Monday, January 27, 2020

The Battle of Peer Dependency: Chapter Three - Part One

In working on a post on Jasmine Baucham's "Joyfully At Home" a few days ago, I recognized that CP/QF life advice for young women is "Be someone else!".  Young women are supposed to mold themselves to be the perfect wife for a future husband.  Because they are so young and so inexperienced, those young women don't recognize the impossibility of preparing to be a perfect wife for a man who doesn't exist yet.   I also doubt those young women can conceptualize that the process of finding a spouse and settling into married life changes both parties.   That's looking at the short-term; trying to become the woman your future husband needs 30 years down the road rapidly descends into chaos.

Now, at least young Jasmine was keeping her audience somewhat confined by focusing on the needs of a future husband with glancing references to the completely imaginary children of that marriage.  Marina Sears joins Geoffrey Botkin and Steven Maxwell in thinking far more radically about what one human being can plan.    Why limit control to conforming yourself to a future husband when you can control your children forever?

This quote from Chapter Three of "The Battle of Peer Dependence" clarifies the goal of parents - and the bolded section is from the original:
As the years have passed, I know why many parents are broken-hearted after giving their lives to see their children to follow the Lord. These young people have grown into adults grieving in spirit for their failures and living with the consequences of poor choices they made as teenagers. Sadly, they grow up, marry, and have children of their own, still locked in peer dependency. Many are not understanding that they have a greater desire to please others or to be like others, then the individual God has created them to be. It is tragic that young people do not understand that their identities must come from God, his word, and their families, instead of their peers. (pg. 29)
In the United States and most of Europe from the Middle Ages onward, a nuclear family created at marriage gained the largest degree of freedom that any person received during their lifetime.    That nuclear family was deeply interconnected with obligations to their parents, their siblings, their neighbors and the larger society - but each nuclear family unit was allowed to make decisions.  Because of this, men and women both received greater levels of freedom upon marriage.  Men's freedom came from becoming the head of the household.  Women's freedom came from being the right-hand of the head of the household.

That is not the only family system, however. 

A different system that was prevalent in Ancient Rome, Ancient Greece and many civilizations in Asia places the responsibility for all family decision making on the eldest male in the family.   In this system, all males, their wives and their unmarried children are under the authority of that eldest male - whom I am going to refer as the paterfamilias from the Latin term - until he dies.   At his death, the power passes to the next eldest male.  In this system, marriage does nothing in terms of raising the amount of freedom for young men or women.  In fact, marriage timing and partner was generally decided by the paterfamilias based on the needs of the larger family.   Let's say that the family would benefit from a connection to the Smiths.  The paterfamilias for the two families meet and decide that the younger daughter from Family A should marry the Smith's middle son.    Neither of the people involved in the wedding are consulted for trivialities about personal preferences because neither of the people have any level of freedom over marriage choices.

Marina Sears works under the assumption that God expects children to remain under the parents' authority forever.   Now, Mrs. Sears - and Geoffrey Botkin and Steven Maxwell who espouse similar beliefs - would never be so crass as to declare themselves the paterfamilias of their children and grandchildren.   That would be too obvious of a power-play in the United States where people expect grown adults to show certain levels of independence from their parents.  Instead, the paterfamilias wannabes support keeping children and teenagers isolated from pretty much everyone outside the immediate family so that the family members never see any other options for living during their formative years.   By the time the now-adult kids are looking to marry, the kids should have internalized the family culture perfectly and live exactly like their parents want them to live.

Does it work?   Well, I have no idea how well Marina Sears kept her kids under her control as they got older - but the outcome has been decidedly mixed for the Botkin and Maxwell clans. 

The Botkin clan married off the three oldest sons who have had a few kids each - but the Botkin daughters are well beyond the expected age of marriage for CP/QF girls and the two youngest sons are unmarried in their late 20's.   The middle son Benjamin seems to be supporting himself by composing music; the remainder of the family works for Lucas' T.Rex Arms business of producing specialized weapon accessories by CNC machine.   That sounds nice enough - but nine grandkids from three sons is hardly the massive brood of Botkin grandchildren Geoffrey envisioned in his 200-year plan.

The Maxwells have certainly succeeded in that they've managed to land all four married sons in homes within 0.7 miles of  Steve and Terri's home and have so far produced 17 grandchildren with one more to be born next summer.  On the flip side, the families of Nathan, Joseph and John Maxwell seem to be much more relaxed in clothing styles than Steve and Terri were at the same age.  (Meanwhile, Christopher Maxwell's family is now more conservative in clothing than the remaining unmarried Maxwell kids.)  Similarly, Joseph and John Maxwell's families appear on the blog much less frequently than the other two married brothers and the unmarried sisters.  Those two brothers might simply want less internet exposure for their children - or they might have carved out slightly more space for their families from the clan.

