Sunday, November 6, 2016

It's Not That Complicated: Chapter 12-Part 2

I love this section!  There are two themes running through the middle of this chapter.

 Theme one: A pair of highly sheltered very young women have determine what ALL men need in a wife. This theme is a hoot because any person who has been in a satisfying long-term relationship can shoot massive holes in this theme (and believe me, you will be seeing me take aim.)

Theme two: Anna Sofia and Elizabeth Botkin are the most eligible women ever since they have all of the skills a man needs! This theme is rather depressing because it shows that neither of the Botkin Sisters - or their "editors" - can recognize a massive personal bias.

For every girl we know asking why so few young men are "ready," we know a young man asking where the ready and eligible girls are. Our brothers and their friends have told us that many of the qualities girls have cultivated to make themselves "eligible" are things that won't come up on young men's radar screens, and the qualities that young men are most looking for have been neglected. [...]
The first step in understanding how we can become "helper suitable" is to understand what exactly a man is supposed to be doing that he would need help with. A man who is taking Dominion (Genesis 1: 28), discipling the nations (Matthew 28: 19), and feeding Christ's sheep (John 21: 15 - 17) is going to require more of his wife then the ability to iron a shirt, cook a meal, and look good on his arm. We may not be able to predict whether our husbands will have a use for stenography skills over musical proficiency or business acumen, but what every good man we'll need from his wife (no matter what he does) will be a willingness to get her hands dirty, be stretched, learn new things, work hard, and die to herself. (pg. 215)
  • Ninety percent of my graduate program is learning how to read technical papers and how to check for mistakes in the procedure.  
    • Tip One: Make sure that the reference group or sample group is representative of the population as a whole.
      • The reference group for this "case study" is the Botkin Bros - two of which would have been teenagers when this book was written - and the friends of said brothers.
        • Implications: The reference group is highly sheltered and members of the same closed system of beliefs.  At the same time, many of the members have been raised by the same people and are more similar in beliefs than an average random sample from a closed system.
      • Outcome: This "case study" may be of value if you are a) a Botkin Brother, or  b) a friend of the Botkin Brothers, but is of limited value for the rest of humanity.
  • I don't mean to be wry, but being a good cook IS a way of feeding Christ's sheep.  See most ministries involving homeless people.  
  • I'll be willing to bet that business acumen - as indicated by the ability to hold a job, grow a career, or build a business - will be much more in demand than either stenography skills or musical proficiency in the absence of business skills.
  • In the real world, relatively few available men are in business for themselves.  Most people work for other people.  As such, most men (and most women) don't need specific skills from their spouse to grow their career.  My husband gave me a few new ideas for labs to do with my students and a listening ear when I needed to blow off steam.  That's honestly about as much as most spouses do directly for the other spouse's career.
Godly men need women who have intrepidity, courage, and sturdy virtue to come alongside of them in the rigors of  their lives. They also need wives who have a good grasp of such things as current affairs, worldview, and politics, and who care about the things their husbands are interested in and involved in. They need helpers who recognized that loving their men means loving the mission and the work their men are called to do (pg. 215-216).
  • OMG!  All men totes need the three things that the Botkin Family likes to pretend they are good at - current affairs, "worldview" and politics!   You should totes marry us!
  • Any bets on how much the Botkin Sisters understand about:
    • Educating politicians about the benefits and drawbacks of using Generally Accepted Agricultural Management Practices (GAAMP) as guidelines for nuisance suits involving farms?  
    • The potential benefits and problems with implementation of Common Core standards with the legal testing requirements in Michigan? 
    • Common issues with the standardized testing options available for determining how well secondary and post-secondary students understand the nature of science?
    • And yet, I know single men who work in each of these areas - and really don't want to hear about "worldview" or - God forbid - Geoffrey Botkin's thoughts on Brexit.
  • The best irony - the Botkin Sisters know women who were poorly prepared for what their husband actually needed from them in terms of career skills!  To be fair, this example was published after the book, but the Botkin Sisters have never retracted their views on this point.  I've linked the blog post about Genevieve (Smith) de Deugd's experiences of her first four months of marriage.  I've also pulled some choice sections: 

