Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Prerequisite for More Discussion about Cynthia Jeub's Blog Posts

Religious lifestyles that demand a great deal of conformity can create a lot of relationship tension as children venture into adulthood as those adult children begin to make their own choices about life and belief.  If there is too much reliance on the identity of the family of origin or if the family demands the adult to remained defined by this identity, relationship are likely to develop.

But what makes for a person's identity?  Where does it come from?  How does an individual find their worth, value and peace?  It's more complicated than you might think.

How would you rate your own self-esteem?  Your self-efficacy?  What kind of locus of control do you have?  What about your loved ones?  Can you speculate about how these elements affect your relationships with family?

Multigenerational Tragedy?

The Ultimate Tragedy:

Another tragedy... is a problem of multigenerational nature. The serious dysfunction in a founding family will be absorbed by the children’s families and then their children’s families, a ripple of misery extending farther and farther down through the years. The dependency or dysfunction may change... But it’s there. It’s almost always there, wreaking it’s damage.

by Hemfelt, Minirth and Meier

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Affects of Stress on the Body and "Multigenerational Faithfulness" in Quiverfull Families


During the interim while waiting on the continued discussion of Cynthia Jeub's blog posts about the inconsistencies she experienced in her TLC celebrity family, enjoy a graphic about how stress affects the body.
  
Let it be another good motivator to work through the negative and costly aspects of true "multigenerational faithfulness."  It might be better termed "parental convenience" for which adult children raised in the high demand system pay a terribly high price.


Idealization often occurs in families that are very religious, especially in those kinds of religious homes that draw very strict boundaries to define acceptable and unacceptable attitudes and behaviors.
The high value that is placed on family, and on respect for parents, makes it almost impossible for children to integrate their parents’ failings and weaknesses... 
Adult children who have practiced this degree of splitting and idealization tend to be driven by fear. 
Dr. David Stoop



 ~ Read more about the consequences at Overcoming BS ~


(and thanks to Healthline!)
The Effects of Stress on the Body

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Are You a Mom Who is Triggered by Cynthia Jeub's Blog? Finding Healing Part I

(TRIGGER ALERT!)

At the age of forty eight, I find myself in an interesting place concerning the discussion of the Evangelical Christian homeschooling movement. While I'm roughly the same age of the first generation parents in the movement's spotlight, I identify most strongly with the Second Generation Adults (SGAs) – the adults who grew up in the quiverfull homeschooling world. Through my childbearing years, I found my social niche with moms who were a decade older than me, and their babies that I once carried around on my hip are now adults. Because I never managed to carry a pregnancy very far before miscarrying, most moms in the movement who were my age held me at arms length, and I was treated as a pariah. Though my experiences classify me as an SGA, because I was neither homeschooled nor had the experience of parenting, I often stand on the outside looking into both groups. My perspective has advantages and disadvantages, but I've been determined to make the best out of both.

In the wake of Cynthia Jeub's first blog posts about the negative aspects of her upbringing and her departure from home, several mothers have asked me about how I put Cynthia's writing into perspective. I'm grateful for my experience working with Hillary McFarland who allowed me to serve as “the midwife” for the birthing of her book Quivering Daughters. Though I can't truly empathize with the deep pain of a parent, particularly a mother, who experiences conflict with her daughter, I've watched my peers grieve terribly. At different stages during the book's development and after it was published, I was shocked at the difficulty with which any mothers had when reading it. They didn't even need to have homeschooled to feel threatened and to identify with some of the scenarios posed in the book. 

It's a parent's greatest nightmare to realize and think about the things that you do wrong as you parent, and even harder when you see the fruit of it when your children repeat your mistakes or take on what you feel is a bad habit or character flaw. I'm deeply grateful to the very few moms would discuss their responses to the book with me at all as I vicariously studied what, for me as a non-parent, was a new phenomenon and facet of life.

