Thursday, January 31, 2013

Breakpoint on the Botkins

Some time ago, someone sent me a link to a reference to the Botkin Daughters on Chuck Colson's Breakpoint/Prison Fellowship website, and I wanted to share it with readers here.

Even they think "Botkin Syndrome" is overkill!  The author for Breakpoint, Gina Dalfonzo, also hit on the idea that these extreme religious groups lack trust in God.  They essentially "work the program" in a way that almost orders God around like the "cosmic bellhop," just because they worked the formula that was supposed to yield perfection.  If Daddy Botkin was that concerned that he had to lay his hand on his infant daughter's abdomen, concerned about the billions and billions of offspring held within those eggs, why are his daughters not yet married?  Those eggs are getting older by the minute, and so are their chances of lowering their risk of breast cancer by carrying a pregnancy to term and breastfeeding by age thirty.

It's not about saving the world, or even about doing what God commands, folks.  It's about control. It's about their appetites and letting the end justify the means.

From Suzanne Venker explains it all for you:
Don't believe me? Consider this: The Botkin sisters have made a career, literally, out of being feminine and elevating men. They were trained from birth -- and I do mean from birth -- to submit to their future husbands and to become the mothers of many. They are, quite possibly, the most feminine women on the planet. And now here they are, rapidly approaching 30, still stuck in the same boat with the rest of us celibate Christian single women. 
I've said it before and I'll say it again: Our obedience does not control God. We're to obey Him not for what we can get out of Him, but simply because He told us to obey Him. We can follow Him as closely as humanly possible, but nothing we do will either force Him to give us what we want, or control the behavior of any other human being (let alone an entire gender). Christians, of all people, should know better than to pretend that it will.

Let me save you some time, and I'll point out the quote from Kathryn Joyce's book, Quiverfull.  Here is an excerpt from the book which also appears online in a short article at the website, Killing the Buddha.  It's all part of Geoffrey Botkin's 200 Year Plan.  (Daddy Botkin started out in cultic Christianity in the '70s and just changed cultic groups.  Read more about his history HERE.)

From Victory Through Daughters by Kathryn Joyce:
So as Botkin held his newborn daughter perfectly still in his cupped hands, he prayed to God for guidance: after having raised two older sons, how should he raise a daughter? He felt God move him to a specific prayer for the infant sleeping in his hands, a prayer for her body. He remembered baby girls are born with two ovaries and a finite number of eggs that will last them a lifetime. He placed his hand over his new daughter’s abdomen and prayed for Anna Sofia to be the “future mother of tens of millions.” He prayed that the Lord would order everything in his daughter’s life: “What You will do with every single egg here. How many children will this young lady have? Who will be her husband? With what other legacy will these little eggs be joined to produce the next generation for the glory of God?” He explained to a room full of about six hundred fathers and daughters gathered for the annual Vision Forum Father and Daughter Retreat that he had prayed that his new daughter might marry young.

Read the full article with an expanded quote HERE.  Follow Kathryn at her site,

Healing from Covert (Emotional) Incest and Enmeshment: A List of Resources

Often, I am asked about how people who identify with the concept of covert incest can best find help and how to get counseling, even if they are not necessarily involved in a religious group. Though I craft my message to meet the needs of the “Quivering Daughter,” I believe that all individuals who see themselves in the description of covert incest and enmeshment will be able to get a lot of value from these ideas about where to begin in their recovery. And likewise, I believe that the Quivering Daughter will also gain great benefit from the secular resources, too. The dynamics and effects of the process look the same in both secular and in religious families, and the same dysfunction follows adult children, affecting them both groups in the same ways.

The concept of covert incest was originally coined within the literature concerning the treatment of drug and alcohol addiction. Addiction becomes a disease of an entire family because those who live with the addict and their ineffective means of resolving their shame become ill-affected as they change to accommodate their loved one. Children who are parented within such a family develop covert incest (also called enmeshment) as parents siphon off love and support from their children (read a short synopsis of the process HERE). Just as an alcoholic drinks to numb their pain and escape into a fantasy as their ineffective means of coping with the despair of shame, those who suffer from covert incest use various behaviors as their coping strategy. They avoid, suppress, and unload unbearable emotions whilst trying to use other people for affirmation, borrowing from them an illusion of self worth through behaviors of control, helplessness, or care taking to fill the void that shame creates in their own hearts.

