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what are your standards? (I grew up in a cult and would like to be normal now)

Posted by on Dec. 20, 2014 at 12:47 AM
  • 14 Replies

Hi guys... 

I just joined so none of you know me yet. I'm Malaya. I have a weird situation in that I don't exactly know who I am or what I believe anymore.  My family is pretty young (3 boys ages almost 4,2 and 4 months) so I'd like to get things straightened out before they're old enough to know mommy doesnt have it all together. 

(also, I'm not sure if I want to try again for a girl, and if I DID have one, I would want to make sure and certain she did NOT grow up like I did.)

Warning: This is kinda long....

Basically, I grew up in a cult. not satan worshiping or anything, but the super conservitive christians with weird rules that arent even in the bible kind of cult. Actually, its still strange hearing myself call it that. I've only just realized what it was all those years. I've already been trying to distance myself from all the teachings I grew up with that have nothing to do with who I actually am in Christ, but finding out that the rest of the world sees it as a cult (and realizing that myself) has kind of rocked my foundation. 

The main teachings they taught us were, "parents are infallable" (no matter what, even after you get married), "surrender your rights" "if you get offended at anything it means you havent surrendered all of your rights", "college is bad", "women going to college is especially bad", "women living outside their fathers house before mairrage is a sin", "women working outside the home is a sin", "birth control of any kind is a sin" (the full quiver movement, if any of you know what that is) "wearing modern or even pretty clothes is bad", "feeling pretty means youre vain", "If men lust after you its your fault, so cover everything up and look like a human cinderblock", "movies are bad", "music with the wrong KIND of beat is bad" (even if there are no drums), "singing the wrong WAY is bad", "dancing means satan has control of your body", "joy means you smile even when you dont want to" (I've come to hate words like "blessing" and "character builder" because it means your hiding how you really feel) "privacy is dangerous", 

And worst of all: "questioning or doubting any of their teachings (reasoning in your own head) means that your conscience knows they are right and youre to addicted to give it up". 

I grew up afraid to be pretty. My bathing suit came down to my knees, up to my collar, had sleeves and a jumper over everything. I envyed normal christian girls who could wear normal clothes and still be loved by God. I, on the other hand, could have bought a horse if I had a dollar for every time another girl asked me why I dressed so weird.

As the oldest of a very large family (11 kids) I was basically the second mom to all my brothers and sisters. My mom out right told us that she had a lot of kids so she wouldn't have to do any house work. I cooked, cleaned, babysat and even homeschooled my brothers and sisters from the age of 10. I remember hiding when the doorbell rang. 

Mom was very controlling, nosey and gossipy. She reserved the right to read our journals, emails and letters, and to talk to whoever she wanted about whatever she wanted. When I would ask her to stop, she would say, "If you don't want people to gossip about it then don't do it."  Nothing was ever her fault, and she was convinced we were the only children in the world who "behaved this way". 

When I turned 11 the military moved us to Germany. I discovered a whole new level of low. The normal sized family there is 2 at the very most. homeschooling is illegal, spanking is illegal, noise on certain days is illegal, and smoking, drinking and wearing loud clothing styles is encouraged. Needless to say, we did NOT fit in. My mom was oblivious to it. she saw it as a haven where there was no competition for her holy family. I resigned myself to eternal humiliation and sank behind a stone face as I watched everyone smile at my mom, and then look with disgust as we would all file along behind her. (me being the oldest meant I was in the back of the line and got to see everything she couldn't see)

I got used to not having any friends, and then when we moved back to America, (when I was 15) all my old friends were the gorgeous cheerleader types. I was still in denim jumpers, keds sneekers and a pony tail. They tried for the first year to welcome me back into the group, but I was too different. 

As I got older, boys started noticing me and I learned a new level of humiliation when I had to tell one after the other that I didn't believe in dating, but if they were interesting in courtship they could talk to my dad. 

Finally a light showed up at the end of the tunnel when I met my husband at the age of 18. We followed all the rules, but he started to tell me things I'd never heard before. Things like "You have a right to cry" "Jesus cares how you really feel. He can take it." and "Nobody has the right to get whatever they want from you just by asking." He showed me what real love was. It wasn't all these rules and fear and manipulation. He was the first person I'd ever met who loved me for all the things I hated about myself. 

