Quoting Quiverfull: Struggling Adult Daughters?

Quoting Quiverfull: Struggling Adult Daughters? April 17, 2013

by Anna Sofia and Elizabeth Botkin of Visionary Daughters – Authoritative Parents, Adult Daughters & Power Struggles – May 14, 2007

Many stay-at-home girls believe that, as they become adults, their fathers’ jurisdiction over their lives will lessen. They feel that, in order to mature into individuals able to think and act for themselves, they must be “liberated” from another’s input into their lives. This is because we’re drowning in a culture that doesn’t understand what the Bible says about individualism vs. unity, autonomy vs. authority, or license vs. liberty.

Dear girls – don’t be afraid of losing your “individual personhood” or the ability to think for yourself, and don’t think that those are the signs of an adult. Any two-year-old girl has a mind of her own and most certainly thinks for herself. Every woman knows her own mind – it’s part of being Eve’s daughters. It’s not a sign of maturity to struggle for autonomy – that’s toddler stuff. The sign of our maturity and adulthood is when we willingly submit ourselves to God-given authority and therefore to God Himself. This is a struggle, and it requires strength, wisdom, responsibility and spiritual maturity.

Comments open below


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.


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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  • vyckiegarrison

    War is peace, freedom is slavery, ignorance is strength …

  • L

    We are most intelligent when we willingly shelve our brains, right?

    i’m very intelligent woman married to a very intelligent man, that sounds prideful but well, I am smart, and believe me, it wasn’t a stellar thing in the patriarchal circles, as my mom frequently was worried I wouldn’t find a husband smarter than me.
    That was why they pretty much picked my husband, well, one of the reasons. He was the only one they knew smart enough. Mom insists he is smarter, much more intelligent than I am. At the time, I had few friends and no hobbies, and my grades/test scores were my only claim to fame. So that hurt! When I got offended she reminded me – years before we were courting, the year we were graduating high school – how good it was because if we got married I would need a husband smarter than myself. She noted almost sadly that a godly boy smarter than me was hard to come by.
    Turns out my husband does not want me to shut up submissively. Long before leaving quiverfull we had an egalitarian marriage in practice because it just works best for us.

  • Later in the post they say, “The mature daughter is [not one that rebels nor mindlessly obeys but] the one that takes the initiative [in carrying out her parents’ wishes]. This is one thing that makes us different from mindless automatons with no wills of our own (which some girls seem mortally afraid of becoming.)”

    Aside from their dismissive attitude about becoming automatons, what they are suggesting here is that the way to advance in this “program” is not just by fully absorbing its values, but also taking an active part in propagating them. And we see this all to clearly in many of the publications of younger people in this crowd–they gain social capital by parroting the lines they’ve been fed.

    So when we ask how it is that women in this system do so much to perpetuate misogyny, statements like this show that perpetuating misogyny is their only access to some sort of perceived agency. A very limited agency to be sure, but at least it gives them permission to start a conversation (or host a blog or write a book or make a documentary) in the process of carrying out their authority’s wishes. And thus anyone who has any aspiration for agency must try to out-comply all her peers in perpetuating a system that is designed to restrain her development into a mature human being.

    Nope. Can’t see anything wrong with that arrangement.

  • Nea

    Interesting verbal trick there. They say that women want to “think and act for themselves” at first, but then flip straight into only discussing thinking for yourself. Presumably the people who find the writing of these inexperienced girls to be inspirational will miss that vital difference – that toddlers can think for themselves but cannot act for themselves, and neither can adult daughters at home, because they’ve been infantalized.

    The only way to mature is to stretch and exercise your own autonomy – to think AND ACT for yourself.

  • L

    “thus anyone who has any aspiration for agency must try to out-comply all her peers in perpetuating a system that is designed to restrain her development into a mature human being.” ~ well put! that’s exactly what my experience was. The boy i was destined to marry (and did marry and don’t regret marrying even if i regret some of the motives) and I co wrote/published/edited a small christian magazine. Ah, we were so zealous to spread what we really believed was right, but we’d never really had a safe opportunity to make our own opinions and come to conclusions. Between the magazine and our really good ACT and SAT scores, published to the group email loop, of course, as evidence of how well homeschooling works, we were kind of poster children. Our no-touch courtship was the icing on the cake. I now feel really bad for all the burdens i helped to place on the people I knew, especially regarding ’emotional purity’ and courtship, and female submission. I don’t know how to make that right. All i can say in my defense is, i genuinely believed that people would live happier, healthier, and more godly lives if they didn’t date, submitted to parents, and always put their wants and wishes aside for their families… I had to believe i was happy that way, and my only unhappiness was caused by me doing everything so imperfectly. The Botkin Daughters are probably in the same exact position, except with a huge platform compared to our 30 some subscribers. Which actually makes their position more dangerous, because that much more hangs on them maintaining their beliefs… When you become a spokesperson for something you’ve never really been able to question, it makes it much harder to question when you are older and have accumulated some doubts. i feel sorry for them.

