I am the eldest in a family of 10 children, more daughters than sons, now ranging in age from 10-30. I was homeschooled until the age of 13 by evangelical Christian parents whose beliefs and lifestyle can be best described as Quiverfull/patriarchal (although those weren’t the words we’d use to label ourselves). We lived in poverty in south Louisiana and there was considerable abuse and neglect in our crowded home, including poor hygiene, occasional food insecurity, a lack of medical care, and almost no formal education. We were physically disciplined in an often violent and unpredictable manner, generally with a belt or a wooden stick, for disobedience and mistakes. We were also socially isolated and told demons and the devil were lurking behind the actions of unbelievers, both strangers and our neighbors and relatives, waiting to pounce. Somehow I found the strength and desperation to rebel and seek outside help.
Due to an intervention by both sets of grandparents, my siblings and I were hurriedly “caught up” as much as possible, given a few basic resources and “normal” experiences, then sent to public school in 1998. I went into 9th grade at a medium-sized public high school and after overcoming some bullying and culture shock, found a profound appreciation for education and people in general.
My siblings and I have succeeded beyond all expectations (except for my Grandad’s, which were always exceedingly high and laid out with military precision), and have gone on to live pretty “normal” lives, with school, working, obtaining college degrees, finding love and marriage, and parenting little ones without the use of “whippings.”
I tried to forget the past, went to college in New Orleans, graduated with honors and a double major in political science and English, and later got scholarships to attend a top 10 graduate school in my field. So not too long ago I moved 1,500 miles away, far up into “Yankee country,” to obtain a masters of public policy degree and study poverty alleviation at a very liberal, historically Jewish school. I loved school but started getting nightmares, flashbacks, and insomnia, ultimately realizing I had to deal with what happened as a child in order to be okay today. I also did a couple grad school research papers on homeschooling, which made me realize that my experience is unfortunately not uncommon at all in the conservative Christian homeschooling world, and some aspects of it are even encouraged by movement leaders as part of a supposedly “Godly” lifestyle. I recently wrote a book about my experiences and am in the process of trying to get that published.
I am a bit of a news junkie, an avid reader, a fan of silly sarcasm, house parties, craft projects, and trying new recipes. I am also passionate about human rights, the wellbeing of children, lifelong learning, and encouraging the homeschooling communities and the entities that regulate them (or should, anyway) to do more to facilitate healthy child development and prevent abuse and neglect.
This blog will mainly be about the Quiverfull lifestyle, homeschooling culture and politics, child welfare, PTSD, education, poverty, big families, gender issues, and maybe a few bits of south Louisiana or New England culture and a recipe or craft project or two thrown in, just for fun.