"The Battle of Peer Dependency" is cult-speak for "No one can question the will of the parents".

That's going to make for some fun reading, I'm sure.

*Speaking of the Maxwell Family,  Anna Maxwell - wife of Christopher Maxwell - could use some thoughts and prayers right now.  She developed a breast lump during her most recent pregnancy that was managed with imaging until the lump grew rapidly in her third trimester.  There is a very high likelihood that the lump is cancer based on the imaging done when it began to grow.   She was induced at late 36 weeks or early 37 weeks of the pregnancy and delivered a healthy baby boy.   They've got six kids under the age of 8 and she's facing some combination of surgery, chemo and/or radiation.  Our lives are very different - but no one ever should have to face cancer - let alone while having large, young family to care for at the same time.*

Saturday, January 25, 2020

Joyfully At Home: Chapter Ten - Part Two

Jasmine Baucham informs her readers that Chapter 10 of "Joyfully At Home" will help them shed a false view of singleness.  After reading the chapter a few times, I think the false view of singleness that Jasmine is trying to puncture is the idea that a single woman is less worthy or less Christian than a married woman.

I agree wholeheartedly that the worth of a person who is female should not be based on her marital state.   My bias coming to this chapter is that I'm Catholic.  Vatican II has attempted to place religious, marital and single life on equal footing - but the older views still linger.  For people who grew up or are of other religions, the older view is that people who REALLY loved God became priests - or the runner-up title of sister/nun if you happened to be born female - and the rest of us were always going to be second-class posers. 

You can see, then, why reading the chapter in "I Kissed Dating Goodbye" where various people explained that sanctification of women didn't require marriage confused the hell out of me.  Of course women didn't need marriage for sanctification; no one did!  Really holy people would dedicate their lives to God and not have sex.   Marriage is a backup calling for those of us with sex drives who pay for that sex drive by raising a huge family of Catholic babies.

This chapter, though, fails at killing a false view of singleness because every mention of singleness is qualified by explaining how singleness is really a planning stage for marriage.

Take this first quote where Bridget Baucham is a secondary character in her own singlehood season the needs of Voddie Baucham as predetermined by God:
My father was married at the tender age of twenty; my mother was twenty-three. He was married young because that was God's plan for him. The Lord meant for marriage to sanctify him, to gird him during his ministry, and to teach him lessons that would stabilize this young pastor as he began to preach. The Lord meant for my mother to be married three years later than my father because when she was 20, he was only 17, and would not come to know the Lord until he was almost 19.(pg. 116)
Bridget Baucham's readiness for marriage is couched entirely in terms of Voddie Baucham's life path with a strange gloss of God's Plans. 

Was Bridget ready to be married at age 20 herself?  We have no clue. 

Did she gain skills or maturity between 20-23 years of age?  Got me. 

Did Bridget matter to God outside of her future role as Voddie's wife?  Apparently not.

Since Jasmine was living in the same home as her mother while writing this book, Jasmine's complete neglect of her mother's growth, work and maturation process as a single adult woman is stunning.  Jasmine talks about her mom frequently in the book - but only as a married adult woman sharing wisdom.  This oversight reinforces the theme that the story of a woman's life only begins once she's married.

The next quote starts with a standard scolding about not using single life for the Lord before it slides seamlessly into a hymn to the importance of being a wife and mother:
If you are staying home is some sort of ticket to matrimony, I suggest you reevaluate your priorities. The goal for us unmarried daughters should be to bring glory to Christ and every season of our lives, not strive to get married so that we can start giving him glory. This in no way undermines the beauty of marriage or the nobility of motherhood, but it does put the focus on the one who makes marriage beautiful, and who makes mothering worthwhile-- he's the same King who makes our singleness worthwhile as we use it as a time to reflect on his goodness. (pg. 117)
Marriage is beautiful. 

Mothering is the fulfillment of a woman's life. 

Singlehood is worthwhile if and only if women use it for the goodness of God. 

Marriage and motherhood apparently glorify God without distracting women at all from God.  Single women, on the other hand, need to be constantly reminded to stay on-topic about God.

That's pretty ironic since the biblical view of marriage is the polar opposite; married people are more likely to be focused on the concerns of their spouse, children and other dependents while single or widowed people are able to focus entirely on God.

This is really not helpful for changing the habit of treating unmarried women as children.