The following information gives those in recovery from enmeshment some good ideas about how to get started. It's all the information I wish had been available to me when I started my own journey of recovery. Though there are far more resources available on the topic now, there were a few good ones out there that I've found by virtue of looking long and hard, working on my own healing. No one actually sat down with me and talked to me about a game plan, and I wish they had. I hope that readers here find it helpful.

Counseling and Self-Help Groups

Private Counseling. This blog post at describes how to find a counselor that is right for you including what kind of counseling to pursue. The post about finding a counselor was part of a series that addresses the needs of survivors of abuse in religious homes for teens, and though most never endure the degree of abject abuse that they suffered, the after-effects can be very similar. There are also ideas about how to navigate through payment. Something that I didn't include in that post is the option of contacting Catholic Charities in your area for help finding a counselor. They do not try to recruit people into new religious experiences but are only interested in helping people in the community find helpful resources.

If the writings on this blog and on speak to you, when I called to find out about counselors and their availability, I would ask whether they accepted and worked within the model of enmeshment, covert incest, and codependency specifically. (I address the topic from that approach, consistent with the writings of Melody Beatty, Pia Mellody, John Bradshaw, Patrick Carnes, the Minrith Meier Christian self-help series, etc..) Most counselors will, but some don't particularly like the model. You will be better served with someone who shares this approach, and it can be worth asking about it before you invest time and money in the process.

I've talked with other survivors in the past who gained a great deal from group therapy which is usually cheaper than individual therapy. This is also something that you can inquire about when you call to find private counselors and their fee schedules. Therapists that offer this service may require an initial private visit with the counselor for an initial assessment before meeting collectively with a group of clients.

Self-help Meetings. I think that personal counseling is a preferable choice, but once you've made your way through the basics and understand the issues you face, self-help meetings can become an important part of the recovery process. I also caution people because many people can make the group their new religion and savior, just transferring their dependency on individuals over on to the group process. This doesn't always happen (and there are far worse things to which you could “transfer” your feelings and dysfunction), but it is a caution to consider.

I personally like Emotions Anonymous and Codependents Anonymous meetings as an adjunct to working with a counselor, and it can be an alternative if you cannot afford any other options. You are asked to throw a nominal donation into the fund at each meeting to help cover incidental expenses of the group. These groups, based on the AA model, work through the Twelve Steps, and you can usually find a personal sponsor if you feel that you need one. Well run groups can be fantastic, but be aware that they are not generally run by professionals but by volunteer laypersons. People who participate help to hold one another accountable and offer encouragement, much like a group therapy session, but without professional oversight. Find local meetings by using the online search engines for each organization noted above.

Self-help meetings can also be a way of maintaining a recovery mindset if you take a break from counseling or no longer feel like you need to see a private counselor. I've also known people who cannot afford weekly counseling, so they go less frequently, filling in with the gaps during their off weeks with self-help groups.

Online Support. You can also follow and participate in discussions at the secular forum at The Christian Recovery forums also offer a good place to discuss the core problems associated with enmeshment within a Christian context. Both of these forums have been around for quite a long time, discussing the challenges faced by those who are affected by enmeshment.

Other forums with which I am less familiar but offer the same kinds of alternatives include:

Working on Your Own Recovery

Though showing up at a counselor's office or attending a group once a week can be a very helpful part of recovery from these types of abusive relationships, the real healing comes from the work that you commit to your own healing. There are a great many things that you can do yourself to help you gain insight and to heal.

Journaling. Most good counselors will encourage you to write your feelings out in a journal. Writing out your problems seems to help take the sting of obsession and compulsion that accompanies relationships of covert incest and the habits learned while in these relationships. This post talks about how healing the process of journaling can be for you in recovery and about the research that supports it, as well as offering strategies that will help a person get started.

Personally, I like to combine journaling with Daniel Amen, Archibald Hart, and Earl Henslin call “killing the ANTs,” a process which allows you to challenge “Automatic Negative Thoughts.” This is essentially the same process that Chris Thurman describes in his book entitled, The Lies We Believe. You can use the accompanying workbook as a journaling guide as well. From the secular perspective, I like Breaking Free, a codependency workbook by Pia Mellody.

So Much to Read...

