Tuesday, March 24, 2020

The Battle of Peer Dependency: Chapter Three - Part Three

One fun part of parenting has been watching my son's personality unfold.  Spawn often reminds me of myself or my husband - but he has quirks and qualities that are all his own. 

We each have very different sleeping preferences. 

My husband likes sleeping under fleece blankets and can be wrapped up from head to toe comfortably.   I, on the other hand, much prefer cotton sheets and quilts because I get too hot and sweaty under polyester.  We have had separate bedding since before our marriage so that we can both sleep.  Oh, and I don't like having my head or feet covered in bed - but I need something over my torso to stay asleep. 

Spawn doesn't sleep under any kind of covering.  Ever since he was a snippet of a baby, he'd tolerate us swaddling him (or tucking him into bed under a sheet and blanket as he got older) as one of those crazy things that adults do - but within five minutes of us leaving him alone - he'd have removed all of the swaddle or blankets and falls fast asleep on an empty mattress.  In cold weather, I often sneak in when I go to bed and tuck him in again.  He sleep-wiggles his way back out again within 5 minutes.

Sleep preferences are fairly minor in the grand scheme of life - but parenting is about raising the child you have rather than forcing the kid to become the child that lives in your imagination. 

Actually, if you are in CP/QF land, parenting is about molding your kid into the image you wanted - nevermind if that's the shape that God wants them to be.   Take this next quote from Marina Sears' "The Battle of Peer Dependency" in Chapter 3:
Another factor involved when a father does not have his child's heart is the principle that whoever has the heart of your child controls him. He will dress like his peers, wear his hair the same, begin using the same words and phrases, and ultimately begin to adopt the morals and values of the peer or group of peers.  Peer dependency is the loss of a child's heart. Dressing, talking, and having the same morals is just the beginning. When a father has lost the heart of the child, the child is torn between the direction and wishes of his parents and that of his friends. In the beginning, he may still desire to please his parents. As time goes on, however, the family will experience great turmoil as the peer dependent young person grows deeper into dependency and rebellion. People who are peer dependent will find themselves beginning to lower the standards that their parents have tried to instill in them. (pg. 35)
The order of negative events due to peer dependency is abnormal from a Christian (or secular) perspective.    The normal order of concerns would be that a child would 1) emulate minor negative behaviors of a peer followed by 2) questioning moral values that protect against major negative choices which leads to 3) drifting from the morals instilled by parents and finally leading to 4) the kid doing something sinful, dangerous or destructive. 

In other words, minor bad choices --> loss of moral compass --> severe negative behaviors.   Yes, the family will get worried or angry with their wayward child - but the turmoil within the family is a side-effect of a more pernicious negative spiral.

By comparison, Sears' event line is 1) kid is a visible embarrassment because they look worldly and use slang, 2) completely loses moral compass which leads to 3) inconvenience to parents since the kid has independent opinions.   

This whole peer-dependent spiral might be concerning if combined with drug use, alcohol use or precocious sexual activity - but wearing a faddish outfit, getting a dated hair cut and using ever-changing slang is a transient, non-fatal part of being a teenager.    I have plenty of pictures of my mom wearing bell-bottoms with a beehive hairdo in the 1970's.  We have an infamous picture of my dad and mom taking a photo when my twin came home from the hospital.  Mom looks great - and Dad's got shoulder length hair combined with a full-chest length beard while wearing a flannel shirt whose designer thought it was brilliant to sew the pockets in bias cut so the chest pockets have plaid that looks like X's across his chest. That was 1982.   I have plenty of pictures of me wearing plaid flannel shirts with pleated khakis and sandals in the late 1990's.  I have the wrong hair type to wear a Aniston-style haircut - but I would have if I could pull it off!    I admit that I reply to "Hey, Mel?" with "Yo?" and occasionally reply "Cool beans" in spite of my best efforts. 

In spite of these massive transgressions of my teenage years - cue eye roll - I've turned out fine and my parents are proud of me.

I've always wondered how well CP/QF childraising works since every book includes multiple warnings that letting kids be around peers the same age will lead inexorably to disaster:
Individuals who would never consider using drugs may choose to smoke cigarettes, rationalizing that they would never go as far as as their friends who use drugs. Others may not participate in sexual immorality but will begin to listen to off colored or immoral jokes, thinking, " I'm not so bad; I'm still physically pure." He attempts to justify himself by finding those who appear to be more sinful than he. He concludes that he's really not such a "bad" person after all. Sin never stands still, nor will the effects of peer dependency. A peer dependent person can never expect to be morally or spiritually above the one he's dependent on. (pg. 35)
Yes, raise your children by CP/QF standards and you get hothouse flowers that die within seconds of exposure to the real world!  Whoo-hoo!  Those kids are totally up for changing US culture!  These are our future leaders!

