Jojo at Simple Southern Spirit is 19 years old, lives in North Carolina, wants to have lots of children, and intends to take care of her children full-time with her husband making the money for the family. This is a classic “quiverfull” life plan for women that is highly respected and promoted among the Christian Patriarchy subculture. I found on the internet another woman similar to Jojo in certain ways but also very different. Going by the name Pancake5630 (Pancake) she is 20 years old (apparently), also lives in North Carolina, says about herself “I would like to have a large family and have great respect for quiverfull families”, and, and, that is where the similarities with Jojo end.
The title of Pancake’s question on a Christian forum is “How to afford a quiverfull family (or any at all).” Notice the pleading disheartening qualifier “or any at all” at the end. Right at the beginning of her post Pancake says:
“My fiance and I would like to have a large family and have great respect for quiverfull families, but we do not think we can afford even one child. I believe that children are blessings and I have always had a natural gift for working with kids. I currently nanny for two school aged children while attending college full time.”
OK, her and her fiancé want a large family, good. They have great respect for quiverfull families, good. She has always had a natural gift for working with kids, good. Then right at the end she slaps us with the information that she is working as a nanny while ATTENDING COLLEGE FULL TIME! Things were going so well but then BAM! She turns feminist on us.
This question Pancake is asking is in a website called Christian Forums so presumably Pancake is Christian seeking guidance from other Christians in a Christian setting. The complete hierarchy tree where Pancake is asking her question is Christian Forums – Ministry – Life Stages – Parenting – Christian Families – Quiverfull – and then her specific question “How to afford a quiverfull family (or any at all).”
Getting into the nitty gritty of her situation Pancake relates:
“I will recieve my Associate in Arts this semester and plan on transfering to WCU next fall to persue a Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education. My fiance works as a cook and is only able to bring home $100 a week because his job has a policy where you cannot work 30hrs or more. He has been trying to find a new job for many months, but where we live the only jobs available are part-time minimum wage jobs or require a degree. He was attending school with me for awhile, but he had to quit so that he could take on more hours.”
Now we are getting some real information here about Pancake’s situation. Pancake is going to school full-time doing a bit of nannying on the side while her fiancé is not going to school at all working about 10 hours a week at his job as a cook spending most of his productive time looking for another job. Pancake mentioned she is getting $50 a week from her nannying so her and her fiancé combined are pulling in $150 a week according to the sources of income Pancake has mentioned. Pancake’s fiancé dropped out of college to “work more hours” but obviously that didn’t pan out because he is working very few hours at the moment. It was Pancake’s schooling however that appears to be the priority here; she has almost got her Associates Degree already and already has plans for how she is going to attain her goal without delay of getting her Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education. What are the plan’s of Pancake’s fiancé here? No mention of him returning to college. Presumably he is looking for a full-time job now which would certainly help financially but how is he going to progress from his current job as a cook?
At the end of Pancake’s question she lays out her situation asking for guidance saying:
“We [she and her fiancé] can’t seem to find a way to expand our income or cut down our expenses any more than we have. I am attending school, but this will take years and there is no promise that I will find a job afterwards. I do not want to run our family into debt by taking out loans, however that may be the only way to finish school. I have to decide whether it is better to keep applying to minimum wage jobs and pray for acceptance and full time or to take out loans, finish school, but then owe my entire paycheck for about 10 years. Assuming I am able to get a job. A friend of mine recently graduated with a teaching degree. She has been searching for almost a year for a job in her field, but all of the schools require 2 years experience. Even though I feel like teaching is my calling I have considered changing fields if there is something more practicle. I have a very bad problem with math, however, that limits me. If someone could provide guidance I would greatly appreciate it. Thank you.”
I want to point out here how masculine the above paragraph is. There are a few cues signaling femininity such as teaching usually being a feminine job, her mention of being bad at math, and her openly asking for “guidance” in her difficulties but overall this statement of her’s at the end is very masculine, very “take charge”, very much about strategizing and being cerebral. She is presenting things as if the entire burden of having to “figure out” her situation and make her situation work is on her.