Essential blog posts. While you wait for snail mail to deliver books if you don't download them to read on Nook or Kindle, I think that a few of the following blog posts can give you an idea of what benefits you will gain by working on recovery and how enmeshment happens in the first place. This is a shorter blog post about how we end up living lives of drama, and this is a series of posts that talks more specifically how we end up the way we are (which is much longer).  The series essentially gives an overview of the areas of life wherein we learn how to be “messed up,” based on Pia Melody's model.  We end up not only becoming the receptacles for our primary parent's shame where they unload their distress, but we also become sources of love and worth that they use for their own gratification.

You can also explore the tag list here at Overcoming Botkin Syndrome, as it touches on many of the basic challenges faced by adult children who grew up enmeshed with the adults on whom they depended for survival. Make sure to read the tabbed items explaining how the process begins here, one of the tabbed items listed at the top of the blog.  This post also discusses physical health and other practical ways that a person can find healing.

Covert Incest. Kenneth Adams just revised his book about covert incest, Silently Seduced, and Patrick Carnes participated as a contributor along with Adams in this edition. Carnes' work is essential reading (see below), so I am thrilled to see him contribute to Adams' essential writing in this area. Patricia Love's book, The Emotional Incest Syndrome, is also essential reading and contains more personal accounts of survivors than does the original edition of Adams' book. Adams also wrote a related book that explores the problematic relationships of enmeshment shared by controlling mothers and their sons, When He's Married to Mom.  Check the tag list under "book authors" to read selections from many of these helpful books.

Getting started in recovery. When first beginning the process of healing, most people face functional or pragmatic challenges in their relationships. I love Patrick Carnes' book, The Betrayal Bond: Breaking Free of Exploitive Relationships for several reasons. (I recently wrote a blog post about it HERE, if you're curious, a specific type of enmeshment that occurs between adults.) In addition to the other benefits of the book, it offers checklists that help you narrow down areas of weakness in your life which can help you focus your recovery process. Take note that the area that Carnes ended up focusing on in the clinical area was the field of sexual addiction, so he often refers to research findings drawn from this area of study and treatment in the book. I've been somewhat reluctant to recommend his book for this reason, as a Christian audience might find this to be difficult, depending on their background.

I also like Harriet Braiker's book, Who's Pulling Your Strings: How to Break the Cycle of Manipulation and Regain Control of Your Life because it also offers an assessment test to help the reader identify weak areas in their life which predispose them to relationship problems. I've stated before that it almost offers the benefits of multiple self-help books by cutting through the non-essentials. Enmeshment involves tremendous manipulation, so the book also helps the reader learn how to respond to manipulation and control, but it is also good reading for anyone who encounters manipulators – and that's everyone on the planet.

Both of these books can also be used as a jumping of point to help guide journaling.

Essential reading about enmeshment. This post, the Journey out of Shame, lists many resources that will be helpful for those who are healing from enmeshment, including both Christian and secular material. They discuss different aspects of the genesis of covert incest and codependency, along with strategies for healing. Toxic, unmerited shame forms the core of the problem of covert incest, and there's now a great selection of books on the topic of shame and recovery from it.

Not (yet) included in this list is a secular book on boundaries, another essential topic that must be tackled in recovery from enmeshment. Read more about the book, Better Boundaries: Owning and Treasuring Your Life in a blog post HERE. Another post explaining the topic can be read HERE, featuring info from the Christian authors who are well known for their writings about the topic.

Using these resources,
you can create your own game plan
to help you recover and heal from covert incest
and the types of problems that the process creates.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Discussion of Botkin Syndrome in the Press

Much gratitude to the author of the article, Gina McGalliard, who I believe extended great honor to the many earnest people who have followed this lifestyle in earnest, in their desire to honor and follow God. She didn't identify herself as a Christian, and I believe that she showed great integrity in the writing of this article a few years ago.

Recently, Empirical Magazine published another of McGilliard's articles entitled Homeschooling, Creationism, and Citizenship. I understand from the author that other more liberal publishers turned it down because she was not willing to exploit Christian homeschoolers in a negative way. I'm grateful to her integrity and the respect she's shown to those who follow the practice. Bravo, Gina!

