Sunday, March 31, 2019

Joyfully At Home: Chapter Four - Part One

Jasmine Baucham's fourth chapter in "Joyfully At Home" focuses on sibling relationships.  The majority of the chapter regales us with stories about how well Jasmine and her brother Trey got to know each other as expats in England who were unable to find an acceptable church family or homeschool community.  In other words, when completely cut-off from other kids the two of them became really good friends.

This is a huge recurring theme in CP/QF parenting: letting kids have friends outside of their family prevents them from developing the closest relationships possible with their siblings.   IOW, isolating your kids from outsiders is a good thing because they will be BFF with their siblings.

My counterpoint: In the absence of "Counting On" and family pressure, how much time do you think Jill (Duggar) Dillard and Jana Duggar would spend around Jessa (Duggar) Seewald?  On TV where she's presumably on good behavior Jessa is often dismissive if not directly contemptuous of her close-in-age sisters.   In a family where siblings have a wide choice of external friendships, siblings generally learn that bad behavior towards siblings means that their siblings don't include the rude or mean sibling in fun activities.   When the family isolates their kids, on the other hand, siblings lose an important lesson that even family members will refuse to be around you if you are a jerk.

My rebuttal: I have two siblings who survived to adulthood and I have great relationships with both.  My twin sister and I are walking through raising toddlers together while my brother has worked his way into a high level of responsibility in a challenging job.   My twin and I went to different schools; my brother is 4.5 years younger than us so we all had different friends - but that brought benefits, too.  We got to know each other's friends as well as our own. 

While the fourth chapter focuses mainly on Jasmine and Trey's relationship, Jasmine does mention that she likes having a very different type of relationship with her four youngest brothers.  Her parents had adopted four more children when Jasmine wrote her book and those brothers ranged in age from 4 to 1 year.   Jasmine works diligently at classing her relationship with her much younger brothers as a different type of sibling relationship, but the stories sound a lot more like she's a second mom.   For example, this story begins as explaining how she has a close-in-age friend who has young siblings as well but quickly sounds like a mother-of-many inspirational blog:

Other outings, however, are very unique to our family situation, like the time when my parents were out of town, and her mother and grandmother took all of us kids to the Houston rodeo.

We had a blast! And I realized something special: With a double stroller in front of me, an infant strapped into his baby carrier, and miles of walking, riding, and eating in front of me - even when wails erupted - even when tempers flared - even when hyperactivity would have put someone else on edge - I was used to my brothers. I was used to diaper changing, potty breaks, feeding schedules, and discipline issues that I was able to have an amazing day full of responsibility... and fun. And I so love my brothers that it is my delight to sacrifice a bit of freedom so that they can have an outstanding time. It makes my day more fun to see the smiles on their faces. (pgs. 60-61)

Um...this sound freaking identical to how I would have described my trip on Friday to the mall with my 28 month old son.  The main difference is that I have a single child, not four brothers under the age of 5 to corral.  Don't misunderstand me; I'm sure Jasmine loves her little brothers very much and gains a sense of accomplishment from being able to care for them.

But 19-year-old Jasmine hasn't fallen in love.  She's never vowed to love, honor and cherish her chosen husband.   She hasn't been pregnant or survived the process of being cleared for foster care or adoption.   Jasmine has had no control over the fact that four adorable little boys have been dropped in her lap - but she's clearly been in the trenches enough to be a surrogate mother for her brothers.

Let's thank Bridget Baucham for freeing Jasmine from the role of sister-mother.   The fact that Bridget told her adult daughter that it was Bridget's job to run her own home and that Jasmine needed to go out and live her own life.

That choice makes this book much easier to work through since Jasmine is now a wife, mother and teacher.

The next post in this series discusses how brother-sister relationships can be used to learn deference towards a future husband.

Friday, March 29, 2019

Maxwell Mania: Hearts are found in BOTH genders....

Hello, everybody!  Everything involving the Maxwells in this post should be read in either the voice of Dr. Nick Rivera or Troy McClure from the Simpsons.   Don't know either of them?  Here's a video clip.

A bit more than two weeks ago, the Maxwells posted a weirdly cryptic blog post about a medical condition that Steven Maxwell had and that he'd discussed in his email newsletter "Seriously Dad".   The Maxwells are serious about keeping gender roles separate and protecting their unmarried daughters from male attention so I assumed that Steven Maxwell must have had something happen that involved his urogenital system that was important for men to know about but of less importance to women.