I wish that I had been able to more fully comprehend this wisdom from my friends at an earlier point in my life, perhaps drawing on it to help me heal the relationship with my own mother. As a peer to the parent in age and as an SGA from a different system, I hope that this post can offer some insight to both parent and adult child – particularly to mothers and daughters of the patriarchy movement. In a devil's advocate approach, I'm going to try to serve as something of an advocate for both parent and SGA. I don't know if it's possible to straddle this fence between perspectives, but I shall make the effort just the same. I will very likely trigger everyone, just because of the nature of the discussion – but I don't know that there is a way to soften the message. Please bear that in mind as you venture on with me, and I beg your mercy.


Part I: Thoughts for Both Parent and Child to Consider

(Check out the embedded links)
  • Coming to terms with all of these matters is not a once and done event. Negotiating a relationship between a parent and young (or older) adult is a process – a journey that will take many years.
  • It will take time for both parent and SGA to process the viewpoint of the other party. Don't rush the process and be patient with one another.
  • This is neither a win-lose situation nor a zero sum game. Fighting for your perspective to be heard and understood may seem like a competition for who is entirely or mostly right and who is wrong. Don't give into this kind of black and white thinking which oversimplifies a very complicated process involving complicated people. Each party will have to meet the other in a new place of understanding which requires stretching and growth (and faith).
  • Both parent and SGA feel fear during this process of change and growth. Remember that perfect love casts out fear. It's okay to feel fear and admit it to yourself, especially if you are a parent embarking on this journey for the first time and to a new degree than you did with another adult child.
  • Trauma is an emotional experience and is not a rational one. An event may be traumatic to one party and not even remembered by another. The differing perspective of your loved one will not seem to make sense and will likely not be logical if it was experienced as a trauma. Remember that trauma can be healed. Trauma also interferes with critical thinking and is not healed by learning but by reconnecting with felt sense and emotion.
  • Communication style may be a factor, and you may not “speak the same language” as your loved one. You may have a mismatch of personality type at work if one party is a dominant thinker and the other party is a dominant feeler. Seek to understand how your loved one processes conflict and makes decisions.
  • Grief takes place on both sides. Be sure to honor it and feel it rather than resist it. Understand that grieving is also a process of coping with loss. Parent and SGA both move away from what was into what will be, and this translates into loss of what was. Remember that you will move through grief in stages, and you will bounce around a bit in the process until you move through the loss. (And some losses are never fully grieved but visit us again and again, especially as people go through new transitions in life such as marriage, birth of a child, or death of a parent.)
  • Remember that emotional healing is not linear.
    • Physical linear healing takes place by progressing from start to finish
    • Emotional healing is never linear but is likened to peeling an onion.





Upcoming Posts on Finding Healing:
Part II: To the Cynthia Jeubs (the Second Generation Adult)
Part III: To the Parents of Second Generation Adults


Sunday, October 12, 2014

Gothard's New "Ministry": Men's Accountability Parachurch Groups

I've been waiting for weeks for this one...

Visit Spiritual Sounding Board for the all of the bizarre and inane details.



The devil didn't make him do it.  His lust for young ladies who had the right appearance didn't make him do it.  He sinned because God lifted his blessing from Gothard because he didn't meditate on Scripture enough.  And he's just the man to set everyone straight!


16Oct14:

See Don Veinot's commentary about Gothard in his new blog post this AM:  "It's Deja Vu All Over Again"
This brings me so a few questions. Since Bill Gothard has lived unaccountably for decades and is unrepentant for his lack of integrity and moral lapses, on what basis would anyone view him as now qualified to lead or begin a new ministry, especially one about accountability. I am not saying Bill Gothard would never be qualified to be in or lead a ministry. As I have said in the past, the message of the Christian faith is repentance, forgiveness and restoration. However, the first hurdle must be cross, repentance. Sadly, that is the one Bill Gothard continues to refuse to do.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

The Smoke and Ash of Melting Memories

What are your earliest memories like? 

I remember some events as what seem like still photographs from when I was very young – like the yellow diaper service pail on the front porch with an embossed stork on it, though the pigment in the pattern had faded. I remember my mother sitting beside my white crib, reading different books to me. Though I could not have had a visit with him after I was three years old, I remember my orthopedist. He had jet black hair and wore a smock like doctors wore in black and white movies. I remember really liking him, but I don't remember talking to him or why I saw him. I remember my grand geek fascination with the magiciadias when Brood X made their seventeen year appearance, just before my fourth birthday. They are pictures in the album of my mind, accompanied only by the sense of joy, excitement, or curiosity that I feel when they're called back into my consciousness. I have to rely on the history that I learned from my family to put those pictures into perspective.