This last quote shows Jasmine Baucham's ambivalence at the idea of remaining unmarried for any period of time.  I didn't grow up in this culture - but this quote makes me feel like stating that God might want you to be single is such a bad omen or so likely to draw the curse of singleness upon the speaker that Jasmine intuitively praises marriage hard to prevent being an old maid.
You could be married about 9 months from now , or you could be married nine years from now. The Lord might purpose for you never to marry. There is no way you can know exactly when or you will wed. But here's what we do know: the Lord has given us life, perhaps an unmarried one at this point, and he has given us a mission to carry out, single or married ( Matthew 28: 18-20), and is constantly sanctifying us, single or married, and is called us to a purpose, single or married...

And that's a wonderful thing!

I am not suggesting that we should not actively prepare to be capable wives and mothers...but daughterhood is the best training ground. (pgs 118-119)
Good news!  You might be married in nine months. As an older person, that's a terrifying statement when directed as a very young, very sheltered girl-woman

 Bad news: you might have to wait NINE WHOLE YEARS!  (Oh, the horrors!)  I had around 9 years to wait before getting married when I was Jasmine's age; I was busy enough with working and learning that the time passed quickly and enjoyably.

As a real adult, my advice to the young unmarrieds who might be reading this is to use your time to become the best "you" you can be.   You know what your strengths and weaknesses are.  Work on cultivating your strengths and remedying your weaknesses rather than striving to become the best fit an unknown man and children who are not in existence. 

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

The Battle of Peer Dependency: Author's Anxiety - Part Three

We've finally settled into a pattern of winter weather here in Michigan.  After months of unseasonably warm weather, we've got frozen ground and accumulating snow.   I'm not a huge fan of winter - but I do prefer having all four seasons rather than waiting around hoping that the winter isn't so bad when it finally comes.

I met a guy at my job who recently moved from Florida.  I cautiously asked him how he was doing with the weather change.  Turns out he likes winter weather and is not a fan of the huge heat of a Florida summer.  His only frustration is that Michiganders seem much less friendly than Floridians.  I told him to give us a few months; the complete lack of sunlight plunges most of the people in West Michigan into at least mild seasonal affective disorder.  Essentially, we all become zombies - but we perk up once the sun comes back.   He laughed pretty hard and promised to reassess come summer time.

In my review of Marina Sears book "The Battle of Peer Dependency", I've discussed two stories presented in the book that show Mrs. Sears struggling with anxiety prior to her husband Jeff's untimely death in a car accident.   The last anecdote of anxiety touches on the difficulties that parenting brings with (or without) anxiety.

Parenting is hard.  My husband and I are always referring to a Calvin and Hobbes cartoon strip where 7-year-old Calvin's parents are sitting up in bed after they found that their house was robbed while they were on vacation.  The overall theme is that no one would have been in such a hurry to grow up as a kid if they knew that adulthood doesn't come with a book of easy answers to follow. 

For me, parenting feels like I'm taking random guesses about what the best course of action is when I don't have all the facts.   In my humble opinion, our current societal assumption that how kids turn out as adults is directly tied to every tiny decision made by their parents during childhood is harmful crap.  Call me cynical - but I've seen enough kids who turned out well in spite of horrible parents and a few who turned out badly in spite of really dedicated parents that I've become an advocate of "good-enough" parenting.  Good-enough parenting, in my definition, is parents who do what they need to keep their kids clothed, fed, sheltered, loved, medically cared for and kept away from abusive persons.  That's pretty much the basics.  Don't get me wrong - encouraging your child's interests, exposing them to cultural stuff and giving them age-appropriate toys is nice if you can pull it off - but those things aren't going to matter much if the kid is in an abusive home or has an untreated medical condition, right?

With that definition in mind, see how severely Mrs. Sears overreacts to a perceived slight by someone who knows her oldest son:
God used the wisdom of one of Chris's nursery workers to teach me a valuable lesson. Chris was a happy, contented child, who required very little attention. He played for hours by himself, thus enabling me to accomplish a great deal during the day. One afternoon the church nursery worker called and told me that Christopher was a very loving child. Whenever he was in the church nursery, he would crawl up into her lap, give her hugs, and stay there the whole time. She implied that because he was so starved for attention, maybe I didn't love him. I cried the rest of the day, until Jeff arrived home from work. That evening I shared with him the telephone conversation and asked him if he thought I didn't love Christopher. The tears began to flow all over again. My heart was broken as the thought haunted me: what kind of person doesn't love his or her own child. (pgs. 98-99)
Reading for facts and actions gives a story where a nursery worker decides to call the mom of one of the kids to tell her what a nice kid she has.  The nursery worker loves having a kid who cuddles with her during the day.   I assume the nursery worker hung up the phone and felt good about complimenting a nice mom about her sweetie-pie of a boy.   Instead, a conversation that sound pretty innocuous sends Marina into a multiple hour tailspin.....