I don't have any of the Maxwells' taboos around gender roles so I clicked on Steven's email.

Steven Maxwell had two blocked coronary arteries.   He has been showing exercise intolerance off-and-on for over a year.  He's had two stents placed successfully.   Most frighteningly for me, he was unaware that 1) family history of cardiac disease is a MAJOR risk factor,  2) cholesterol levels need to be checked regularly in all adults - but especially so in people with a history of heart disease and 3) exercise can't undo the risk  posed by the first two facts.

Unlike prostate cancer or ovarian torsion, cardiac disease affects both men AND women.  In fact, the American Heart Association has been working at raising women's awareness of the symptoms of heart attacks for over ten years.  This awareness campaign has been aimed at both letting women know about the differences in symptoms like the fact that women are more likely to have fatigue and nausea as symptoms of a heart attack than men - and getting medical professionals to think of cardiac problems in women since women are much more likely to have heart problems misdiagnosed.  This lowered level of suspicion in medical professionals has dire consequences since  a delay in diagnosis leads to more heart damage in women.

Good news: at least some readers of the Maxwells' blog know that women are at risk and gently childe the Maxwells.   The Maxwells' responses are illuminating.

My first thought when I read Sarah's response was "Yes, the email was for the 'guys' but cut-and-paste would have made the same information available to the mainly female readers of the blog". 

My second observation is that Ms. Maxwell doesn't seem to have any sense of obligation to her blog readers.   Sarah mentions that her mom is all set - but the original poster started her response by pointing out that ALL women should be aware of cardiac issues.    The Maxwells change blog posts fairly frequently.  They removed all traces of Joseph Maxwell's first engagement from their blog.  Sarah Maxwell rewrote the catty and ungracious post penned by a disgruntled Steven Maxwell that his now-daughter-in-law Chelsy's family had announced her engagement with John Maxwell publically prior to the wedding.   (I wish I had taken a screenshot of the first post; it was gloriously petty!) Since the Maxwells have rewritten posts in the past, I assume that their failure to do so on this post means that they don't feel that the Maxwells have any responsibility to inform their readers on women's risk of cardiac problems.

Sarah's non-response triggers a second concerned reader to chime in:

Yup, in response to a direct request to write a post about cardiac issues for all readers, Teri Maxwell doubles down on the family response of "Nah.  The readers will be fine." 

Hint: Not everyone reads the blog comments.   I rarely do - and only when the Maxwells are being especially this post.

Equally oddly, I have no idea why Steven's experience of cardiac problems would automatically be filed under "share with male readers only".  Lots of CP/QF bloggers tag, flag or separate items that involve reproduction in areas that are primarily read by female readers - but I've never seen them flag health issues that involved other bodily systems by gender.

I'm trying to imagine my doctor's face if she came into the office one day and found  coronary artery scan and cholesterol test results for me in the absence of any other medical appointments. I think I would get a firm scolding - and I would deserve it!

There are a wide range of ways that doctors can test the cardiac function of their patients - and each test has certain benefits and drawbacks.   Teri Maxwell hopefully had discussed with her doctor her personal risk factors for cardiac disease before her first coronary artery scan 8 years ago.   I also hope she called her doctor and had an appointment to discuss if her risk factors had changed enough to make a second scan worthwhile now.   "The test only cost $40" is a very poor reason to get it again - and a waste of money if her risks of cardiac disease are low to start with.

I feel like some of the blame for this needs to be placed on the cost-sharing ministry used by the Maxwells and other CP/QF Christians to avoid using medical insurance.  There are a lot of issues with cost-sharing plans, but the most obvious issue is that the plans do nothing to cover the costs of preventative medicine.   I hope the Maxwells are getting yearly physicals - but I cannot imagine my doctor letting me get away with not having a cholesterol test done!  I'm 37 with no history of family cardiac disease prior to age 75, but I am obese.  Steven Maxwell is a few decades older than me and has a family history so my doctor would be all over him to have a cholesterol test and additional screenings done.

These folks scare me sometimes....