Honestly, I'm far more worried about this kid who justifies his own choices by pointing at someone else and saying "He's doing something worse than I am!".   That's not morality; that's a lame-ass attempt at distraction.   At least the kid who is doing drugs or telling off-colored jokes (oh, the horrors!) is making an active life choice.  The CP/QF kid is simply mimicks the actions of people around him while figuring out a way to avoid the consequences of his actions by throwing  the other person under the bus.

I do have a practical question about the concept of spiritual growth according to this quote.  Peer dependency is theologically dangerous because the peer-dependent teen (or adult) can never grow beyond the level of their peer.   Logically, this means maximum morality and spiritually has a hard upper bound that can't be higher than the spiritual advisor of a person. (That is a novel view unsupported in wider Christian teaching.)   Since Marina Sears' book is all about keeping children dependent on parents forever, this means that children are always morally and spiritually inferior to their parents - which is a bit frightening when discussing fully grown adults.  More problematically, this means that all of humanity is on a irreversible downward slide since no one will ever rise above their parents.

If you believe the purpose of parenting is to keep yourself on a pedestal while keeping your children in a lesser place, follow Marina Sears' advice.    If not,  discard it happily.  I know I will.

Busy Times

Hiya, folks!

I originally planned to increase my number of posts during COVID-19 season to distract myself and provide some COVID-19 free entertainment.

That's been scrapped for the time being.  I work at an essential hardware/home improvement store.  Our company has offered two additional weeks paid time off for use during 2020 for all workers.   We do have a significant population at our store who have chronic health issues, are older or who live with people in one of those two categories.  Sensibly, these workers are taking paid and unpaid time off to be safe.  At the same time, average consumers are buying a whole lot of DIY items like paint to keep themselves distracted.   Oh, and this is the time of year that we get a ton of product anyways that needs to be stocked in a normal circumstance.  The net outcome is we are absolutely swamped - and we don't have enough workers to keep up.

Here's how swamped we are.  When I was hired in April of last year, the paint department had 4 full time employees and 5 part-time employees plus 2 workers who picked up some shifts when they were not scheduled in their home department.    Right now, we have 3 full timers, 2 part timers and no available cross-trained employees.   

So I'm planning on working 40+ hours a week for the time being.  I still have an adorable preschooler to spend time with - and I need to stretch for an hour or so a day to keep my legs balanced since concrete floors plus CP are a rough combo.  That doesn't leave much time left - and our internet has been wonky so even when I have time - I may not have access to the interwebs.

So don't worry if I'm offline more than usual.

Take care of yourselves - and keep your chin up.  We'll all get through this.

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Maxwell Mania: Steven + Pandemic = Douchebag


I knew that Steven Maxwell would pontificate about COVID-19.   He's drawn like a moth to a flame when he's got a chance to use DEATH as the best reason for people to be saved. 

I missed the live-stream of his son Christopher and daughter-in-law Anna Maxwell's wedding - but apparently he gave a long sermon that was primarily about DEATH.   That is not a standard topic for wedding sermons unless you are Steven Maxwell.

Steven Maxwell took a few days longer than I expected, but he's pulled out a real winner in "Possible Good from the Coronavirus".   The first quote is a mishmash of poor preparation and privilege:
These are historic times. Since the 50’s, generations have been shielded from epidemics and significant consumer shortages, except for the “gas crunch” in the 70’s. If you have the money, you can buy what you want.
Oddly enough, I do agree that these are historic times.  This is the first pandemic that seems to have truly gone global thanks to high speed travel.  This is the first pandemic where people can learn about what is going down globally in real time thanks to mass media.  Since this is the first widespread respiratory pandemic without a vaccine, developed nations are having to dust off procedures and processes that we haven't had to deal with in a while. 

That is literally the ONLY thing I agree with Maxwell on.

The twentieth century will be remembered in medical history as the century where epidemics were first controlled - and pandemics became more possible than ever before.   Developed nations got epidemics of cholera, typhoid fever,  malaria, yellow fever, smallpox, polio,  measles, mumps and rubella under control between in the twentieth century.    Cholera and typhoid were controlled through management of sewage to keep drinking water clean.  Malaria and yellow fever fell to mosquito control efforts.  Smallpox has been eradicated due to vaccinations.  Polio, measles, mumps and rubella are under much better control now than they have ever been.

