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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Dispelled ~ One Girl’s Journey in a Home School Cult ~ Part 6: Growing Pains

Please note: The content contained herein does not necessarily reflect the values and opinions of the NLQ blog and its administrators.

by Chandra

For the last six months, I dreamt of living in Texas and of being free. I knew that I didn’t know Gabe, but just the thought of getting out of the hell that I was currently in was all that I cared about. Everything else paled in comparison to the nightmare that I was living. My optimism still kept me going, and I was confident that even though I had been keeping an enormous secret from my parents, and that I didn’t know who this guy was, I would still find love and freedom. Two things I desperately wanted.

I began to use the babysitting and housecleaning money that I would receive weekly from our neighbors, to buy wedding magazines and collect things for my hope chest. I was truly convinced that the right way of doing things was to go through a betrothal process that would eventually end in a tightly monitored engagement period. I was determined to win the favor of this family by being the perfect example of a good homeschooled girl. My heart, for those six months, sang.

Maybe part of the reason why I am not so enamored with springtime as the majority of the populace is because nothing ever good came out of the months of February, March, and April for me. Our homeschooling conference was to be held in June, and by the time that April had made her entrance, mom and Candi were furiously working around the clock trying to finalize all of the many details that went into planning such a major event. This meant frequent phone conversations with one another that would last for well over six hours in a given day and also numerous phone calls to the speakers and vendors.

I knew from having been raised in this movement, that Candi would be speaking with Gabe’s dad, Mr. New, about his hotel arrangements and the sessions that he would be presenting to the flock. Candi and my mom took very seriously their role as leader, or “Shepard” as they referred to themselves. Much care and endless hours were spent with each convention speaker ensuring that the material they were presenting was exactly what they wanted “their people” to hear. Rather than being a facilitator of information, they felt they had been called by God to teach these “precious families” the way that God wanted them to live: in fear. We lived in fear of government, fear of extended family, fear of neighbors, fear of culture, and fear of the world and these fears dictated our belief system. Our homeschooling group had become an isolationist cult and it was led by two very powerful women: Candi and my mother.

Sometime in April, my mother began to carry around an air of hatred towards me again and I could tell that it was something that I had done, or failed to do. I knew to ask her what the problem was would be asking for unwarranted trouble so I kept my distance from her. I hid in my room to escape my toxic family and listened to Christian cassette tapes that I had bought covertly. My mom was adamantly opposed to Steven Curtis Chapman (too worldly), Michael W. Smith (too worldly), Newsboys (rock music was not Christian music), DC Talk (Christian rappers were wolves in sheep’s clothing), Amy Grant (she had an affair), Sandi Patty (she had an affair too), Rebecca St. James (not only did God hate rock music, Ms. St. James was not a “true homeschooler” and “not one of the flock”)…and of course every CD that I owned in my collection were from these artists. They lifted me up on the wings of hope and helped my heart to feel close to Christ. But I couldn’t sing along with them and I had to hide the tapes well.

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Steadfast Daughters in a Quivering World ~ Part 2: Expectations

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

Proverbs 22:6 says: Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it.

Damn ~ I really hate that verse. Let me tell you why.

1) It is from this proverb that we Quiverfull moms got the idea that through diligent training we could ensure our children would become mature Christians firmly grounded in the Lord and His word. Of course, we all know that God has no grandchildren ~ our sons and daughters must come to their own faith in Christ ~ still, there is a promise implied in Proverbs 22:6 which leads QF parents to believe that by our intimate involvement in their day-to-day lives, we can influence our children for righteousness.

So we try.

2) It is from this same verse that our children get the idea that their adult future is our responsibility. I don’t think we ever blatantly taught our daughters that their marriage, their career (or lack thereof), their walk with God, their ultimate happiness ~ all are inseparably dependent upon their upbringing ~ but we did teach them the principle of authority … and with authority comes responsibility. If Quiverfull parents are going to claim the authority to guide and direct our daughters’ education, training, choice of a mate, career path (or lack thereof), and even their daily devotions and quiet time ~ then are we shocked when these same daughters blame the parents when things don’t work out and they are struggling?

In other words ~ we can’t say, “Mom & Dad are to be the primary influence over our children’s education” unless we’re also willing to be fully accountable when those children are in some ways unprepared for higher education, the marketplace or domestic duties due to gaps in their learning. We can’t spend years teaching our daughters to trust and expect their parents’ intimate involvement in their choice for a life mate, and later, when as young women, they are in relationships which are necessarily messy and imperfect, say, “Don’t blame me because you are unhappy!”
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Steadfast Daughters in a Quivering World ~ Part 1: Sincerity

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

Stacey McDonald, author of “Raising Maidens of Virtue: A Study of Feminine Loveliness for Mothers and Daughters,” has set up a new website devoted to responding to Hillary McFarland’s “Quivering Daughters” book and website.

