Growing Up Jeub

Growing Up Jeub October 4, 2014

I have written several blog posts about the Duggars and their beliefs, and each time have had commenters defend the Duggars and tell me that their family must be happy and functional because they look happy and functional on screen. This is a problem. As I’ve noted, the Duggars follow and promote the parenting methods of religious leaders who teach that corporal punishment must be used to break children’s wills, that children should be required to smile and not allowed to show the slightest negativity, and that “rebellious” young adult children should be shunned and barred from contact with their siblings. Given that, it would be surprising to find all as rosy as the picture they prevent on television.

A recent blog post by Cynthia Jeub sheds light on what it can be like to grow up in an extra-large Christian homeschooling family propelled into the spotlight. Cynthia is one of sixteen children, and her family, too, was featured on TLC.

Chris and Wendy Jeub with Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar

You may have already heard the name Chris Jeub on this blog or others. Chris has long been a leader in the National Christian Forensics and Communication Association, the Christian homeschool debate league founded by Michael Farris’s daughter Christy Shipe. Chris has also written several books about his family and beliefs, including Love in This House and Love Another Child. More recently, Jeub has become known for stepping out to condemn patriarchy and legalism and becoming one of the only prominent homeschooling parents to publicly support Homeschoolers Anonymous and homeschool alumni’s efforts to improve homeschooling for current and future generations through a mixture of reform, awareness raising, and legislation.

Unfortunately, it appears that Chris is guilty of some serious hypocrisy. We’ve long known that Chris kicked his oldest daughter Alicia out of the house as a teenager nearly a dozen years ago, barred her from seeing her siblings, and never fully apologized, insisting that the “reconciliation” occur on his terms. It seems this is a bit of a pattern for Chris—just something that happens when his children grow up and gains minds of their own. According to daughters Cynthia, 22, and Lydia, 20, their father has recently barred them from having contact with their siblings.
This is the sort of shunning I’ve talked about happening when a young adult child steps out of line.

And there’s more, too—more that Cynthia is now starting to get into on her blog.

CynthiaYou may remember that I wrote a post many months ago criticizing Chris’s constant focus on “love” and his apparent lack of focus on acceptance. I pointed out that “love” is not what fixes the problems I and others have experienced being raised by parents who could not accept us, well, growing up. Chris himself left a comment on that post stating that he sees acceptance as part of love. But recent events suggest that this is far from the full truth. In fact, Cynthia herself emailed me about a month ago, letting me know that I’d gotten everything right in my post, and thanking me for saying what I did.

Cynthia blogs at Cynthia Jeub: Insights on Epic Living. In a recent post titled Melting Memory Masks, Cynthia writes about the physical abuse she and her siblings faced at her parents’ hands and her parents’ efforts to hide their family’s problems from TLC during filming.

~seven years ago~

“Mommy, stop hitting him! He’s only eleven!”

“Do something, Cynthia! I’m scared…she’s not stopping!”

~a few days later~

“What happened to him? Did he get in a fight with his brother?”

“No. Mom got mad and slapped him. She wouldn’t stop, so I pulled her off of him. He’s wearing makeup so you can’t see the whole bruise and where he was bleeding.”

Everybody thinks that we’re perfect; please don’t let them look through the curtains.

~six years ago~

“I’m going to sit here while the producer interviews you. I’m here to help you remember to say what’s true.”

“Okay, daddy. I trust you.”

Don’t let them see what goes down in the kitchen.

And there’s more.

Cynthia aptly sprinkles lines from Melanie Martinez’s song Dollhouse into her post (lyrics here).

Frankly, this song and the accompanying video brought me almost to tears. I was the oldest of twelve children in a Christian homeschooling family, and while we never had the level of spotlight as the Duggars or the Jeubs, the pressure to appear picture-perfect was still extremely strong. There were things you simply didn’t talk about outside of the family. There were things you didn’t even mention inside the family.

Places, places, get in your places
Throw on your dress and put on your doll faces.
Everyone thinks that we’re perfect
Please don’t let them look through the curtains.

Picture, picture, smile for the picture
Pose with your brother, won’t you be a good sister?
Everyone thinks that we’re perfect
Please don’t let them look through the curtains.

I’m glad Cynthia is speaking out. Her father needs to be called on his hypocrisy (it is not okay for him to publicly represent himself as loving and reform-minded while engaging in the very behavior we are trying to reform against), and more people need to know the sorts of things that can go on behind the scenes in a picture-perfect large Christian homeschooling family. Stay tuned.

Note: For information on Cynthia and Lydia’s shunning, see here and here. Unfortunately, all additional information has so far only been released within the homeschooling alumni survivor community. Cynthia has indicated, though, that this blog post is only the first one in a series. 

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