Having said that - epidemics have gone down - and gone down hard since the 1950's.   In 1967-1969, the US had a rubella epidemic that lead to a deafness (and other disability) bulge that exists to today.   There were flu pandemics in 1957-1958, 1968-1969, 1972-1973, plus SARS in 2002-2004, the ongoing MERS flu plus COVID-19.

Don't forget HIV.  Steven probably blames that one on lifestyle choices - but there are a lot of people who contracted HIV from their partners who they were monogamous with or from blood transfusions before screening became possible.

No "significant consumer shortages"?  What universe is Steven in?  I live in Michigan where our natural disasters are generally predictable, localized, and  time limited like blizzards or tornados.  Even with that, our stores get wiped out of essentials before and after storms.  I feel certain the same issues occur in a much larger scale in places where hurricanes hit or earthquakes destroy the status quo in seconds.

I'm still seeing rage spots over Maxwell's blase dismissal of poor people struggle to afford the basic necessity of life.  For a person who touts his visits to the local Mission, he's still oblivious.

We are experiencing product shortages country wide. This seems to come as quite a shock to most US citizens who are accustomed to full shelves at the grocery store. People are afraid of not having food and supplies they are accustomed to and ultimately of getting the virus.
The ironic bit about this paragraph is the picture blazoned at the top of the post.  The picture shows an empty section of grocery shelving that I'd bet serious money held large and medium packs of toilet paper.  That's certainly a product shortage - but the rest of the picture drives home the fact that the product shortages are selective.  The other side and end of the aisle is fully stocked; people are not running out of every possible product needed in a home.

I needed to go to the store yesterday to pick up diapers for the Spawn.  The store was completely out of toilet paper, but there was a selection of diapers available.  That's a pretty safe statement to describe most non-perishable foods; a reduced selection is there, but there are also often alternates available.  For example, we were getting low on bread and the selection was pretty sparse - so I checked the aisle for tortillas.  There were plenty of tortillas so I grabbed a package of those instead.

It's going to suck that getting supplies will be tricky for a few weeks - but remember that even in a shelter-in-place scenario - companies in food, paper products, cleaning chemicals, auto repair and hardware supply chains and stores are expected by the government to stay open.   

That leads to the irony my family is facing.  My husband and I are old pros at social distancing.  We did it for the first 18 months after Spawn was born.  Don't get me wrong; it's boring as hell and anxiety provoking all at once - but we know how to get through it.   Unfortunately, I work at a hardware store and he works in automotive repair - so our carefully cultivated skills are going to waste. 

Yes, some people are worried about getting the virus.  For people in high risk groups, the worry is acute.  For people in low-risk groups, the worry is as much about accidently spreading the virus to someone who is going to have major side-effects from the virus.

This would have been a natural spot to pump his readers to socially distance and help your at risk neighbors.    Well, a natural spot for anyone who cares about the social implications of being a Christian.

There is a silver lining. Previously, many who might have had little concern about dying are now thinking about it as evidenced by their fear in contracting the virus.
Writing opens a window into the author's soul - and sometimes the author doesn't even see the opening. 

Steven Maxwell assumes that everyone's fear of COVID-19 is due to fear of personally dying themselves.    That's a odd assumption.   Most people - even high-risk people - survive COVID-19.  Sure, it would be natural for at-risk people to fear dying - but it is also natural to fear the death of loved ones.   As I mentioned before, I worry far more about accidently passing COVID-19 on to a high-risk person leading to a severe or even mortal illness than I do dying from it myself.

I wonder if Maxwell fears dying of COVID-19.   His family has had a bunch of surprise diagnoses this year.  Maxwell's heart issues shouldn't have been a surprise based on his family history, untreated high blood pressure and poor cholesterol ratios - but denial can be seductive.   Much more surprising was Anna Maxwell's diagnosis of breast cancer this winter; that had to have been a shock. 

This too would have been a natural place to encourage social distancing and checking in with at risk neighbors to see if you can help them out.   I mean, a natural spot for anyone but Steven Maxwell.

Since the author was Steven Maxwell, this is the point he encourages his readers to make a list of people who they think are unsaved, pray for them, and figure out how to meet with them to start bothering them about salvation.