"We knew that working together on projects and in Pete’s sawmilling/woodworking business would add another dimension to our relationship, strengthen our marriage, grow our friendship and be a whole lot of fun!"
  • I'll give the de Deugds' credit: working in a spouse's business can either be great for a marriage or destroy a marriage in short time.  
    • For our marriage, we've decided it's healthiest for me to stay outside of the farm in terms of a career.  Family businesses can bring a lot of family baggage and I'm a better resource for my husband as a person outside of the system.  
 "Being a daughter in my father’s home and helping him was predominantly an intellectual and sedentary lifestyle. Being a wife in my husband’s home and helping him involves a lot of manual work and is a very active lifestyle. I’ve had a lot to learn."
  • I am intrigued by the fact that Genevieve thinks her dad's ministry that promotes homeschooling was more intellectual than doing sawmilling and woodworking.  I'm guessing that that dichotomy is mainly due to the fact that she's still learning about running a sawmill and woodworking.  The more advanced woodworking and sawmilling skills require some pretty solid mathematics skills.  
  • Is having Genevieve learn how to do some really basic work on the machinery really the best use of her talents?  Presumably, she learned a bit about marketing and website design in her work with her dad.  Rather than have her duplicate what her husband is doing, wouldn't the family have been better served by having her work to increase business?  (Or - gasp- bring in independent income through a job/career of her own?)
  • When I was first dating my husband, I thought that I would be learning how to milk cows and do other basic labor around the farm.  When we got more serious, my husband was very clear that he wanted to marry a wife who would be a partner in his life - not a substitute milker.  Plus, I could bring in more income and benefits by having an outside career.  When I moved out to the farm, I realized that my main benefit to the farm was understanding more about human resource management to give my husband support as the amount of time he spent managing workers increased.   I've still never milked a cow or driven a tractor; it's just not a good use of my time or skills.
  • I hope that she learned that wearing skirts around a shop and in junkyards is not a safe idea.  I've given up wearing shorts on the farm when I'm working in the shop or up in the haymow because my legs get cut up but good.  
Back to the Botkin Sisters....

A girl recently asked us what is the number one thing that most girls fail to learn in order to be ready for marriage. For years, we've been advocates for girls amassing a rigorous education, vast inter-disciplinary knowledge, boatloads of practical skills, and the like. But since watching two of our brothers choose their companions for life, we've had a slight shift in our understanding of what men really need. "The capacity for deep relationships," we replied. A wife and mother's job will call out many different strengths and abilities and each of us, we explained her, but the most important of all will be our ability to develop real relationships. If we get married, the biggest impact of our lives will come from our relationships with our husbands and our relationships with our children. If we never marry, the biggest contributions of our lives should still be our fruit for relationships with those around us (pg. 218).
  • Again, the Botkin Sisters begin with a vision of wifehood in which the wife is mainly a tool.  Actually, they never move off of the idea that women are supposed to be handy tools for men.  Their view of marriage isn't two people joined and growing within a marriage and raising up kids to be healthy adults; instead, women are a tool to develop relationships between people.
  • I do appreciate the Botkin Sisters' understanding that our main legacy is from our relationships with others; that's a worldview I can support.  I am disappointed, however, that the Sisters can't make the next connection that our relationships outside of our families can be as vital, as fulfilling and as live-changing as being a daughter, sister, wife and/or mother.
There is one post left in this series!  One post.  Wow.  There is an entire chapter on contentment, but there's no meat to it so I'm not going to waste time going over it.  I've got my next book picked out - a short one for a break from the Botkin Sisters for a month or two.   Last post: The Botkin sisters make a list of things that they are allowed to judge people on.  Plenty of fat-shaming, too.  May as well go out on a "high" point.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

It's Not That Complicated: Chapter 12 - Part One

Chapter 12 is titled "What a Man Needs at His Side: How to Become a Girl a Man Would Want as a Wife as Well as a Friend.  Ironically, I can start by parsing the problems with the title of the chapter.
  • The first word of the chapter title is an interesting Freudian slip.  The Botkin Sisters use "What" - a term used to designate an object in English - instead of "Who".  A man apparently doesn't need a woman; he needs a tool.
  • Girls shouldn't marry.  Girls are by definition immature and still growing.  A man who is looking for a wife is looking for a woman or a lady.  (If a man is looking to marry a girl, he's not going to be a good husband.)
  • A healthy friendship is the cornerstone of a marriage.  CP/QF bloggers and talking heads get all wound up about sex and raising children - and forget the basics.  The tools used to keep a long-term friendship going are the same tools that are used in a marriage.

