Quoting Quiverfull: Modern Society Oblivious?

Quoting Quiverfull: Modern Society Oblivious? January 10, 2013

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.

Cindy of the blog “Get Along Home” was quoted on Ladies Against Feminism on January 9, 2013

We don’t seem to understand (and by “we”, I mean “not me”) that children are a literal investment. You have to put in the work to get the payoff. You can’t contribute no people to the future and then expect that future to go well for you any more than you can put zero dollars into your 401K and expect it to be there when you’re ready to retire. I hate to have to spell all this out, because a) it feels like talking down to people and b) it’s not even all that interesting to think about, but apparently there is a large number of people of reproductive age who actually need these bald facts pointed out to them before it is too late for them to decide to procreate for their own good.

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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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  • chervil

    What’s they payback supposed to be. You birthed kids so clearly they owe you one. Pay up, kids.

    Funny, that sounds almost reasonable because then there’s this lady who encourages political fertility:


  • Sal

    The basic flaw in her argument: she seems to believe it is better to contribute many people to the future rather than a few people with a high level of emotional and psychological well-being. I’m sure she would argue that Quiverfull produces people with high levels of well-being once you subtract whatever accounts for human sin nature or some such. But I’ve never seen this kind of rigid, abusive patriarchal system produce any reasonable level of emotional health.

  • chervil

    Well, that’s strange. That link isn’t on the live site, it’s just cached, but it was there at some point. I thought it was kind of a weird idea, to breed a bunch of conservative babies. How can you even tell? Do you put the liberals ones back? What other reasons do they have for producing large families? It doesn’t seem to ever be “because I really love kids”.

    Your kids as an investment that is expected to pay off in 40 years or so. Sometimes the market tanks your 401k just as you’re about ready to retire.

    Also, it seems to me sometimes these fervent believers are the same people who reject their own parents and families who are not fellow travelers, is that true? I guess it doesn’t count then but I wonder what kind of investment these quiverful moms have proven to be for their own parents? If this were really the case, you’d think they’d be talking about that a lot, in terms of themselves supporting their own parents, it would be a big part of their lives.

  • There are more ways to prepare for the future than by breeding.

    The planet is not short of human beings. If we need more human beings in North America in the future we can get them from somewhere else.

    You need a lot of kids to have good odds of having one or two willing and able to care for you in your old age. Some might not get along with you, some might have disabilities of one kind or another and need care from you, some might be living in other countries, some might have too many work and/or family responsibilities of their own. My grandparents on my father’s side had eleven children and that worked out about right for them. My grandparents on my mother’s side only had three and it’s not enough. My parents have five and it will just about work but it will be tough.

    One can also invest in money or real estate, and in community. When I’m old I will need paid care from non-relatives and I will need a concerned person to look in on me to make sure that the care is adequate. I will need to be able to pay for the care; I will need good social and communication skills to be able to work effectively with a paid caregiver (likely one born in a different country); and I will need a social network that includes people younger than I am. Ideally I should be a nice person who people are motivated to help. Failing that (it might be hard to be a nice person if I am demented, depressed and incontinent) I need to live in a society where people get the help they need by virtue of being members of the society, not by being nice people perceived to be deserving. These are all things I can invest in today and they are all things I would want whether or not I was looking at them as a retirement plan.

    To imagine that the only way to get care in one’s old age is to breed one’s own caregivers is to perceive the world as a cold, merciless, isolating place — and to have a nasty, entitled attitude towards one’s offspring. This isn’t what I see at all when I go outside and it’s not whatI think of when I look at young people growing and thriving.

  • Fortunately there are people that don’t view children as an investment and think that having kids for that purpose is a bad and selfish reason. They don’t need those “bald facts” pointed out to them, because they’ve heard them and they recognize them as inherently selfish.

  • Yes– ultimately, what this is saying is that certain people– one’s children– are means to an end. The way I learned it, you’re supposed to love people and use things– not the other way around.

  • Yep.

  • Sarah

    Exactly what I was thinking. Children aren’t investments in the future. They aren’t political weapons. They are nothing less than a parent’s opportunity and responsibility to love unconditionally. A potential parent who thinks of them as anything less will make a terrible parent.

