Thursday, September 16, 2010

More questions

Grace asked - Do you ever want to return to your parents? Many women who have escaped abusive religious groups often do.

I think it's too late now. Returning to my parents in the role of a dependent, subservient, submissive child couldn't happen. I've changed too much and I don't believe what they believe any longer. I'd like to think that they understand that my return to that lifestyle would be impossible for me. Would I love to return to my parents home and have a relationship? Yes. Yes, I would like that very much and I pray for it to happen. There are definitely things I miss about my family. Though there was much that was bad about my life, there were good things and I miss those things. I miss watching my sisters grow and I miss being present for the big family functions. We're all growing up and, with the exception of Blessing and I, all had very close relationships. Walking out of the room my sisters and I shared was the most difficult walk of my life and to say I have zero regret or guilt over leaving them would be a lie, also.

CT asked - In your opinion (or from stories you've heard) do you think other QF families would have been willing to arrange a different marriage? Or do you believe it's normal for the children to be told they just haven't been praying right if something feels wrong to them?

I don't quite understand the first part of your question. I think you're asking if, for example, in my situation, if most QF families would have said, "Ok. You don't like Adam, let's move on to Bob!"? Like everything, I can't really answer that for every other QF family because they're all different. In ATI, there's a certain stigma attached to girls who turn down "suitable" arrangements - especially after the "courtship" has gone on so long as mine did. There's the thought that the girl can't be tamed, so to speak, if she doesn't obey her parents or follow God's, alleged, plan for her. The men/boys in ATI tend to get more leeway in choice and attraction. I saw this in play with my brothers and the lessons they were given (or shared with me later). For example, boys are told to keep their heart and eyes open for God's direction, just as girls are, but they're allowed to voice their attractions more openly than girls are. If a boy sees a girl he finds attractive, he can approach her or her family and pursue her or talk to his parents about her. If a girl sees a young man she's attracted to, she's really not supposed to indulge any thoughts of dating him or pursuing him because, as it goes, if God means for her to be with that boy, it will be revealed through prayer, her parents, or him pursuing her. Does that make sense?

It's pretty common, if not normal, for children to be told that they're not approaching a situation with a pure heart or a right spirit if they differ with their parents. But I'm not sure that's a soley QF/ATI problem. Most parents influence their children or try to get them to see things from their point of view and through the glasses of their family's values. The difference between a "common" family and an ATI family is the recourse. I would imagine that, in a "commmon" family, the child has the resources and the ability to do what they will with their lives without the fear of losing EVERYTHING to go against their parents. In alot of the families I knew (but not ALL), the cost of going against your parents was total and complete isolation and lack of support. You're not prepared to be an independent entity, to a large extent.

I hate to get on a soapbox but I fear that's where this is headed. My family encouraged females to be totally dependent on someone else. All of us kids were homeschooled and isolated within a strict community of like minded people and there's a lot of group-think pressure to conform. There's also a great deal of pressure to rat out others under the veil of "being your brother's keeper". There's just so much going against an ATI kid who wants to get out. Most kids just conform to avoid the scary prospect of doing anything else.


  1. As soon as I read the first paragraph of your response, I was reminded of a book I picked up at a library sale years ago titled "The Romance Reader," by Pearl Abraham. It's about an Hasidic community on the East Coast, told from the perspective of the oldest daughter of a couple who now, in retrospect, reminds me of your parents (although the mother has more spine). If you can track it down, I think you'll find quite a few common elements.

    Meantime, I just threw a few more bucks in your tip jar. I hope your school year is off to the best possible start, and that you're able to slough off all the negativity and focus on the amazingness that IS your future!

  2. I wonder, do you think that if you are done with your education and married someday, you would have an easier time socializing and participating with your family because you are at least "paired up?" Also, I would think that it would be a little easier even within the confines of your parents' narrow view of women that if you have a husband, in their eyes, you're under his authority so they'd have to respect him enough to lay off of you and let you enjoy your siblings or a holiday visit? I have a challenging relationship with my mother because she's kind of controlling and our personalities clash horribly at times. But since I got married and had a couple kids, I've noticed she is far easier to socialize with because she finally acknowleges my adulthood and my husband being permanently on my side in any 'heated discussion' deflates a lot of tension before it starts because it is kind of a silent reminder that I'm closer to being her equal than I was as a teen or young adult.

  3. Ruth - I was raised Gothard and can't stress to your readers enough about how important this point is. You said it well -

    "The difference between a "common" family and an ATI family is the recourse. I would imagine that, in a "commmon" family, the child has the resources and the ability to do what they will with their lives without the fear of losing EVERYTHING to go against their parents. In alot of the families I knew (but not ALL), the cost of going against your parents was total and complete isolation and lack of support"

    People have asked my now and back when I lived at home, "Why don't/ didn't you just leave? It's your life" But to grow up Gothard means you have no choice and you live in fear of "being thrown from the ship"

  4. So it sounds like the ATI lifestyle tries to force women to remain dependent children all their lives--first to their parents, and then to their husbands.

    My family is barely religious, but they still have the same attitude towards women, although not to that extent. I don't understand it.

    I'm really interested in the question that The Bowling Team asked, as well--would they treat you differently/accept your lifestyle more if you had a husband and they felt that you were at least under his authority?

  5. Hang in there, Ruth. You sound so much stronger and, therefore, I believe that you are in a good position to achieve your goals.

    Take care,


  6. You said it sooo well Ruth! You are such a great writer/communicator. I was raised in a ATIA household as well. At the age of 20 was attending community college. I met a really nice guy and decided to date him.. lol :) you can only imagine how I was treated for simply wanting to date at the age of 20. According to my dad I had stepped out from under his "umbrella of protection" a gothard teaching not a bible teaching. As a result my dad felt he was no longer responsible for me in any way. I was kicked out of the house with no where to go. Emotionally and financial I felt so abounded by my parents and so unprepared for the real world. It broke my heart. Like you I had younger siblings at home I had helped raise them and missed them soo much. Thankfully many years later I know how my parents treated me and how yours have treated you is NOT how God treats us or wants "Christian parents" to treat their children.
    p.s its says Michael because I am logged into my husbands google account in order to leave a comment

  7. This is just so hard to understand, yet I know it's true. Isolationist patriarchal home school parents have raised their children to fear everything about the outside world, no knowledge of how to do the things one needs to survive (apply for jobs, college, car insurance, bank accounts, etc.) then KICK THEIR UNPREPARED CHILDREN OUT ON THE STREET if they dare to cross them.

    They hypocrisy of this is monumental. How can they miss this? Everyone knows the Golden Rule as the cornerstone of Christianity. How on earth can setting your children up for failure or life-long dependency be following the Golden Rule?

    Ruth, I am so happy for you that you found good people out here in "the world" to help you when your own family failed you. May your life be filled with support from here on out. =)

  8. I just wanted to say I have been following your blog for a while and I really admire your courage and determination. I was raised in a fundamental Christian home and although my childhood wasn't anywhere near as awful as yours, there are a lot of things I still have to work through. You have inspired me to keep on trying to work through them and to move on and not let my upbringing hold me back. Thank you so much.

  9. Ruth,

    How well were you prepared (by your homeschool education) for entry into college? Did you require any additional preparation/remediation before you enrolled in college/university?

  10. Hijack - to Michael's wife, I have to do the same thing, haha!

    Lauren H.

  11. Ruth, that was what I was trying to ask. Thank you for answering.


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