The Scandal of Undeserved Shame

I would love to say that my first continuous memory of a whole chain of events follows some moment of joy. Most of the elements of the scene move like clips in a movie without sound. I've written about it before as “the thought seeds of the heart's scandal,I was terrified when I posted it online, as it felt painfully revealing.

Suffice it to say that this continuous memory was a trauma that taught to me a host of horrible messages, basically that in addition to not being able to trust my own experience and memory, I was damned to punishment no matter what I did. A child stole pennies from me, and I was punished for carelessness with money, believing that I'd misplaced it. When the child's mother called my mother when the money turned up, I was punished for somehow provoking the child to steal. When I learned later that the child had not returned all of the money, I was punished and shamed again. The sweeping, continuous events seem like movie clips, teaching me some rather sick ideas about about who I was, how I fit into the world, and what I should expect from others.

I can vividly remember only a few audible memories of those events. I would hear my mother echo many of the statements many times again throughout my childhood. I clearly remember the taunting voice and laughter of that other child in that characteristic “nah, nah, nah” cadence that can be heard on every school playground. Though I have desensitized to this memory of confusion and shame, the scar can still be weak and tender, if the conditions are right (or wrong, depending on your perspective). I'm very human, and my “early wiring” was far from ideal.


Life in the D-O-L-L-H-O-U-S-E

This weekend, I read a post that Cynthia Jeub wrote recently, and I am haunted by it. Cynthia's family was once featured on The Learning Channel in a 2006 series called Kids by the Dozen. In 2008, the network launched the more commonly known 19 Kids and Counting series featuring the Duggar Family which follows a family of homeschoolers who are a part of the same basic religious belief system. The fun adventures of these large families portray the idealized life that seem like Norman Rockwell originals, but they omit the experiences of the less fortunate families like those described in the book, Quivering Daughters.

It seems that Cynthia and her sister Lydia now find themselves among the ranks of the Second Generation Adults (SGA) of this relatively new, high demand religious movement. According to Libby Anne at her blog on Patheos, Cynthia and her sister Lydia have been shunned by their family for failing to follow their parents' lifestyle. (SGAs are adults who grew up within a high demand religious system. Their needs and recovery issues often differ significantly from those of adults who enjoy a “good enough” childhood and make their own choice to join a religious sect. Those who are raised in sects have no choice and find themselves limited to far more bounded choices.)

Cynthia describes the crafted persona of her family which focuses heavily on image consciousness and perfection – a way of proving to the world (and themselves) that they are more special to God than other Christians. Borrowing lyrics from Melanie Martinez’s song Dollhouse, Cynthia describes the dissonance of living such a life. I marvel at her valor and the ability to express such painful events with melancholy beauty.

Though I always tremble at the seriousness with which I post my own personal details online to illustrate a truth or a principle, to my knowledge, my parents don't read what I write. The healing process, done privately, takes tremendous courage. The children of shows like Kids by the Dozen break their silence about their hidden difficulties before a captive world of television without pity. They cannot hide. Their parents and all of their friends who are still within the religious movement will read and harshly judge their words, though survivors of the same experiences will find validation and encouragement. Such candor demonstrates remarkable bravery that I cannot fathom, for I did most of my recovery work in private.


Cynthia Jeub, woman of valor
Melting Masks in the Flame of the Gaslight

Cynthia's Melting Memory Masks reminds me of the gaslighting that I endured as a child.

The term "gaslighting" derives from the British play and film that was remade in the US in 1944 staring Ingrid Bergman.  The husband in Gaslight wants to convince his wealthy, already traumatized wife that she is insane, so he sets up situations to convince her that she's lost touch with reality. The term came to represent the behavior wherein one person wrongfully challenges the perceptions and memory of another, though in dysfunctional families, it's not as malicious or deliberate as portrayed in the old film. (Read more about gaslighting HERE. I'm amazed at how much I needed to reread today for my own benefit.)