  • Since I’m not actually a leader in any kind of movement, and I don’t identify with the “quiverfull” movement (see here: http://getalonghome.com/2012/09/small-family-large-family-gods-family/ ) , I’m not really sure how to respond to this. I will say that I don’t think you’re going to get a good read of what I think from one rant, especially that one. I don’t believe that people are economic units to be manipulated, is what I’m getting at there. They *are* a kind of investment though: in fulfilling human relationships, in furthering the human race (if you’re doing a good job with them, at least), and in one’s own understanding of oneself and human nature, and yes, in an old age that is less likely to be lonely. The parent-child relationship is one that is meant to keep the vulnerable sheltered at both ends of the lifespan. It’s not about “pay up” as the first commenter put it. It’s about loving relationships.

  • Celena

    As a regular follower of Cindy’s, this exerpt from one post seems to be taken very out of context. Anyone that looks at (and bothers to read) other posts on her blog will see that she is a very devoted, loving mother… not merely procreating so she’ll have someone to care for her when she’s older. Goodness. I guess it’s easy to judge someone (and their motives) from one single paragraph from one single post without bothering to look any deeper.

  • flapdog

    That’s a really good point – when people are stretched to the limit taking care of their own huge families, how can they help their aging parents? Maybe the concept does not apply to people whose parents do not measure up to the children’s religious standards.
    Also I have often questioned how someone knows their kids will carry on their belief system? That is just a ridiculous notion which I have seen debunked many times over on this site.
    This is just the worst reason ever for having kids – so they will take care of you later in life. How selfish can a person be? (I understand this is common in developing countries; I exclude them from this criticism.)

  • Lucreza Borgia

    That doesn’t negate the fact that not everyone is capable of giving children that loving relationship or that you don’t have to pump out an excess of children to get the same result with fewer children.

  • Jennifer

    Well, good job of totally missing her point, all of you!

    First, children are an investment. You invest your time and love in them and you WILL receive a return on that. Children are great about returning love and time.

    Second, if you raise them according to what you truly believe (i.e. practice what you preachb) then they will go faithfully in that way. I know. I am living that proof.

    Finally, have you ever considered that we do not blog about caring for our parents because A) they don’t yet need care or B) another family member is providing it? No, you would rather tear down because you do not understand and do not want to read the whole post to comprehend.

  • chervil

    I have no doubt she’s devoted to her family, and that’s what she should continue to do and maybe not write things like:

    “there is a large number of people of reproductive age who actually need these bald facts pointed out to them before it is too late for them to decide to procreate for their own good.”

    Procreate for their own good? Seems like Cindy does have an agenda, maybe she should just focus her energies on her own offspring, and take a class in “Mind Your Own Business”.

  • chervil

    No doubt, but that’s not the tone that Cindy took here. She feels she needs to lay out why people of procreating age MUST breed, for their own good.

  • chervil

    “You have to put in the work to get the payoff. ”

    Payoff. Your words, not mine. I would have used “fulfilling”. I do find parenting fulfilling, but I wouldn’t go around telling people to procreate for their own good.

  • chervil

    “Finally, have you ever considered that we do not blog about caring for our parents because A) they don’t yet need care or B) another family member is providing it? ”

    Really. Not one person. With our aging population and the endless stories about elder care issues, the myriad health issues that plague aging people, the hours and hours of work people now are putting into caring for their children and their aging parents, dealing with all that, resulting in huge costs and lost wages, not one single story about their own parents? Not buying it.

  • saraquill

    If those beliefs include making babies out of duty, and being told I’m bad if I don’t, then I want nothing to do with her “point.”

  • Emily K

    Well, we aren’t quiverfull, but we have 5 children and homeschool, and our whole family will be moving in with my mom and dad to help take care of our aging parents, and we would do this if we had more, as long as it didn’t bother them living with so many kids.

  • Emily K

    Have you ever been in a nursing home? I have.

    Ideally, you would have loving family making sure you are being taken care of.

    Dad was just in a bad nursing home. We got him the HECK out of there. Who else would have? There are no concerned strangers.

  • Phatchick

    “The planet is not short of human beings. If we need more human beings in North America in the future we can get them from somewhere else.”
    But they won’t be the proper white, anglo-saxon, xtain babies that are the only ones acceptable to our Lord.
    {sarcasm mode now off}

  • Emily K

    Who says the people having children aren’t loving them? Its not an either or scenario.

    It used to be that family took care of family. Now we look for institutions. I’m saying “screw that”. I am going to raise my children to know that they have responsibilities when they get older. Its the right thing to do.

  • Emily K

    Payoff means I think getting loving relationships. You have to put the work into a relationship to have a payoff of a healthy close relationship.