From that, Marina assumes that 1) her kid is being affectionate with a nursery worker because he's getting no attention elsewhere and 2) all of this is caused by Marina's lack of love for her son.

Marina's assumptions are not a given - and not well-based in child psychology at all.  Well-adjusted young children will seek comfort in new situations through physical contact with safe adults like the nursery worker.   On the flip side, some kids are fairly independent at young ages and don't want an adult in their face all the time especially in a situation where the kid feels confident and the adult figure is a safe person.  Kids need space to be independent - and caregivers need time to do the scads of chores that come with small children so the system works out.  I say that as the mother of an introverted kiddo.  Spawn certainly likes playing with me during the day - but there are also times where he's clear that he wants to play by himself and I should make myself scarce for a bit.  If I stick around too long, he'll tell me "Bye-bye.  Mama clean!".

Obviously missing from the story: the point where her husband responds to her question of if Jeff thinks Marina loves Chris or not.   Based on the few short stories we have about Jeff prior to his death, he sounds like a nice, stable, well-grounded guy.   I cannot imagine he responded with anything except "Marina, you love Chris - and Chris loves you" but that would undermine the idea that Marina's reaction was based more on her anxiety than reality.

No, instead we get a standard CP/QF trope where Marina realizes that she's done wrong by her kid and starts loving on him all the time at home.   Chris seems to like the attention - so that's nice - but there's not a part where the nursery worker calls again to tell Marina that Chris is ignoring her now...or a part where Jeff congratulates Marina on learning to love her we don't have any independent verification that any of Marina's assumptions were based in reality instead of anxiety - and that's sad.

This is the end of the pre-Jeff's death anxiety motif.  The next post is going to be from Chapter Three because the first paragraph of Chapter Three does a better job of pointing out the real goals for battling peer dependency.   Once we've covered that, the rest of the book makes a dark, tragic sort of sense.

Sunday, January 12, 2020

Joyfully At Home: Chapter Ten - Part One

We had the first winter storm of 2020!

The weather forecasts were all over the place.  To be fair, Western Michigan is a nightmare to do weather forecasts in.  Lake Michigan is a giant chaos wrench that causes weather to do all sorts of unexpected things.   The average forecast was that we'd have some amount of freezing rain - with enough accumulation to mess with power so probably between 0.25 -1 inch  - followed by up to 8 inches of snow. 

Looking out our windows, I think we got a solid 0.5 inches of freezing rain and maybe a scant inch of snow.    We have a bunch of small branches down in the yard like we do after every storm but nothing too large.   Thankfully, the freezing rain accumulated over 24 hours which gave the limbs of trees more time to bend rather than a sudden accumulation which often breaks the limbs.

I'm also enjoying my first weekend off of work in...oh....8 months.  We just had a scheduling fluke that gave me a weekend off and I was happy to take it.  I've enjoyed having two full days with my husband and tot.  I'm using the enforced time at home due to the storm to make up some ricotta followed by making cheese and spinach pierogies.  They are nice to have in the freezer since they cook up quickly and taste great.

While my milk heats, I figured it was a good time to look at Jasmine Baucham's "Joyfully At Home" Chapter 10 - 'Overcoming a False View of Singleness".

I was kind of looking forward to this chapter.  Unfortunately, the chapter spends no time whatsoever discussing singleness as a useful state without immediately referencing marriage.  I've picked four representative quotes to discuss over two posts to show the flavor of the chapter.

The first quote hits two points - marriage IS primary and CP/QF folks really don't read the Bible well.
I do believe that some people are given the gift of singleness ( Matthew 19: 12), but I don't believe that the " gift of singleness" should be an excuse for putting of (sic) marriage, selfishly pursuing our dreams without using God's word as a measuring stick ( 1 Corinthians 7: 34- 35), opting out of marriage because we don't properly value the home ( Titus 2:3-5) , or using the gift of singleness as an excuse for an issue with submission (Ephesians 5:22ff). (pg, 115)
Back in the "good ol' days", a woman who was unmarried was simply a woman who failed to catch a guy.  Since marriage was the beginning of a woman being treated as a mature adult, a single woman had to deal with the stigma of being a perpetual child.  She also was much more at risk for poverty than a married woman.

After reading that quote, I kinda miss those old days. 

I miss those days because a single woman was labeled as being unfortunate - not a sinner.    Jasmine just created a list of pretty brutal accusations of sinning that could be used against any SAHD who turns down a parent-lead courtship opportunity - and that's cruel.

