What is SAHD Syndrome?

The Stay-At-Home-Daughter (SAHD) Syndrome describes the emotional, psychological, spiritual, and sometimes physical effects manifested by children who have been raised under the so-called Biblical patriarchy theology, a Quiverfull mindset, and other such religious paradigms that promote authoritarian parenting.

The term "syndrome" refers to a group of coincident factors, is used in the most informal sense, and is not an variety of "diagnosis."  The use of "syndrome" emerged from an ongoing blog discussion of the phenomenon among a group of Evangelical Christian homeschooling mothers who continued to use the term in reference to the far-reaching effects of these types of religious teachings.  The descriptor has been borrowed from these laypersons and describes a pattern of religious practice and teaching.

SAHD Syndrome has been renamed here to describe the clustering of lifestyle characteristics that were once taught as moral imperatives by the now defunct Vision Forum and other homeschooling affinity groups and parachurch organizations.  They promoted a paradigm that is a mixture of different ideas pulled from several aberrant ideologies that grew out of the Shepherding/Discipleship Movement and moved into the Homeschooling Movement within an extreme view of Fundamentalist Evangelical Christianity.  Many of them practice or borrow heavily from the Christian Reconstruction beliefs of the religious system of Dominionism or Theonomy (or both).  All groups focus upon submission and authority doctrine.  (Aberrant and cultic refer to doctrinal problems and the covert manipulation employed by religious or ideological groups that use behavioral tactics and group manipulation to deceive followers, gaining undue influence over them.)

SAHDs in the movement are taught that they are created to be helpers of men, be it father or brother, and require a 'male covering' to accompany them to protect them from physical, mental, emotional and spiritual harm.  SAHDs observe what they claim is an Old Testament model, though this is a misnomer propagated by those who support it.  What is professed by the now dwindling movement varies greatly after a series of sex scandals among the primary leaders of the group at the time of the establishment of this website.  In its hayday, the group claimed that it was a sin before God to educate a child via any other method but homeschooling, to educate daughters in anything other than home-based domestic skills, or for daughters to work outside the home unless it was under the direct supervision of a male household member.  Under criticism, leaders equivocated on this original and evolving position.

Vision Forum is a parachurch organization that once fostered the patriarchy movement, an affinity group or special purpose religion that has developed from within homeschooling.  Doug Phillips maintained that God the Father “homeschooled Jesus” before the earth was created, as statement he made in the late ‘90s at a homsechooling convention.  Both the for profit and nonprofit arms of Vision Forum closed following a sex abuse scandal involving Phillips.

The Botkin Family once served as evangelists for the SAHD way of life.   Vision Forum published the Botkin Daughters’ book, “So Much More” and helped promote their later video, “The Return of the Daughters,” to advance their paradigm for living in their effort t'o save Western Civilization.'  The Botkin Daughters once hosted a website named “Visionary Daughters,” while other members of the family worked for their own film production organization, “The Western Conservatory.”  The Botkin Family labels the children who were raised in the lifestyle and under the influence of the affinity groups that promoted homeschooling as a Christian religious rite identify those who abandoned the belief system as "dropouts."  Others call them Homeschool Apostates.

Under the Botkin Paradigm, all members of the family orbit around the family leader, the husband/father.  Each person within the family must “serve the vision” of their household patriarch and his “vision” for the family.  Boys follow their father’s wishes while they remain under the family’s roof, though men are afforded much more liberty and freedom than are women.  In some homes, mothers are not permitted to teach or discipline sons once they reach the age of thirteen.  

Wives and adult daughters (until given in marriage through the courtship process) must do the bidding of their father who approves of their activities.  Young women who do not have a male to oversee them or have a father who declines participation in the paradigm are advised to go out to obtain a representative male to serve as their covering and protector.  

Women and daughters are not permitted to work outside the home unless it is in the workplace of the father who provides both spiritual direction and lends physical protection to the family as well.  Women who work outside the home are likened to prostitutes whose “feet wander from home.”  All education must take place within the home through homeschooling, and adult women are not permitted to be trained outside the home setting.  Women are beings created for the use of men, and in some forms of patriarchy, women are defined as the “indirect image of God,” the ontological lesser of their male counterparts (of lesser essence physically and spiritually).  Between the demands of how to properly educate young women and the gender bias inherent in the religious beliefs, interests, activities, and aspirations of women are limited.

Fathers are venerated in the SAHD paradigm, and the entire system of patriarchy which is followed by many Quiverfull Families also fosters enmeshment and developmental problems, particularly for girls, though all of the family members suffer.  Enmeshment describes the relationship between child and parent wherein the parent used the child to meet needs that should only rightly be met my another adult.  These needs may be emotional, physical, psychological, and spiritual (though it is not necessarily sexual).   With the overfocus on gender in what some call a fertility cult, many believe that the exploitation of gender within the group is also a type of covert sexual exploitation.  Parents within this system use children to meet their unmet needs, a type of covert or emotional incest.  (The family system eclipses the the identity of the individual, and parents use their children to validate their own religious system and religious choices which usually involve saving both the world for Jesus and the government for the Religious Right.)

Read more about the notable features of SAHD Syndrome:

Covert Incest
Unhealthy Idealizing of Parents