Here is Gina's seminal article from a few years ago about patriarchy's model for daughters. (I finally decided since it now appears in so many other venues, I would post it here.)

   by Gina McGilliard

   From Bitch Magazine, Issue 49 | Winter 2010, in an issue entitled Confidential

Daughters aren’t to be independent. They’re not to act outside the scope 
of their father. As long as they’re under the authority of their fathers, fathers have the ability to nullify or not the oaths and the vows. Daughters can’t just go out 
independently and say, ‘I’m going to marry whoever I want.’ No. The father has 
the ability to say, ‘No, I’m sorry, that has to be approved by me.’”
There’s a lot of talk in American mainstream media lately 
about the diminishing role of men—fathers, in particular. Have feminism and reproductive technology made them obsolete? 
Are breadwinning wives and career-oriented mothers emasculating them?

No such uncertainty exists in the mind of Doug Phillips, the man quoted above. The San Antonio minister is the founder of Vision Forum, a beachhead for what’s known as the Christian Patriarchy Movement, a branch of evangelical Christianity that takes beliefs about men as leaders and women as homemakers to anachronistic extremes. Vision Forum Ministries is, according to its Statements of Doctrine, “committed to affirming the historic faith of Biblical Christianity,” with special attention to the historical faith found in the book of Genesis, when God created Eve as a “helper” to Adam. According to Christian Patriarchy, marriage bonds man (the symbol of Christ) to woman (the symbol of the Church). It’s a model that situates husbands and fathers in a position of absolute power: If a woman disobeys her “master,” whether father or husband, she’s defying God. Thus, women in the Christian Patriarchy Movement aren’t just stay-at-home mothers—they’re stay-at-home daughters as well. And many of them wouldn’t have 
it any other way.

The stay-at-home-daughters movement, which is promoted by Vision Forum, encourages young girls and single women to forgo college and outside employment in favor of training as “keepers at home” until they marry. Young women pursuing their own ambitions and goals are viewed as selfish and antifamily; marriage is not a choice or one piece of a larger life plan, but the ultimate goal. Stay-at-home daughters spend their days learning “advanced homemaking” skills, such as cooking and sewing, and other skills that at one time were a necessity—knitting, crocheting, soap- and candle-making. A father is considered his daughter’s authority until he transfers control to her husband.

It probably won’t surprise you to learn that the CPM shares much of its philosophy with the Quiverfull movement [See “Multiply and Conquer,” Bitch no. 37], which holds that good Christians must eschew birth control—even natural family planning—in order to implement biblical principles and, in the process, outbreed unbelievers. Although the CPM has been around for the past several decades, with its roots in the founding of the Council of Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, and the teachings of religious leaders like Bill Gothard and Rousas J. Rushdoony, the stay-at-home-daughters movement seems to have gained traction in the last decade. Kathryn Joyce, author of the 2009 book Quiverfull: Inside the Christian Patriarchy Movement, estimates the CPM population to be in the low tens of thousands, but the rise of evangelical and fundamentalist Christianity over the past several decades makes it difficult to predict how large the CPM following could eventually become.

Vision Forum, for its part, is fully dedicated to turning back the clock on gender equality. Its website offers a cornucopia of sex-segregated books and products designed to conform children to rigid gender 
stereotypes starting from an early age. The All-American Boy’s Adventure Catalog shills an extensive selection of toy weapons (bow-and-arrow sets, guns, swords, and tomahawks), survival gear, and books and DVDs on war, the outdoors, and science. The Beautiful Girlhood Collection features dolls, cooking and sewing play sets, and costumes. There’s no room for doubt about the intended roles these girls will play later on in life. Indeed, the Vision Forum catalog brims with yearning for a simpler, supposedly more secure, and presumably more pious time, with a number of items relating to Western frontier living, a “Grandfather’s Classic Toys” collection, manuals on medieval chivalry, and centuries-old titles about manners and modesty.