The post just before this one was Sarah Maxwell asking for ideas on how to treat motion sickness.  She's gotten over 100 comments.   Maxwell's "Bother People during COVID-19 for Jesus" has 9 responses so far - so I suspect I'm not the only one who finds his posturing irritating as hell.

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Joyfully At Home: Chapter 12 - Part Five

The next question in Jasmine Baucham's "Joyfully At Home" in the chapter on trying to explain why you are a stay-at-home daughter (SAHD) to everyone who thinks the young woman is crazy makes me laugh. 

To recap, the first question was "Shouldn't you be training for a career or a job?" was answered with "Nope, the only training I need is to be a wife and mother!". 

This was followed by the question "Ok, but what if you never marry or are widowed or need income as a married woman?" which was answered by "I'M GETTING MARRIED!  I WILL BE A HELPMEET!"

Personally, I'd probably wander off at that point. There's only so much you can do when someone has picked their hill to die on.

For someone who stuck around, the next question is surprisingly insightful - and not one I would have thought of.  Jasmine asks herself "But isn't being a helpmeet something that women are only supposed to do as a wife?".    That's a pretty important question in CP/QF land.  The Botkin Sisters - who were at one point good friends with Jasmine Baucham - spent a great deal of time in "It's (Not) That Complicated" explaining that women should be very careful around men because we tend to just attach ourselves as helpmeets randomly and wantonly to any single guy we meet.   Women are, apparently, closer to the free-living stage of molluscs than women are to being sensible adults.  Or perhaps we're more like leeches.  Hard saying - but not an attractive picture.

Jasmine avoids implying that women are really dumb - but still gets lost in the detail section.
Yes, being a helpmeet is something only a wife can do.

But being a helper is something that is innate and womankind-- it was what we were created for. While the nature of a young man is often seen as something fixed and transcendent-- men are to be leaders, providers, protectors-- the nature of womankind has been given a flimsier definition. If a woman is a wife, she is to be provided for, protected, and led -- she is to be bent towards her home. If a woman is single, however, she is to be... a man with a potential to become a woman if ever she should marry. (pg. 146)
I think Jasmine has the whole definition thing wrong way 'round. 

CP/QF men have a definition that is huge and encompasses the entire realm of possibility outside of a small sliver known as "women's work".  Men are expected to be priests, prophets, protectors and providers.  They can make any choice they want about the religion of their family as priests.  Men can make any decision they want about the direction of their family as prophets.   Men can choose almost any career on the planet as providers.  Men also can reject any objections from his wife and unmarried children under the cloak of protector.

Women, on the other hand, are restricted to a tiny sliver of human experience that is referred to as "wife and mother" which is shorthand for a contented stay-at-home mother of children.  Honestly, that's it.   In most societies, women have at least a wider range of women's experience that encompasses a woman's youth, adult age, and elder status - but not in CP/QF.  I don't know if it is the natural outcome of the obsession with breeding children or just an attempt to keep women from ever receiving any power - but CP/QF land idolizes women of reproductive age while ignoring the young and old.   Perhaps CP/QF has been infiltrated more by the Western obsession with sexualized beauty than they realized.

In fact, Jasmine doesn't recognize the flaw in her own logic. 

Jasmine reflects a series of assumptions about the role of married women that lead inexorably to married women being SAHWs.  Only a married woman should be a helpmeet.  A helpmeet is bent towards the home.  Therefore, a married woman should be bent toward the home.

That hangs together well enough - but it all falls apart when she tries to reverse it.  A single woman should be bent towards her home.  A helpmeet is bent towards the home - so a single woman is a helpmeet to her father.

I guess it's better than being a directionless limpet - but not by much.

This is followed quickly by Jasmine's attempt at straightening out that inconvenient Scripture verse about how married women care too much for husband while unmarried women care about God:
We unmarried women are to be anxious about the things of the Lord. As we do not have husbands to care for, our hands are free to serve within the context of our homes and churches. Single women have been called " the secret weapon of the church", ready and willing to sacrifice their time and energy to aid those in need.

What woman has more time on her hands to minister to the church? The one with the full college course-load, who has devoted her time and energy into becoming an independent, autonomous agent? Or the one who has made it her life's ambition to cultivate the gifts and talents that will aid the brethren, should she remain single, and bless her home should she become a wife and mother?

