I grew up in an IFB church. I would say that I had a pretty good childhood for the most part, if sheltered. We had been attending an IFB church since I was 5, but surprisingly my mom still allowed me (a young girl) to wear shorts, even though our church was against women wearing pants. When my mom remarried, however, my stepdad was a lot more strict and had me start wearing dresses, skirts, and jumpers. He also made me stop watching things like Rugrats, and even some programs on PBS. I wasn’t allowed to watch even most PG movies with my friends. I’m not upset about that. I think it was unnecessary, but you don’t need to watch the latest tv shows to have a good childhood.
I adored my stepdad, even though he was strict and criticized anything remotely against IFB standards. And as I got older and as he got older, he became less strict. At one point he was even watching Harry Potter and said that if we were fine with Narnia, which has magic, then he didn’t see a problem with Harry Potter. My mother disagreed, so us kids never got to watch the movies.
It wasn’t until I was in my late teens that we ran into more major issues. I began to question a lot of the IFB teachings. Oh, my stepdad was cool about it. He allowed me to discuss my opinions with him and to disagree with him. I told him I no longer thought rock music was evil, and he disagreed but was fine with my view. I began wearing pants, and he said so long as I didn’t wear men’s pants he was ok with that.
My mom I think was concerned, or would have been if I had shared stuff with her. She had a tendency to overreact, so I shared very little with her. We didn’t get along too well these days anyways.
Later on, we were stuck in a major family conflict around my mom being burnt out from trying to homeschool, take care of my disabled stepdad, and keep up with the housework. Or well, those things didn’t help. I think the conflict itself was more about discipline styles between my parents. Either way, it ended up in our house being all but divided, me and stepdad on one side and my mom and younger sibling on the other. Fights and yelling were very common. My mother became verbally abusive towards me and used to allow my younger sibling to badmouth me along with her. I’d pretend to fall asleep in order to escape, and even then they’d go on for hours until I actually did fall asleep.
But that’s neither here nor there in regards to us being IFB I suppose. But when my mom figured out that I was questioning the all-important doctrine of King James Onlyism, something snapped. And her behavior towards me became worse. She acted as if I was in rebellion and was going to go off the deep end. If she caught me going outside on a walk, she’d worriedly ask if I was running away with a secret boyfriend. She said I was a bad influence on my younger sibling and any sort of backtalk that my sibling engaged in she said was my fault. She would say things like “God wants you back” to me, as if I had left the faith entirely and she considered me to be outside of salvation now. Or at least she felt I was in rebellion against God, when I was still very much a Christian.
If she caught me listening to modern Christian worship, she would start crying and wailing about how she had failed as a parent.
Around this time my stepdad was also in nursing home due to medical reasons, since he couldn’t be at home anymore. Eventually he wound up in the ICU, and soon after that we made the decision to pull life support and allow him to pass of natural causes.
I wanted to leave our IFB church, but I decided to wait until things settled down before I did so. I had a lot of anger in me at the time, too, and I also didn’t want to leave out of anger. I wanted it to be on good terms. A couple months after stepdad’s passing, I went separate ways from my mom and sibling on Sunday morning and walked to a nearby church. My mom was upset and made that clear, but things had calmed down a little more compared to previously.
Eventually, my mom figured out that I wasn’t as far gone as she had assumed. And things calmed down. But the damage had been done, and our relationship was strained for years. It was only more recently that I began working through things in therapy, and discovering that I had developed an anxiety disorder, that I began to patch things up with her. It hurts that she doesn’t want to acknowledge that she hurt me. But I can’t make her do that. I can only control my side of things. And I don’t believe that God wants me to hold a grudge. I actually think that our IFB church wasn’t quite as extreme as others. My issues were mainly with my mother.