I began to get more bold when dealing with my mom. I wouldn't tell her things she demanded to know, I would clean the house MY way, and I *cautiously* started wearing clothes I thought were pretty. We got in so many fights those last couple years. She even resorted to calling my then fiance in the middle of a fight so he could "see what kind of girl he was getting". He floored me by saying "nothing I could learn about you could make me love you less."  I could tell that was not what my mom wanted to hear. :)

Fast forward to now: I am trying to figure out who I am without all the cookie cutter rules. I have decided I am not going to have a big family since I would like to see what its like to NOT have diapers to change. and since I'm still iffy on clothing standards and how a woman should actually behave, I'm not sure if I should have a girl. If I'm just deciding for myself, I can afford to make a few mistakes. but if I have a girl, and I once allow her to be a certain way, theres really no taking that back without a struggle. 

My question for you: What are your standards? Clothing, entertainment, rights, and how do you relate to your parents when they hurt you all growing up? How do you make an identity for yourself when youre starting at 0? What kind of clothes would you let your daughters wear? What kind of clothes do YOU wear? Do you think I should keep close tabs on my sons, or give them room to make mistakes? (Thats another thing, every single one of my brothers has fallen off the deep end when they leave my parents house and it makes me super scared that I don't know how to raise my sons)

Anyway, sorry this is so long and so messed up. I'm looking forward to getting some advice from some neutral parties. 

by on Dec. 20, 2014 at 12:47 AM
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Replies (1-10):
by Member on Dec. 20, 2014 at 2:04 AM
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1 - You need to completely learn to love yourself 1st.

2 - You need to trust yourself.

You have a husband & he should be your partner in raising your boys.  Have you talk about this with him?  Have you two talked about the beautiful moments you have had growing up?  Have you two talked about what rules you both want for your boys & want things you both want to teach them?

That could be a good start.

by Member on Dec. 20, 2014 at 2:06 AM
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I have 3 girls, 2 are teens.  Rules for clothing is that if they can not wear it at school, they can not have it.

by Member on Dec. 20, 2014 at 5:07 AM
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 As a Mom in a  strong Christian Family I will add my two cents...and worth just that...two cents.... the you is just a point of person and not in anyway am I telling you what you personally need to do until perhaps the end lol...

I think you start with finding out who Jesus really is and read the Word for yourself and let Him speak to you. You will be pleasantly surprised that the rules and laws died when He did and grace and love are in laws place. Find a good non denominational bible teaching church ...slip in and out of the back pew until you find the right one ...been there done that...

You leave your fathers house to establish you own home. You continue to honor your parents by loving them where they are in their ignorance and pain but you dont forsake your vows of marriage and your children to continue to be someones child or to live under their rules..(it is okay it is in the Book to do so) 

I have one daughter and 9 daughter dressed in cute girly clothes until she was old enough to have a voice and then we shopped together until she was older.  I did not allow her to be provocative in that I dont think showing her butt when she walked or clothing showing all her parts were appropriate but she did stay current with styles. She is now 29 years old  working for a Fortune 500 company as an area manager , working on her MBA and is a mom of two precious little boys. She is also one of the strongest Christian gals you will Ever meet and has led many to the Lord by her word and deeds. She lives her faith daily in a quiet assuming loving way.

I had 7 bio kids and 3 adopted kids because that was the choice my husband and I made through prayer together...not because a church dotrine told me I needed to.

Your Salvation, Your walk with our Lord, the number of children  you have, the way you dress...those are all things that are personal decisions...not one of them will send you to hell. You certainly can have relationship with our Lord and dress pretty, wear makeup, and not have a boat load of kids. He does not want us to feel guilty nor does He loves us any less if we think we failed. There is a lot of freedom in Christ...not rules and death but life and joy.

Do some more soul searching and allow your self to Rest and be assured that you are fine just as you are.

