Saturday, January 30, 2010

Wow! Some of these people are beyond crazy.

I have been doing more and more research into the Fundamentalist Christians who have descended into the Quiverfull movement, and I'm considering buying some of the books they use to better understand their motives and methods.  Debi Pearl and her husband Michael are prolific writers in the movement, and her book Created to be his Help Meet is a popular marriage resource for such Christians.  Anyway, another book they've written is To Train Up a Child.  I read one review of the book and now I'm pretty sure I have to get it and read through it.  I'm a sucker for a train wreck....just can't look away.  Here's the review:

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
1.0 out of 5 stars Please do not buy this book.December 31, 2009
By R. Craig "Mother" (Texas) - See all my reviews
Barnes and Noble no longer sells this book.

Here are some details:

1) The Pearls recommend whipping infants only a few months old on their bare skin. They describe whipping their own 4 month old daughter (p.9). They recommend whipping the bare skin of "every child" (p.2) for "Christians and non-Christians" (p.5) and for "every transgression" (p.1). Parents who don't whip their babies into complete submission are portrayed as indifferent, lazy, careless and neglectful (p.19) and are "creating a Nazi" (p.45).

2) On p.60 they recommend whipping babies who cannot sleep and are crying, and to never allow them "to get up." On p.61 they recommend whipping a 12 month old girl for crying. On p.79 they recommend whipping a 7 month old for screaming.

3) On p.65 co-author Debi Pearl whips the bare leg of a 15 month old she is babysitting, 10 separate times, for not playing with something she tells him to play with. On p.56 Debi Pearl hits a 2 year old so hard "a karate chop like wheeze came from somewhere deep inside."

4) On p.44 they say not to let the child's crying while being hit to "cause you to lighten up on the intensity or duration of the spanking." On p.59 they recommend whipping a 3 year old until he is "totally broken."

5) On p.55 the Pearls say a mother should hit her child if he cries for her.

6) On p.46 the Pearls say that if a child does obey before being whipped, whip them anyway. And "if you have to sit on him to spank him, then do not hesitate. And hold him there until he is surrendered. Prove that you are bigger, tougher." "Defeat him totally." On p.80 they recommend giving a child having a tantrum "a swift *forceful* spanking." On the same page they say to whip small children on their bare skin until they stop screaming. "Don't be bullied. Give him more of the same." They say to continue whipping until their crying turns into a "wounded, submissive whimper."

7) On p.47 they recommend their various whips, including "a belt or larger tree branch" to hit children.

8) The Pearls recommend pulling a nursing infant's hair (p.7), and describe tripping their non-swimming toddler so she falls into deep water (p.67). They recommend ignoring an infant's bumped head when he falls to the floor, and ignoring skinned knees (p.86). They also say "if your child is roughed-up by peers, rejoice." (p.81) And on p.103 the Pearls say if children lose their shoes, "let them go without until they (the children) can make the money to buy more."

9) The Pearls claim their "training" methods are Godly, yet they have *no religious training or credentials* They never mention Jesus' injunctions to forgive "seventy times seven" and be merciful, and they decry the "extraordinary ingnorance of modern psychology."

The Pearls' methods have resulted in parents being investigated by Child Protective Services, children being taken away from parents, a restraining order against a father, and even a babysitter going to jail on felony charges! 

Friday, January 29, 2010

19...isn't enough?

Really?  The Duggars are still leaving the size of their family "up to God," according to their interview in People magazine.  What possible justification could they have for this after 19 children, 2 cases of preeclampsia, 4 cesarean sections, a micropreemie whose future is still uncertain, and gallstones?  Oh, that they put their faith in God, of course!

In my previous post, I mentioned (okay, raved about) No Longer Qivering, a blog about the Quiverfull movement and patriarchy.  After reading so much insider information about the lifestyle and the destruction it causes, I can no longer just shrug and smile sadly about Michelle and Jim Bob's decisions regarding birth control.  It's not cute, or sweet or even adorably naive.  It's sad.  It's crazy.  It just goes to show how brainwashed they are by their extreme religion and the recommendations of some of the authors and pastors within it.

