An Interview with a Former Quiverfull Parent January 25, 2011

An Interview with a Former Quiverfull Parent

I’ve posted a number of things about the Quiverfull movement, most notably an interview with the author of a book on the subject, Kathryn Joyce.

The Quiverfull movement believes in nonstop procreation as long as the married Christian couple can make it happen (e.g. The Duggars). They also believe in a patriarchy, very formal courtship,

Vyckie Garrison birthed seven children before leaving the movement for good. She now writes at the blog No Longer Quivering.

Julie Mullen and the folks at the Parenting Within Reason podcast interviewed Vyckie about her current and former life — it’s a really eye-opening (ear-popping?) interview that’s worth a listen.

You can read more of Julie’s thoughts on the interview here. The most striking part concerns the Quiverfull idea that it’s ok to basically cause physical harm to your child if they don’t follow your commands:

The idea here is that by teaching your child to obey you rather than follow his own natural inclinations, you will instill enough obedience for the child to forego his sinful nature. Obedience is the most important trait according to this thought process. If you can’t obey your parents, you won’t obey God, and you’ll end up in Hell.

Vyckie says she did not practice this particular form of discipline with her kids, but she did emphasize obedience as the highest virtue, and she tells us in the interview how it drained the spirit right out of her children. Once liberated from this dogma, the kids began to flourish and grow as individuals.

Sounds to me like the worst possible way to raise a child… kids need to be taught when and how to rebel properly. Easier said than done, I’m sure, but to tell them they must never question what you say? What a horrible lesson to teach a child.

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  • Spencer

    Teaching that blind obedience to authority, especially just because they’re authority, is a good virtue makes me sick.

  • pirmas407

    @Spencer: But it is the key purpose of religious doctrine.

  • Kerrie

    They’re raising good little soldiers for Jesus, they are.

  • Dan

    This is what the Duggar family follows right? The ones with 19 (?) kids.

  • Ibis

    Yes, patriarchy is a horrible, ignorance-hallowing doctrine. It’s no accident that the universal Christian prayer is “Our Father…” and that the Original Sin was being persuaded by a woman to seek knowledge instead of obeying God.

  • Daniel

    If you ever want nightmares, look up turn of the century parenting guides.

    Many suggest that you beat the kid so they will understand that you are the dominant one in the relationship. It is usually suggested this take place prior to them learning to crawl.

  • I couldn’t agree more. I remember reading Alice Cooper’s “For Your Own Good”, and she made a similar set of arguments against corporal punishment and excessive emphasis on the dubious virtue of obedience. It basically stifles the child’s natural ability to follow their own cognitive process, and they develop into compliant, but ultimately thoughtless individuals.

    She actually argued that such an instillment of discipline and obedience was a part of what allowed the growth of the Nazi movement in Germany to progress so quickly. If you are trained in childhood to obey your parents without question, it is very easy in adulthood to supplant them with an alternative, fuhrer-like figure, whom you will obey with equal facility.

    It turns you into a robot, essentially. I think it’s actually one of the more harmful aspects of organised religion – the ease with which it used to control and suppress the developing mind.

  • gski

    “The Quiverfull movement believes in nonstop procreation …” Rats behave just the same.

  • @Apostate Angelica — Um, I think that was Alice Miller

    Alice Cooper is a shock-rock god.

    And the Quiverfull movement scares the living hell out of me. *shudders* Treating women like brood mares for Christ… nothx.

  • Lady Copper

    Daniel – There are actually CURRENT books advocating that, by Mike and Debi Pearl for example. Hideous, disgusting couple. No words for them, except I cannot believe how many followers they have.

    I am very familiar with Vyckie and her No Longer Quivering blog, having followed it since I think the second month. The blog has done a lot raise awareness and is doing good that way, but Vyckie personally, while being very articulate and good at critizing the lifestyle – I do not admire her as much anymore.

    Still, I’m always glad to see mainstream people becoming aware of this subculture.

    For a huge clearinghouse of info on it, should anyone be interested, check out

  • aerie

    Apostate Angelica Says: “…basically stifles the child’s natural ability to follow their own cognitive process, and they develop into compliant, but ultimately thoughtless individuals.”

