My Parents Were Victims of Spiritual Abuse

HA note: The following is reprinted with permission from Lana Hope’s blog Wide Open Ground. It was originally published on November 15, 2013.

This post by Heather at Becoming Worldy is so freakin’ good. It’s entitled “Feeling Empathy for Christian Patriarchy Parents and Leaders.”

I’ve been saying this for a long time. My parents were victims of spiritual abuse.

My parents wanted to raise kids who loved the Lord. They wanted to protect our hearts from pain and bad relationships, shelter us from bad ideology, and keep our minds pure. Somebody offered them the ultimate package to do this, and then suddenly the rules got a lot more strict.

No TV
Modesty
Courtship

I could go on.

But you all: my parents were spiritually abused.

My dad hated the men’s meetings, the time when he got beat over the head to be a better spiritual leader to his wife and children. My mom? Oh, she was mentally tortured all those years. I know because I was around. One mom of young kids and my mom with teenagers would sit around on the phone and the mom of littles would tell my mom how to discipline me. That’s when Mom implemented the breed and water discipline thing.

It’s also the time I lost my basketball because, you know, I forgot to say thank you. Gotta beat gratefulness into your kid’s hearts, says mom of littles.

Another mom was always, “You must make your kids take speech. They are too shy.”

Also, we were told we were bad at manners. Naturally, it was my mom that got the verbal beating. Then she passed the verbal beating onto us.

Also, these moms pressured on the purity talks. I swear, most purity talks happened because of the other moms.

And college. I know of two moms who told Mom to stop me from going to college.  There’s no telling how many calls she actually got.

These are just the black and white stuff. Every day that phone rang, and I swear Mom got off the phone feeling worse about herself than when she got on.

On mother’s day, she’d cry because she was a bad mother.

So I guess I’m saying this: the reason I condemn homeschool patriarchy is because it’s a guilt trip road to hell and back. And also, it’s seductive. If it were only parents who beat the crap out of their kids who were attracted to this stuff, then yea, it would be easy to dismiss Christian Patriarchy as abusive but a place created for abusers.

Folks, it’s not.

My parents weren’t abusers. Okay, they kind of became emotional and spiritual abusers. But they weren’t like, “Oh, I want to rule my wife, hurt my kids, beat my kids. What can allow me to do this? Oh, I know, follow Bill Gothard!”

No.

It was more like this: “Oh, I want to raise my kids to love the Lord. What can allow me to do this?  You mean I have to follow all these strict rules and authoritative parenting? I guess that’s the price you have to pay!”

I know a bit of what my parents felt because I went through this myself when I took care of kids over in Asia.

I had these trouble kids. So I asked myself how I could get them from point A of total depression, despair, and self-hatred to point B, of surviving in society without hurting themselves and other people.

So I did what every other parent does. I cried what the heck do I do?

Then I started implementing it.

Unfortunately, I started out with the way I was raised.  I raised my voice, I took privileges away, and tried to win their will. Then later I tossed that aside. But it was almost too late.

Anyways, just wanted to high-five Heather. She’s right on the button. I hurt for my parents sometimes. Now they have to look back, and all the childhood years are gone.

In fact, those of us whose parents weren’t abusers need to speak up and tell our stories more. We represent a large percentage of homeschoolers. But it hurt. And we need to spread the message.

It hurts. So please, parents, don’t put yourself or your kids through this.

But if you have already, look, it’s okay. I love you anyway! I’m one to believe that truth can run deeper than the lies we created.

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