Um, So Why Do You Have So Many Kids?

I’ve noticed lately a lot of attack lately on the Patriarchy and Quiverfull Movement.

I understand the concern.

I won’t add to the attack.

Quiverfull –  I love the idea of allowing God to plan the size of our family, of everybody’s families.  It’s just it doesn’t seem to always work out very well.  If we let nature take its course, I’d have a baby every 13 months.  I had one set like that – it was hard, so very hard.

Patriarchy seems biblical in nature.  Before I had seen what Patriarchy looks like, it sounded pretty good.  The tenants of Patriarchy are as follows:   (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biblical_patriarchy)

  • God reveals Himself as masculine, not feminine.
  • God ordained distinct gender roles for man and woman as part of the created order.
  • A husband and father is the head of his household, a family leader, provider, and protector.
  • Male leadership in the home carries over into the church: only men are permitted to hold the ruling office in the church. A God-honoring society will likewise prefer male leadership in civil and other spheres.
  • Since the woman was created as a helper to her husband, as the bearer of children, and as a “keeper at home,” the God-ordained and proper sphere of dominion for a wife is the household and that which is connected with the home.
  • God’s command to “be fruitful and multiply” still applies to married couples.
  • Christian parents must provide their children with a thoroughly Christian education, one that teaches the Bible and a biblical view of God and the world.
  • Both sons and daughters are under the command of their fathers as long as they are under his roof or otherwise the recipients of his provision and protection.[5]

Daddy follows God.  Mama follows Daddy.  Kids follow Mama and Daddy.  The problem is that to truly follow God, you have to be totally selfless.  Daddies aren’t there yet, neither are mamas, certainly not the kiddos.  When you take into account the whole of the Bible, Husbands love your wives, consider others as more important than yourself, the fruit of the spirit, do unto others as you would have them do onto you, the Vision Forum, Bill Gothard and most other homeschool leaders’ brand of patriarchy falls very short.  Their brand of patriarchy throws the idea of marriage being a partnership right out the window.  It’s obvious to see where the wives suffer.  But don’t you know, the husbands suffer too.  The Patriarchy that is being spouted today leaves the husband without a partner.  Wives are prevented from being the helpmeet God intended them to be.  Instead of being the co-pilot, she’s sent to the back to be the stewardess.  Good pilots need co-pilots, and good husbands need their wives.  They know they need help to do the job they have been assigned to do.

I think people confuse a lot of the Patriarchy Movement with the Quiverfull Movement.  The amazing Duggar family – that TV family with 20-something kids has been under attack lately too.

Truth is the Duggars fit into both camps, as do most Quiverfull families, but it is the Patriarchy stuff that people find the most disturbing.  Having lived with Patriarchy, I can tell you Patriarchy is bad for marriages, bad for kids.

When I was first introduced to the Patriarchy Movement via homeschool conferences, I was actually encouraged.  I gave it the benefit of the doubt.  It looked so beautiful.  It didn’t take very long before some of the brass started oxidizing though, the whisperings of spiritual abuse dealing with fathers having their daughters’ hearts; the booth at the homeschool fair run by one of these high profile patriarchal families – all the daughters looking annoyed, glued to their cell phones; reports of the same family having children who called an older sibling “Mommy” genuinely not understanding just who her mommy was because big sister had too much responsibility; watching another leader stress and speak irritably to those trying to help him set up a presentation; the lack of oversight and protection exhibited by these patriarchal fathers when put to the test, testimonies of pied piper homeschool leaders whose children rebelled once they hit the teenage years.

And so the concerns grew and grew.

In retrospect, patriarchy seems to work for many families until the kiddos get to marrying age.  That’s when the girls, who have been told all of their lives to give their hearts to daddy until daddy hands them off to the man of their dreams, wind up 18, 19, 25, 30 with no hopes for romance in sight.  The truth is emotionally and spiritually stable young men very rarely want a replica of their mother for a wife, and that is what these girls become.  Young men are looking for a young lady to share their lives with, not a young lady’s father to share their lives with.  Yet this is often what the patriarchal fathers demand in the form of chaperone, accountability partner, mentor, etc.

Don’t get me wrong, it is my greatest hope and expectation that when my children marry, our family will increase as we welcome a new member in; but greater still is the realization that it is not just our family that is growing, their family is just beginning.  It’s not either or, it’s both.