At the same time, reading the accompanying Bible verses is amazingly funny. 

Matthew 19 is a standard Jesus story.   Jesus gets in an argument with the Pharisees over divorce.  Jesus wins the argument by declaring that people only get divorced because they are mean and bitter (in modern parlance).   The disciples reply "Man, if married life is so rough, people should stay single."   Jesus replies that some people are eunuchs by birth, others are forced to be eunuchs, and some people choose to be eunuchs to follow God - and you should be in the third group if you REALLY love God.

So - this is the first Gospel quote used in a CP/QF book - and it says that we shouldn't get married.   I think we've hit the reason that CP/QF is often described as a Pauline cult rather than Christians.

The quote from 1 Corinthians is about how married women prioritize husbands over God while unmarried women prioritize God.   That's a great quote about the value of singleness - but the quote implies that the verse supports marriage.  In my humble opinion, the seventh chapter of 1 Corinthians could be summarized as "Peeps, the world is ending.  SOON.  Marry or don't marry - but seriously, the END IS NEAR so do whatever will keep you out of sin."

Good old Titus 2.  Titus 2 isn't a wholehearted endorsement of marriage for the sake of sanctification - regardless of what CP/QF folks try to say.   The Letter makes it clear that the community has a lot of widows of various ages to support and is struggling mightily to do so.   Titus 2 tells the widows who are young enough to have children to remarry and have children so that the church doesn't have to directly support them.   Older widows are told to stop drinking too much, stop gossiping and help out the young women because raising children is a lot of work..    It's a letter I enjoy for the sheer humanity of the people involved - but it's hardly a ringing endorsement of marriage for any reason except financial ones.

And while I never want to encourage young women to develop character traits just to "rope a husband:, rather than focusing on how their character can please the Lord, here's something that I've learned from the godly young men in my life: one of the most attractive (and rare) qualities they'll find in a Christian young woman is that she is joyfully, industriously serving the Lord in singleness, not eyeing every young man that crosses her path as of prospective Romeo that will take her out of her gilded cage. (pg. 115)

Jasmine would never ever tell young women to become better people for any other reason than the please the Lord - but pssst!  Young guys find it super-attractive when young women are bettering themselves for the Lord!   Self-improvement is an aphrodisiac for Godly men - especially in young Godly women who don't seem attracted to them at all! 

That's really rather twisted.

Next up is two more quotes about how singleness is great - but marriage is better! 

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

The Battle of Peer Dependency: Author's Anxiety - Part Two

Yipee!  We have a rare sunny day during the winter in Michigan!

My energy level feels a million times higher when I have access to bright sunshine instead of a uniformly gray sky.  Plus, it was my son's first day back at preschool after his winter break.  I enjoyed having him at home (especially once I found that giving him french toast in the morning greatly cut down on hangry whining before lunch), but I missed having two hours of toddler-free time a day.   I celebrated his first day back with a nice, long, cold walk.

My son is celebrating being home by trying to surreptitiously type on the keyboard and using his play stethoscope to listen to the back of my laptop's monitor. 

I'm discussing examples of Marina Sears' pre-existing anxiety disorder that she describes in "The Battle of Peer Dependency".   In the first chapter of the book, Marina Sears describes the tragic death of her husband in a freak car accident.   Traumatic life events like that can predispose a person to anxiety, but Marina also shares three stories of times where she seemed to be struggling with an anxiety disorder prior to Jeff's death.

Since the Sears daughter Camille was a year old when Jeff died, this story must have happened in the year prior to Jeff's death.  At this point, the Sears lived in a fairly remote area - hence the PO Box story in the last installment - while Jeff worked in the oil fields.
One day while Jeff was at work, the boys, Camille, and I found a scorpion in the house. I had sandals on and was afraid to step on it because even though the creature looked very small, I thought the stinger might be able to extend itself and come up over my foot and stinging me. I trapped it in a cup and ran next door to call Jeff because our phones were not yet turned on. I was trying to be calm, but when he answered the phone, I broke into hysteria and asked him to drive home the seventy miles and kill the scorpion. It took him 15 minutes to talk me into putting it on the ground then stepping on it with my sandaled foot. (pgs. 21-22)

The hardest part for people who don't have anxiety to understand is how badly an anxiety attack scrambles a person's ability to think logically about a situation.   This example demonstrates how out-of-whack a person's line of thought is when Marina decides that the ONLY solution to getting rid of a scorpion is for Jeff to drive for 1 hour and 15 minutes back home, kill the scorpion, then either miss the rest of his shift or drive 1 hour and 15 minutes back to the oil fields again.   