My innocent conjecture would be that the latter would be of more aid than the former. (pg. 147)
I've never heard single women being called the secret weapon of the church.  Not once, not ever.  I've heard WOMEN being called the secret weapon of churches since they take on scads of unpaid, low status jobs that keep churches running along with all of the detail work.   In every church I've attended, the lion's share of the work is done by adult women - usually married adult women - who are not in the middle of raising a bunch of little kids.  Do unmarried single women do a lot?  Sure - but usually not until they are in their 30's or 40's like the rest of the adult women.

The rest of the quote is a badly thought out red herring.

I ministered to the church all through my college career - while pulling a 19 course double major and working 20+ hours a week.   I was able to do it because I knew how to plan my time thanks to years of balancing a rigorous traditional school academic schedule with extracurriculars at the same time.   In my case, I taught junior high CCD on Wednesday nights.   I planned all of the lessons and executed them myself.  My students definitely benefited from having someone who was learning some of the arts and mysteries of teaching running their weekly religion class. 

They definitely benefited from my college studies more than if I had been babysitting a bunch of small siblings while writing a magnum opus in my spare minutes; our classes weren't based on child-care or writing.

The broader red-herring is assuming that single SAHDs who are training to be wives and mothers bring a different set of skills to the church than the wives and mothers who are already running the church.    Logically, the SAHDs are less skilled in the magical skills that make a wife and mother because they haven't done it yet. 

Equally bizarre is the assumption that the skills the church really needs from women are the exact same skills of homemaking and raising babies that CP/QF idolizes for women.  That's a very sketchy reading of the Bible - and ignores all of the skill sets that college educated women can acquire.  My church offers free blood pressure screening by LPNs and RNs after Mass; that's a great service to screen and monitor hypertension for anyone who shows up.  The church has pro-bono social workers who help anyone who calls get connected with emergency services for food pantries, domestic violence, mental health issues...the list goes on.  We've run Habitat for Humanity teams for decades using electricians and plumbers who are women.  A local ministry that provides food, blankets, lockers, and lots of social workers for the local homeless population has been funded by various people who work in business getting more wealthy people interested in the ministry.  That same ministry has one day a week filled by various people who can take a day off a month to run the kitchens.

None of this denigrates being a wife and mother; after all, most of the women in the last paragraphs are wives - and the majority are wives and mothers.  There's just more ways to be a good Christian wife and mother than CP/QF teaching allow.

Friday, March 13, 2020

The Battle Of Peer Dependency: Chapter Three - Part Two

I enjoy cooking.  I didn't cook much in Spawn's first two years because life was busy to start with.  Now that he's older and more settled, I'm starting to expand my recipe stack again.   I've had some good luck with Indian food before so I'm in the middle of my first attempt at chicken korma.  I'm not sure if it's going to work because I misread 11 ounces of chicken broth as 11 cups.  I...did not add all 11 cups - but I did add around 7 cups before I found myself thinking "This looks more like a soup than a sauce".  Instead of using a crock pot, I've got it bubbling away in a stock pot in hopes I can drive off 5 or 6 cups of water before dinner.

We all make mistakes in reading comprehension from time to time - and I'm certainly not immune.  In a book filled with disturbingly bad advice, Marina Sears includes a terribly constructed definition of peer dependency in Chapter Three of "The Battle Of Peer Dependency":

What is peer dependency, and why is it so dangerous? Webster's Dictionary defines peer as an equal or a member of the nobility. Dependence is to rely as for support, to place trust, or to be determined. Therefore, one can define peer dependence as an equal, or a member of nobility that one can rely on, place trust in, and will be determined to do so. (pg. 32)
Let's review some late elementary school rules about definitions, people! 

One English word can have multiple meanings.  Sometimes the meanings of a single word can be similar - but sometimes the meanings are mutually exclusive.  For example, we use the noun "lead" to refer a toxic naturally occurring element and the verb "lead" to describe giving direction to a group of people.

Looking at Mrs. Sears mashup of the definitions of "peer" and "dependence", the problem becomes obvious pretty quickly.  As a US citizen, we don't have an official noble class so the two definitions of "peer" are mutually exclusive; you can either be equal OR a member of a foreign noble class. "Dependence" has three definitions - to be reliant on for support (e.g., my grandmother is dependent on her SSI check for income), to place trust in (e.g., our banking system depends on consumers' trust in the system), and to be determined (e.g, Prior to Independence, Kenya was in dependence to Great Britain.) You can force the three definitions into a rather confusing sentence - but the three definitions have solid differences.