On a personal note, thank you for all the good thoughts, prayers and wishes for a speedy recovery!  Laparoscopic surgery is amazing.  Four of my five small incisions are firmly healed.  The fifth is making excellent progress but will take slightly longer because the resident decided to leave the incision where the drain was placed open without a stitch.  The attending surgeon was not happy with that when found that out at my follow-up appointment, but it's healed enough that I can go swimming again.  At 16 days out, I can carry my at-least-26-pound son without pain and do all of my daily activities.  I tire out much more quickly than I did before the surgery and my exercise endurance is shot to hell - but I walked at least 2 miles at the mall with my son today and that took me 6 weeks to do after my son was born so I'm cautiously optimistic that I'll be back to my 6-7 miles of walking or 90-120 minutes of vigorous water exercise within a month or two.

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Homeschooling Badly: Forest or Trees?

I think I'd like Amy over at Raising Arrows if we ever met in person.  Of all of the CP/QF bloggers, she started early, has kept up a reasonable online presence and has the fewest crazy ideas of the lot.

Having said that, I do feel sorry for her at times.   Like most homeschooling CP/QF moms, she's got tons, lashings and heaps of ideas about what to do with homeschooling the littlest ones in the family while completely giving up on teaching the high schoolers in her family. Obviously, this makes me sad because I have tons, lashings and heaps of things that I've seen high schoolers do well with some support from teachers.   I wish I was exaggerating her point of view but here's her own words:

By the time your children are high school aged, there should be very few teacher-led subjects, and other than checking in periodically with your child, they should be capable of going through their schoolwork alone.

My first thought is that any parent who is using this 'method' of homeschooling is lying if they describe themselves as teaching high school.    The parent is telling the kid which subjects need to be done, providing the materials to do the subject, and hoping for the best.    With that level of absentee-teaching, providing specific help is a crap-shoot.  My first teaching job involved helping students who had dropped out of high school catch up in twelve separate independent study science courses.  Now, since I have a college degree in Biology and Chemistry, I could figure out what the main idea of the lesson a student was struggling on quickly and adapt as needed.   I question if most CP/QF homeschooling moms are as conversant in science or math to help their high schooled kids in a pinch.

My second thought is that some homeschooling parents have recreated the read - and - regurgitate method of teaching for high schoolers that the parents claim destroyed their love of education while they were in public schools.   That method is antiquated in public schools now thanks to widespread access to computers and interest in project-based-learning, but apparently it's gained new life in some corners of homeschooling.  I guess that proves that all educational theories are cyclic....yay?

In the rest of this post, I worry that Amy is missing the forest of college readiness for the trees of bashing public schoolers.  Take this gem:
One of the biggest things my son noticed during the early months of his Freshman year in college was that most of his classmates needed to be told how to do everything. They couldn’t choose what color of pen to use, where to sit, how to do an assignment, or how to find the answers for the test. They wanted EVERYTHING lined out for them, rather than trying anything on their own.

Well, yes.  Unlike Amy's son, students from traditional schools (and most home schools) are aware that each teacher or professor does things a little differently.

  •  Lots of professors will only take assignments in blue or black ink.  
  • Assigned seats are pretty common in lower-level lab classes in middle or large universities because different classes need different glassware and lab equipment so instructors save time by setting up the drawers ahead of time for a certain student.  
  • In my biology labs at college, I tell the students that I make up the tests and quizzes from the lab manual and the notes from my lectures; I never use the textbook because it varies between lecture instructors.
  • I'd also far rather have a student ask a question about what I expect from an assignment than spend hours on a project that I think should take 45 minutes to an hour - or worse, toss it off in 5 minutes and get a bad grade.
I guess CP/QF homeschooled graduates could flail their way through and figure these things out by trial and error - but why not just ask questions?

In the next topic, Amy shares having her daughter work through her fear of dissecting:
Some parts of life are just hard and you just have to walk through that hard part. School is the same. (ahem…Algebra) My daughter begged and pleaded with me to let her skip dissecting. But, I knew she needed to overcome this obstacle. She sat at the table FOREVER trying to psyche herself up to even remove the fish from the bag it was in! But, I wasn’t giving in. I wasn’t going to make her path easy just for the sake of making it easy. And so, we sat there…for way longer than it should have taken anyone to dissect a fish! But when she was finished, she was proud of what she had accomplished! And so was I!