I once just figured that they were truly a "what you see is what you get" kind of family, but that was just wishful thinking on my part.  I love babies and for much of my life, all I could think about was having babies and becoming a mother.  I never imagined that my first baby would be born when I was 28.  My goddess, my own mother had 5 children by that age!  I'm 30 now, trying for #2, when my mom had #6 and was done adding to her family.  So I compulsively watched shows like A Baby Story, Maternity Ward, House of Babies, and later Kids by the Dozen and the Duggar family specials.  I was obsessed with the latter two.  Even though my conscious self never wanted more than 4 children, I watched these shows in envy.  I had wanted to have my first baby by 25, and some of these people had 4 by then.  They ran their homes like clockwork, had as many babies as they wanted, and seemed to have the family closeness that I had as a child and want for my own family.  It was more than addictive.  It was seductive.  The religion I rejected as a small child contained the possibility of so much that I wanted...and yet it was never enough for more than just a daydream.

I've said before that I would love the certainty of Christianity.  Knowing that the world is so black and white must be so reassuring.  And though I was raised Catholic (and not even strictly Catholic) rather than in a more conservative sect of Christianity, I knew even at 8 years old that the Christian religion demanded too much.  I saw it, even then, as unfair and too restrictive.  As soon as I found out what sex was I knew I wasn't waiting for marriage.  I had no intention of ever going to church again the moment I was no longer being forced to.  I thought the mythology was boring and that many of the lessons were ridiculous.  I hated the authoritative nature of it, and I scoffed at the idea of someone making a sacrifice for such ideology.  I thought you would have to be stupid to give up family life for service as a priest or a nun, and that only those who were gluttons for punishment would bother to "save themselves for marriage" or fast for Lent.  Why bother?  There was so much freedom to be had outside of religion, so much unrestricted fun to be had guilt-free.  So I willfully left, dragging my family with me, by the age of 15.  Mom just couldn't take the fighting about it anymore, since dad would ground me for a week for misbehaving in church.  I was supposed to "prove myself" the next Sunday by being a proper young lady during services.  Instead I was perpetually grounded.  Dad, being a big kid himself, hated grounding me that much, and mom started to feel like it wasn't worth the effort to drag all 6 kids (my minions who I'd turned against church, as well) through a boring hour of church where we all did our best to amuse ourselves to our parents' embarrassment.  It was dumb.  Mom was a real martyr for carrying it on as long as she did.

So why did I even think for two seconds that an even stricter version of this religion had any appeal?  That's crazy!  Well, it helped that I wasn't living it, so all I saw was the pretty package presented on TV of a large, close, happy family.  I had a boyfriend (now my husband) who wanted only two children and wouldn't let me start our family until we were done with college (which was taking forever) and married.  Through all of the ridiculousness, all I saw was a woman who was allowed to have as many children as she wanted, when she wanted them.  Ultimately, I think that's where my obsession stemmed from.

I have to wonder if, after I have my second child, would I even want any more children if my husband gave in and let me have as many babies as I want?  I don't know.  I'll probably never know, since he's pretty staunch about only wanting two.  I wish I could know in my heart if I'm just fighting him and clinging to my dream of having (what I think of as a) medium-sized family, or if I really truly won't feel complete until I have birthed a fourth child.

Either way, I'm happy that I'll never know the back-to-back pregnancies, multiple cesarean sections, complete exhaustion of keeping up with so many children, and submission to patriarchy that these women in the Quiverfull movement are subjected to.  The multitude of miscarriages that they often face toward the end of their childbearing years is heartbreaking, and the lack of support and empathy is horrific.