I actually was friends with a family whose 12-year-old daughter was working on a scrapbook that showed all her accomplishments that would prove her to be a good wife.  Her mother actually called this scrapbook her resume.  It had pictures of bread baking, quilting and other projects that my friend imagined someday would be presented to her daughter’s fiancee’s family as a resume.

Do I think young ladies should learn homemaking skills in order to prepare them for life?  Absolutely.  I’m all for teaching all the old crafts, embroidery, crocheting, knitting, sewing, bread making, baking so that my daughters are never at a loss for things that make homemaking pleasant, skills that allow her to make things instead of buy them, etc.  But a resume?

So Patriarchy, yes, problems, big problems.

But guys, what is the problem with having so many kids?  (Assuming daddy is paying the bills and the children are being cared for as is the case in the Duggar house.)  We have a bunch of kids, I’ve always wanted a bunch of kids, and my life is amazing!!!!  I wouldn’t trade it for the world.  We do without a lot of material things so that my husband’s income can pay the bills and I can stay home, but we eat 3 good meals a day, live in a decent home, and spend a fortune on homeschool curriculum every year.  It’s enough.  Children ARE a blessing from the Lord.  In my experience enjoying each child has been better than the income from a second job, better than a fancy car, better than a family vacation, better than having money to blow, etc., etc.

For anybody who hasn’t had that experience with their kids, I promise, I won’t try to convince you to have more; but understand it’s true, we do have so many children because WE LOVE CHILDREN and each one has blessed us beyond belief.

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8 thoughts on “Um, So Why Do You Have So Many Kids?”

  1. Years ago I researched Quiverfull. On their website it was made clear that these children are raised to become God’s warriors, the “arrows” in His “quiver.” It wasn’t a metaphor: The plan was to provide warriors, in a militaristic way, for when the time arose that God needed soldiers. That shocked and frightened me. I checked the website again today and no longer see this statement on any of the main pages. I don’t think I misinterpreted it originally.

    That father has to be a leader and be involved in every decision that gets made in a family. I know Andrew fits that bill. Not all fathers are equipped for the role laid out by Quiverfull. For a father whose natural focus is elsewhere, the transformation of his character and priorities takes a lot of work. If a man’s basic character makes him a follower, not a leader, it may be expecting too much. Not to mention the woman’s struggle to fit the Biblical role if she’d been raised to make life work for herself and she’s done that by being assertive and independent. Lots of challenges there, for sure.

    I guess it boils down to how attractive and compelling these roles are to the man and woman who want to follow the Quiverfull way. The premise certainly is Biblical. The interpretation Quiverfull makes, I’m not so sure that’s Biblical. I’m not a New Testament scholar. From my Bible study days, I have no memory of Jesus exhorting his followers in line with Quiverfull’s premise on the number of children a woman is expected to bear. Not a problem, though, because birth control was unheard of, and loving couples must have had large families. Maybe that was taken for granted. “Women, obey your husbands” is certinly in the New Testament. Jewish scholars who developed the Talmud were explicit in requiring a may to lay with his wife a certain number of times a week, a month, etc., depending on what his occupation was.

    As far as the treatment of women, in Old Testament times women had no say over their lives. Their husbands were chosen for them. They were owned as property, just like slaves and animals. This continues in some Islamic countries. The result is often the destruction of a human being who must bear her husband’s abuse, as you point out. For the large family without resources to keep everyone healthy, the quality of life suffers, and the addition of more children adds to a sad situation. Women have little to look forward to when they reach marriagable age in the traditional Muslim society unless they are lucky enough to have love be an ingredient in the partnership.

    “Be fruitful and multiply,” for me, doesn’t mean unlimited. I was brought up in a different age, and I’m grateful for that. I had trouble enough raising three children. My imperfections in part came from my own needs, which grew from my succes as a single woman in having a career and developing my own potential as a member of society. True, you children might have profited if my entire focus was that of Quiverfull. I could not in good conscience raise my children to be God’s warriors, though.

    This is a new day. We educate our women. They have control over their lives. I think this makes sense. For the committed Christain who chooses not to have a large family, it does not lessen his or her ability to follow Christian tenets and lead exemplary lives.

    You’re a wonderful example of the Quiverfull woman, yet I know you struggle with it. I think that’s natural and healthy. There must be a balance where both partners get their needs met, feel loved and honored.

    Much love…ma

    1. Thanks? I appreciate the grace you extend to me even though we view things differently. I had not heard of the military connection, although I do know a lot of Christians, especially homeschoolers who feel our rights are being trampled on and are at least in word prepared to fight to keep the right to bear arms and to protect our dwindling freedoms like homeschooling. I do think most of them would choose to flee this country before bearing arms against our government. Some already have. I think Texas will be one of the last states to surrender these rights. GO REDNECKS GO!