  • Carrie

    This kind of post is precisely why I am very skeptical of the “service” of this website. I’m brand new here, but seems to me that it’s just a place for people to congregate and bash people who think the way you “used to” before you became “enlightened”. Not everyone who believes that artificial birth control is wrong, considers a large family a blessing, or follows a traditional patriarchal family structure is the victim of spiritual abuse. You sure wouldn’t know that coming here, though. I’m not “quiverfull,” but after seeing some of the things here, I think I’d prefer it.

    Cindy isn’t even part of the “quiverfull” movement, and says so very clearly in the post she linked. So why is she held up as one of the “voices of the Quiverfull Movement”? To take a simple quote and take it out of context is dishonest, to say the least. You may not agree with her, and it’s fine to express your disagreement, but I think having a regular feature to bash people based on a quote that may or may not be taken out of context is not a very healthy way to recover from spiritual abuse.

    I’m not saying that there aren’t some–or even many–abusive people in the “quiverfull” movement, and I’m sure the people who gather here have some terrible experiences and major psychological and emotional wounds (maybe even physical ones, too). But, firstly, I think it’s very important for you to distinguish between the people who simply follow their own philosophy of large families and those who follow a “movement” specifically geared toward that, because some people you raise up as “leaders of the quiverfull movement” have stated specifically and publicly that they are not. And secondly, I don’t think it’s fair to label every single aspect of the “quiverfull” movement as evil. I’m not quiverfull, but I am a Catholic, and so I don’t believe that using artificial birth control is a morally acceptable action. Does that make me worth bashing, too? Does that mean I’m repressed or spiritually abused? Because I’m definitely not. You may not agree with me, but my position is a valid one.

  • Emily K

    What is an excess of children? Is there something wrong with wanting a large family?

  • Emily K

    Yes. Because the time to breed is when you are fertile. Not in your late thirties when its hit or miss. Its biology.

  • Emily K

    Don’t breed. We’ll just ship them in?

    Or are you saying that responsible loving people have no business procreating. We should adopt only to take care of the socially irresponsible?

    Adoption is good.

    Procreating is good.

    Parents intentionally procreating and taking good care of their own children is better.

  • chervil

    As long as you’re not telling someone else what to do, whether and when to have children, how many and why, why should there be an issue. Please, make your own decisions, whatever works for you and your family, it’s your personal choice. Other people would also like the same respect for the choices they make.

    Cindy is the one who feels that she has all the answers for everyone else, she’s not just following her own philosophy on her blog, she’s basically doing exactly what you’re saying you don’t like. Just like you, people would like to not feel judged over the very personal family decisions they make, whether to have 12 children, 2 children, 1 child or none. Going on your blog and pointing out the family choices that other people are making that you don’t agree with “for their own good” is tacky.

  • “You can’t contribute no people to the future and then expect that future to go well for you any more than you can put zero dollars into your 401K and expect it to be there when you’re ready to retire.”

    The base idea here is that expectations of the future depend on your children, that you cannot invest in the future some other way, that singles like me should expect the future to go badly because despite whatever caring, knowledge or work we contribute to life, it is not God or other people who care in your old age but only your children.
    The implication is that I did something terrible by not hopping into bed with whatever irresponsible selfish guy I could find, because if I did I would have had children – not taken loving personal care of because my salary is small and I cannot afford to stay at home with them even while they are babies – but at least THEY will look after ME one day.

  • suzannecalulu

    Her quote was used because it appeared on a pro-quiverfull website used to support the assertion of that website that she and her views are Quiverfull. It states plainly that Ladies Against Feminism posted this quote.

  • chervil

    Maybe. I’m sure Cindy does have a loving relationship with her family.

    But the entire post was about having children to… to create future worker/tax payers who can take care of you so you’re not a burden to society. This early investment will reap rewards personally and societally. Assuming that that’s part of your retirement plan, saving just enough throughout your life until your children can take you in, I guess. Or, you could have just saved up all those untold thousands of dollars over 18 years and a college education, invested wisely, diversified your portfolio (watch those bubbles, don’t follow the herd), vacationed once a year and used that rest to finance your own retirement, be a job creator and hire someone to take care of you or move to a senior living facility.

    I never thought of my kids that way. All new to me, quite an education.

  • Jenny Islander

    Yes, this. Treating children as a necessary investment ignores the plain fact that some people are just not the marrying and begetting type. The Apostle Paul, for one, recognized this. Of course, if you don’t assert that every word of Scripture is a direct command from God Himself, then you are free to disagree with Paul’s opinions.