No, I can't be angry at the Duggars for their conviction of faith.  They are sheep.  They have been conditioned to blindly follow, without thought, where their religion leads.  Sheep are dumb creatures.  They'll walk off a cliff if that's where they're led.  And it's now clear to me that one doesn't just decide to become a sheep.  It's a slow process of taking away independent thought and chipping away at self-identity.  I can't be angry at them when they're doing only what they've been told is right and good.

Nope, it's the fundamentalist Christian religious movements that are so destructive.  It makes promises it can't deliver, sets impossible goals and ideals, demands more than one can give, and still makes good people determined to stick with it to their deaths.  Sad.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

My new addiction

Anyone who really knows me understands my fascination (cough...obsession!) with the Duggar family and the Quiverfull movement that is the underlying cause for their supersized family.  Well, I finally found something better than 18 Kids and Counting which satisfies my need to know more about the movement and the ultra-religiousity that motivates people like the Duggars to seemingly withdraw from society and normalcy to pursue a creepy "closeness with God."

The blog is called No Longer Qivering.  It's misspelled on purpose because there is no "you" in the Quiverfull least not for the women who belong to it.  It's the blog of a woman and a few other contributors who left the movement.  It's their stories about how they fell into such an extreme lifestyle and religion, the horrors of living such a life (depression, overwhelming expectations, constant pregnancies and pressure,) the first clues that lead them to realize that this life was killing them, and then their final escape back to "the real world."

I just can't get enough of it.  I check it multiple times a day for updates and new stories.  There is so much about that life that I never thought about, so many compelling little elements and horrifying details that are (of course) not part of the Duggar family's public face.  It makes me really wonder what's going on once the cameras are turned off.

Patriarchy was the biggest surprise to me.  I mean, I understood that women were second class citizens in most of Christianity, and certainly within the Quiverfull movement, but I never understood that QF and patrirchy pretty much went hand in hand, one seldom existing without the other.  It amazes me that in this day and age there are women in the US who blatantly reject feminism and women's rights.  They think that it's wrong for a man to ever be in a subordinate position under a woman.  Therefore, women should avoid any profession outside the home, should always be submissive to men, and should especially never challenge the authority of their fathers or husbands.  Just like in the old days, a girl is the property of her father until she is married, and then she passes to the authority of her husband.  Sometimes, a courtship is arranged between parents who want to join their families, and as long as the boy is agreeable to the match, the two are married.  There is the slightest veneer of choice on the girl's part in all this, but by the time in her life that courtship comes around, she is so conditioned to submit to her father that she'll likely agree to the match her father is so clearly approving of, even if she doesn't care for or she's not particularly attracted to the boy.  Sad, huh?

There's so much more!  I could literally read this site for ours every day and not get through all there is in a week.  I just can't pimp this blog enough.  Oh! And Vyckie, the main contributor, is writing a book all about her life and her story.  So, for the time being you can read much of Vyckie's Story on her blog for free.  But once her book deal goes through, she's going to take it all down.  Take my advice: visit this site!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Toilet Training in Less Than a Day...or three

He did it!  He did it!  My little man ran to the bathroom and went potty all by himself without being prompted to, despite the fact that he was watching the movie Cars.  Yep, he dragged himself away from a fun distraction to pee.  Supposedly that's the turning point that means the hard part of the training is over, and the new behaviors just have to be reinforced.  I really hope they're right.  The last couple of day have been awful, and the first day was the most emotionally and psychologically draining experience of my life.

The book I read on potty training is called Toilet Training in Less Than a Day, and, after reading it, I decided to give it a try.  Changing diapers really isn't a big deal to me, in the scheme of things.  But reviewing the diaper bill made me reconsider just letting him stay in diapers any longer.  He's been dry through the night for more than 6 months, which was the one thing I insisted on before training him.  The idea of having a child who is completely toilet trained during the day and then needs a diaper at night makes me roll my eyes.  That's not potty trained.  Besides, some of those kids take years to stop needing diapers to make it through the night.  I figured it would be best to just get it all done at once.

