I’m getting a late start on my blog post today. It’s because I got sidetracked watching YouTube videos. One of the videos I saw was posted by none other than Katie Joy, of Without a Crystal Ball. I know a lot of people don’t like KJ for whatever reason. I am not involved in that drama myself. I think her videos are interesting and thought provoking, but I am pretty neutral when it comes to whether or not I think she’s a good content producer or about her as a person. I did find her recent video about Jana Duggar and “stay at home daughters”, in general, interesting viewing.
What is a stay at home daughter?
Stay at home daughters are usually the eldest daughters in large, fundie Christian families. They typically don’t get married or find jobs. Instead, they stay in their parents’ homes and help raise the youngest children. Then, as the parents get older, the stay at home daughter takes care of them. In the Duggar Family’s case, it’s said that eldest daughter, Jana, is a “stay at home daughter”. I don’t know if that’s actually true, although it does appear to be so. At this writing, Jana is 32 years old and evidently still sleeps in the same bedroom with her much younger sisters. But then, Jana has never had the simple luxury of having her own bedroom. She grew up with many siblings in a home that was much too small. Privacy is a concept with which she’s probably got very little experience.
I look at Jana and I think she’s absolutely beautiful. She’s very capable, in spite of having been educated at her parents’ dining room table. She’s done everything from rearing children to heavy construction work. I’ve noticed that she’s even wearing pants lately, which is a new development. I would hope that she’s been exposed to the world enough to understand that her father doesn’t own her. But there’s really no telling what the truth is about being Jim Bob Duggar’s daughter.
Young women in the IBLP cult are raised to believe that they are always under a man’s power. They belong to their fathers until they get married. Then, once they marry, they become their husband’s “property”, for lack of a better term. They’re expected to have babies and serve their husbands and the church. They don’t have a voice. They aren’t supposed to work for money. They are supposed to wear skirts and grow their hair and do what the man says.
To be sure, Jana Duggar’s lifestyle isn’t like that of her sisters closest in age to her. They’ve all been married off and have their own babies. But there’s Jana, 32 years old and still having to take orders from her father, sleeping in a big “dorm” room with her little sisters. Maybe this is the way she prefers it. Who knows? I have heard rumors of her “courting”, but then the courtships invariably fizzle out. I’m sure Josh’s recent trial has had an effect on Jana’s prospects for escaping the Duggar compound. After all, Josh’s seven children need help with their raising now…
I think I was especially interested in watching this video because I’ve seen a similar dynamic in my husband’s older daughter’s life. Older daughter is about a year younger than Jana is, and she’s still living in her mother’s home. We’ve heard that she does all of the housework and takes care of her brother. There have been a few times she’s been allowed to leave the home. For instance, she spent some time working with her brother in another state. But even though she reportedly thrived on her own and enjoyed her work, she always faithfully returns to Ex. She supposedly doesn’t have privacy, autonomy, or apparently, much respect. She takes care of everything while Ex presumably sits on her ass, grifts money and gifts from people, and tweets.
Now… older daughter isn’t a fundie. She was raised LDS, which is something her mother pushed. She was not born into Mormonism. Ex decided that she liked the church’s teachings– or maybe the emphasis on family units and staying married for eternity. Ex doesn’t like abandonment. However, the whole Mormon thing seems to have fallen apart. Ex supposedly isn’t in the church so much now, especially since it became more of a burden than a blessing. She just runs her “mini cult” by convincing her grown children that they will suffer without her. Even the ones who aren’t living under her roof anymore are given the message that they have to do what she wants, or else.
I really think this “stay at home daughter” thing often has more to do with narcissism than religion. I think a lot of narcissists are attracted to super strict religions, because it allows them to maintain control over their mini family cults. A lot of strict religions place a lot of emphasis on families, and keeping everyone in the family on the same page, as it were. Where things get into trouble is when the church tries to intervene, or people within a church point out that legalism and power mongering isn’t very Christlike behavior.
I’m sure there are people in the world who like the “stay at home daughter” trend. Some people might be very happy in that role, staying in their parents’ homes, taking care of the house, younger siblings, and later on, their parents. Maybe it works in some situations. To me, it sounds like a special kind of hell. But maybe Jana Duggar and her ilk like how they’re living their lives. I just think it’s sad… because Jana appears to me to be a very smart, capable person who could be living life on her own terms. I feel the same way about older daughter… and I think it’s sad that older daughter can’t or won’t take advantage of the many people, her father included, who would help her escape the situation she’s in. But again… maybe it makes her happy. I don’t know… she doesn’t talk about it.
Anyway… I did run across an interesting blog post about the concept of “stay at home daughters”. The person who wrote it seems happy enough with her lot. It would definitely not be for me, though. I spent two years living with my parents after I came home from the Peace Corps. It was not easy. Thank God for graduate school.