At the risk of undermining a great life lesson,  why was dissecting a hill to die on? 

I graduated in 2000 and dissecting in general high school biology classes was rapidly becoming passe then.   Many students have realistic concerns about the treatment of dissection specimens prior to and when killed.  I have concerns about exposing science teachers to the harmful chemicals used in preserving specimens.  The cost of obtaining specimens is high.  The cost of doing computer versions has become lower and lower - and is now generally included in most HS biology textbook online resources.

The current consensus is that computer-based dissections are the best option for general high school classes.  For highly interested students, some schools use the saved money to fund a zoology or comparative anatomy class so that students who want to dissect can do so.

I mean, we've all gotta do things that suck sometimes - but I think this is an example of how home school families can get locked into doing whatever worked for the first kid to go through the curriculum.  Apologia Biology costs about $400 to buy a textbook, online resources, DVD lessons, lab notebook, lab supplies and the tests/answer keys.  Having a second student use the resources costs about $50.00 for a new set of tests and lab supplies compared to $400+ dollars to purchase a different option for science.

The link Amy includes on determining graduation requirements tells parents that it's rare for students to take physics in high school because physics requires pre-calculus.  I suppose the implication is that most high school students don't take pre-calculus - but that's not true by any stretch of the imagination for kids who are interested in STEM careers.  Also, it is completely possible to learn physics with a solid understanding of algebra rather than calculus.

The next theme is the common lament among homeschool parents that all colleges care about in admissions is the ACT or SAT scores.  That is much more true for home school students than it is for students from traditional schools.   Traditional schools send newly minted seniors off to colleges each year.  Based on how those incoming freshmen do at a college, the admission department develops a feel for how well each program prepares students.  Additionally, each student from that school are ranked within their class which provides a second data point.    There's really no work around for homeschooling families other than the ACT or SAT since taking a standardized test essentially gives the colleges the same data that a traditional high school would include.

The last suggestion is that homeschooled kids ask for help when they need it.  I find that ironic since Amy mocks public school kids for asking too many questions a few paragraphs earlier - but whatever.  The odd bit, though, is that the example she uses.  Her son had gotten all 'A's' in a class prior to the final and received a B overall in the class.   Her son went to talk to the professor and learned some undefined lesson.   There are two ways I can think of for this to happen.  First, the college kid forgot a sizeable assignment or project somewhere along the line. (Happens to the best of us).  Second, the kid got a C on a weighted final.

That made me wonder: how many homeschooled kids have experience with weighted grading prior to graduating?  There are all sorts of rationales for and against weighted grading, but nearly all colleges and universities allow professors to count tests and exams as worth more towards the final grade in the class than the other assignments.  For my biology courses, the classes were graded essentially from four tests each worth ~25% of the final grade.  All the other assignments counted for <10% of the final grade.   My chemistry classes, on the other hand, gave labs 25% of the final grade, divided 50% of the final grade across three tests, and had the final worth 25% of the final grade. 

Look, re-creating pre-K through 12th grade education should be scary - but there's better ways to do it than hefting it off onto the teenager.   Join a co-op.   Have the kid take the GED and dual-enroll at a community college.   Befriend a local college admission officer or high school guidance counselor.   Read up the information at the College Board. 

Just make sure the information you are getting is based in reality...where quite a few high school students take physics and pre-calculus.

Friday, March 15, 2019

Quick Update - Again....

I feel like I'm writing as many "quick updates" about how life goes crazy around here as I am doing anything else!

For those who are following the pink eye saga, my husband and son had the bacterial version; I had a viral version.  The fact that mine was viral became very clear last Friday when I returned to the doctor with swollen glands in my neck.  Apparently, most people catch this between 5-15 years old.   I stopped using the antibiotics, switched over to warm compresses and gentle washing of my eyelashes to get rid of gunk and felt much better by Sunday morning.

By Sunday evening, I was having severe upper right side abdominal pain with vomiting and diarrhea all of which came on suddenly.   I went to the ER and was diagnosed with gallstones.  The one lingering concern for me was that the staff kept saying that the pain should be done in a few hours, but it never really stopped.

Monday afternoon, I go to the local urgent care and get a shot of toradol which takes the pain down from a 4-5 out of 10 to a 2-3.   Since I have to throw-up every 15 minutes I was in a car, my parents offer to have me stay at their house until I'm back on my feet.   They live 7 minutes away from the hospitals, doctor's offices and urgent care centers instead of 45 minutes away like we do.

