[Our first three children] have been diagnosed with mental retardation and autism,” she says. “Our next three are completely normal. We were advised by everyone around us, family and friends and doctors, not to have more children. Because of our beliefs, we had the courage to go on.”

During her fourth pregnancy, Kay says she prayed that this baby would be normal.

“I felt as though I had been through a trial similar to that of Job of the Bible. I intended and firmly believed in having all the children God wanted to bless us with but now I was facing this. Should I abandon my beliefs? Did I really truly believe them when faced with a situation like this?”

Kay says her mother has criticized her for the “immoral” decision to have more children.

“I was told how unfair it was to these younger three,” she explains. “But they are learning one of the most important values you can teach a human being. They have learned to be selfless and love their fellow human beings.”

Comments open below

NLQ Recommended Reading …

Breaking Their Will: Shedding Light on Religious Child Maltreatment‘ by Janet Heimlich

Quivering Daughters‘ by Hillary McFarland

Quiverfull: Inside the Christian Patriarchy Movement‘ by Kathryn Joyce


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  • Nea

    I know someone who was raised with a severely retarded, autistic older brother. She didn’t learn to love him or be selfless. She learned that no one would give her sympathy and would often outright blame her for being upset at him, when he destroyed her property, physically hurt and threatened her, and his presence prevented her from doing things she wanted to do (i.e., couldn’t go places without him so thus couldn’t go at all.) She also learned that her needs came a distant second to his, always.

  • I have heard the same thing from other siblings of special needs kids. No matter how hard their parents try to give them a normal life, they still end up feeling neglected. I don’t know if I would say it was “immoral” to have more children after having 3 disabled ones, but I certainly wouldn’t justify her actions the way she did. Her family members will certainly suffer consequences of her actions.

  • Nea

    I get the impression that the “testimony” of being strong in faith in adversity and the “reward” of a string of neurotypical children is more important to the writer than the acutal needs of any of the actual children.

  • Nea

    Sorry Lynn… tried to reply directly to you and hit wrong button.

  • I grew up with someone who had a special needs sibling, tho in her case she had mild mental regression. I wonder if Kay’s children with disabilities are teens yet? That’s when autism can get ugly and the kids are too powerful to be controlled if they get violent. It’s not fun to be the younger sibling of a special-needs child. I can’t imagine what it’s like to have 3!

    My nephew was seriously disabled and his care utterly consumed the family. He died at the age of 12 and I don’t think he ever had any awareness of what was going on around him. People with special needs are not tools for salvation. I’m sick and tired of it!

  • Saturn500

    Did she seriously compare having some autistic children to Job losing his family, his home, and his livelihood?

    Am I the only one who has noticed this?

  • Tori

    Having disabled children entails giving and sacrifice, and one of those sacrifices is realizing that these children need more care, more time than “normal” kids. Therefore the most unselfish thing you can do is stop having further children in order to give the kids you do have a shot at life.

  • saraquill

    No, your not the only one. I find her comments a massive insult to all of her children, especially phrasing the three younger ones as a gift.

  • Rachael

    To be honest, while I can’t say I agree with her words, I agree with the idea that it is wrong to criticize someone for having more children just because some of them have disabilities. It’s also wrong to assume that a child with a disability would be better off dead, or better off not being born in the first place. At the same time, I think it’s wrong to shame anyone who has an abortion because they are aware that the fetus has a disability. Raising a child, regardless of ability, is a great responsibility that no one should have to accept unwillingly.

    And yes, it’s true that children with autism can be difficult to raise. However, with the right kind of support, they can live healthy, satisfying lives. Unfortunately, in many societies, including U.S. society, parents (especially the mother) are expected to raise their children without asking for any kind of help. But that’s changing–caretakers of people with disabilities can now apply for respite, which is time off from looking after their charges.

    It was once thought that people with autism irredeemable, that they would always be a burden on family and society, and that they could never contribute to society. But such thinking is incorrect. While there are indeed some people with autism who cannot live independently at all, this is rare. Most can and do live with at least some degree of independence. But again, support is key.

    However, the quoted does not sound like she truly supports her children with disabilities. It’s almost like she feels as though her first three children were those she “lost,” and that God made it up to her–as he did with Job–by giving her three more “normal” children.

  • Persephone

    I think you’re comparing apples to pears here. The mother’s first three children she describes as having mental retardation and autism. This is a combination that would require intensive and extensive help, possibly with no better result than the children being able to function in a specialized group home.

    Also, autism functioning is at all levels. Not every autist is going to be able to function without outside assistance. ABA is not a miracle; it often does not work.

  • Nea

    You are missing the point. It’s not that she shouldn’t have more children *because they might have disabilities* it’s that by bringing more children into her family, she is *shorting the needs of ALL of her children.* The three oldest, who are not just autistic (which you address) but mentally retarded (a whole different level of needed support and limitations, which you do not address.) They now have 1/2 the attention they had because for every disabled child there is now a neurotypical one. And the needs of the three youngest will always be put behind the needs of the disabled ones – you can see that already as their mother praises their “selflessness.”

    And it sounds like she’s planning on having yet more children, who may or may not be special needs, taking that much more time and attention from this woman.

    This is not at all about discussion whether a woman should choose to bear a disabled child. This is a discussion about a mother who has made choices that hurt all of her children and considers her actions moral – despite her own mother’s proclamations otherwise.

  • SAO

    If she can’t teach her children to be selfless and love their fellow human being without the help of handicapped siblings, she shouldn’t have ANY children.

    I have a brother with autism and mild mental retardation, I can’t imagine having parents who are dealing with three. My parents are in their 80s, and still actively supporting, advocating for and otherwise working to make sure my brother can live a decent life. It took them 8 years, three waiting lists, and two lawsuits to get him housing, and continual monitoring to make sure he keeps it. That doesn’t count 20 years of exploring options, working towards housing for the handicapped, and less tightly focused, driven effort. Housing, schooling, employment, medical care and an income to support him — these are all things my parents spent years working towards and fighting for.

    I despise the idea of “having all the children God wanted to bless {them} with,” it turns children into validation. We all know that, without efforts to prevent it, people have more kids than they can manage. Having more babies is not a demonstration of God’s blessing; God blesses contraception-free, drunken hook-ups at the same rate as he blesses contraception-free, marital baby-making efforts.

    So do Rabbits and cockroaches. Are they, too, “Blessed by God?”

  • Kimberly

    SAO, your statement about God blessing contraception-free, drunken hookups made me laugh out loud. Yes, yes, yes… if pregnancy were truly something God takes an active hand in–always–then why do one-night stands result in unwanted pregnancies and loving, God-fearing couples remain infertile?

  • Dan Francis

    You know, it’s almost funny, but disabled children didn’t ASK to be that way. I grew up the only disabled member of my family and you know what? My able bodied younger brother was the prince. I was the blemish on the so-called family.
    “I want a normal kid!” How selfish. “I want more kids!” Why? So you can damage your body further? How can you provide adequately for so many kids without treating them like mass-produced product? Especially when disabled children have needs that are more intensive (in most cases) than able bodied children?

  • Dan Francis

    No, you’re not. I despise her ableist attitude toward the three disabled children. And I look down harshly on that kind of thinking, usually reminding such thinkers of Hitler’s atrocities to the disabled community. Disabled (myself included) people are “the lost” huh? She is indeed unfit to have children, let alone disabled one.