Integral to Vision Forum’s belief about female submission is making sure women are not independent at any point in their lives, regardless of age; hence the organization’s enthusiasm for stay-at-home daughterhood. The most visible proponents of this belief are Anna Sofia and Elizabeth Botkin, sisters and authors of the book So Much More: The Remarkable Influence of Visionary Daughters on the Kingdom of God (published by Vision Forum), and creators of the documentary film Return of the Daughters, which follows several young women staying home until marriage, and details how they spend their time serving their fathers. One woman, Melissa Keen, 25, helps put on Vision Forum’s annual Father-Daughter Retreat, an event that’s described on Vision Forum’s website in terms that are, in a word, discomfiting. (“He leads her, woos her, and wins her with a tenderness and affection unique to the bonds of father and daughter.”) Another, 23-year-old Katie Valenti, enthuses that her father “is the greatest man in my life. I believe that helping my father in his business is a better use of my youth and is helping prepare me to be a better helpmeet for my future husband, rather than indulging in selfishness and pursuing my own success and selfish ambitions.” (A video of Valenti’s 2009 wedding to Phillip Bradrick shows her father announcing into a microphone that he is “transferring my authority to you, Phillip.”)

In So Much More, the Botkin sisters claim women were much happier before being legally considered men’s equals, although, unsurprisingly, they reference no studies, scholarship, or evidence for this. They do, however, quote extensively from girls described as “21st-century heroines of the faith,” or “the young heroines of the underground feminist resistance 
movement,” who claim following submission teachings changed their lives. A stay-at-home daughter named Sarah, for instance, aspired to be an attorney before realizing that her career ambitions displeased God; Fiona left home for college at 18, only to return five years later having experienced much “grief and depression.”

Many of the Botkins’ fellow believers have taken to the web to extoll the virtues of the stay-at-home- daughter life, spreading their archaic views via the most modern technology. On, which recently ceased operating, Courtney, one of the authors of the website’s blog, describes herself as “learning to run and care for a home while under the training of my dear parents.” The section “What We Believe” states that “Stay-at-home daughters are defying cultural standards by purposing to fulfill their role at home, with their family, and under their father’s roof and authority until marriage. We are anti-feminism, and we are counter-cultural.”

Another blog, Ah the Life, is written by “Miss Kelly and Miss Andrea,” who list among their interests “homemaking, theology, hospitality, and femininity.” Their favorite movies include Return of the Daughters and The Monstrous Regiment of Women, the latter a film that inveighs against feminism via soundbites from, among others, Phyllis Schlafly. (On Hillary Clinton: “She’s angry about a lot of things.”) And the blog Joyfully at Home was until recently maintained by Jasmine Baucham, daughter of preacher Voddie Baucham, whose 2009 patriarchy primer, What He Must Be If He Wants to Marry My Daughter, has chapters titled “He Must Be Prepared to Lead” and “Don’t Send a Woman Out to Do a Man’s Job.” Jasmine, who was featured inReturn of the Daughters, wrote on her blog that she “chose to forgo the typical college experience so that I could live under the discipleship of my parents until marriage,” but her bio nevertheless notes that she is completing a degree in English literature.

The number of these blogs and their followers may be surprising to mainstream women, who would likely find the tenets the bloggers live by disturbingly retrograde, if not just plain disturbing. For instance, stay-at-home daughterhood means, among other things, subsuming one’s own identity into the family unit. The Botkin sisters write in So Much More that loving your parents means agreeing with all their opinions. “When your parents have your heart you will truly ‘delight in their ways,’” write the sisters in one blog post. “You will love what they love, hate what they hate, and desire their approval and company and even ‘think thoughts after them.’”

The Botkin sisters aim to validate living a life of confinement with staunch, if unfounded, opinions and beliefs regarding college. “College campuses have become dangerous places of anxiety, wasted years, mental defilement and moral derangement,” they write. Although neither of the sisters has attended college, they also claim universities are hotbeds of Marxism that forbid a free exchange of ideas and seek to indoctrinate students in leftist thinking. Elsewhere, they quote a document from the pro-patriarchy website Fathers for Life that states that the “prime purposes of feminism are to establish a lesbian-socialist republic and to dismantle the family unit,” echoing Pat Robertson’s notorious statement that feminism is a “socialist, anti-family political movement that encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism, and become lesbians.”

Learning critical thinking and immersion in a diversity of viewpoints and opinions—a chief goal of the college experience—seems to be what the Botkin sisters truly fear. Well, that and Satan—the sisters use the age-old image of women as helpless to resist temptation as another argument against a college education: “Recall that Satan targeted a woman first, too. God’s enemies have recognized that women are not only the weaker vessels, and consequently more easily led, but they are incredibly influential over their husbands (think of Eve again) and children, and they make excellent and loyal helpers,” claim the sisters [italics theirs]. The story of one misled college attendee, the providentially named Evangeline, is instructive. A homeschool graduate attending a Christian college away from home, Evangeline recalls, “I will never forget the night I sat on my bed reading [So Much More] until 4 in the morning, weeping over it.” She continues, “My heart had ached for a protected mission, a biblically sound mission, an ancient mission. And here it was! What joy! What relief! I was not designed to be an independent woman, but rather a part of a man’s life, a helper.”