I call the surgeon that I received a referral for a consultation about removing my gallbladder.  His next appointment is three weeks out.  My personal doctor wants to see me on Tuesday.

By Tuesday afternoon, I'm still in pain and have barely eaten or drank anything since Sunday night.  My doctor realizes that my temperature has crept up to 100.5 degrees.  That means that my gallbladder is either infected or a stone has blocked the duct where bile leaves - but either way the gallbladder has to be removed soon.   She got me admitted within a few hours.

The medical staff spends Tuesday night getting me rehydrated.   I had to take potassium pills.  The pills are not as bad as magnesium sulfate - but the side-effects of being hot, nauseous and everything tasting like salt are similar.   It was doubly annoying since I was on strict no food or liquid by mouth orders.

Wednesday morning, the surgeon decides to put me first in the queue for surgery.   That turned out to be an amazingly good decision because when I was operated on the surgeon found that my gallbladder was gangrenous.  Apparently, I had had an infection in the gallbladder on Sunday, but it hadn't caused my body temp to rise or my white blood cell count to go up as much as expected.  In the intervening days, the swelling from the infection cut off the blood supply to the gallbladder and it died.   Thankfully, they were able to finish the surgery by instrumentation and didn't need to open me up to clean out the area where the gallbladder had been.

If anyone brings up the complexity of organs as a proof of intelligent design, feel free to throw "the anatomy of the human gallbladder is a fucking timebomb" back at them.

I spent Wednesday night in the hospital, Thursday night at my parents and am now back home.  My parents pretty much cared for Spawn from Monday through Thursday night - and I'm so grateful they live nearby.

I feel much better than I did before the surgery, but I'll need to be taking things easy for a while. 

Ironically, the part of me that will likely take the longest to heal are my conjunctiva because the vomiting on Sunday and Monday blew a ton irritated blood vessels in my eyes and I now look like my son did after he had eye surgery - but my eyes still look better than they did before we stopped treating them for bacterial conjunctivitis.

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Babblin' Botkins: Bride-Price?!!?!

Well, the pinkeye saga continues.   My son is doing fine.  Two days ago, I received an antibiotic shot and oral antibiotics from my doctor.  So far, I'm not noticing much of a change.  My husband is having the same problem.  His doctor referred him to an opthamologist so I'm assuming that's what's going to happen to me at my next appointment.

Personally, I think that there's an issue in the lot of antibiotic eye drops my husband and I used.  We filled the prescriptions from the same pharmacy a few days apart and got them from the same lot of drops.  Our son had a completely different antibiotic that covered the same range of bacteria and he's doing great.

I'll keep you updated on the farm of drippy eyes.

One of the claims that Anna Sofia and Elizabeth Botkin made at Cindy Kunsman in the letter they sent her is that the kids of Geoffrey and Victoria Botkin have suffered (or could have possibly suffered) loss of potential romantic partners who read Cindy's blog, decided that the term "covert incest" meant "sexual incest", and never started a courtship with a Botkin daughter. 

I can't refute that because that's possible...I guess....if the person searched through multiple pages of Google searches for one Botkin sister and eventually found Cindy's blog.

So possible - but is it probable?   Are there any other reasons that the Botkin Sisters who are lovely, home-educated, published authors and producers of movies and podcasts are single in their thirties?


Most people meet the people they marry through people they meet at school, at work, at church or social activities.  Other people meet their spouses at social events.  Finally, people meet potential spouses through online dating apps or matchmakers.   The Botkin Sisters didn't go to school, don't work, are members of a small church and maintain a very select circle of carefully curated friends.  Some people in that situation find spouses, certainly, but they are at higher risk of not having a potential spouse in a small circle of acquaintances.  My husband and I met online through eHarmony - but the Botkin Sisters are pretty clear that online dating leads directly to predation and unplanned pregnancy.

The Botkin Sisters have an additional issue that I've never faced - celebrity.  I am not a celebrity.  I do not have a public persona that is substantially different from my private self.  Importantly, my father did not extol my virtues as a future wife or scare guys off by discussing the role of bride price in my future engagement:

A&EB: How strict will you be with our suitors on the bride-price issue?