  • Nea

    You’re missing the point. It’s not that “it’s best to get pregnant when pregnancy is easier” it’s being told that we MUST have children or have crappy old ages – a statement that is staggering in its lack of understanding both psychology and history. Just because I have a functioning uterus does not mean that I have the money, time, or patience to properly care for children. I would be a *terrible* mother! And yet this person is patronizingly explaining that I don’t understand that I need them ‘for my own good.’ It certainly wouldn’t be for the kid’s own good!

    And then there’s the demonstrable fact that there are now and have always been women who don’t have children. Is Cindy really trying to convince me that every single one of those women had a horrible, lonely, uninvested old age? Seriously? There are no maiden aunts in her family? No widowed sisters? No unmarried brothers or uncles?

    And that’s not even getting into the problem of women who have children who die before her. The world was full of industrial accidents once, and it’s still full of war.

    Birthing children on the assumption that you are making an investment in your own future – and that you have secured that investment – is a fool’s game. It blithely ignores that the children have lives of their own and opinions of their own and may leave you. It ignores that the children may themselves always need care if they are sick or injured. It ignores that any life *ends* at some point, and that point may not be when it’s convenient for *you.*

    That’s biology too, that last bit. All lives end. Whether you believe they end in silence or heaven, they have still *ended.*

  • stairway to heaven

    There are certainly ways of investing not only your own future but also in humankind in general, other than cranking out more children. Helping the elderly neighbor or being part of, or donating to, a volunteer organization for instance. Hard to do without a spare moment or dime.

  • chervil

    “It ignores that the children may themselves always need care if they are sick or injured. It ignores that any life *ends* at some point, and that point may not be when it’s convenient for *you.*”

    Very well said, Nea. My plans for my future is a plan for my KIDS’ future, not mine, and I work towards it every day, I want to pay off the STUPID mortgage on my house so they can have the house and live in it, rent it, sell it,whatever they want without that hanging over their heads. It’s MY choice. I hope I can make that happen for them. But I’m not going to go blog about how everyone should do that. But obviously because I’m a feminist, I must be anti-children, at least according to the website. I had no idea. Really, “Ladies Against Feminism”, thanks for letting me know.

    Patronizing and judgmental? “Ladies Against Feminism”? I know it’s not Cindy’s site, but the judgmental attitude is baked right into the website name where her post is featured. Also, there’s this final thought from her post:

    “still going to have to work to pay those taxes that our beneficent state will rely upon to support your wrinkled old butt. I have 5 future taxpayers in my home. You’re welcome. (Actually, no you’re not welcome. I resent the heck out of your presumption on the future labor of my children, who deserve the fruits of their own labor.)”

    Bingo. Of course, it comes down to politics. There’s so much going on in just these sentences, I just don’t even know where to start unpacking it all.

  • chervil

    Jenny, don’t you know that you’re part of a ‘short sighted, “me centered” modern society’ and you ‘seems to be oblivious’? What would you do without “Ladies Against Feminism” pointing this out to you. You can thank them yourself.

  • Cathy W

    Perhaps if you have a lot of kids, you’re counting on one of them to end up unmarried or otherwise childless, or at least young enough to not have too many kids of their own as you start to have aging-related problems? Or have an adult grandchild by that point? Who knows.

  • Nea

    (Actually, no you’re not welcome. I resent the heck out of your presumption on the future labor of my children, who deserve the fruits of their own labor.)

    Wow, selfish much? Perhaps I equally resent her teaching her children that while it’s terrible for me to put effort and taxes into society it’s awful for me to reap any benefit thereof, while at the very same time, her children should benefit from my effort and taxes without feeling obligated to pass anything back themselves.

    On the other hand, if her kids don’t want to labor for me, then I don’t need to give them the fruits of said labor, do I? Nobody’s saying that I have to hire her kids to help out… in fact, she’s ordering me to bear my own laborers so that her kids won’t even have the option of working for me!

  • Nea

    Er… “while it’s terrible for me to etc AND reap any benefit” etc. That’s what I get for not rewriting the whole sentence instead of half of it!

    My point stands, though. That’s pretty selfish, to whine of the burden of the old and poor, and complain that her kids have to give to Caesar. Just like Jesus taught… oh, wait.

  • Lucreza Borgia

    Adopted children are damaged goods?

  • Lucreza Borgia

    There is something wrong with it when it’s not something one truly wants. Being told that god wants you to have many children isn’t wanting them for yourself.

  • Yes, this. It’s all very well to insist that every female should have children “for her own good,” but when you also claim to follow the Bible as literally as possible, don’t claim the Bible supports the burden you are tying on other women’s backs when it actually doesn’t.