If I'm doing the math right, following Marina's frantic request would lead to 5 hours of driving to and from the oil fields in a day.  To kill a smallish arachnid.

For all that I'm a science person, I'm not a huge fan of insects.  I have very little experience with scorpions and I would be more than a bit freaked out if I found one.   After taking a few deep breaths, though, I can think of a few better options than making Jeff drive home.   My short list:
  1. Put on shoes with heavier soles before crushing scorpion.
  2. Put the cup outside tipped over and let the scorpion go free.
  3. Let one of two little boys in the family put on "stomping boots" and crush the scorpion.   
  4. Ask the neighbor to kill the scorpion.
  5. Name it and declare it the family mascot.  
Anxiety survivor tip: If your response to a single, small arachnid is more in line with a normal person would do when presented with a house fire, please seek professional help.  This is not a good way to live.

Friday, January 3, 2020

The Battle of Peer Dependency: Author's Anxiety - Part One

My blog has primarily focused on books that aim to control young women through obsessive control of their sexuality and career paths.   I focused on emotional purity writings (emo-pure) and stay-at-home daughterhood (SAHD) mainly because when I started reviewing Debi Pearl's "Preparing To Be a Helpmeet"  I was a newlywed with an established career in education.   I felt that I had a pretty solid grounding in romantic relationships, male-female relationships and transitioning from a dependent child to a financially independent adult.

I didn't delve much into child rearing manuals (outside of home-based education) because I didn't have a kid.  I'd been around kids much of my life and felt confident when I read manuals about how to avoid terrible advice - but I didn't have any personal parenting experience.

Well, a lot has changed in the last seven years.   I'm still a married woman with a career - and I'm also the mom of a 3 year old who has brought a unique and fascinating set of adventures with him.

Net outcome: I'm over my shyness about blasting the crap-tastically bad parenting advice given out by CP/QF parents. 

I'm gearing up to review two books on the dangers of "peer dependency".   The first book is "The Battle for Peer Dependency" by Marina Sears followed by the Maxwell's book "Keeping Your Children's Hearts".  As I've mentioned before, I grew up outside of CP/QF and only encountered it glancingly as an adult prior to learning more on the internet to try and help students of mine who were dumped into the public school system in their late teens.   Because of that, I had no bloody clue what the term "peer dependency" meant - and reading "The Battle of Peer Dependency" will leave you clueless until the third chapter so that was fun.

For other outsiders, the term 'peer dependency' in the society means the desire that people have to be around people their own age outside of their siblings.   In the larger society, this is viewed as a normal, age-appropriate developmental stage that starts in toddlerhood.  In fact, my three-year old has just started showing increased interest towards other little kids and occasionally makes attempts to play cooperatively!  (I'm just really proud of my little guy). 

I digress.

Practically, the term has some deeper, more sinister connotations surrounding parental control.  In the ideal CP/QF family the patriarch gets his goals for the entire family from God.  The goals are clear, Godly, and intergenerational.   The Botkins have a plan to outbreed us heathens.  The Maxwells are going to support large families in computer-based self-taught careers AND never live farther than 1 mile from Steven and Terri's house.   The Duggars pretty much run the same gig as the Maxwells but they specialize in home rentals and used cars. 

The danger of peers is that being around other families lets the kids see that there are different ways to live - and that could lead to sinful deviations from the plan.   The Duggars have Josh David who refused to follow the Duggar no-touch courtship rules (eek!) and works independently (so much harder for his dad to control him that way....).   The Maxwells have Christopher who wanted to become an EMT (oh, the horrors!) and John whose fiancee announced their engagement online prior to the wedding (Dunno if they will ever forgive Chelsy for that).

So, yeah.  Fighting peer dependency is essentially using emotional, religious, and/or logistical manipulation of your children to keep them firmly enmeshed in their family of origin for the life length of the parents.

Sounds like fun!  *shudders*

Moving specifically into "The Battle for Peer Dependency", the first idea that I wanted to explore is my belief that part of Mrs. Sears motivation for focusing on eliminating peer dependency is a sad attempt to control her personal anxiety disorder.

I struggled with generalized anxiety disorder from when I was 4 until I was in my mid-twenties. 

My younger brother David died unexpectedly and suddenly just before his first birthday - and I became an anxious wreck.   I believed wholeheartedly that my parents and the doctors did everything humanly possible to save my brother - and he still died.   That meant that all the good intentions in the world meant absolutely nothing.  We were all at the mercy of a cruel, capricious and random world that killed people willy-nilly.

Over the years, I kept my anxiety in check by being an overachiever and keeping negative emotions bottled up.   I was very, very good at both things - and far too young to realize that I was becoming a ticking-time bomb for mental illness.