GB: That will depend on the suitor.

A&EB: Can you tell our readers a little about the biblical bride price?

GB: [...]

The bride price was usually the amount of a dowry, probably about three years wages. Noble suitors would give the bride price to the girl's father and the father would give it to the girl as her dowry.

The bride price tradition benefited every culture that practiced it. Without the tradition, daughters were a financial liability to families and came to be viewed as inferior to sons. Sometimes daughters were murdered at birth. Those who weren't would have been unpopular with brothers because their dowries diminish the inheritance available to sons. Girls with dowries attracted plenty of worthless suitors who wanted the dowry more than the daughter, and the institutions of family and marriage were weakened.

Within the bride-price tradition, both institutions are strengthened over many generations. Good daughters attract worthy suitors who have proven themselves good, productive servants. By giving the bride price to the girl's father, suitors also provide they understand the father's authority over the daughter and their subordination to God's order in the father's Authority. By giving the gift to the daughter, the father signifies his obligations to succeeding generations. (pgs. 303-304)

The first time I read the interview I thought the first two lines of this section were an inside joke between Geoffrey and his daughters.   All of a sudden I realized that Geoffrey Botkin was dead-serious - and that's nuts. 

On the off-chance that the Botkin Sisters ever decide to sue any bloggers for monetary compensation over lost romantic opportunities, this section of their published book should be read into the public record because I imagine there were plenty of young women who read that section then told their brothers that old man Botkin expected guys to pay him to marry his daughters. 

 I'd feel bad for the Botkin Sisters - but when you write a book and multiple blog posts bashing the foibles of your friends - turnabout is fair play.

For any guys who hadn't gone running after hearing about the bride price, I suspect there was a moment of pause when they realized that the amount of the bride price is dependent on how much Geoffrey Botkin likes you. 

The final paragraphs of Geoffrey Botkin's spontaneous lecture on monetary exchange in marriages illustrates my point that self-education does not mean that the self-educated person understands the subject matter. 

If you don't want to read the rest, the basic fact is that everything Geoffrey Botkin says in those three paragraphs are totally wrong.  Not even a bit right.

For the nerds, there are three broad categories of wealth transfer when a couple marries. 

  • A bride price is when goods or services are transferred from the groom or groom's family to the family of the bride.   
  • A dowry is when the family of the bride transfers wealth to the groom or groom's family which may - or may not - be reverted to the bride in case of divorce, desertion or widowhood.
  • A dower is when the groom or his family settle wealth directly on the bride.
I made a visual to help cement it in my mind:
Bride prices are very straightforward to understand.  The bride is a literal piece of property of her parents.  Her parents get to set the price at which they sell their daughter.  Creepy?  Sure - but daughters do a lot of work in a household and the parents will need to recoup that lost labor somehow.

Notice how Geoffrey Botkin has already messed this up.  He's setting the bride price based on the wages of the suitor and how much Geoffrey likes the suitor instead of the value of his daughters' work or goods.    Using my benefits and salary package from the year I married my husband, my parents would have been fools to demand a bride price of less than $190,000 for me.   And yet - Botkin can't correctly assess his daughters' financial benefit to their home.   They've gotta be worth several tens of thousands of dollars in cooking, cleaning and nannying services alone.

Geoffrey Botkin may not have thought out who is disadvantaged by a bride-price: poor sons or non-first born sons depending on the inheritance system of the society.  Since he's got five sons to his two daughters, a bride price system is going to hit the Botkin parents pocketbook hard.

Bride prices also disadvantage daughters of highly wealthy families since there may not be any suitors who can afford their price.  This can lead to infanticide because a daughter who cannot marry legally can potentially disgrace her family by getting pregnant out of wedlock so bride prices are not the end-all be-all solution for female infanticide.

Dowries are the grab-bag group.  Money moves from the bride's family to either the groom or the groom's family.  The money might revert to the bride if the marriage fails - but that varies by culture.  The money might be available to the new couple - or not.   The one overarching theme is that the dowry often is the daughter's portion of her parents' estate paid out at the time of her marriage instead of at their death.   Since the daughter is under the legal authority of her new husband or his family, the money goes to them.  Botkin missed that factoid somehow - or he really believes that a society where bride prices are unaccompanied by an actual dowry from the parents of the bride exists.