  • Anne

    thanks for that, Naomi. I’ve been trying to get those thoughts to gel in my brain and you worded it really well!

  • Fledgling Feminist

    THIS. Naomi put it into words.
    I think it’s similar to many women in other hard-line patriarchal religions/cultures. They would not always describe themselves as unhappy, and might even be the ones to harshly police other women under their authority.

    It’s the only safe way to feel some control.

  • K

    This is the reason why I feel so sorry for girls born into Quiverfull families.

    Part of being an adult is being able to make decisions for yourself and think for yourself, and have your own individual personhood. Its part of being a human. Why do these people try and take everything that makes people human away from their daughters. Why is the only way a girl can be a person is for her to have never exited the uterus?

    This is why there are so many unmarried adult Quiverfull women who have the life experience and maturity of 14 year olds. An example of this is Sarah Maxwell, she is 31 and still following daddys orders in the same way she was when she was 10. Shes never had a job, never lived alone, never been in a relationship and doesnt even leave the house alone.

    They say they dont believe in teenagers, but then they allow their children to act like teenagers until well into their 20s at most-compared to the 5 years normal teenagers have until they can move out and start acting like adults.

  • Jenny Islander

    That’s an excellent point. They don’t believe in teenagers, but they do believe in keeping their adult children in a perpetual preteen state. No, younger than that! My six-year-old daughter can do things Sarah Maxwell appears never to have done. She controls her own money, decides what she will purchase, and goes down to the corner store all by herself to buy it.

  • texcee

    OMG, I think I just threw up a little in my mouth!

  • Independent Thinker

    One of my favorite sayings is the measurement for intelligence is the ability to adapt. How is someone becoming more educated or wiser when the are in a perpetual state of oppression? Isn’t maturity and wisdom a result of the ability to adapt to life’s circumstances?

  • Brennan

    Reading this on their site, I was struck by two things:

    1) This reads like one of the many letters they write to fans who’ve asked for advice, but it’s not. In this particular case, it was *the parents* who wrote to the Botkins girls, presumably to enlist the Botkins’s help in verbally beating their daughters into submission. And what a hopeless picture they paint for the three daughters who, by all appearances, didn’t even ask their opinion!

    2) The frequent use of the world “girls.” I’m younger than Elizabeth Botkin, but I started thinking of myself as a “woman” quite a while ago. Meanwhile, for all their talk of adulthood, they seem so proud of still being “girls.”

  • Persephone

    The whole SAHD movement is something I was completely unaware of until NLQ started. I just looked up the Maxwell Family blog; it was making me feel very icky.

    The photo at the top has the men all dressed exactly alike, and the women all dressed like each other and their hair too. I felt sick. And then I felt so sorry for those kids. I didn’t read much of it, because it started triggering.

  • Persephone

    One of my favorite sayings is: “Adapt or die.” I’ve obviously reached the age of crotchetiness.

  • Stacey B.

    You’re right! The use of the word “girl” is really interesting. It’s like they are actually PROUD of not being able to make decisions and having the maturity of a teenage girl

  • “It’s not a sign of maturity to struggle for autonomy – that’s toddler stuff.”
    It IS a sign of growing maturity to struggle for autonomy. If even two-year olds do, the non-struggle for it is a sign of either
    a) being suppressed to a level where they are less than toddlers.
    b) having enough autonomy not to struggle for it.