But not all stay-at-home daughters accept their lot so unquestioningly. A young New Zealander named Genevieve, profiled on the Botkin sisters’ blog, decided to live at home until marriage after trading in her dreams of becoming her country’s first female prime minister for ambitions to become a Christian homeschooling wife and mother. Now the author of the Isaacharican Daughters newsletter, Genevieve exemplifies how young women in this lifestyle are encouraged to subsume their own thoughts and identities into those of whichever male figure in their lives currently acts as the authority. In writing about the process of swapping her father’s “vision” for her new husband’s, she notes that a woman having independent thoughts is evidence of Satan gumming up the works.
My loyalties have had to undergo a change. I was used to thinking Dad knew best. Now I needed to learn to think that Pete knows best. I used to do things and invest my time in projects according to what I knew Dad would want me to do. Now I needed to be guided by what Pete wanted me to do. When faced with a problem or option I couldn’t think “What would Dad have done in this situation?” Now I had to think “What would Pete do in this situation?” These were exciting times and difficult as during this state of flux—learning to replace one man’s vision with another—the devil would come around and say, “But what about what you want? What about what you think?”
Genevieve’s words are worth noting because most stay-at-home daughters can’t truly be said to have chosen this lifestyle—they are often brought up in homes where feminism, college, and a woman’s independent choices are vilified, and they rarely interact with those who think differently. One has to wonder if Genevieve, with her childhood dreams of national politics, bought into the myth that feminism is antimotherhood and antifamily, and thus feels she must choose between having a family and her own personhood, something most would consider a false choice.

Although submitting to either your father’s or your husband’s authority may seem like perpetual childhood—or indentured servitude—to modern, first-world women who value their ability to do things like vote, go on dates, and determine the course of their lives, the Botkin sisters have a different take. “The sign of our maturity and our adulthood is when we willingly submit ourselves to God-given authority and therefore to God Himself,” they write in one blog post. “This is a struggle, and it requires strength, wisdom, responsibility and spiritual maturity.” And though one presumes these women’s enthusiasm for submission means they come from safe, loving, and abuse-free homes, there are potentially chilling consequences to the spread of their beliefs to those who may not be 
so lucky.

Furthermore, the stay-at-home-daughter movement holds that girls are only ready to marry when they’ve completely tamed individualistic traits—when, as the Botkins put it, they’ve learned to “submit to an imperfect man’s ‘whims’ as well as his heavy requirements. To order our lives around another person. To esteem and reverence [sic] and adore a man whose faults we can see clearly every day.” Fathers are never to be criticized or even teased: “When you speak of him to others, you shouldn’t talk about his mistakes, but of the good things he’s done. When you speak of him,
 instead of criticizing and nagging him for his faults, you should tell him how much you admire his strengths,” say the Botkins. Stay-at-home daughter Ruth says she honors her father by finding out his favorite colors and wearing them; Kelly says she finds that her father’s convictions “are becoming my convictions, his passions my passions.” Although it’s likely that many women would find such an existence frustrating and unhappy, if not completely infantilizing, within the context of the Christian Patriarchy Movement it’s not difficult to see the appeal. After all, women raised in the CPM are brought up to believe that the world outside their community is sin-filled, godless, and dangerous; opting for stay-at-home daughterhood represents a lifetime of safety.

Still, they’re not safe from everything. Although the Botkins and their stay-at-home sisterhood believe that women have a duty to be obedient, if men fail in their endeavors—their work, their marriages, their faith—guess who’s responsible? “If our men aren’t successful, it largely means that their women have not made them successful. They need our help,” the Botkins write. Wives, claim the Botkin sisters, have the ability to “win” over their husbands with respectful and submissive behavior, for when the husbands observe this, they will become “ashamed and repentant.” (The sisters are strangely silent on what to do if this isn’t effective.) And daughters have the same responsibility: “Before you can accuse your father of being unprotective, ask yourself: ‘Do you make it clear to him that you are a woman of virtue, worthy of his special protection? If your behavior was more gentle, feminine, respectful and lovely would he be more inclined to be protective of you?’” Relationships with mothers, by contrast, get little consideration within the literature and blogs of the stay-at-home-daughters movement. Mother-daughter dynamics are mentioned in the Botkins’ book and film only in the context of readers becoming future mothers.