So, the book advocates clearing your schedule so that your child receives your undivided attention.  No cooking, cleaning, talking on the phone, no doing anything but paying attention to your child and talking about the potty.  I dressed him in his cloth training pants and took him into the bathroom with Potty Scotty, the anatomically correct wetting doll I bought to use as a prop to teach my son about peeing in the toilet.  My little man taught Scotty how to use the potty, rewarding him when he peed correctly, scolding him when he "wet" his pants, changing his wet pants and flushing the toilet after a successful round.  The idea is that, since we absorb so much more of the information that we teach than the information that;s simply given to us, children learn faster his way.  In less than an hour my son was bored with Scotty and ready to pee on his own.  I had given him all the drinks he wanted all morning.  Even juices and natural sodas, which I never keep in the house, he was given free access to.  With a full bladder, more teaching opportunities present themselves, so I encouraged him to drink every few minutes.  Oh, and there are to be no distractions of any kind at this time.  If my son found a light fixture interesting, I was to change the subject to potty training, and how happy I am when he has dry pants, or how sad I am when he has wet or dirty pants.  I was also supposed to ask him a lot of questions about the adults around him that he loves.  "Does ______ go pee-pee in her pants?  No!  She has dry pants.  Only babies have wet pants.  Big girls and big boys have dry pants and go pee-pee in the toilet."  I sounded like a broken record all day for two days.  I annoyed myself into a state of misery, so I can't imagine how he was feeling.

I think in the end, this method worked because my son was sick of the torturous boredom.  He wanted to know why he couldn't have his toys, or play in any other rooms.  When I told him he could go play with his toys as soon as he used the potty all by himself, he immediately turned around and peed in the toilet.  Of course, I clapped and smiled and told him how wonderful he was, offering a chocolate as a reward for using the potty all by himself.  He just looked up at me and said, "No treat.  Just want toys."  Sigh.  So I let him play with his toys and the vicious cycle began.  He played with the toys and became so absorbed in building a tower of Duplos or reading a book that he had an accident.  I took the toys away, saying that he could have them back when he went potty by himself, then he forced himself to squeeze out a few drops of urine on the toilet to get the toys back.  Oh, did I mention that I did a lot of laundry over the past coupe of days?

Anyway, The first day was the worst, the second markedly better, and our aforementioned breakthrough came this morning around 10 am.  I felt like an idiot, jumping and clapping and dancing around, singing that my son was a big boy, not a baby anymore.  I called my mom and told her that I had so much more respect for her now, knowing that she did this five times with grace and patience.  I barely held on to patience by a thread, nearly losing it more than once.  To be fair, her methods took about a week and involved a more relaxed atmosphere (with more accidents.)

I suppose I would recommend this to other moms with the caveat that they need to make sure they have nothing else to do for a couple of days after the planned toilet training day, just in case it takes longer than advertised.  The book says that most kids are trained in half a day, 3-4 hours.  Hmph!  Not mine.  My stubborn little guy even tried to save his reward chocolates to eat after he had an accident (I wouldn't let him have them then, though!)

I should mention that I deviated from the prescribed method a tad.  I refuse to clean out potty chairs because they are gross.  I had to dump out the cup of the potty chair while my mom was toilet training my siblings, and even then I thought it was foul.  So my son has a special potty seat that fits over the regular toilet seat in his bathroom, and a step stool to make sure he can reach it.  That way, he poops and pees directly into the toilet, and all that I have to do is wipe him and be sure that he flushes.  This is not what the book advocates.  They also recommend toilet training in the kitchen, where there is more space and you're less likely to feel claustrophobic.  Because I had chosen not to use a little potty, I obviously couldn't do this, either.  I wonder if my son's personality was what caused this to drag on so long, or the fact that I chose not to follow their rules to the letter?  I suppose I'll never know.