To survive in high demand situations, people must bury who they are and their experiences to survive and avoid the punishment created by their non-compliance. This process (of which gaslighting is often a part) creates cognitive dissonance – the very stressful psychological state when elements of a situation become confusing and inconsistent. Speech or emotions fail to match the context of behavior or information, causing individuals to feel out of balance. They become more easily manipulated as a consequence. Though adults are very vulnerable to these same influences when the conditions are right, children have little or no power to resist the process because of their dependency on adults. High demand religious groups as well as parents also exploit a child's innate vulnerabilities to exact control.

Because of the demands of the roles of the “family script” and the gaslighting, siblings who remain behind within the high demand group will often do and say whatever they need to do to survive their own discomfort. We human beings tend to believe what we want to believe and that which gives us the most comfort. Sometimes called “wishful thinking,” this human trait of confirmation bias makes us unwilling to consider unpleasant information. To protect their family and the continuity of their own life, siblings often challenge dissidents as they struggle against the unpleasant testimonies of their family when they speak openly about the problems that they suffered within the group. They are dependent upon their family, and they often have no other choice because of their lack of resources. High demand groups require the same type of loyalty of their members. When individuals, particularly children, become isolated from their own sense of personal worth and acceptance from good experiences outside of a closed world, within high demand homeschooling, gaslighting becomes even more effective.


Smoke and Ashes

I am amazed when I look back on how much I've grown since I left a group that followed the same religious system embraced by the Jeubs and the Duggars. I indeed experienced gaslighting when in that system, sometimes through “mystical manipulation” and sometimes just through their unwritten social code of conduct. I soon realized, however, that when I recognized the unhealthy dynamics within religion, I could no longer tolerate the same kinds of behavior when I encountered them in other relationships – most notably with my family.

I felt as though this message from Cynthia's father described well my own parents' sentiment about our estrangement which began about a decade ago. I, too, am “welcome” at my parents' table – if I give up on having a perspective that differs in any way from theirs – even about things that seem completely insignificant. A decade ago, I deliberately set out to learn how to manage my responses so that I could tolerate their gaslighting and pretense. Along the way, I figured out that I was chasing a fantasy, and the solution to the dilemma didn't involve learning new skills. The solution involved walking away and abandoning the fantasy of finding some place of grace with them, free from coercion and shame. Portia Nelson's poem describes the situation well for me.

Ultimately, the gaslighting situation boils down to a relationship of cooperation between two parties. The person who gaslights consolidates power by using others to bolster up their ego by always being right. The person who allows the gaslighter to redefine their own perspective seeks to gain their gaslighter's approval or whatever their approval can provide.

If the gaslighter doesn't realize that this is what they're doing, the “gaslightee” may be able to negotiate with them to stop. If the behavior is intentional, then the manipulator doesn't have much incentive to change. If the gaslightee wishes it to stop, they must be the one to initiate the change. They have to shift the balance of power in the relationship so that they are no longer ruled by the gaslighter.   In my relationship with my parents and despite forty years of trying, they would only accept being “right,” thus assigning me with the role of “100% wrong.” I worked at coming to an agreement with them – a plan of what we might do when they gaslighted me because my reactions to it were powerful and too painful for me to manage. After years of trying, I finally realized that if I hadn't gained their favor by playing along for most of my life, it likely wouldn't happen in the future. I changed the gaslighting dynamic by withdrawing from the relationship which was really just one of fantasy that I wished could be true.