Dowries tend to disadvantage low-income or low wealth women whose families cannot cash out a dowry and still be financially stable.  Geoffrey Botkin's worry about the Botkin Sisters attracting fortune hunters is adorably naive; one-seventh of very little is miniscule.

Dowers are the rarest form of property transfer but also easy to understand.  The groom or his family decides to settle enough cash or property on the bride to support her and their children in case of sudden death or desertion of the spouse.  I don't know exactly how each culture/family decides the amount of property or cash to settle on a bride, but the people making the final decision are the groom's family. 

The system Botkin has created from reading the Bible badly...or closest to a form of dower.  Yeah, the money pauses (theoretically) in the hands of the bride's parents but it is passed on to the new family.  Since women do not lose their legal rights, the money is settled on the bride as well as the groom. 

What I love about this whole quote is that it demonstrates how absurdly haphazard Geoffrey Botkin is with his daughters' marriage settlement.  Rather than putting aside money for his daughters' dowries and planning to negotiate for the best deal possible from a suitor in terms of a bride price (which is totally Biblical; see Joseph and Laban's negotiations ), he sets up a situation where the groom makes an entire show of giving Botkin cash - but the money ends up back in the pocket of the groom at the end.    The cash is never settled on the girls - or the Botkin family - so a suitor could raise the funds temporarily then use the "dowry" to pay off the borrowed funds.

That's a situation that will attract bad suitors in a heartbeat - and Botkin is too addled by the feeling of power to realize it.

Sunday, March 3, 2019

Babblin' Botkin: Daddy-led Dating

Howdy, folks!

Bacterial pink-eye has hit Spawn and I.  Honestly, my siblings and I seem to be missing some level of biochemical protection against bacterial pink-eye that most humans have; even as a real adult, I get a case every 3-4 years.   Spawn's a bit young for me to declare that he's a walking pink-eye magnet - but he does have our habit of going from a dry, white conjunctiva to running, oozing and bloodshot in less than two hours. 

Spawn has a great sense of timing as well.  His eyes had been a bit more gunky in the morning - but the humidity has been taking wild swings so I didn't think much of it but decided to keep a eye on it.   I looked closely at both eyes when I loaded him into his car seat on the way to physical therapy and they looked normal.   It takes about an hour to get to PT and Spawn had pulled off his glasses and was rubbing an eye when opened the van door to free him.   Between the relatively low light in the parking garage and a toddler who enjoys thwarting weird behaviors from his mother, I couldn't get a good look at the eye he was rubbing until I had him in the gym for PT.  I assumed he was a mobile biohazard site until proven otherwise which is why Robin found me sitting on the floor reading Spawn a board book on my lap.  Spawn couldn't reach anything of interest so the only thing that needed to be disinfected was the board book.   His eye was...gross.

Thankfully, his doctor got him in a few hours later.  Spawn hates eye drops - but getting them through his eyelids is a one person job compared to the eye ointment from a few months ago.

My diagnosis was even faster and easier since I showed up at an urgent care center when it opened today and said "My toddler has pink-eye that's responded well to antibiotics but my left eye is a hot mess."   After a few questions to make sure it was a superficial infection, I got my prescription for eye drops.

Normally, I'd figure out some kind transition between bacterial infections and Geoffrey Botkin, but my affected eye is weepy and itchy so I'm going to let you fill in whatever you want.

Let me just dive into a quote from the interview by Anna Sofia and Elizabeth Botkin of their father Geoffrey Botkin:
GB: Deception 10: "Love and marriage is a 'Cupid' thing. Chemistry and all that. Dads have to stay out of the way and let Cupid get his shot."

Most dads are stuptified when it comes to a daughter's relationship with boys. This is one of the more blinding deceptions of our time. the time just prior to marriage is the time in a girl's life when she needs the protection, advice, guidance, blessing [sic] of her father more than at any other time. Marriage is one of the biggest practical decision [sic] she will make, and it is only cowardice that motivates fathers to excuse themselves from involvement.