The stay-at-home-daughters movement has inevitably inspired controversy and dissent, much of it among dedicated Christians who consider the movement to be a dire misconstruction of their religion. According to Cindy Kunsman, a survivor of what she terms “spiritual abuse” and the author of the blog Under Much Grace, stay-at-home daughters who have exited the lifestyle are—despite what the rest of us might presume—usually well prepared academically, but lack certain key skills for success in life. “Those young women who received excellent training have an easier time acquiring job skills when pursuing college and healthcare training, as many of them have done quite successfully,” said Kunsman in an interview. “However, because [these young women] were required to abdicate all significant problem-solving to another agent while in their families of origin, they lack skill and practice in critical thinking and planning... They must work to build integrity, self-reliance, autonomy, and trust in themselves, which they were taught to derive from the identity of the family.”

One of the most outspoken counter-CPM blogs is Quivering Daughters—the name a play on the phrase “Quiverfull”—authored by Hillary McFarland. “Increasing numbers of women in their late twenties and thirties remain ‘safely’ at home, patiently waiting for husbands to find them,” writes McFarland in her bookQuivering Daughters: Hope and Healing for the Daughters of Patriarchy. “As unmarried adult daughters continue to perfect the art of homemaking, help to mother and school young siblings, and learn to be a godly helpmeet, many through spiritual discipline strain to cauterize wounds made tender with disappointment.”

Despite the assertion of stay-at-home daughters that they are “protected” (albeit in a country where they have every legal right to walk away from their families and churches), it’s difficult not to view them as being extremely vulnerable. After all, men who grow up 
believing that women were created to serve their whims are generally the ones who are just as likely to abuse the women they see as “theirs” as to protect them from others.

Such sexist views of women’s roles are certainly not limited to the Christian Patriarchy Movement. But unlike other extremely conservative religious groups such as the Amish or fundamentalist Mormon polygamists, which are typically closed off from the rest of society, the stay-at-home-daughters movement and the CPM might be capable of seeping into the already-booming populations of evangelical and fundamentalist churches and Christian homeschoolers, which already advocate a less-rigorous version of female 
submission. In this sense, stay-at-home daughters might feel that they are the most pure, and most righteous, of Christians.

In a complex world where women have more choices than ever, perhaps the appeal of this lifestyle for both men and women is perpetual female childhood. Men make all decisions and are never told they are wrong, always getting their way, while women are free of any decision-making: a markedly different, albeit less complicated relationship than one between two equals. Only time will tell how far this new movement will spread. In the meantime, those of us who were lucky enough to have fathers who delighted in our accomplishments and growth as individuals—rather than believing our existence was to serve their own needs—should count our blessings.

Gina McGalliard is a San Diego–based freelance writer whose work has appeared in @UCSD, Sport Diver, Conscious Dancer, Dance Studio Life, San Diego City Beat, San Diego Family Magazine, and the San Diego Union Tribune. She would like to give a shout-out to her feisty Italian grandmother, who spent the 1970s and ’80s breaking down barriers for women, for raising her to be a good feminist, and introducing her at a young age to the writings of Gloria Steinem.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Unwritten Rules in Botkin Syndrome Families

Christians weighing in on Botkin Syndrome:
Excerpts from "Forgiving Our Parents, Forgiving Ourselves" by Drs. Stoop and Masteller.

From page 107:

Unwritten Rules

Children who grow up in dysfunctional families quickly learn the unwritten, unspoken rules of the household. Here are some that are especially common:

1. We don’t feel.
  • We keep our emotions guarded, especially anger (though often there is one person who is allowed to express feelings openly, especially anger).

2. We are always in control.

  • We don’t show weakness. We don’t ask for help, which is a sign of weakness.

