Steadfast Daughters in a Quivering World ~ Part 2: Expectations

Steadfast Daughters in a Quivering World ~ Part 2: Expectations December 8, 2010

[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!”

This is Steadfast Daughters’ dilemma: books such as “Raising Maidens of Virtue” inculcate an expectation of higher standards, better-than-average daughters who excel in every way. It is not only the QF Moms who have these highly idealistic expectations ~ our daughters catch the vision and they’re trusting in the Lord to work His will in their lives as they submit to His established authorities ~ i.e., Mom & Dad. So when the Quivering Daughters deal with hurt, disappointment, despair (all of which are common experiences in all families ~ not just Quiverfull homes, as Steadfast Daughters repeatedly points out) ~ Stacey and her guest bloggers want to say, “So we’re not perfect ~ there are no perfect parents ~ don’t blame us!”

It is true that girls in every family experience abuse to varying degrees ~ regardless of their religious beliefs, non-beliefs or admitted confusion. The difference is ~ Quiverfull families have a clearly stated objective of raising morally and spiritually superior daughters. Non-quivering families say, “Let’s all do our best and that will be good enough.” Mary Pride calls that “No-Fault Parenting” and says it is shameful. In Quiverfull homes, there is no such thing as “good enough.” The children are expected to be superior ~ and the parents are expected to be superior too.

This sets the stage for big-time disappointment all around.

Children who have been raised with unrealistic expectations will not let their imperfect parents off the hook as readily as kids raised in regular families. “To whom much is given, much will be required.”  We taught this to our daughters … taught ’em diligently ~ remember?! ! Let’s not be surprised that these young women have learned their lessons well.


This post should not be construed as saying anything negative about the book Quivering Daughters or about how its author speaks of her parents. Many, many “Quivering Daughters” do blame Quiverfull teachings and treat their parents with compassion and understanding, as Quivering Daughters does, and these women do their best to shield their parents and their parents’ identities when speaking or writing of these matters publically.

However, there are many ex-Quiverfull mothers who do find themselves dealing with older daughters (and sometimes sons) who are extremely angry ~ they lash out at their mothers ~ blaming, refusing to understand and/or forgive. I am finding that this is often a necessary part of the process of leaving the cultic mentality. It is very painful ~ but at the same time, we ex-QF moms recognize that the enmeshment which is part of the Quiverfull experience sometimes necessitates that our children go through this. Because they were never permitted to establish their independence in their teenage years, it’s as if they must do it now, in their mid- and late-twenties. It is the spiritually abusive Quiverfull teachings that we moms blame for this, as well.

We have already discussed Steadfast Daughters on the NLQ forum here ~ comments for this post are open below.

This series is written by Vyckie Garrison with the help of many ex-QF moms on behalf of Quivering Daughters.

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  • badfaerie

    It is my firm belief that if you do raise children correctly, it does make them into good people. It is not the verse that is the problem, it is the interpretation. Then again this can be said about much of the vitriol fundamentals spout.

    To “train a child” so that they become capable and whole adults doesn’t mean micro-manage them to death. You need to give them a solid base of values and morals, then teach them how to make choices and decisions, not decide for them. The control exerted by fundamental parents is counter productive. Once the child “leaves the nest” they don’t know how to take care of themselves or their families because they don’t know how to make the correct choice, they have always been told what. They’ve never even had the “why” explained to them.

    But teaching children how to handle decisions with a firm base of values and morals (what ever yours may be) does work. Even in my heathen rebellious ways you will hear me say “No way! I wasn’t raised like that!” Had I been trained to be a Christian, instead of told I wasn’t good enough to be a Christian, I might not be a rebellious heathen.

    Jus’ sayin….

  • Badfaerie ~ thanks for your comments. Quiverfull parents do explain the “why” ~ just ask their children ~ they’ll tell you that a large part of their homeschooling was “Character training” which included A TON of explaining of the “whys” ~ QF daughters understand the principles thoroughly from a very young age.