  • Petticoat Philosopher

    Why is it better? Why is it better for people to raise only their own biological children than it is for them to raise children who would otherwise be without safe, loving homes if they have the means? I would like to have biological children one day but I do not have any illusions about this being a better path, let alone a result of some kind of selfless instinct. On the contrary, I think if I were truly and completely selfless, I would opt to adopt children instead of adding to our already-unwieldy global population just because of my desire to have children that share my special-snowflake genes. I’m not perfect though, so I’m not going to hold myself to those kinds of standards. I have decided, though, that if I ever want more than 2 children (in other words, raise a family above replacement level) and I have the means to give them good quality of life, I will adopt those kids. I may even adopt after one.

  • Petticoat Philosopher

    You’re talking about two different things here: benefits to self and benefits to society. When it comes to benefits to self, not everybody feels that children will provide them. Some people just aren’t interested in having kids, do not find the idea of parenting attractive, and are perfectly capable of getting all the fulfillment they need from relationships with people that they did make themselves, both when they are young and when they are old. I am not one of those people. I would like to have kids and I do think an old age without children would be lonely–for ME. But, true story, not everyone thinks like me. And those feelings are not, in themselves, a good reason to have kids. Having kids should not be all about fulfilling my own emotional needs.

    As for benefits to society (ie. “furthering the human race,” since I assume that means something to you besides simply increasing the population), people are also quite capable of giving back without contributing biological children. To name just one of many, many examples, I had a wonderful teacher in middle school who was deliberately childless. She’s never been interested in raising her own kids but she was an enormous source of inspiration and compassion to the young adolescents she worked with, and a more positive influence in the lives of many of her students than their own parents were. She’s a big reason why I decided to work with adolescents myself. I wanted to be like her, and do that kind of good in the world. And I think, at times, I have, despite the fact that I have not procreated yet.

    What if we had one person like her for every 100 parents cranking out kids so they can beat them, teach them that they’re inferior because of their gender, hurt them out if they’re gay, teach them to hurt others if THEY are gay etc. etc? What a better world we’d have. There’s a lot more to “furthering the human race” than simply possessing a functioning reproductive system and using it.

  • Petticoat Philosopher

    This is true. But why do the relationships you put work into have to be with biological children in order for them to be fulfilling?

  • Tori

    My grandmother has two children, she now has 38 grandchildren and great grandchildren,due to members of my family getting into the english quiverful movement (yes, it exists) . Despite this she remains living at home almost exclusively due to the help of her two sons, so sod that numbers game.
    I have ONE child, she is now ten (and athetist, has never believed in god, santa, the tooth fairy.. I could go on). She is an incredibly laid back, well behaved, easy going kid, who is excelling at school and has sleepovers all the time. She’s fantastic. I chose to invest my time and attention into the one child I had. I want, and expect nothing from her, ever. She makes me incredibly happy just by being who she is. I certainly wouldn’t expect her to care for me, ever, it is my responsibility to make sure I have enough money saved for care. not hers. I’m the parent, she’s the child, and from my own parents example I know that that will never truly change.

  • saraquill

    Being a family member does not mean that one is inherently capable of caretaking, or has inborn training in that field.

  • I think it is responsible to not make babies unless I have a responsible husband, willing to love me and my children in the long run. She thinks it is very irresponsible that I, who found no man to marry, made no babies.

  • Eva

    As a mostly liberal momma, I just want to put in a couple thoughts.
    While I do not agree with much of the political/cultural weapon imagery associated with reproduction in many of these quotes, there its a nugget of truth which makes the lifestyle palatable to so many.
    – If you care deeply about a life philosophy, such as radical Christianity, then it is important to take action to ensure that those cultural ideas endure-
    For me, the cultural/political philosophy that is most important is self-responsibility and the ability to evaluate many opinions and facts and decide on the best/most successful options for yourself as an individual.
    In America (and other industrialized/first world locations) we have the luxury of explorIng and dIscussIng Important issues because many of us don’t necessarily have to devote all our energy to survival. Most relevant to this discussion, we have the ability to pass this luxury on to children we raise in this environment.
    While I am definitely in favor of importing new ideas, in the form of immigration from overpopulated areas, raising your own open-minded, responsible children (biological or adopted) is one individual action you can control and choose.
    And if you have the Inclination and resources to raise 5 or 6… or more… well those kids will have a voice in all the decisions the quIverfull descendants are advocating in 40 years.