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The Pennington Point: a case study in narcissistic parenting

Oh, Wow, some of the ex-Quiverful people at Patheos, No Longer Quivering and FreeJinger have been following the Pennington family for some time and they have collected some of Lisa Pennington’s parenting tips.

Yesterday, I wrote about the case of Alecia Faith Pennington who is unable to prove that she is a US citizen, or even that she actually exists, because her parents refused to submit a form for her birth certificate or SSN when she was born. There is a bit more information about this case that I can fill in. It seems that on top of being uber-“Christian” homeschoolers like the Duggars, the Penningtons are attempting to go “off the grid” with respect to secular government. That is, they don’t recognize the sovereignty of any governmental authority over them. They also consider social security numbers as “the mark of the beast”. None of this should be unfamiliar terminology to anyone who grew up in an eschatological religious sect. What is different is that these people take the admonition to stay apart from the world very literally.

That would be bad enough for Alecia but her parents are totalitarian nut jobs. I’m sorry, Alecia. You can’t open this bag of worms without harming your parents and they deserve to have their reputations ruined. Alecia Pennington is not responsible for the bad press that her parents are now facing. Her parents did this to themselves. None of their posts are private. They were posted all over the interwebs for their followers to see and worship. They held themselves up as models of “Christian” piety, perfection and discipline.

Before Alecia decided to get out of Dodge, Lisa Pennington, Alecia’s mother, was posting frequently about the regime she put her adult children through. It’s clear that her primary mission was complete control of their lives and convenience to her. She repeatedly uses the words that a person with Narcissistic Personality Disorder would use throughout her posts. She says her adult children don’t have any right to live in her house, eat her food or drive her car. They have no right to privacy. She expects them to comply without question to any demand. And they are expected to feel grateful. That’s the key word here. Narcissists use it frequently. The keep account of everything they have ever done for you. Most parents believe that children should be cared for without any conditions or expectations. Narcissists think differently. To a narcissist, a child is lucky that the child is born at all and that incurs a lifelong debt to the parent that can never be remitted. Any provision of housing, nutrition or education is something they are not entitled to as her children but should feel enormous sense of gratitude to her.  She is bestowing her largess not on her children but on some subservient entity. They are suppose to glorify her.

Alecia leaving the compound and making a big stink about having an independent life without her is harshing the mellow she’s been in since she started writing about her perfect Christian life. Her lack of empathy is obvious in her post about Alecia leaving. She can not understand how Alecia could do this to the family or what possible reason she could have for leaving in the first place. Alecia is an extension of herself, therefore, whatever Lisa thinks must be what Alecia is thinking. Alecia does not have her own feelings and desires apart from Lisa.

Anyway, read these posts from Patheos and make up your own mind. These are not nice people and none of them deserve to be held up as pinnacles of perfection by getting their own TV shows.

The Pennington Point on Adult Kids Living at Home (from Love, Joy, Feminism by Libby Anne)

Homeschoolers Anonymous’ post on Alecia’s documentation problem calls it “identification abuse”. It’s not dissimilar to what happens to enslaved sex workers or what rich Kuwaitis do to household servants from South Asia. Their papers are taken away from them so they’re powerless to seek the help of law enforcement. This is what Alecia’s parents are doing to her. Alecia says she is getting the help of a lawyer now but this has been dragging on since September of last year.

Meanwhile, because the Penningtons may have used an unlicensed midwife who didn’t file the birth certificate forms in a timely manner, they may be subject to fines. It’s $500/offense and they have nine children.

They’ll probably claim that it’s a religious liberty issue and appeal all the way to the US Supreme Court (which they don’t recognize).

You heard it here first.