    The problem is not so much with the training ~ it is in the expectations which puts the emphasis on the parents’ authority and consequent responsibility. The kids get the principle as well as the Moms do ~ here’s what both QF Moms & Quivering Daughters come to believe: If daughters don’t transitions smoothly from childhood to perfectly joyful mature Christian women ~ it is because Mom failed to train her up in the way she should go.

  • shadowspring

    No-fault parenting? I am so glad I never read Mary Pride. I always thought she was quite full of herself, claiming to have the last word on home schooling, and never once read or recommended her Big Book of Home Schooling. I am thinking of the right person?

    For readers who are outside of the fundy daily devotional world, I can not stress enough how rigorous the demand for moral perfection is put out there. Just looking back on my own (compared to Vyckies house moderate to liberal!) fundamentalist days, I don’t know how any one could not crack under that strain. Moral goals laid out in the morning, during reading, history, maybe even science and math, again in the evening at bedtime- ugh.

    So I see Vyckie’s point: those who make such high demands of their children should not be shocked when their children have such high demands of their parents. It was our own doing. We should have seen it coming.

    As one QD I know puts it, mom wants principles and standards for us, grace for herself. Vyckie is right in pointing out that the fundie religious paradigm demands that we spend all day every day teaching religious formulas and principles to our students. They will wind up as disappointed as we are that life doesn’t follow the formulas and principles. But who will they blame ( and in some aspects, rightfully so)?

    Those of us who taught them these principles day after day! Those of us who isolated them from all other view points and insisted that things would all work out the way we had been promised they would. It is totally in keeping with the black/white, us vs. them, all right/all wrong thinking our kids grew up with.

    People are very adaptable and flexible if taught to be; but raised in rigid and inflexible environments they tend to remain judgmental and prone to blame outside forces, even when their ideas about what is right/wrong has changed. I have written and read on more than one occasion: you can take the person out of fundamentalism, but the fundamentalism in the person remains.

    On the other hand, life is a wonderful teacher and there is every hope that children of fundamentalist teachings will eventually relax their worldview and learn to accept the world with all its imperfections- mom and dad included. But it sure does sting when a parent is smacked back with the same blaming all-or-nothing thinking we have since left behind, yet was all our children heard all day long growing up. Owie.

  • You wrote: “It is true that girls in every family experience abuse to varying degrees ~ regardless of their religious beliefs, non-beliefs or admitted confusion.”

    Wow, this is a pretty large and bold statement. You have stated here that EVERY girl is abused in some way. How can you prove this to be factual?

  • Vyckie, this post strikes me as startlingly inaccurate. Stacy McDonald and her friends are claiming that quivering daughters blame their parents for their lives’ misfortunes, and you are offering a potential reason why this might be true… but it just isn’t true. All of the QDs I know, including Hillary, are NOT blaming their parents for things that are presently wrong with their lives. Most of us do not even blame our parents for the abuse we suffered as children! I have struggled to point out that it was the teachings of my church that drove my mother to believe that what she was doing was the best for us all and I can blame her only for doggedly believing (which she was told to do as her salvation depended on it) when the formula was obviously failing. I do not appreciate your taking McDonald’s claim seriously on this. It’s a vicious lie.

  • I think there is a big difference between the “why” taught to children in “Character Training” manuals and the “why” involved in day-to-day life decisions. The first one teaches you “why” it’s never okay to disobey your parents (because it will mystically result in catastrophic pain for you later). The latter teaches you “why” you don’t run out in the street without looking (because that action has a direct consequence of catastrophic pain). I was raised by a “rebel” mother within QF/P, and she trained me to make decisions based on their own merits rather than on authority. I was in the minority, and was always a little horrified when my peers would shut up and obey without ever asking what prompted their parents to ask them to do something that seemed strange. I was also totally unnerved when I babysat as a teenager. The kids asked my permission for EVERYTHING and all did exactly as I said. The experience terrified me. I thought, “These kids will do exactly what I say no matter what it is. If I screw up, there is nothing to save them from my own stupid mistakes!”