    This is *exactly* what it did to me. I wasn’t allowed to make even simple decisions for myself & it f*cked me up on so many levels. Thought-less is a good word b/c I had none of my own. I rebelled some, but when things went badly, my parents made it out to be the so I just gave up.

    Now, I’m 43 w/ a life in shambles because I never learned to think independently which led to poor choices on my part. Thanks or articulating it because I’ve been unable to do so.

  • David W

    When I taught child protection (to ambulance crews), I used to include a section on spiritual abuse which was additional to the curriculum, and this is an example which perfectly encapsulated it.

    Really disturbing!

  • By the way, “For Your Own Good” is available free here

  • aerie

    It doesn’t surprise me about the men involved these situations (no offense guys). What surprises me is that the women go ‘willingly to slaughter’ as it were. But, I guess if a young girl’s healthy sense of rebellion & individuality is snuffed while she’s still in the crib then they render her helpless.

  • Mr Ed

    Place an appealing object where they can reach it, maybe in a “No-no” corner or on an apple juice table

    God puts an apple tree in the middle of the Garden of Eden and says, do what you like guys, oh, but don’t eat the apple. Surprise surprise, they eat it and he leaps out from behind a bush shouting “Gotcha.” It wouldn’t have made any difference if they hadn’t eaten it… because if you’re dealing with somebody who has the sort of mentality which likes leaving hats on the pavement with bricks under them you know perfectly well they won’t give up. They’ll get you in the end.

    Douglas Adams

    Paternal control freaks like their god.

    P.S. what is the obsession with apples

  • But, I guess if a young girl’s healthy sense of rebellion & individuality is snuffed while she’s still in the crib then they render her helpless.

    that’s exactly what they do, to raise more brood sows for their little cult. i’ve been reading an ex-quiverful mom’s blog for many years, and she talks about that alot. the way in which the cult basically trades young girls between “patriarchs” for breeding purposes is sickening. the young girls and women aren’t really allowed to understand that they have legal rights and can date and marry anyone they want, including people outside this cult.

    and of course, the men in this cult have NO concern for women’s health. having a litter of children is extremely punishing on a woman’s body. it literally shortens her life, assuming she doesn’t die from complications during birth and pregnancy, which of course is a far greater risk if a woman has a high number of them. this cult defines “misogyny” and i hope more and more women escape it.

  • The definition of a parent’s job is simple – we’re in the business of creating adults. If we’re choosing instead to create well-behaved children who do all their chores and never question authority, we’ve failed because the end result is not a responsible and self-sufficient adult (just a really big child).

    The focus on obedience is a betrayal of parenting, even if it makes our lives (as parents) much easier. It’s selfish. If all you want is a quiet and obedient child, buy a doll.

  • lgirl

    Blanket training is child cruelity IMO.

  • @MrPopularSentiment — That is the single best encapsulation of the goal of responsible parenting that I’ve seen. Thanks for that! That will be a reference mantra for me going forward in my parenting adventures.

  • @Everyday Atheist – I’m glad you’ve found it helpful! I haven’t quite begun my own parenting adventure yet (another ~5 weeks to go!), but it’s the mindset I’m adopting going into it.

    It’s all still theoretical at this point…

  • Gilraen


    If you keep that kind of thinking in the forefront of your mind, you will be a good parent.

    Remember, as a child becomes his own person, that you WANT him to learn that he can say no, and you WANT her to learn that she has a mind and a will of her own.

    If they do not, they will not be able to say no to playground bullies, drug dealers, and abusive spouses.

    An independent, thinking child is difficult to raise, but the rewards are tremendous.

    (Mother of 3 independent cusses whom I am immensely proud of…)

  • @MrPopularSentiment: The best to your family! It’s an amazing trip. It’s good to have a theoretical framework going in. The practical will assert itself soon enough!

  • Claudia

    @MrPopularSentiment I just wanted to echo Everyday Atheist, I love that description of raising a child. I have no idea if there are kids in my future, but I’ll keep that beautiful idea with me just in case. Thank you.

  • I don’t want to seem to spammy, but I do want to thank Gilraen, Everyday Atheist, and Claudia for being so supportive. It does actually mean quite a bit to me 🙂

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