We knew from the beginning that this could not be a book about how to get married, as neither of us have had any personal experience doing that. However, in writing about how to be the kind of woman that the men around us need us to be, we knew that we couldn't ignore the elephant in the room: girls want to know what young men need in the one woman that is going to stand by them for the rest of their lives. What do they need in their best friend? What do they need their helpmeet? (pg.209)

Sunday, October 30, 2016

It's Not That Complicated: The Boys - Part 8

In our latest installment of "The Boys of Botkin", we get to hear the Botkin Sisters' male friends views on pitfalls in guy-girl relationships.  After transcribing the quotations, I am extremely doubtful that any of the guys (including their married brother Ben) have actually had a relationship with a woman.

Overarching Theme: Girls are TERRIFYING!  I'm so afraid!
Jack, inventor, says ...
Guys appreciate a girl who is emotionally stable and exhibits self-control. We can have actual friendships with girls who don't jump to conclusions and misconstrue small acts of kindness as signs of love and devotion. Presumptuous girls can create situations that are painful for us, but we are also concerned about their feelings. As frustrating as it can be to receive unwanted attention, it's far worse to be the cause of a disastrous heartbreak, even when it's no fault of your own.
It can feel like you're walking on eggshells when we're trying to be brothers in Christ to unpredictably hot-headed girls, never knowing whether the slightest word or gesture might start an emotional roller-coaster and misery for our sisters in Christ. Our gratitude for the more self-possessed girls who refused to indulge in every dreamy  whim cannot be overstated. (pg. 194)

Monday, October 17, 2016

It's Not That Complicated: Chapter 11 - Part Four

We're down to the last two "stories" from Chapter 11!  The first story illustrates why Emo-Pur (Emotional Purity) is a giant waste of time and energy for everyone involved.

Candie is only 16, and knows that she and Jacob aren't ready to get married; but since they're officially just friends, they feel free to become as close as they like. Down inside, she knows this friendship trying to spin out of control - he's becoming more important to her than anything else in the world. He's always in her thoughts (and constantly popping up in her chat window); he's starting to monopolize her time and her focus, even coming between her and her parents. It's turning into a re-run of her friendship with Jonathan last year, which ended in her never being allowed to see him again - but she just can't stop...(pg.192)

Friday, October 14, 2016

It's Not That Complicated: Chapter 11-Part Three

If the scenario that the Botkin Sisters are laying out in this bit is common in home schooled young adults, people need to rethink how they are raising their daughters.  The "girls" in this section manage to be both wimpy and overly rigid at the same time.  Let's go....