  • africaturtle

    sierra, that IS scary…i used to think i wanted kids like that…but i’m not like that….so why would my kids be like that?…i like questioning…it disturbs lots of people…most people don’t like to be questioned. But i think it is healthy. My mom always thinks she wanted kids like that (even though we’re all grown now)…and i still assure her, she doesn’t.
    I’ve never met kids like that…but when i read about them, i wonder what parents have to do to “get” kids like that. My first born, i swear (when we were trying the “rod” method, by the Pearls) I really think i could have beat her to death to “win” her will. She did not fear pain…she almost seemed to take it as a “challenge”…that made me do a very quick “about-face” because i was not willing to take my “correction” to that level. But it still got more intense than what i am now comfortable with looking back… in fact i think it contributed to more problems than it solved. Now though, it is still tempting to sometimes just go on a power trip and say “because i said so!” or doll out a smack on the back side…doesn’t require taking “time” to explain the “whys” .

  • africaturtle

    I too, questioned the “all girls suffer abuse” statement…but i’m not sure what you mean exactly Sierra…it seems a subtle difference to me. I am not a quivering daughter but how can you accuse someone of abusing you and NOT hold them accountable for that? It seems kinda difficult to me. Sure that doesn’t mean everything that goes wrong in your life is your parents’ fault, but there might be part that is. I don’t see how that detracts from the central message. Maybe some parents are more to “blame” than others, but it’s clear that their actions/beliefs affect their kids in nearly every way. I’m hoping maybe Vycki will choose to clarify some here. I think i’m “missing” something.

  • Beppie

    Hi, first time commenter here.

    Anyway, I interpreted that line as Vyckie saying that girls in all TYPES of families experience abuse, not that every girl experiences it.

  • dangermom

    I am also taken aback by the comment. I read it as “all girls suffer abuse” (and therefore, presumably, all boys too? So, everyone?). I hope that’s not a correct reading and that we’ll get some clarification.

  • I could have worded that statement more carefully. I did not mean to say that every girl is abused ~ but rather, as Beppie said, girls in all types of families experience abuse. Also ~ when I wrote, “to varying degrees” ~ I was referring to the girls’ perception of abuse which I will talk about more in Part 3.

  • What I am saying is that I hold my mother accountable only for belief in a system that was abusive to me – not for being abusive to me herself. The emotional abuse I experienced was literally encoded in the messages of my church – that women were subhuman (‘byproducts” of men destined to serve them).

    I understand my mother’s humanity. She was trying to save her marriage. She was trying to hang on to a family she believed God promised her. I hold her accountable for failing to realize that wasn’t happening and shutting her eyes to the hurt I experienced. I don’t hold her responsible for creating that hurt – William Branham and his poisonous doctrines are responsible.

    There are two kinds of “blame” being assigned here: blame for past hurts and blame for current dissatisfaction. I don’t think Hillary, Razing Ruth or I are focused on either of these things. We are interested in exposing how bad religion crushed us and turned our parents against us. I don’t think it’s a particularly subtle distinction. I accuse my church of preaching abuse. I “accuse” my mother of following that church. That is not the same as accusing my mother of abuse. The case is different, perhaps, in Razing Ruth’s story and those of others whose parents were more personally abusive. Still, I’ve always taken her intent to show how Gothard/ATI empowered her father to abuse – not to emphasize his own personal abusiveness.

  • Upon further thought, I’m not persuaded that being raised by parents with high expectations automatically enables young women to assign high standards to their parents. I was raised to show grace and mercy at all costs – and that my mother was untouchable because she was filled with the Holy Spirit and accountable directly to God. I was unequivocally convinced that it was not my place to judge her or apply any kind of standard or expectation to her actions. I have actually yelled at my mother (for insisting on my having contact with my abusive father) only one time in the nearly five years since I’ve left fundamentalism, and that experience was against my own nature. I was trained never to have that kind of audacity – and she was a lenient parent! The “turning of the tables” Vyckie speaks of here does not apply to me, and I suspect I’m not alone in this.

