Abuse Systems and Transformation Tools, Homeschool Movement

Breaking the Pattern of Idealizing Parents: Cynthia Jeub and the Trap of All-or-Nothing

Second Generation Adult, Cynthia Jeub, Gaslighting, Homeschool Movement

Breaking the Pattern of Idealizing Parents:  Cynthia Jeub and the Trap of All-or-Nothing

By Cindy Kunsman

Think for a moment about the manner in which children learn. We teach basic distinctions to keep them safe – such as hot and cold – sensations which are rarely ambiguous. Fire and ice show the extremes, but as the child matures, they learn the degrees in the gap between the two. In fact, at about the age of five or six years, a child will often go through a normal and healthy phase wherein they define most things by extremes. One of the hard challenges for a parent during this time involves teaching their child to be balanced, instructing them to have a broader perspective while keeping them safe.

As the child begins to mature, particularly as they head into adolescence and develop critical thinking, they begin to learn the hard lessons of life that people are anything but black and white. Another painful lesson that must be learned as well is that people can change over time, too. And there’s the problem of even greater complexity: the wolf in sheep’s clothing.

Pitfalls in the Process

One of the ways that high demand systems discourage critical thought and encourage dependency on the leader involves gross oversimplification of the complex elements of life – especially concerning people and relationships. This process of objectification (treating a person like an object) results in some denial of an element of the humanity of a person, whether they are idealized or devalued — echoing the simplicity of all-or nothing thought. The ideal of fantasy becomes more important than reality, but people who desire to make the system work require everyone to play their role to prove the fantasy to be true.

The system forces the dynamic people within it to suppress or repress their true selves to serve the fantasy. The people who run the system often use gaslighting by pretending things happened or didn’t happen to help make the fantasy work. As mentioned in a previous post, for children who grew up in such a system, the process contributes to a tendency towards compulsiveness. (These children grew up without viable choices in high demand religious systems and have been called “Second Generation Adults” or “SGA”s.)



The child finds themselves in a double bind, for they are not permitted to criticize the parent or to see them as fallible – they may only revere their parents.  As the Christian psychologist David Stoop states it, the child realizes at a young age that adults are bigger, smarter, have power, and that they can hurt children (pg 199). Alice Miller writes extensively of the powerlessness of children to resist this process and how very willingly children accept fault when the inevitable consequences of life manifest. Pia Mellody also describes how the child who is dependent on the parent for survival has no other choice but to soothe the their pain with the fantasy of the idealized parent as if that “wishing will make it so.” This maladaptive coping skill helps the child survive the pain of childhood. (Read more about idealizing parents HERE.)

Breaking the Pattern

cynthia jeub
From Cynthia’s “About Me” page

Cynthia Jeub has embarked upon writing her personal account of the process of separating from her family of sixteen children – a family that not only made their living as part of the Evangelical Christian homeschooling movement but was also featured on a Learning Channel reality series in 2008. I found her first post about Melting Memory Masks to be powerful. Her artful and melancholy writing captures the hearts of many who identify with the process as she illustrates well the typical problems that SGAs must face. Two of her sisters stand with her according to online comments: Alicia who moved to the other end of the globe, and Lydia who was cast out of the home along with Cynthia.

Below, you will find a list of posts to date that chronicle this unfolding saga. In reading them, I found myself thinking about what many say about differences in perspective. “There is your memory and my memory and the truth.” The most painful element for me at this point in the process are the strong, public protests on the part of the Jeub Family.  I’m troubled that the family so quickly rushed to discredit her publicly, claiming that she’s mentally ill. To me, even if that is an honest concern of a parent in the midst of a tragic conflict with their daughter, is that something that they would naturally rush to put into a podcast made available to the world?

In time, may history bear out a story wherein the parties involved honor one another’s perspectives and pain through mutual respect. May they all find their way out of the trap of all-or-nothing. May living color replace the extremes of objectified black and white.

Cynthia Jeub’s Posts:

Jeub Family’s Posts:

Jeub Family’s Podcast Discounting Cynthia:

Reactions Around the Blogosphere

Media Articles

7 thoughts on “Breaking the Pattern of Idealizing Parents: Cynthia Jeub and the Trap of All-or-Nothing”

  1. Apparently Chris Jeub doesn’t stand behind his words and actions, and those of his other children who were in the podcast, as he’s filed a copyright claim to take the podcast off the web. Good thing the transcript is still there.

    Is he, perhaps, ashamed of their abusive derision, or is he merely performing damage control, because he had no idea when he posted the podcast that people would take the opposite meaning, i.e. rather than discrediting his outcast daughter, the podcast discredited him and his so-called parenting?