    “The sign of our maturity and adulthood is when we willingly submit ourselves to God-given authority and therefore to God Himself.”
    No. The Bible never teach that. The Bible make very limited mention of authorities – and the submission that people like Paul and Peter recommended in the Bible certainly had limits. Paul and Peter flatly ignored their authorities when authorities told them to do things like not preaching. Note: The authorities did not ask them to do any sinful act, but they refused to obey when authorities limit their activity.
    Nobody in the Bible said that you should always and in every situation see people as authorities, but that even those who fancy themselves authorities should not lord it over others – not take away their autonomy. Submission to parents is put in the context that spirit-filled believers will all submit to one another, not as forever seeing your father as lord over all you do.
    And fathers are never called the God-given authorities of adult daughters, unless you misuse an obscure chapter of the OT book Numbers (which in Hebrew, use a word that do not refer to adults).
    And the Bible never say submitting = maturity. Since they want to use toddlers as an argument, a 18-month old can submit to a simple request: “Linda, come here.” That do not make said child more mature than the 10-year old who do not listen to the same request. Maturity is about being fully developed, not about submitting. An immature Christian who came to God last week can fully submit to what he know of God’s will, so can a more mature Christian.

  • Nickelini

    Great comments here, but I just have to thank you for posting the link to this website . . .the whole article itself is worth a read (you were modest in your excerpts). I’ve had many hours of stunned fascination . . . I was distracted by the “are you a fool?” quiz. . . personally I scored a “D” at the end after randomly guessing, since all available answers were ludicrous, and there was no “none of the above” answer. As common with this sort of thing–either you are completely depraved (“I love smoking crack and then walking the streets naked” or “my only desire is to pray, on my knees, all day long. I desire nothing else.”). Tests for actual humans are found on other websites.

  • L

    i’m think calling women ‘girls’ is used to keep the so-called ‘girls’ in their places, until they are married and become subject to their husbands. … and i think parents use it to remind their daughters that the daughters are subject to them. heck, my parents still call me ‘baby girl’ and i am married with two kids. it bothers me very much, but they told me ages ago i would ‘always be my baby girl’. um nope, sorry. I’m not a girl i am a woman (hear me roar?)

  • Here is an easy way to see what they argue, by applying it to other situations.
    Premise 1: Fathers are the God-given authorities of (even adult) daughters.
    Premise 2: God want daughters to not just mindlessly obey, but use their minds to promote their fathers’ ideas.
    Conclusion: The daughter of a Hindu will praise God by promoting Hinduism. The daughter of a guy who rents her out as a prostitute will honour God if she starts to go out and look for customers herself, or suggest ways in which she can get more customers. The daughter of a liar who make money by selling books full of untruth should think up new lies to honour God. The daughter of a racist should be even harder that her father on other races. The daughter of a man who physically abuses his children will honour God by injuring her siblings more than her father does.

    Actually, Botkins girls, if you ever read here: Truth and goodness is what it is, regardless of what parents or husbands or any other authority says. When truth/goodness comes from “authority figures” – it is wise to follow. When it truth/goodness comes from “inferiors” with “less authority” – children or atheists or whatever – it is also wise to follow. When authorities, peers, or those hierarchally below us, are morally or intellectually wrong, don’t follow them. Even Jesus berates people for following their fathers (Luk 11:47-48, for example), and urge us to have only one Father – the One in heaven. (Mat 23:9)

    I don’t want to miss any good thing simply because it is not part of my father’s world view, or because God gave the vision to me and not him. And the best and most meaningful thing I ever decided is something my father found unnecessary. The second best was one he actively opposed.

  • Tori

    This made me feel sick. i moved away from my family for ten years. I had a good career, my daughter is great and academically gifted/well socialised. I moved back. My life has imploded, there are so many “rules” I have panic attacks about failing to remember then and then suffering the fallout. All descicions regarding what my daughter does on weekends and holidays are taken out of my hands. My family “decide” who will have her stay, and I am then “informed” of this. I’m not allowed to give her certain foods and I have a bedtime.My Boyfriend of nearly eight years is referred to as my “friend”, my father refuses to accept that there is any relationship between us beyond that. I am 32. I am working on my escape. Never again will I put myself in the position where I am beholden to them. A life lived via the instruction of another is not really your life. you are simply an unhappy automaton.

  • Nea

    Replying late but – as far as I can tell, people in this lifestyle don’t want to adapt to anything. They expect to send their “arrows” out into the world to force IT to adapt to THEM. And the problem is, all they’ve really suited their children to do is stay in the safe, narrow world they understand, or go out into secular society and become the religious equivalent of roadkill because they 1) don’t know how the world really works and 2) don’t know how to adapt.