  • Didi

    But they/we AAAARE blaming our parents to some level. we are saying they were wrong and it hurt me and these ways. they did these things and now i struggle with these things.

    let’s say a family does not teach their daughters upper level math and then when the daughter gets out and tries to go to college she cannot succeed or pass basic entry level tests because she was never taught. to some extent she will hold her parents’ accountable… it’s just reality.

  • Laurie

    Didi, perhaps you blame your parents but I didn’t get that from the book at all. When Jesus hung on the cross He said “Father forgive them; they know not what they do.” That wasn’t blame…He recognized that the people thought they were doing the right thing –which was to them crucifying a criminal, which they did routinely–and He separated (and loved!) the PEOPLE even as they murdered Him.

    While patriocentric or cultic parents end up placing their beliefs above actual relationships, they do it for their faith. What I see folks like Sierra doing is separating the people from the belief –acknowledging that their folks meant well and loved them in their way, but then separately pointing out the results that certain beliefs and lifestyles had on them –and therefore taking responsibility for their own beliefs, as adults, which includes looking at the fruits and questioning the teachings of this lifestyle.

  • Sierra ~ many of us ex-QF mothers who are working on this series are experiencing an extreme backlash from our children ~ and that is sure to come out in this series, though for the most part we are trying to deal with the general themes of SD in response to Hillary’s book and website. It’s a touchy topic with plenty of potential landmines ~ but we are going to do our best to set an example of responding to the pain and turmoil of SDs in a healthy, healing manner.

    One theme which permeates the SD website is this defensiveness ~ these mothers feel accused and attacked ~ despite the obvious great pains which Hillary takes in her book to respond graciously and “speak the truth in love” ~ the defensiveness on the SD site is so thick and heavy that it really must be addressed.

    For those of us who have left the mindset and the lifestyle ~ we are not shocked or terribly dismayed when our chidren are angry or accusatory (again, Sierra ~ I am not stating that you, Hillary, Razing Ruth and those QDs who are sharing their stories here on NLQ are angry and accusatory) ~ it seems to us a natural outcome of having positioned ourselves in an almost God-like position in our children’s lives for all those years. So ~ what we are saying to Stacey and the other writers at SD is, Why are you so surprised?

    Please bear with me as we’re still fairly early in this series ~ hopefully, we can provide more clarity on this as we go along.

  • africaturtle

    this is a good insight, thanks for sharing!

  • africaturtle

    this is enriching ( for me) to see it from both of your perspectives… both make sense…if that makes any sense! 🙂

  • Sierra ~ in order to make it clear that I am not referring to Hillary and her Quivering Daughters book and website, I have added a caveat to the end of this piece. I hope this is helpful. 🙂

  • Didi

    I don’t know what other word would say it better Laurie… maybe blame strikes chords on here that are not intended… I just mean parents did X – it was wrong, hurtful, abusive, demeaning, whatever the words or emotions or ways of describing it you use – isn’t that blaming them?

    I felt Hillary was INCREDIBLY gracious and kind towards her family – and I have defended the book everytime this comes up – I am not saying it is WRONG to lay some blame at the feet of the parents. I am saying I think it is impossible not to.

    There is a gracious, kind, and right way to say “Hey, my parents really messed up in these ways”

  • Brilliant insights about what I would call “reaping what we sow”!

    Keeping them “safely protected” at home doesn’t work because adult “Arrows” are meant to be launched!

    Your mention of enmeshment reminds me of a blog I read recently which your readers might enjoy:

  • As a QF mother, I really appreciate this Sierra! That my embracing certain doctrines wound up hurting my children breaks my heart. Like you, they have processed through the anger and hurt and have been able to put that behind them and forgive me.