Either way, it's done!  My baby is a big boy who potties by himself now.  I am one relieved mama!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Purity Pledge Gross Out

I just watched VH1's special "The New Virginity."  It made me roll my eyes.  It went over Jordin Sparks and Miley Cyrus' purity pledges, Brittney Spears and Jessica Simpson's supposed virginity, the Jonas Brothers, selling one's virginity, and purity balls.  Gag.  The most disturbing thing I saw was the iPhone Purity Pledge ap.  It read:

My Pledge

I pledge my purity to my father, my future husband, and my Creator.  I recognize that virginity is my most precious gift to offer to my future husband.  I will not engage in sexual activity of any kind before marriage but will keep my thought and my body pure as a very special present for the one I marry.

After that screen, there was a screen with a rotating purity ring.

The purity balls were awful, too.  Girls from age 4 to 20somethings, showed up in princess gowns with their fathers to have dinner, dance, and pledge that they will honor their fathers by saving themselves for marriage.  I squirmed when the girls then made their promises and each laid a white rose at the foot of a cross to seal their pledge to God.

The whole thing is ridiculous.  First of all, I find the princess culture in and of itself damaging to young women.  Girls are made to think that they will experience mutual "love at first sight," that their mate will be a perfect prince charming with whom they never experience any conflict, and that they will live happily ever after.  It's preposterous and it sets them up for failure and disappointment in their relationships with men.

That aside, the entire purity movement is pulling feminism a step backwards.  Girls are essentially told that they are the property of their father, and that they need to be respectful of their father's property by keeping it intact and untainted while it's in his care.  When they become the property of their future husband, then they can (and need to) submit to his will.  It's disgusting and beyond repulsive.

I was so icked out that I had to stop my internet research.  It was turning my stomach.  I also now feel the need to start some kind of young women's empowerment program.  Like a weekend retreat in which we talk about being feminists, taking control of our futures, knowing about birth control and our options (of which chastity is one) while having time away from men.  Sigh.  Maybe that would be something fun to do in the future when I have a pubescent girl.  We'll see.  In the meantime, I'm tempted to find out if there are any purity balls in my area and protesting them.  I'll wear my Birkenstocks, a trucker shirt over a wife-beater.  Maybe I can get dropped off in a Subaru.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Weaned my son, so I'm hoping this is the month!

So this month our timing was excellent.  Exactly three days prior to ovulation...perfect girl conceiving territory.  I know I could have tried a little closer to ovulation (48 hours before is the cutoff) but I didn't want to be too close to the deadline.  Besides, my system hasn't been working like normal.  Normally My ovulation and period come like clockwork, but between the morning after pill I took a few months ago and weaning my son, my poor reproductive organs are confused and predicting my ovulation hasn't been as easy as in the past.

Yep, that's right, I weaned my baby.  He nursed one last time in Phoenix before we left for Christmas vacation with my in-laws.  Of course, I didn't know at the time that it would be his last nursing.  Most likely I would have been sentimental about it and cried, if I had.  As it is, I still feel bad about it.  Ever since I've weaned him, he's been telling me that he's scared of everything from his stuffed animals to his mobile.  My husband and mother-in-law think it's the movies he's been watching, but I think that taking that nightly comfort and bonding has had an effect on him.  I try to cuddle and comfort him more tan normal to make up for it, but I'm not sure that it's the same.  Oh well.  I'm just glad he didn't cry and ask for it a lot.  I totally would have given in and just weaned him later in that case.  I freely admit that I was only ready to wean him if he was ready and it wouldn't be a big deal.

I'm still making milk, though.  It's weird.  I thought I'd dry up after a couple of days, but nope!  My jugs are still holding some milk.  I'm not making any effort to staunch lactation, though.  Binding my breasts and using cabbage leaves has been suggested, but I'm not experiencing any discomfort, so I'll just let it go away on its own.

In the meantime, I'm sure that weaning my little man will help with the baby-making process.  Here's hoping for our little girl!