Children Are Always House Slaves in Quiverfull?

Children Are Always House Slaves in Quiverfull? September 4, 2019
Photo from the National Archives of the U.S. government. Child textile workers in 1908 at the Catawba Cotton Mill.

In the only piece in the September/October issue of No Greater Joy magazine not written as an ad for Debi’s book Shalom Pearl Brand tells us how to indoctrination your children to do it all. We’ve seen this many times in just about every Quiverfull family, from the royal family of QF the Duggar family, all the way down to the unknown unnamed QF families we all know. Children are house slaves in Quiverfull.

It’s a fact if you have enough children to qualify for your own 43-man Squamish team the workload to keep that family running is going to be significant. Plus, there is nothing wrong with having family members helping out, it’s just in the Quiverfull world ‘helping out’ takes on disturbing turns.

Let’s start with this:

For instance, this morning my 2-year-old was vacuuming while the 4-year-old dusted and the older children cleaned the table and washed the dishes. At lunchtime I took the bread and sandwich stuff to the table and laid it out so my 2-year-old could make the sandwiches. He made a mess but was happy and smiling from ear to ear that he was serving his buddies. He wanted his picture taken with his thumbs up to show his brothers and sisters what he had done.

Stuff and fiddlesticks! While a 4 year old might be able to do an incomplete and hit and miss dusting I find it rather impossible to believe that the two year old is pushing around a vacuum cleaner.  Nor should they! This horrifies me, thinking of a child with imperfect control of themselves using an appliance that has merciless moving parts.

I can just see some toddler’s long hair getting yanked out by the drive belt on the vacuum.

This type of thinking brought us 6 year olds working with dangerous equipment in the textile mills in America and England. Where many children did suffer horrible industrial accidents, were maimed or even died.

If you’re going to give your kids tasks they must be age appropriate with the right equipment. Just like you should not be handing a four year old a sharp carving knife to peel an apple.

Then Shalom starts comparing the family to a team with dad as the head coach:

Mom, are you standing with the head coach? Are you showing respect and honor? You can’t expect your children to be team players if the coaches are not united. So start there. Become united. Respect the head coach with your actions! Honor him by praising him and building him up to the kids, letting the All-Star team know how amazing the head coach is and how excited you are to work with him. If you struggle with unity, your players are going to struggle.

If a man is honorable and good you shouldn’t need to keep praising him like  toddler doing toilet training. The kids will pick up on if you respect or not your partner, and will see if you are praising but have no respect for him. Empty words do not convince anyone.

Then she moves on to praising her oldest son Parker, and giving him inappropriate tasks for a nine year old.

Parker is quick to show his little brothers how to do things, and they always respect and appreciate his input. Just yesterday my truck happened to have a dead battery and I, without even thinking about it, asked my 9-year-old son to open the hood and hook up the charger. I know he has often done such things with his dad, and I also know that Parker quickly and easily assumes responsibility. My bossy oldest daughter (15 years old), who loves to handle responsibility and leadership, was completely under her little brother’s guidance as he told us what to do and how to do it. We both showed him honor with our words and smiles. A while later I asked Janelle Grace why she so easily surrendered to Parker’s authority. She said, “Parker knew what he was doing and was confident that he would get the job done, and I was thankful for him.

Kid handling a dangerous adult task, where if he hooked the battery up wrong it could explode and possibly blind or kill him? Check. Having much older female sibling kowtow to him because he possesses a penis? Yep.

Then there’s lots of talk about training without any mention of beating. She says you must start teaching your kids to swink and tote the second they start crawling before moving on to a tale of having her four year old teaching the two year old colors, shapes and simple math. Pictures or it didn’t happen.

By the time they could crawl, I had them handing me something or taking something into the other room. It was training them to function as a team member.

You know how young children learn the best? By play, playing is serious hard work for young kids as they explore their world and where they are in it.

Like I said earlier, there is nothing wrong with learning to help out in a family. It’s an important skill, but must be done in a way that is safe and age appropriate. When my son was three he started wanting to help me cook. It was a challenge to find tasks he could do that held little risk, but we did it. Sometimes that was as simple as having him measure out ingredients, or stirring before eventually graduating to using a dull knife to cut a few things and so on. Gradual skill building in the things he was interested in. Now he’s 31, loves to cook and is very good at it. He is a much better cook than I.

The sad thing about QF is that kids aren’t allowed to develop interests because their labor is needed just to simply run the family, even if the tasks aren’t suitable.

But I think this all boils down to motive too. My motive for having my kids help out was helping them to develop the skills they would need to navigate the world as adults. They all left the house knowing how to cook a simple meal, how to do laundry, how to balance a checkbook, shop, clean and all the routine mundane things one must do as a fully functioning adult.

Quiverfull? Not so much! Remember when one of the Pearl girls could not even make a simple decision which restaurant she wanted to eat at? And another incapable of picking out clothing she wanted? When the motive is simply to reduce the mother’s workload there are some lessons or developments that get skipped. I am betting none of the Pearl daughters can balance a checkbook or write a budget.

Have your kids set the table and serve the food. Don’t hand off your newborn to a nine year old to raise.

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About Suzanne Titkemeyer
Suzanne Titkemeyer went from a childhood in Louisiana to a life lived in the shadow of Washington D.C. For many years she worked in the field of social work, from national licensure to working hands on in a children's residential treatment center. Suzanne has been involved with helping the plights of women and children' in religious bondage. She is a ordained Stephen's Minister with many years of counseling experience. Now she's retired to be a full time beach bum in Tamarindo, Costa Rica with the monkeys and iguanas. She is also a thalassophile. She also left behind years in a Quiverfull church and loves to chronicle the worst abuses of that particular theology. She has been happily married to her best friend for the last 33 years. You can read more about the author here.

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