 They really don't have anything that I want anymore, now that I've abandoned that fantasy.

~~~~~


I hope that Cynthia and Lydia Jeub will learn this wisdom far more quickly than I did. I'm glad that they both have a whole community of surviving and thriving SGAs for support and validation. And I'm grateful to Cynthia for her post which helped me remember where I've come from and how far I've traveled. She reminded me that though my own deep wounds have largely healed, I still need to honor my scars – and I need to listen to them. Though I wish that it all was far behind me, I still find myself cleaning up the soot left by the remnants of those ashen memories.  And that's okay.

Proverbs says that truth comes at a price. Those who were gaslighted as young children must pay a high price in adulthood to claim their own perspective -- a rite that most people take for granted. It's been my experience that the truth and the price one pays to speak it doesn't come cheap. May they be wealthy!



Late note:  Thank you, Homeschoolers Anonymous for republishing this post!  It's an honor.  :)


Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Qualifying "Creepy": Cults and Cognitive Dissonance

MC Escher's Relativity
A few years ago, I took the dialogue from the script of The Matrix film and changed some of the language to fit a spiritually abusive situation – to describe that splinter-in-your-mind feeling. You know something seems to be “off,” but you're not sure what it is. The only thing that you can really pinpoint as “off” at the very start of it is your feeling for which you have little evidence.

Let's exaggerate things a bit with an obvious example of something somewhat related to the splinter in your mind.

If we are reasonably mentally heathy, we have a sense of optimism. For some of us who have been through trauma, our optimism (which might be too strong of a word) may only be a search for reasons to get out of bed in the morning. When coping with all that we must to get through life, we take much for granted, and our level of optimism or lack thereof dictates the ease with which we trust the subtle or obvious cues. When others use that which we take for granted (the shortcuts of assumption) against us for their gain and at our expense, these shortcuts become “Weapons of Influence.”

Monday, August 25, 2014

Attention Homeschoolers! HARO Survey 2014 and World Magazine Drama



A post totally ripped off from Homeschooler's Anonymous, and I didn't even ask permission:

Homeschool Alumni Reaching Out (HARO), HA’s parent non-profit organization, is happy to announce our first-ever comprehensive survey: the 2014 Survey of Adult Alumni of the Modern Christian Homeschool Movement. This survey is open to any adult homeschool alumni (18 years old or older) raised in a Christian homeschool environment. 
For the purposes of this survey, “alumni” designates everyone homeschooled for the majority of their K-12 education; in other words, for at least 7 years. The survey is open to anyone in that category, whether your experience was positive or negative and whether you are still a Christian or not. 
By “Christian,” we are including the broadest possible definition, including Christian-identified new religious movements. 
The purpose of the survey is to investigate the life experiences of Christian homeschool alumni by collecting information that past surveys of homeschool alumni have not. We have done our very best to create fair, balanced questions without any leading or attempts to skew results. All results will be anonymous and used for informational purposes only. 
If you are an adult alumni of this movement, we would greatly appreciate your involvement. We would also love for you to share the survey with your friends and former homeschool peers through word of mouth and social media. The more responses, the better!


AND READ ABOUT THE CRAZY WORLD MAGAZINE DRAMA, MARGINALIZING HOMESCHOOLING

I'm too stupefied to comment more about the whole matter.
"Fake homeschoolers"???

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Exploring Trust in Forgiveness (What can we learn from the tragic death of Braxton Caner?)

A Reposting from the blog series on forgiveness, repentance and reconciliation from 2012.  What can we learn from tragedy - the loss of Braxton Caner

 

What hidden lessons can we find?

~~~

The Importance of Trust-building in Forgiveness


We've elucidated many ideas about forgiveness, primarily that it is a journey and that emotional healing is not on a straight time line. It occurs in stages, and healing becomes more like peeling an onion. Each layer brings tears and reminds us of what we've experienced in the past. We find ourselves remembering griefs we believe were healed and we have to reaffirm forgiveness as God takes our healing to a deeper level in our souls. We can take the hard road of the Path of Healing as an act of obedience to God and virtue, dedicating ourselves to genuine forgiveness which honors both the offended and the offender. We must choose to identify and resist both the Path of Denial which pretends in some way that no offense ever took place as well as the Path of Bitterness which deceives us into believing that we are forgiving when we're only gathering evidence to exonerate ourselves from blame and condemn our offender. We grieve quite a bit during this process and must learn to wisely discern true repentance from mental assent and lip service.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

What is Repentance? (What can we learn from the tragic death of Braxton Caner?)