"Lauren is 22, and wondering how to handle the continual over-friendliness of Marshall, and his hints about someday making something happen, when she knows he's not ready and hasn't talked to her father about a relationship. She doesn't want to end our friendship, but also doesn't want to hurt to get too involved in something that may never happen... (pg. 192)."
  • Apparently, Lauren isn't worried about wasting time on non-existent problems.  
    • Marshall is interested in Lauren - at least kind of - and mentions it occasionally.  
    • Lauren, on the other hand, has meticulously determined Marshall's lack of readiness.
    • She's also worried because Marshall - who doesn't want a relationship right now - has NOT talked to Lauren's dad about starting a relationship.  It makes no sense at all for Marshall to ask Lauren's dad about a courtship right now.
    • The problem here is NOT Marshall.....
"There are such things as scoundrels and rakes; there are young men who genuinely don't know the right channels; there are good boys who aren't ready to get married yet; there are guys who are more interested in fun than commitment; and there are nice guys were just way too friendly with girls. How do we handle them?
Girls often come to us distraught over problems like, "He keeps telling me he really cares about me, but I know he hasn't talked to my dad..." "He's too friendly and I don't know what to do about it..." "He asked me for a date, but I'm committed to courtship!" "He keeps sending me gushy Facebook messages!" "He's not marriage material yet but I hate to push someone away who likes me so much..." "He stopped me in the store and asked me for my name and phone number..." "He follows me everywhere and asked me really personal questions!" "He is just so sensitive and sweet and affectionate towards me - I know he's pushing his boundaries, but I'm starting to fall for him anyway..."(pg. 196 )"
  • The Botkin Sisters have an entire podcast on the topic brought up in the first paragraph.  I do not recommend it; it's terrifying for multiple reasons.
  • The book takes multiple pages to come up with "answers" for each situation, but I think I can do it in much less.
    • "He hasn't talked to Dad."  If that's important to you, load him up with Pop's contact information.  If the guy doesn't call, move on.
    • "He's too friendly."  Is that really a problem?  If you don't like his friendliness, ignore him.  Cold-shoulder him.  Avoid him like the plague.  That will usually do the trick.
    • "Asked for a date; I want courtship." Explain the difference to him. Who knows?  He might be OK with that or he may move on.  Either way, you've made your expectations known.
    • "Stopped in a store for name and number."  I've never had that happen, but a "Who the (insert swear word of your choice) are you?!?" should stop that dead.
    • "Follows me everywhere" That sounds like a stalker.  Reach out to your local police to find out what you need to do.
    • "He's pushing his boundaries."  Chica, God did not make you responsible for him stepping over his boundaries.  Is he stepping over YOUR boundaries?  If he is, tell him to stop.  If not, stop worrying about it and enjoy the relationship.
These are the sort of situations that can be uncomfortable to deal with, but they don't have to get truly sticky unless we let them. We often have more power to direct this sort of situation than we realize. Young men have told us time and time again: girls are really the ones who set the tone for the interaction. (pg. 196)
  • This is true.  Women have power in relationships!  The vast majority of guys will respect boundaries you set - either by backing away from the boundary or leaving the relationship.
  • I never thought I'd agree with the Botkin Sisters on something, but this is decent advice.
In the case of Lauren and Marshall, Lauren is feeling overwhelmed with confusion over how to handle Marshall's clear interest, knowing that he's not marriage material yet, and hasn't approached to father. The solution, however, is very simple. Lauren simply needs to do three things:

Talk to her parents about the situation, and let them know her true thoughts and feelings regarding Marshall. Our parents can  help keep us accountable if our own hearts are swaying.  Our fathers are also our secret weapons in the area of dealing with guys. They are the strength that we don't have - they are the ones who can force the issues for us, the ones who can find out what a young man's intentions are towards us, the ones who can make sure no one leads us on. What if Marshall was only playing with her while he waited for something better to come along? (pg. 198)
  • Oh, good.  The world has righted itself again.  You can talk to your parents, or your friends or whoever - but this isn't an actual romantic relationship and putting this much time and energy into it is messed up.
  • Teaching your daughters that they can't determine a guy's intention and that they are too weak to do anything about issues that come up is sick, sick, sick, sick.  
  • Reality check:
    • Do you think these problems are going to disappear when you marry?  Issues will arise with your spouse; you need to know what your spouse's intentions are and you sure as hell better be able to figure out if you are being led on by your spouse!
    • What happens when you interact with the real world?  Even if you plan on being a SAHM, you will need to interact with men who are not your husband on a regular basis.  Being a push-over who can't read body language or actions is NOT going to work.
  • Notice how warped the Botkin Sisters view of men is; Marshall, who has done nothing wrong by most courtship standards, is dangled out as a potential playboy.  
"Interact with Marshall as a sister and not a girlfriend, as if nothing is going on... Because nothing is, right? Are pure and sisterly conduct can remind young men with their own should be.

Resist the urge to keep a candle burning for him in her heart just in case. We don't know who God intends for us to marry; we don't know who God intends for them to marry. What's important is that we keep our hearts open to what God wants. And that's going to be a lot harder if we already filled that spot with a certain someone. (pg. 198)"

  • The first step to treating Marshall as a brother-in-Christ or simply as a friend is to stop obsessing over this relationship.  Truly, Marshall is not the person with a problem here.
  • Yeah, it would be hard to find the person God wants Lauren to marry if Lauren is so focused on not getting into a relationship with Marshall that she's not looking at anyone else....
We're rolling through Chapter 11!  One more chunk of Botkin "Wisdom" then another session with the Boys.