      There is a lot of misinformation out there about the beliefs of these groups, mostly because these are not centralized organizations. Although most people start with a common set of beliefs in the Quiverfull and Patriarchal Movements, as families start their journey, they each have their own sets of idiosynchracies that they add. Critics of these movements tend to get highly emotional and quote things out of context, but when you get to the heart of the matter, there are indeed some pretty big problems going on out there.

      I’m going to mark your comment and remind you of it if we wind up with a baby number 8. :O

      Blessings,
      Alyson

  2. I don’t know much about the Quiverfull movement, so it has been interesting reading your blog. I do know about large families. My husband and I are blessed with 6 children. This is more than we had dreamed, as we didn’t meet until we were in our 30s. I am daily asked if I am having more, and at least once a week if they all have the same father. You learn to laugh! My answer to the first is always “we have no plans to and no plans not to. We’ll see what God plans.”

    1. That’s awesome, Sarah! I didn’t realize you also are a large family. I guess we don’t have to join a “movement” to be full quiver, eh?
      Blessings,
      Alyson

  3. I only had one child because I knew financially, he was going to be all my first husband and I probably would be able to afford. I also knew, but didn’t really want to admit, that my marriage was failing. (and NO, having a child will not save a marriage lol – strain it to death – yes!)

    My 2nd marriage, is so different from my first. Love and trust are amazing gifts! We did not have children because selfishly, we wanted to finish raising my son, to whom my present hubby is an amazing dad. He was 12 when we married, emotionally scarred from a father that he has not seen in 20 years and facing some tough times.

    Not having more children allowed me to stay home and dedicate myself to bringing this new family together. By some miracle, my son turned out reasonably well adjusted, a college graduate – and is even employed and self sufficient.

    I can honestly admit, I did not have enough faith to leave the choice of children, up to God. I truly admire those who do. Children are a scary responsibility, I just could never let go and trust that God would provide.

    And now, I’m “old” and just don’t think I’d have the energy required to care for a little one. I know Sara and Abraham did it, but I am content to “raise” my cat. I could never do what you do for Noah and the rest of your brood. You are a special person, for sure!

    1. Congrats on your well-adjusted son! It seems even in the most stable of families, children often have a difficult time growing up.

      As much as I miss having a baby in the house and dream of another child, I’m feeling the age thing as well, and I am really enjoying being able to pour myself into homeschooling and Noah’s speech acquisition. Those things would have to take a back seat to a pregnancy and another child. I’m not sure what the Lord has for us, I just hope I recognize it and act accordingly.

      It’s funny – I think that although children have put a strain on our marriage, they have also strengthened it. Watching my hubby wrestle with our kids gives me a very vivid picture of his goodness. Knowing my hubby does so much for them and with them has helped even when I was struggling to find even one good thing to hold on to. Also, I know that knowing we are setting an example for the children has helped both him and me do the right thing and treat each other with respect even when we feel like behaving quite differently. I don’t really believe in fake it until you make it, because life can quickly become a great big faking session and you may never “make it,” but sometimes knowing little eyes are watching and little ears are hearing can bridge a dangerous gap.

      On a side note, I was up in Round Rock the other day to see a friend who is in rehab for a stroke, and I saw a sign for Hutto. Thought of you.

      Blessings,
      Alyson

      1. Lol – The Hutto Hippos!! I agree, I think that when “good” marriages face any type of adversity, the strain eventually makes the marriage stronger. Be it children, finances or any problem. By good marriage I mean where both partners always try to give 100% of love, trust, faith, work, forgiveness etc.

        My son, I feel, was born out of a sense that – well, if we have a child there will be more love and we will do a better job of being husband and wife, to eachother. Because we will have too, because there is a child depending on us to get our stuff together.

        It was the wrong reason to have a child, and my son paid for it. Because we fell apart faster than a cheap suit. But, in the long run, somehow God turned it into a blessing for me. And He brought Beloved into our lives and we became a fairly functional family (as functional as families can be lol)

        My heart still breaks tho, for all the pain my son went through. I still hate the fact that my selfishness and stupidity hurt him so. I know God forgives us, sometimes forgiving ourselves is a whole other animal!

        I love the pics of Noah – What a smile – as my mom would say, “He looks like he’s full of beans.” Meaning he’s full of laughter, fun and orneriness!

        Jodi

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