A Reposting from the blog series on forgiveness, repentance and reconciliation from 2012.  What can we learn from tragedy - the loss of Braxton Caner

 

What hidden lessons can we find?


~~~

Defining Repentance on the Journey of Forgiveness

What constitutes repentance? The Gospels tell us that we must always forgive when those who have sinned against us (or disappointed us) repent of wrongdoing.  The Bible sets a precedent that repentance precedes forgiveness.  But what do we understand about the concept? As reviewed previously, Christians are called to confront others when wronged and must forgive when those who committed the wrong repent. For the Christian, forgiveness is non-optional. Review more about forgiveness HERE.
He said to His disciples, “It is inevitable that stumbling blocks come, but woe to him through whom they come!  It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea, than that he would cause one of these little ones to stumble. Be on your guard!
If your brother sins, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. And if he sins against you seven times a day, and returns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ forgive him.”

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Eric Pazdziora Outdoes Himself (and Piper does in not such a good way...)

1. Look closely for the "Click to Play" option below the Tweets to hear Eric's new tune (lyrics by John Piper).  The print is tiny, but it will play if you wait a few seconds for it to load.  Or visit his Tumblr site directly.  He (Eric) should win some kind of award.  I may have to create one.  Read more about and by the exceptionally talented Eric HERE.

2.  For more discussion, visit Spiritual Sounding Board.

3.  More Tweets HERE.  (Emily's is the best!)

 

John Piper / Eric Pazdziora - Down By The River
Shared from ericpaz using Embeddlr
download/iPhone

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Surviving Conferences and Surviving Church

I was thrilled to see many survivors from Sovereign Grace Ministries (SGM) make it to the International Cultic Studies Association meeting in Washington, DC last month. I can barely believe that a whole months has elapsed. Of course, I planned to write several posts about it, but I've yet to produce a single one. I've done some networking and have so many people with whom to follow up regarding so many different issues and topics.

By now, I'd hoped to blog about a wonderful acquaintance I made at the meeting – a retired vicar named Stephen Parsons who hosts a blog called Surviving Church. He traveled all of the way across the pond to attend. Apart from seeing former SGM members attend, I think that meeting Stephen was the high point of the meeting for me. He presented a session about the research of Philip Zimbardo and how it applies to the phenomenon of spiritual abuse and of cults. He also expresses an interest in the concept that Zimbardo hints about – that perhaps the position of the modern minister creates a potential for narcissism.


Tuesday, July 29, 2014

The Ugly Underbelly of Racism in the Fringe End of Christian Homeschooling: A Call for Personal Accounts

Racism and kinism have been a topic of interest on this blog because of the influence of the Neoconfederate Element within Christian Reconstruction and its influence on homeschoolers within its ranks. (For easier reading, a collection of posts about the Neoconfederate influence within this Christian subculture can be read HERE on the archive site. An index of all related posts concerning kinism and neoconfederates appears HERE.)

Essentially, kinism describes an ideology of “racialism” that some Christians believe to be a Biblical mandate prohibiting the mixing of races according to the Judaic Covenant – that which was taught as needful to establish Israel as a nation that was set apart for God. Some Christians who follow Covenant Theology believe that this mandate carries over into the Christian life. (For those who are new to this website or this subject, I find kinism to be repugnant and quite non-Christian.)

Many readers over the years have written to me with personal accounts and questions about the issues of race, Theonomy, and how it affected their subculture. I recall how Doug Phillips acted like people should take their shoes off to walk on the “holy ground” at RL Dabney's homestead. (The first section of this video discusses the influence of Theonomy on the homeschooling movement which sometimes differs little in appearance from the Kinder, K├╝che, Kirche campaign of the Third Reich.) And, of course, don't forget Wilson and Wilkins, the slavery apologists and plagiarists.

Young women have written to ask me questions about the veracity of the “claim” that slave wives homeschooled their children and kept their houses while their slave husbands labored. Much of this is claimed to be the basis of patriarchy's “Stay At Home Daughter” Movement. I've also heard about caucasian homeschooled children in “kinist country” (within the US) who performed plays in blackface, along with the group's special interest in waving around the “Stars and Bars” (the flag of the Confederate States during the “War of Northern Aggression” or the Civil War).


I would love for those “Second Generation Adult” readers who grew up in this movement to consider writing an article for the Homeschoolers Anonymous series about this element of their experience.

Read more about it HERE.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

FLDS Film Premieres Tonight on LMN

They've been playing cult-related films all day, but this one airs at prime time.  Wish I'd have known about all of them in advance!  Link to LMN.