The weird, slapdash approach of Mrs. Sears means that her definition fits equally well for a teenager wanting to play volleyball with his friends as it does for discussing the role of the Corn Laws enforcement in the Irish Famines.    IOW, her definition defines nothing.

The "correct-ish" answer would be that peer dependency is when equals place trust in each other.  That definition at least fits the modern meaning of the words - but I concede that the phrase misses the frantic condemnation of having friends of the same age.   

What really concerns me is that Mrs. Sears home-schooled her kids but can't recognize an issue that I remember discussing in 3rd or 4th grade.

Since the definition doesn't pack the emotional wallop desired, Mrs. Sears drives home the point by sharing a nondescript horror story:
As for outgrowing peer dependency , a mother of a 34 year old young man shared recently that as a young boy, he made some wrong friendships in junior high. To this day he is still facing the same struggles and mindset he did as a student. The peer dependency he developed has been an integral part of his life, and one he has never been able to overcome. The drugs, alcohol, and scrapes with the law have caused many years of grief for his parents. (pg. 34)
This is CP/QF land so "drugs, alcohol and scrapes with the law" might mean that he's dually addicted to alcohol and narcotics and has been in prison twice....or it might mean that he's on an SSRI for depression, has a beer monthly during grilling season and got a speeding ticket at age 18.   Hard telling without more info.

As a former teacher, I get very worried when a parent places the responsibility for their child's misbehavior squarely on the shoulders of another kid.   Junior high kids are capable of making their own life choices - and "bad kids" don't spend a ton of time trying to drag kids who are focused on doing well enough at school and in extracurriculars in to trouble.  Why would they?  People tend to sort themselves based on similar interests so kids are getting into trouble young are going to be more comfortable with other kids who are diving into alcohol or sex young than kids who are not.

No, blaming 'bad influences' invalidates the control that a kid has over their own life choices - and is rather addicting to parents.  After all, having a child get into serious trouble leads to parents wondering where they made a parenting mistake for their kid to have messed up like that.   For most parents, they decide that their kid needs more guidance and support for a while to get back on track - or professional intervention if this is showing signs of continuing. 

For CP/QF parents, though, the stakes are different.  Remember they were sold an entire ball of wax: if you do everything by the rules, your kids will have perfect lives without heartbreak, rebellion or pain.   When you write the rule out, it's obviously a load of horse-hockey - but it's seductive for people who had rough childhoods.

I wrote this post over a few days - and the chicken korma turned out fine!   I used a bit of almond flour to thicken the sauce near the end and presto! 

Continue praying for Anna Maxwell.  She's seeking multiple options for treatments for her stage 2A cancer - and is apparently doing "natural" chemo at home right now.   I really don't want her to be one of those men or women who have an early, treatable cancer, decline oncologist suggestions, go whole-hog on 'natural' treatments, and then find out their cancer has metastasized weeks, months or a few years later.

Michigan has closed all schools until April 6th at least.  My job had a video about how the company is talking with the CDC and you should take time off if you get sick.  I'm not much worried; my position keeps me 4-6 feet away from people thanks to desk placement.

Saturday, March 7, 2020

Joyfully At Home: Chapter 12 - Part Four

Chapter Twelve in Jasmine Baucham "Joyfully at Home" is a slow slog of bad apologetics over how young women who are stay-at-home daughters (SAHDs) are going to be just fine in the absence of advanced education or career-building because God wants them to be wives and mothers.

The irony wasn't quite as acute when the book was written since the older members of the first generation of SAHDs were in their late twenties.  That's putting off marriage very late in CP/QF land - but marriage still seemed in reach for most of the adherents.  Reading the same passages over a decade later stings more since a good number of famous SAHDs are old enough that their chances of marrying a CP/QF man are nearly zero and the chances of having a biological child are rapidly evaporating. 

For women in the larger society, being unmarried at 35 is not the end of the world.  In CP/QF land, a unmarried adult woman is treated as a half-adult for the rest of her life.

With that background, Jasmine's next question of "Shouldn't a woman be self-sufficient?" has a different ring.   For most people, that question means "Look, not everyone is going to have a 60+ year marriage starting at age 20 where the woman can be certain of being a stay-at-home wife and mother.  Why shouldn't we encourage our daughters to be able to support themselves in a career for when our daughters are single, widowed or divorce or the family needs more income?"

Jasmine's response is "WE ARE TOTALLY GETTING MARRIED!  Stop jinxing me by talking about single women!"  
I think that a woman should be incredibly confident, resilient, and reliable.