Pam in Alabama
A Mom to nine sons and one daughter with five still at home
by Member on Dec. 20, 2014 at 5:19 AM
by Bronze Member on Dec. 20, 2014 at 5:30 AM
Clothing: As long as it meets school dress code, we're good
entertainment: Netflix is big in our house bc all the older movies, then sports keep us busy,
rights: I try hard to allow my kids just enough freedom to feel free, but not enough to get themselves in trouble. For example, dd is 5. I let her play surg chapstick and blush now, so she won't be a rebel that takes makeup to school and looks like a clown. Stuff like that.
How do you relate to your parents when they hurt you all growing up? I have cut my mother out and my dad is amazing.
How do you make an identity for yourself when youre starting at 0? You're not at 0 imo. I bet, deep inside you know what you're comfortable with and what you're not. Just stay within your comfort zone, with ALL of this.
What kind of clothes would you let your daughters wear? What kind of clothes do YOU wear? Whatever I like, it's different for everyone.
Do you think I should keep close tabs on my sons, or give them room to make mistakes? Your family should be your safe place to fall, so don't be over critical. Don't try to control everything. They are going to make mistakes, so allow them to do that. For example, I had a friend that his parents never let him have a Mohawk. When he finally moved out at 20, and he got a Mohawk. If they would have let him have more freedom over his hair at 8 years old maybe he wouldn't have done that. No grown man should have a Mohawk imo, lol

Best wishes!
by Barb on Dec. 20, 2014 at 3:49 PM

It seems to me that you are thinking of maybe too many policies to develop all at once. First I think I'd find a church where I felt comfortable. Join some groups there so you have other women of similar interests to talk with.

For girls' clothing. I believe in modest. I don't believe a girl should dress in a provocative manner-  in a manner that gets guys all turned on- that promises something the girl is not intending for it to promise.

For both boys and girls, set a good example of what you would like them to be.

Peace.  And remember The Lord is my shepherd.   Trust in the Lord.

by Member on Dec. 21, 2014 at 9:35 AM
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Let me start off by saying that it takes a very brave person to start over and make a new life for yourself. I had a very bad childhood as well though very different ( drunks, neglect, physical and emotional abuse, passed off from family member to family member, and even molestation) and to say I want something different for me and my family was the first step. I have a limited relationship with my mother and I don't speak to anyone else.  I was also made to feel that women and no value and should be pregnant, barefoot and in the kitchen according to my grandfather, the other side of my family had extremely grand expectations and felt I should be happy all the time and a nuclear physicist or something on the scale. Lets just say it was very hard figuring out who I was and what I wanted for my self. I had to do some real soul searching and dig down deep into myself. First I vowed never to be with someone who would degrade me make me feel less that I was. I married my wonderful husband at 18 and he loves me faults and all and always makes me feel loved.  Second I had to find the love for myself  which was the hardest part. I'm 27 and I still struggle from time to time. I have 2 daughters ages 3 and 4 months. I dress them comfortably and in things I find cute. I imagine they will have a similar style to myself when they are older. I wear jeans a lot but I do wear makeup and dresses for special occasions.  I believe in giving the kids some space to grow and some freedom enough to make a few mistakes and figure life out for themselves a little but to be the source of guidance, reassurance and love. I hope you find what is right for you and your family and find love and happiness. Lot of love mama.

by Member on Dec. 21, 2014 at 10:10 AM

First off, let me say that as a conservative Christian woman, I am so very glad you are out of that situation. It's not Christianity, and it's mean.

You will know what to do. Please don't let fear guide you. Find some moms in your church and use them as role models when you're not sure. It sounds like you've got a pretty good handle on what NOT to do, and the rest will come as the kids grow and mature. There really aren't a whole lot of right answers that work for every kid.

Just teach them to know God as you've come to know Him as an adult, not as a child, and you're well on your way.


by Mom2boys on Dec. 21, 2014 at 12:57 PM
by Member on Dec. 21, 2014 at 1:07 PM
1 mom liked this
I don't have too many answers but did want to let you know that as parents we ALL struggle with those questions about how much freedoms to allow are we doing the right thing where is the fine line btween to much and not enough and the fact that each child is different and needs different boundaries.
I can suggest talking to your hubby praying and if you are part of a different church maybe opening up and talking to some of the other women.
I thik you will be surprised how much alike their struggles are too.
Wear what YOU feel comfortable with.
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