As one who embraced the idea of trusting the Lord with my family planning and devoted myself to raising up polished “arrows” fit for the Lord’s service ~ “Raising Maidens of Virtue” was a much-referenced book in my large collection of “biblical family” materials. I loved the title. The words “Feminine Loveliness” filled my imagination with visions of my five lovely daughters whom I wanted above all to be wholesome, carefree, healthy-minded, devoted, steadfast, and full of joy ~ secure in my love and in the love of the Lord.

The reason I was so enamored of Stacey’s writings is because, like Stacey, I had experienced a less-than-ideal childhood ~ a broken family, abuse, insecurity ~ and I wanted to spare my own children as much of that sort of pain as possible. I believe that’s the motivation for the majority of parents ~ and especially Christian parents who adopt the Quiverfull ideals ~ homeschooling, courtship, sheltering children, stay-at-home daughters, etc.

On her Steadfast Daughters site, Stacey shares some very painful memories of her own agonizing childhood ~ reading her account, my heart went out to Stacey. All those feelings of intensely desiring to protect my children from all the hurt, the uncertainty, the cruelty and the indifference of “this world” ~ my determination that things would be different for me and my children overwhelmed me and for a moment, I was back in my old Quiverfull reality.

So I will admit to feeling nostalgic and surprisingly sympathetic to the mother’s-heart senitment which I read on the Steadfast Daughters website. I believe Stacey and the other SD contributors when they repeatedly claim to love the Lord and their children ~ I believe as parents, they have the best of intentions ~ they are intelligent, kind-hearted, caring Christians who only desire to give their ALL for the sake of bringing up a quiver full of children for the glory of the Lord.

I think Hillary ~ whose Quivering Daughters outreach is proving to be a considerable challenge, bringing much-needed balance and perspective to the “Virtuous Daughters” ideal ~ would agree that Quiverfull mothers such as Stacey have noble motives. They certainly have not chosen these incredibly grand ideas and the demanding lifestyle for the sake of their own convenience or from lazy, ignorant, or selfish hearts. They’re not doing it because it’s fun ~ or because it is their first preference or only alternative. These moms are sincerely convinced that they are doing the Lord’s absolute best for their families. Hillary understands and recognizes that QF parents do love their children ~ and for that reason, the tone of her book is incredibly gentle and her accounts of abuse are often understated.

It’s a dilemma which all survivors wrestle with when we write about mental, emotional, and spritual abuse ~ certainly we want to expose the harm in order to warn others and provide refuge for those who are seeking support and comfort ~ but at the same time, we do not want to lash out in bitterness and anger against those who, despite our hurt and suffering, we know to be good people at heart.

That’s why most of the NLQ guest writers share their stories using a pseudonym ~ they leave out identifying details ~ they desire to protect the identity of their family. Quivering Daughters walk a fine line between honoring parents and telling the truth about their experience of the QF/P family life.

One theme which pervades the Steadfast Daughters website could be summarized this way:

We, your parents, mean well. We love God and we love our children. We strive to do our very best ~ but we are not perfect ~ sometimes we mess up and we unintentionally hurt our children. Please don’t let our mistakes lead you to bitterness and hatred ~ hold fast to the Lord ~ forgive and forebear.

What makes the Quiverfull teachings especially pernicious is the unlikely, but unmistakable combination of very good intentions and really, really bad ideas.

Since “waking up” from the Quiverfull dream world ~ I’ve spent a lot of time and brain power puzzling over this: Sincerity and good intentions should count for something.

How many times as a fundamentalist Believer did I hear a preacher or teacher say, “It’s possible to be sincerely wrong!!”?

I do not want that to be true.

Of all the teachings which I no longer believe ~ this is the one I’d most like to be a complete and total lie.
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Visionary daughters quiz

Over on the NLQ forum, we’ve all been taking Visionary Daughter’s “Are You A Fool?” quiz ~ it’s annoyingly hilarious ~ and I thought No Longer Quivering readers who aren’t on the forum might like the chance to join in on the fun.

Here’s question #1:

How do you respond when criticized/corrected?

1) I hate it! I get angry and defensive.

2) I usually laugh it off. (Sometimes I roll my eyes.)

3) If I get criticized for the same thing enough times, I usually start to take it seriously..

4) I’m thankful for the smallest hint of reproof and take it very seriously.

Take the Quiz!!

What do you think? [Read more...]