The wife is not independent of her husband; she is to submit to him, not because he is necessarily smarter or even more spiritual than she is ( 1 Peter 3: 1- 6); she is to submit to him as unto the Lord. The submission does not mean letting go with her feigned independence ( the independence that none of us can truly boast, since God is Lord over all things), but it does not mean that she is not competent.


Suitable. Fit for the purpose. Adequate.

These are all words that remind me of the term;  "helpmeet".  A helper suitable.

A suitable helper should be one of the most competent, intelligent, and driven women around. She should not be sitting around waiting for her every romantic women to be filled , wringing her hands when asked to do something that she might not know how to do, set upon a shelf is something that is merely ornamental, but not useful. The home is her domain ( Titus 2:3-5), and she should be able to run it smoothly and efficiently. (pgs 144-146)
(The ellipse sections are rambling sections about how the US values individualism, and chunks of the 1828 Webster's dictionary to clarify that Jasmine didn't understand the difference between the words "independent" and "competent" - which worries me a bit.)
A married woman shouldn't be a caricature of a Victorian wealthy woman who has vapors at the thought of washing her own laundry.   Cool beans.

This book, however, isn't being written for married women.  It's being written for stay-at-home daughters who are being told that 1)they don't need advanced education or career training to be a wife and mother, 2) the best training for a wife and mother is to live at home until marriage and 3) there is never, ever going to be a need for a wife to bring in substantial income after marriage. 

Those assumptions of how life is going to be after marriage are not true - not even for very good CP/QF girls who do everything right.   When I first ran into CP/QF culture, there was a set of four mom-bloggers who wrote weekly posts about questions that readers had.  Of those four bloggers, two have been in situations where female income has been needed badly. 

 InAShoe was a family of 12 whose father Perry was employed by Vision Forum before the ministry collapsed.  With the loss of Perry's income, his wife Kim had to earn a living - and thankfully she had the credentials needed to do online ESL teaching while they got their Amazon-based business up and running.  The family looks like it has left CP/QF teachings behind. 

 Prior to January 2020, the Headmistress of the Common Room found out that her husband of 37 years had been having affairs.  The family was in the middle of planning for a move to Malaysia - and the husband was planning on leaving his wife and their severely disabled daughter in Malaysia when he moved to the country his mistress lived in.  The Headmistress wasted no time in getting her husband out of her life - but she's still financially dependent on him due to being out of the workforce for over 30 years and because her daughter needs full-time care.

I don't think young Jasmine's advice is particularly helpful for women who do have a lifelong marriage - but following her advice could have tragic effects for women whose marriages hit rough patches due to a husband losing a job or the end of a marriage while the woman is still young.

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

The Battle Of Peer Dependency: Chapter Three - Part One

Crippling anxiety that leads to controlling behaviors is the unstated theme of Marina Sears "The Battle of Peer Dependency".   Parents live with the contrast between the imaginary children they dreamed of raising compared to the living, breathing, changing, real children  parents are tasked with raising.  Personally, I prefer my real breathing preschooler who said "No Mama!  Bye-bye, Mama!  Want Daddy!" as soon as he saw me this morning because "Mama Mornings" means it's a school day while "Daddy Mornings" means free play days!   True, my imaginary preschoolers never expressed dismay upon seeing me - but the imaginary preschooler never became completely entranced by a stick that we had to bring home from the park, either.  The real preschooler says "Dove you too, Mama" when I leave for work - and my heart melts into a pile of goo every time he says that.


Most parents eventually accept that their children have autonomy in their day-to-day choices and may have a very different personality than the type of personality preferred by the parent.  Most parents - but not Marina Sears.   Let's look at a quote about her goals for her kids:
Understanding the battle of peer dependency and fighting it according to God's Word will decide the outcome and success in children's lives. As a parent, lost potential in a child's life is heartbreaking. The greatest tragedy is young people living a lukewarm, Christian existence, never fully coming to an intimate, personal walk with Christ as Lord. As a young widow with very small children, it was my hope that my children would not be like many Christian young people before them who fell away from their faith. Like many mothers and fathers before me, I didn't understand the battle that my children would face. Nor was it clear that many parents like myself might still be in the trap. (pg. 30)
 Notice how Mrs. Sears overgeneralizes "an intimate personal walk with Christ the Lord" as the main goal for all parents.    In reality, that's not a goal that would be pertinent for the majority of Catholic, Eastern Orthodox or mainline Protestants since these religions don't prioritize the feelings of a close relationship with God as the main goal of religion.   Far more broadly, the vast majority of parents on Earth wouldn't agree with that goal since they are not Christians.