When I moved away to college, my anxiety exploded.  We had moved across Michigan a few months before my brother died  so moving again brought up insane levels of anxiety that something really, really bad was going to happen.   After a few weeks at college, I was diagnosed with depression and started on medication and seeing a counselor.  Unfortunately, the first SSRI I received worked a bit for the depression and actually ratchet my anxiety even higher. 

Compounding the problem was the fact that anxiety had been a part of my life for so long that I didn't know that I was anxious - so no one was really cued in on the fact that my anxiety was driving my depression rather than vice versa.

A few weeks later, I was burnt-out, exhausted and actively suicidal.   I informed my counselor that she needed to help me get in-patient care now because I could stop myself from attempting suicide right now - but I was so exhausted that I might not be able to next time....or the next time....or the next time.

I was hospitalized twice over three weeks while doctors figured out a medicine regiment that worked for me.  The absolute game changer was being prescribed Klonopin for the first time.   For the first time that I could remember, I felt what 0 out of 10 on an anxiety scale felt like.   Plus, anxiety was draining all of my energy.  With an anti-anxiety drug, I could focus on getting my eating, sleeping and exercising habits back to normal and start learning how to treat depression.  The second game changer was determining that the first SSRI was causing my suicidal ideations - and getting off of that made life much more workable.

Learning how to treat my anxiety was the overarching theme of my college and early teaching years.  It was a long slog - but I've come out the far side much more able to care for myself than I ever was before.

I bring this up because there are three stories in the book from before the tragic death of Marina's husband that ring all sorts of "Hello, anxiety my old friend" bells.  Here's one:

The enormity of the horrible road conditions had been confirmed when the children and I accompanied Jeff to retrieve mail from our post office box. Moments of sheer terror overwhelmed me several times when we came very close to sliding off the road or into oncoming traffic. Huge semi tractor-trailers filled the road, and their bulky size seem to take up more than their share of the highway. Their heavy loads made even deeper rivets and gullies in the icy slush causing it to freeze. As each truck or vehicle passed, I believed that we were going to be in a head-on collision. All of a sudden, a thought struck me. If we were all in an accident, the treacherous road conditions were so harrowing that no one would survive the crash. Since all of the children were with us, crashing would not be terrible, because we would all perish and be in heaven together. That's all gave me great comfort, and the fear of dying was instantly gone. (pg. 14)

When you read for facts,  the car ride sounds a lot like an average snowy Thursday in Idaho or one of those rare icy days in Texas.  Jeff, Marina and the kids drove to the PO box.  The roads were slushy and the car lost traction a few times but Jeff was able to steer through it.

If you read for emotion, Jeff Sears risked his entire family's life by driving at breakneck speeds down icy roads on bald tires while playing chicken with semi-trucks!  At any second, the entire family could be annihilated in a massive wreck!

The red flag for anxiety - Marina's level of anxiety is so high that she finds relief by imagining a scenario where she can die without hurting her family at all since no one will feel any pain if they are all killed instantly. 

We've got two more anxiety stories left for later posts.

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Joyfully At Home: Chapter Nine

Chapter Nine in Jasmine Baucham's "Joyfully At Home" teaches young women how to overcome a false view of self.   Practically,  I think people would need a whole lot more support and action to do that than reading a short chapter in a self-help book written by a 19 year old.

I'm probably attacking the idea from the wrong angle, though, since I work on the theory that God makes men and women with certain skills and strengths independent of gender.  From that, I believe that women should not be limited to one uniform vocational track of wife-mother.   Many women will marry and quite a few will be mothers - but not every woman is called to be a wife or mother.  Nor do I think that children require two parents.  The vast majority of women will work in the larger society as a worker at some point in their lives - and many of us do that while being excellent wives and mothers.

Turns out the chapter is more simple than that.   The "false view of self" is the crazy idea that women have a right to marry a man whose personality complements their strengths and flaws.  Instead, a woman is supposed to pick a man who will sanctify her by having a marriage where the two people grate on each other.

Take this gem:
Often times, when I hear young women speaking about what type of men they would like to marry, they don't talk about the type of personalities that would challenge and grow them...they talk about the type of personalities that they would fancy. (...) It was focused on what I would like, what would balance me, what would make me comfortable, what would I wouldn't need to change for. (pg. 104)
Well, yeah.

In a egalitarian marriage, partners will grow and change together hopefully because both people are allowed to ask for changes they need from their partner to be happy.   Yes, it is important for spouses to be roughly aligned in personality traits - but both people have room to grow over time.