Solution 10: Raise your daughter from a young age to have high standards of purity and high standards for suitors based on your own example in the home. When she is ready for marriage, thanks to your conscientious training, she will know how crucial is the choice of a man who will become her life's work. She will know about her own weaknesses and be as careful as she can be and lean on you heavily for your advice. If you are wise, you will want to do everything you can to help her meet a man of the caliber she would want, and deserve, and grow old with. (pg. 303)

Have I mentioned recently how grateful I am that my dad was not Geoffrey Botkin and handled my emerging adulthood with far more grace and understanding that Geoffrey Botkin was ever capable of? 

I've spent my whole life in the mainstream US culture where dating was the expected way for people to find a spouse.   I'm not a sociologist so I can't speak to the benefits and drawbacks of dating vs. arranged marriages for societies, families and the couple who marry - but I do have one important factoid that Botkin missed.   Single people have the most number of potential matches when using the dominant method of setting up marriages in a society.  A single man or woman who tries to find a partner through dating in a society where arranged marriages are the norm faces a much smaller pool of potential matches.  Conversely, Geoffrey Botkin eliminated over 99% of possible husbands for Anna Sofia and Elizabeth Botkin simply by declaring that suitors would need to go through him rather than his daughters to decide if they were compatible. 

Most fathers and mothers in the US fade out the amount of direct supervision they place on their daughter's dating life as she becomes more mature and competent.  Parents provide a lot of supervision as pre-teens or young teens start dating.  As their child becomes an older teenager, the parents move to providing more emotional support because their teenager is capable of managing dating responsibly.   Geoffrey Botkin doesn't seem to differentiate between supervision and support.  I greatly appreciated my parents' support while I was dating.  Once I knew I was interested in a guy, I'd introduce him to my parents.  My parents got to know him and I learned more about him by the way he interacted with my parents.  Behind the scenes, my parents provided a lot of emotional support with the highs and lows of dating. 

On the flip side, if I was too immature to be able to date without parental supervision, I was too immature to get married.   I think that's one of the problems that people who promote supervised courtships miss; the obsession with having chaperones all the time makes the people in the relationship seem exceptionally immature. 

If you've missed the theme of Geoffrey Botkin's need for control, consider the implications of marriage as a huge decision that women must listen to their father's advice on.   The idea that a father should guide his daughter to the right marriage partner makes very little sense under Botkin's own worldview.   Daughters are essentially blank slates writ large; once married, a woman is supposed to instantly shape her thoughts, preferences, beliefs and actions to the desires of her husband regardless of how life worked in her family of origin.   In that system, a father needs to find a suitor who has similar religious beliefs, can support his daughter financially, and is reasonably attractive/suitable to his daughter.    That's it.  Heck, in the ideal emotional purity (EmoPure) courtship model, all of that can be done behind the scenes before the daughter has any inkling of the suitor's interest in her. 

Why hasn't Geoffrey Botkin found suitors for his two lovely, self-educated daughters who have some income of their own from their books and movies? 


 Once Anna Sofia and Elizabeth exchange vows with their husbands, Geoffrey Botkin loses all control over his daughters.   After all, his daughters have had all other major life decisions stripped from them.  They had no choice over their educational plan.  They have been told college and vocational training is unwomanly and worldly.  Because of that, the Botkin sisters have no real options for jobs, let alone careers in their early and mid-thirties.   No job or career translates to no money - and money is critical in making other adult choices around housing, transportation and entertainment.

One last point: Don't let CP/QF parents blame-shift when their daughters remain unmarried.
EmoPure and courtship-based relationships offer a very straightforward deal: unmarried women give their fathers a great deal of power in the romantic relationships of the daughter in exchange for a promise of an early, happy and fertile marriage. 

 The Maxwells have already started to blame-shift Sarah's unmarried status at 37 from Steven Maxwell to God. *rolls eyes*   I'm sure Anna Sofia and Elizabeth Botkin have already started to get some pushback on how the two of them messed up their prospects by....I really dunno .... but someone will blame them instead of putting the blame squarely on the shoulders of Geoffrey Botkin.

The Botkin Sisters, the Maxwell Sisters, Jana Duggar - they're simply following the playbook that their families drilled into their heads as girls: wait patiently at home and Dad will find you a good husband. 

The fact their dads bought into a critically flawed system isn't the fault of the daughters - but the daughters are the ones paying the price.

I have one more post from the interview at the end of "So Much More".   Geoffrey Botkin demonstrates in a few chaotic paragraphs the dangers of self-education...and how it can endanger your daughters' marriage prospects.