I wonder, what is Pancake’s fiancé’s role in all this? I get the feeling that this whole family mission is Pancake’s idea and Pancake’s dream and Pancake’s ambition and that the fiancé is just along for the ride. What is he doing as a man in all this? It shouldn’t even be the woman asking for help and guidance in this situation, it should be the man. It is the fiancé who should be asking the Christian Forum how to improve his financial situation and how he should plan things in order to be able to provide for as many children as possible in his future marriage but he is not the one asking for help here, it is Pancake instead.
The reason why Pancake is in this terrible bind where it looks like she cannot afford the children that she wants to have and that it may be years and years before there is enough financial security in her future marriage to feel comfortable with taking on the added expense of children is because her fiancé is absent from the scene not doing anything of substance to make Pancake’s plan’s for her family work. It is almost as if Pancake is a single mother or something trying to figure out how to do everything on her own and fretting that she won’t be able to make it.
Pancake is familiar with the Christian Patriarchy quiverfull families and admires them greatly and wants to emulate them in certain ways in particular by having many children but she seems to not even know the basics of how the real Christian Patriarchy quiverfull families actually do things or what the “secrets of their success” are. Does Pancake see her fiancé as the “head of household” with her as his helpmeet? I doubt it. Does she understand that in the Christian Patriarchy families the family mission itself is the man’s mission and the man’s purpose to serve God with the woman acting to empower and fulfill her husband’s Godly mission of raising a “quiverfull” of children for the Lord? How she is presenting things the family mission seems to be primarily her’s and not primarily her fiance’s. Does Pancake see it as her duty to obey her husband? Does Pancake see it as her husband’s responsibility to provide for all of her financial needs? Pancake doesn’t seem to understand any of this but this is the foundation of how the Christian Patriarchy quiverfull families that she admires so much actually work.
Also Pancake never mentioned home schooling her children. As a rule the Christian Patriarchy families home school their children in order to effectively pass on their counter-cultural values to their children. Home schooling also provides the advantage of giving individualized attention to the needs of each child that a public school cannot provide and allows the parents to control the social environment the kids exist in and the moral messages the kids are taught. Home schooling is also very cheap, providing for the needs of a child does not cost very much money when the mother is dedicating herself to the benefit of the child full-time.
Someone neglected their duty to morally teach and morally train Pancake it seems to me; the Christian community she is a part of seems to have let her down it seems to me because if she was taught properly she wouldn’t have gotten herself into this situation she is currently in where she seems to be pulling the load while her fiancé lays around and loafs.
Pancake relates tragically:
“I have considered putting off the wedding again, but we have been living together for two years already (I had did not have another place to live. My mom kicked me out at 18 because she stopped getting a Social Security check for me.) and we would really like to be legally married. I always thought that in my twenties I would be able to start a family, but it seems impossible. I pray for God to guide me in the right direction, but I am having trouble keeping faith. I really need some guidance.”
Yes, Pancake is very much in need of guidance; guidance she has not been given as a woman up to this point.
How I see things Jojo is taking a much better approach to her life goals here. Jojo is presenting herself in a very feminine way. Jojo is passive and submissive regarding what is the proper role of the man but assertive and planning ahead and ambitious regarding the proper role of the woman. Jojo understands that she can’t succeed as a woman on her own and is doing what she can to draw a man’s support to her. When a man enters into Jojo’s life she will have that man’s full and active support because she will demand that from the man first and her femininity and dedication to her feminine role will motivate that man to give to Jojo what she needs to succeed as a woman in her family goals. That is how a woman can draw to her the support a woman needs to succeed as a woman.
Pancake has fallen into the trap of taking on the man’s role and the man’s responsibilities and this is why her dreams of a happy family with many children seem out of reach to her. Pancake must somehow force her fiancé to become a man and take on the man’s role of providing for and protecting her and the children she wishes to bear with him; she must escape and renounce the false masculine identity she has taken on in her relationship.
I wish her luck and Godspeed that her fiancé will repent of his sins and become the man he needs to become to honorably and with good conscious marry Pancake.