To My Daughter

11 April 2014, 06:00



Editors note: This article is a re-post from May of 2012.

After being in ATI for 10 years and now out for the last 13 years, I am finding the need to say some things to our oldest daughter. She was our “guinea pig,” the one from whom we learned the most and the one upon whom we tried the most. She was with us from start to finish through those ten ATI years, with seven of her eight siblings coming along during that time. She was the one who became my second pair of hands, the “other mommy,” and even my substitute teacher from time to time. She was the one allowed to help with Children’s Institutes and to attend a Counseling seminar at the training center in Indianapolis. She was also the one who inspired her father to think about whether this program was the best one for our family. She was diagnosed with AML (Acute Myelogenous Leukemia) in July 2006 at the age of 25, and she went home to be with the Lord on September 10, 2007. If I still had her with me today, these are some of the things I would say to her…


amysteveanita-articleDear one,

I am sorry for all the mistakes I made along the way. I looked to a program to validate what we believed we should do for our children by home educating them. I was more concerned about finishing the “race” (all the required booklets) and having good reports to send off to Headquarters, than I was about how the “race” was run.

~ I am sorry that I caused you to question things in your life that were normal and that I asked you to suppress your emotions and interests in the name of serving our family and keeping Mr. Gothard happy.

~ I am sorry that you felt you had to run everything through the grid of “why did God let it happen.” It caused you much worry and anxiety, especially as a young adult.

~ I am sorry that I destroyed by fire many of your childhood toys, toys that were given to you in love by relatives and by us. I cannot believe that I bought the whole idea that they were demon-possessed because they didn’t fit some standard set up by the leadership of ATI.

~ I am sorry that you were reprimanded at a Children’s Seminar because I failed to add WHITE to the navy blue suit I lovingly handmade for you.

~ I am sorry that you were asked not to sing so loudly by other young women at the Knoxville training session when you were part of the big choir of students. Rather than allow you to make a joyful noise, you were silenced.

~ I am sorry that I insisted that you sing Matthew 7 by memory with me at one of our church fellowships when you really didn’t want to do that.

~ I am sorry that I placed a man’s interpretations of Scripture above all else. I just wanted to have good kids and a happy family and to live happily ever after.

~ I am sorry that I missed the true meaning of grace and instead worked to gain God’s and Headquarters’s approval by getting through all eight wisdom booklets each year, memorizing enough verses, and creating enough minute booklets. You were a teenager at that time, attending seminars and trying to find some way to get enough money together to attend the training institutes.

~ I am sorry I insisted that you wear dresses and skirts throughout your childhood and didn’t just let you be a little girl, running through the hay fields in your blue jeans and t-shirts.

~ I am sorry that I expected you to be mature beyond your years and asked you to help all the time with the little babies that came along.

~ I am sorry that your academic education was lacking, although I knew you were very intelligent and could accomplish so much. I was too busy having babies, nursing babies, and teaching phonics to consider what would be best for you.

~ I am sorry that at times my discipline was too harsh–not so much physically but verbally–as I demanded adult-like behavior from you during your childhood years.

~ I am sorry that we did not allow you to listen to good music even if it didn’t abide by the Institute’s standards.

~ I am sorry that I lived by the standard, “Others may, but we will not,” without thought for individuality within our family.

~ I am sorry that I taught you more character quality definitions and knew more about the manuals and booklets that IBLP published than I did about God’s Word.

~ I am sorry that your dear friend was destroyed spiritually–at least at this point in time–after working at one of the training centers.

But precious daughter,

~ I am thankful that you became discontent when our family did not have enough money to send you off as an apprenticeship student to some training center far, far away. This discontentment caused your father and me to question whether we should really be a part of this program.

~ I am thankful that you began to question the anxiety you felt when not everything made sense, and you could not find out why God let it happen.

~ I am thankful that you got tired of the grids, the charts, the numerous steps, the countless reasons, qualities, and so forth.

~ I am thankful that you owned your own faith.

~ I am thankful that God’s Word became precious to you and that you learned its ways and its truths.

~ I am thankful that your were more than the oldest child in our family, ruling over the rest of the children. You loved them and shared with them and gave your life to them and they love you!

~ I am thankful that you found the ability to forgive me, to love me, to become one of my dearest friends, and to develop good plans for your own life, including your marriage and your own little son.

~ I am thankful that you chose to live your life to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever.

~ I am thankful that you were more than an experiment for your father and me. You were our blessed firstborn, our joy, our beloved one.

The problem is, dear child, I cannot say these many words to you today because you are no longer here with us. You have gone to be with the Lord after losing your battle with leukemia. You are complete and you know what I cannot know at this time.

Thank you for being our precious daughter who knew Christ in spite of our errors and misjudgments. Thank you for allowing me the privilege of being with you all those long days in the hospital. Thank you for letting me serve you as you served our family for many years. Thank you for the precious memories I can have today because you were part of my life.

– Your mother

P.S. For those of you parents who may be reading this, please consider whether there is something you should say to your kids before it may be too late. One way or another, death will separate you for a time…if not for eternity.


Anita Martin is a married mother of nine children. She is learning daily what grace means in her life and realizing that the Lord and His Word–not a program–are her sufficiency and guide in all ways. She enjoys teaching their three remaining sons at home, while four of their children are students at College of the Ozarks in Point Lookout, MO. Anita and her husband, Steve enjoy two grandchildren, one of whom is the blessing her daughter left behind. She seeks to live humbly before the Lord whose grace never ceases to amaze her.
All articles on this site reflect the views of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of other Recovering Grace contributors or the leadership of the site. Students who have survived Gothardism tend to end up at a wide variety of places on the spiritual and theological spectrum, thus the diversity of opinions expressed on this website reflects that. For our official statement of beliefs, click here.


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