In CP/QF land, women are supposed to be subservient to their husbands.  All the time.  Ideally, without spending too much time forcing their husbands to explain the rationale behind their decisions.   The husband is a priest, prophet, protector and provider, after all.  You can't expect him to be an explainer as well.   *rolls eyes*

Since a young woman has exactly once chance to decide who she's being yoked to for the rest of her life,  I feel that she should make that decision based on who she is and what is a sensible choice based on her personality. 

 Here's a tiny example from my life.  I prefer to socialize outside my home and have my home be a space for rest, relaxation and family life.  I do have close friends and family over - but the thought of hosting a large party out of my home sounds hellish to me.  Large parties, in my humble opinion, are the reason community and church halls were created.

Can you imagine how stressful being married to a man who thrives on in-home entertaining would be for me?  Notice: this is just a minor personal preference without any sin or angst attached - but I would be exhausted and frazzled if our home was expected to be party central for local families.

Apparently, women need to pre-conform themselves to their future husband - without asking if the change the woman is making in herself is sensible or even Christian:
For instance, I always prayed for a man who could tolerate the fact that I am extremely emotional. But I never considered mortifying the sin that was a lack of self-control on my part. I prayed for someone who's laid back personality balanced out my perfectionism. I never thought to mortify the sin of pride in my life. I prayed for a decisive man because I grow impatient with visionaries who are juggling 15 ideas at once. I never once thought to pray for patience or a submissiveness that would teach me to ride the roller coaster of being married to a visionary man. (pg. 104)
Interestingly, Christianity only cautions against extreme emotions that warp our reactions to others.  Believers are cautioned against wrath  - anger that seeks to hurt and destroy.  Lust - sexual attraction that objectifies the other person.  Greed - wanting more for the sake of possession.  Envy - malicious desire for what another person has.  Pride - an inability to look at self clearly.  Sloth - failure to act to help self or others.  Gluttony - overconsumption that weakens self or others.

I just have difficulty believing that 19-year old Jasmine was cherishing envy against her friends who married.   She wrote a book while helping with her pile of younger brothers and attending college online so I feel like sloth is probably not a huge issue with her.   Being lustful requires feeling sexual desire while actively objectifying the other person - and we've covered that she freaked out when around guys she was attracted to so that's out.   I just can't buy that she was massively cherishing problematic emotions.

Perfectionism is kind of related to pride - but perfectionism is rooted more in anxiety than it is in overly high self-worth.   I've struggled with perfectionism in my life especially in academic pursuits and for me the fear is that I will somehow fail the expectations that another person has about me if I do less than perfect.   Over the years, I learned that 1) my expectations of what other people expect is totally out of whack and 2) if someone's expectations are that high, I need to get out of that situation for my own sanity.

Oh, Lord.  Don't pray for the patience to handle being married to a visionary man of the Debi Pearl type.   That's a ragingly unfair marriage where the husband gets to act like a child by doing all the "fun" work of indulging dreams without weighing the downsides of the newest plan.  Meanwhile, his wife is trapped trying to make-do with an ever-increasing brood of children, diminishing resources, and the exhaustion of being the 'bad guy' when  reality intrudes on the newest dream.

If we feel ourselves to the brim with romantic thoughts and inclinations, if all we can think about is courtships, weddings, honeymoons, starting a family, about how we could be married in as little as six months if the right guy came along tomorrow.... Then whenever we feel the pressure of those pesky heart palpitations, what's going to come out is a wistful side, not a reasonable jolt back into reality. (pg. 108)
*lifts jaw off keyboard* 

Girl, slow your roll!

 Do not marry a dude 6 months after you meet him!

 No! Bad life choice!  No!

See, this is what you miss when you don't watch 20/20 or Dateline or any other voyeuristic crime TV shows.   "Yeah, she fell hard and fast for that dude she met.  It was love at first sight!  They got married so fast.  Too bad she missed ( his criminal record / history of wives dying suspiciously / the fact he has 2 other families living/ that his history was a lie/ his blinding rages) until it was too late" is pretty much the stock story told by the mom/sister/best friend of the dead woman.

 Don't forget that you can be miserable without marrying a criminal sociopath.  CP/QF type love the Book of Proverbs. Let's remember a proverb shared in societies with less patriarchal marriage types: Marry in haste; repent at leisure.

Did Jasmine know that at 19?  Nah - that's prime time for young people marrying quickly and setting up a home together.  It takes a few years after that to watch marriages fall apart and end in divorce - or worse - solidify into two very unhappy people trapped together.

Really, the nicest thing I can say about this chapter is that it is short.   We're done with this chapter in one installment - and that's nice!