I ground that statement against worldwide statistics because Mrs. Sears' use of third person obscures how egocentric her goals are.    Just changing the first three sentences into first person to match the rest of the paragraph changes the tenor of the entire paragraph:

"Understanding the battle of peer dependency and fighting it according to God's Word will decide the outcome and success in my children's lives.  For me as a parent, lost potential in my children's lives is heartbreaking.  The greatest tragedy would be my children living a lukewarm, Christian existence, never fullying coming to an intimate personal walk with Christ as Lord" 

The fact that Marina Sears - a woman who lost her husband at 30 in a tragic car accident and had a son survive unscathed a depressed skull fracture that can do major damage - prioritizes her children's relationship with Christ is normal enough on the face; she knows very well that time on Earth is limited and she doesn't want her children to die unsaved.   That's a fairly normal concern for Evangelicals - but Mrs. Sears adds a twist.   Mrs. Sears' children must convince Mrs. Sears that they are saved as evidenced by showing the proper close walk with Jesus - and the only way to do that is to do exactly what Mrs. Sears thinks the family should do.

That's a pretty strange burden of proof for a Christian to place on another Christian.

I'd also like to note that the last sentence in that quote is a form of the "poisoning the well" fallacy.  This fallacy is a method of subtly denigrating other people who disagree with the speaker by assigning the people who disagree to a negative category preemptively.   In this case, Mrs. Sears labels any adult who disagrees with her as being "peer dependent" adults - unlike the saintly adults that Mrs. Sears counts as her allies.

Between the first quote and this next quote, Marina Sears goes on an extended riff about how God was the head of her home after Jeff died.  This theme pops up every so often in the book - but it's always jarring.   Her rationale - such as it is - is that children NEED fathers.  Her children lost their father far too young - so God is now the father of her children.   I think I get where she's trying to go with this - God is the support for widows and orphans etc., - but instead of sounding like a woman who is grateful for God's Providence, Mrs. Sears often sounds like she's bragging about how much better the Head of her house is than everyone else's. 

The first sentence in this quote is a standard example of the Sears humble-brag about having God father her children:

How then, with God as the head of our home did I lose the heart of one of my children to peer dependency? At first I didn't even realize what peer dependency meant. In fact, it took me five years to understand the struggle and realize that I was in the fight of my life. In the beginning I had tried to win the fight with kid gloves on. I soon realized the battle of peer dependency was going to cost me my son's life, and that I needed to understand that it was a life-and-death battle. This may seem melodramatic, but I could not be wishy-washy. A Biblical plan was needed, and consistency and perseverance would be keys to success. (pg. 31)
God's not so good at organizing household resources, eh?  I mean, God's LEADING the house - but it takes Marina Sears 5 years to recognize that the dreaded peer dependency demon had infected one of her kids.

Actually, I would have picked the adjective "overwrought" rather than "melodramatic" to describe Marina Sears obsession.

Look, there are times where parents are in a real-life-or-death struggle involving one of their children.  Events like cancer, severe mental illness, personality disorders....there are certainly times where parents need to have a concerted, major push to get the help a child needs to survive and getting that help has to trump most other needs. 

Having a preteen who prefers playing volleyball with his church friends is not an example of a life-or-death struggle.  Neither is having a young adult child who wants to listen to music that Mrs. Sears objects to for the mostly racist rationales that ATI produced to ban all music with a back beat.

Mrs. Sears, however, treats exceptionally normal maturation events in her children's lives as massive character flaws that need to be crushed out of the kids' lives - and that says much more about her than it does about her kids.

*Update on Anna Maxwell's diagnosis.  Anna's preliminary pathology report came back with a Stage Two cancer diagnosis.   The good news is that the cancer is one that responds well to treatment - so a cancer that has positive results for various hormone receptors -  which is huge because young women tend to have a higher risk of triple-negative breast cancer which is a bitch to treat. While she has lymph node involvement, it seems that the cancer had only started to reach the lymph nodes which is also a good sign.  The main concern right now is that the margins of tissues removed surrounding the tumor were very small which increases the likelihood that some of the tumor was left behind.  I'm sending out lots of positive thoughts and prayers that the cancer avoided infiltrating her chest wall because the surgery for that sucks.    I remember how hard recovery was for me after my gallbladder surgery last year - and that was with a single toddler, not six very young children who want to be with their mother.