Friday, July 23, 2010

The Original Quiverfull Family: The Peats & the Duggars of the Far-Far-Left: Surfwise & the Paskowitz Family

Back in 60s and 70s when there was really no such thing as "homeschooling" as we now know it, the Paskowitz family were simply renegades. They lived in a small camper--Mom, Dad, 8 sons and a daughter--and made surfing the focus of their lives. The kids did not attend school and were socially isolated, their behavior held strictly in check by their very domineering father. Like Quiverfull kids today, the Paskowitz children, in spite of a Stanford-educated physician for a father, were ill-equipped for the world beyond the beach. The family's odd lifestyle kept the children from forming meaningful friendships, from acquiring education or job skills, and gave them little idea of how the "real" world functioned. Not surprisingly their lives have not gone smoothly. But then who could grow up listening to their parents marital relations going on only inches away and hope to grow up to be "normal" or mainstream? By middle age, most of the Paskowitz children had made their peace with their upbringing and are now contributing members of society.

When parents seek to isolate their children abuse is a very likely possibility. When parents refuse to have their beliefs or worldview questioned by their children rebellion in those children is almost guaranteed. When parents put their personal needs above those of the family everyone suffers. Whether it's a mantra of "character" or of surfing or [fill in the blank] too little freedom is as bad, or worse than, too much freedom.

You can watch the film on or get it at Netflix. Be aware that there is profane and obscene language throughout the film. If you've ever fantasized about pulling up stakes and taking the kids and going [fill in the blank with your escape place] you definitely need to watch this. If you are determined your children will be like you no matter what, you need to watch this film.

Contrast that life with "the million mile journey" Arnold Peat gave his 10 children. In my mind the Peat's are the original Quiverfull family. Mom, Dad, 10 kids, two family businesses and a home they rarely visited. Deciding, finally, that he--not the pubic schools--had been charged by God with the raising and character-molding of his children, Arnold Peat took his children OUT of school and assigned his wife the task of teaching the children. The family served the Lord in a singing and preachy ministry--a specialty was the reciting of huge portions of the Bible! They paid the bills with love offering proceeds and by selling homemade fertilizer door-to-door. They set up at a motel, go buy the ingredients, mix, weigh, package and label the stuff and sell it!

Imagine the outcry if a family tried to do that in a Super 8 parking lot today!! While I was left feeling how incredibly naive people were "back then" to just take the word of a man from "nowhere" that this stuff worked, I also thought Arnold should have trained others in his sales techniques! And, how many children would willingly eat a lettuce and mayo sandwich while riding on a cardboard box in the back of a truck?? Still, the sincerity of this family's faith and willingness to go where God called them was amazing. I finished this book with the impression that these parents really did try to discern God's will in their lives and in the lives of their children. Of course, in their day, no one had ever heard of Bill Gothard, ATI/IBLP, Vision Forum or Patriarchy.


Susan said...

I read the book about the Pents and found it fascinating. Yeah, the whole make-a-living-as-you drive-along thing, but I also found myself really feeling sorry for the mom - seemed like she had a ton of work and not so much thanks for it. It was amazing the way the kids memorized so much scripture.

Jeanne said...

Fascinating post. Don't know how I missed this one...was I away perhaps?