3. We deny what is going on.
  • We don’t believe our senses or perceptions. We lie to ourselves and others.

4. We don’t trust.
  • Not ourselves, not others. No one can be relied upon, no one confided in.

5. We keep the family’s secrets.
  • Even if we are told, no one would believe us – or so we think.

6. We are ashamed.
  • We are to blame for everything bad that happens – and we deserve it.
Excerpt from
Dr. David Stoop & Dr. James Masteller's
"Forgiving Our Parents, Forgiving Ourselves:
Healing Adult Children of Dysfunctional Families"
Regal/Gospel Light, 1996 (Servant, 1991)

Roles and Rules

Christians weighing in on Botkin Syndrome:
Excerpts from "Forgiving Our Parents, Forgiving Ourselves" by Drs. Stoop and Masteller.

From pages 105 - 106

A “role” is simply any fixed pattern of relating that forces us into set actions, behaviors and responses, out of “habit” rather than as a freely chosen response to changing circumstances and situations. When roles work like this, they dehumanize us. People do not relate to us as full, free human beings with individual dignity and free will, but only in terms of our role. We are treated, not as “Dave” or “Joan” but as “the Black Sheep,” “the Scapegoat,” “the Kid Brother,” and so on.

Every family system operates according to a set of rules, or what are known in the business world as “standard operating procedures.” Rules may be spoken or unspoken. Nevertheless they exist, and they affect our family’s activities and behaviors. Even without saying a word, our family lets us know what is and is not acceptable, how various circumstances are to be assessed and responded to, and how different individuals out to act and react in different situations.

From Robert Subby in “Lost in the Shuffle:

“Don’t rock the boat” is the all-encompassing rule, the master rule and gatekeeper who rides herd over all the other rules in the family. “Don’t rock the boat” becomes the rule that rules. This simple but stern injunction, “Don’t rock the boat ” locks each individual family member in a set of unhealthy rules. If left unchallenged, these rules will inevitably suppress change, hinder growth, and obstruct any hope of recovery. (pg. 46)

Excerpt from
Dr. David Stoop & Dr. James Masteller's
"Forgiving Our Parents, Forgiving Ourselves:
Healing Adult Children of Dysfunctional Families"
Regal/Gospel Light, 1996 (Servant, 1991)

Friday, November 23, 2012

Roles That Enmeshed and Abandoned Children Play within Families

From the writings of Pia Mellody on Facing Love Addiction and Love Avoidance (The dynamics of non-sexual covert/emotional incest)
Note: A child can fill both positive and negative roles.
“Positive Roles”
Roles Assigned to Child With Enmeshing Abuse

"Positive Roles":

  • Hero or heroine (good child)
  • Counselor
  • Surrogate partners
  • Surrogate parent
  • Mediator
  • Mascot (comedian role)
  • Daddy's Little Girl (a ROLE, not a name said in passing)
  • Daddy's Little Man
  • Mommy's Little Girl
  • Mommy's Little Man

In Enmeshment,
In a relationship, this person will be “very good at being good.” Because he/she is so adaptable as a child, when they become an adult, they will seek intensity in order to feel alive and do it in a “positive” but COVERT manner.

They derive both shame and a false sense of empowerment from these roles which imparts a sense of value. They objectify those whom they care for by devaluing their partner while also elevating self.

Negative Roles”
  • Scapegoat (problem child)
  • Rebel

In a relationship, this person will be “very good at being bad.” This adult will seek intensity in order to feel alive in a “negative” OVERT manner.

Roles Assigned To Child With Abandoning/Neglecting Abuse

Negative Role”
Lost Child:
In a relationship, this person will act in a dependent, needy manner and try to create intensity inside the relationship itself as he/she perceives that it is the relationship that keeps him/her alive.

Irrelevant Child:
Deeper level of the lost child.

Xenophobia for BOTH SUBTYPES:
  • Fear in general.
  • Fear of strangers.
  • It is a biological imperative and sometimes is necessary for survival, and we then tend to be relational with what is familiar.
  • For the person who has been neglected or abandoned, he/she will try to be relational with people who create distance in relationships through the use of walls. (They will naturally be attracted, ironically, to those who are emotionally unavailable to them.)
  • For the person who has been enmeshed, he/she will feel compelled to be relational with people who are needy and who believe that they are worthless.

From Pia Mellody's writings and lectures,
and professional training with "The Meadows" treatment facility.

And from
by Mellody, Miller and Miller
HarperOne, 1992.