    Liked by 2 people

  2. There is an additional daughter, Alissa, who married a Muslim and converted to Islam a couple of years ago. Prior to her marriage, she had left home (or was thrown out) and was living in Australia. The two older Jeub daughters, Alicia and Alissa, were products of Wendy Jeub’s “rebellion” and I don’t think they were completely accepted by Chris when he and Wendy got married, hence the reason for both to be thrown out. More info can be found at the Free Jinger forum (http://www.freejinger.org/topic/14609-the-jeub-family/) if anyone is interested.


  3. Cynthia Jeub had an additional problem on top of the usual Extreme Homeschool Spiritual Abuse — REALITY SHOW CELEBRITY. Right up there in front of the cameras with John & Kate + 8, the Duggars, and the Kardashians.


  4. I knew that the three oldest had been thrown out (and that Chris Jeub afterward characterized it as helping them to achieve independence, or some sort of spin to that effect–the opposite of giving them a short time to pack their things and then they were *out* of there, and cut off from all contact with the younger ones, that they had practically raised, unless they toed the line). Who is the fourth?

    Last time I looked, Chris and Wendy Jeub were three-for-three in terms of their children rejecting their lifestyle and authority as the children began to think for themselves. (That’s the hell of promoting speech and debate for Christian homeschoolers. The kids learn to research, they learn critical thinking, and if they apply those skills to patriarchy or authoritarian parenting styles, and they have been raised by their parents to have moral courage, they are in great danger of breaking away, having learned to think for themselves rather than parroting their parents’ values like mind-numbed robots.)

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  5. Micah Jeub is brilliant, from what speech-and-debate kids have told me. Brilliant, articulate, sharp-edged, funny with a cutting edge to his humor. I wonder if he’ll be able to break free when he’s older, or if he’ll remain his parents’ “golden child” and not dare to take the blinders off.


  6. I wrote this quite a while ago, and I am still so impressed by the idea that Chris Jeub got exactly what he hoped for, but the result didn’t fit his tight mold. His “vision” just wasn’t big enough. He “trained” well-thought, capable, socially responsible children as refugee notes above. In so many ways, they got exactly what they hoped for — but in the wrong packaging. Children are not puppets for their parents to play with for the rest of their lives — and who controls the strings in their passing?

    Today, I am reminded of the early memory that I have of the day I learned that a father pays for a daughter’s wedding — according to whatever 1950s tradition my own parents followed. I was five years old, and the subject came up somehow — probably as my parents contemplated how the father of the bride would pay for an elaborate wedding of someone that we knew. I so vividly remember the discussion followed. It was something of a contract between my parents and me, as I remember asking all sorts of questions about it and pondering at my father paying for such a thing for me. It communicated to me something new about the love of a father for a daughter.

    When I announced years later that my husband decided that we had a duty to have a wedding, I stood in disbelief as my parents essentially broke what I think must be the first contract that they’d ever made with me — or that I likely ever made with anyone. They offered me money to elope and acted with shame as though a wedding would be the worst possible thing that could happen to a young woman. I’d even offered to pay for it all myself, as I never expected my parents to do that. They’d paid for my first two years of college, and I would never ask them to pay for a wedding, no matter how modest.

    I became (what was my then version of) angry, and I reminded them of the day they told me that a bride could have anything that she wanted on her wedding day, and because of the sense of duty and sacrifice that my parents had woven into me, I asked nothing of them, save their blessing and participation. I would even pay for it which was possible because they had sacrificed to give me a well-paying profession. I told them that they had betrayed my trust and that I felt as though they’d lied to me my whole life concerning something that was basic to who I was and how they cared for me.

    Their response? It erupted spontaneously, sardonically, and immediately from my mother: “We never dreamed that you’d choose something like this.” (We were talking about a simple church wedding.) They turned the discussion around to say that I’d broken a contract with them. I’d failed to live up to their per-conceived yet never communicated expectations.

    “We never dreamed….” Well, I think that Cynthia Jeub’s parents did a fine job of teaching their children to dream. I suppose that she doesn’t realize that, because I know of how hard it is to learn to dream and think and choose — even now, having just celebrated my 49th birthday. I dream, then I tell myself a million reasons for why the dream is not valid — but I find that I also cannot live a lie. The falsehood of living a lie like a non-thinking conformist burns profoundly in my heart and overrides whatever debility I suffer regarding the achievement of dreams. And I think that this is perhaps what happened for Cynthia.

    At least in that respect, Chris Jeub did a fine job. He just never dreamed what that would look like. But he should have anticipated it a little. “Eye hath not seen, neither ear heard, the things that God has prepared for them who love Him.” God does “exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think.” And I think that God did so with the Jeubs — whether they put things together that way or not. 🙂

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