In addition to being on TLC and ABC's WE-TV channel in 2007 and 2009, and the third oldest of 16 kids, I was homeschooled by fundamentalist evangelical Christians. I helped raise my younger siblings and worked for the family business.

I have written about my story for Huffington Post and Business Insider, and I run a blog about my experiences. Big families have been a big topic this month, and I wrote a piece recently about why I won't be watching the Amazon docuseries Shiny Happy People. I've done AMAs on other platforms but not on this subreddit. I'm curious to know what the wider reddit community would like to ask me, and I'm ready to answer questions.


Twitter: (at)StardustArtemis

So, hello! Ask Me Anything!

Comments: 379 • Responses: 52  • Date: 

baltinerdist267 karma

What aspects of your childhood seemed totally normal at the time until you grew up and looked back and realized they were kinda fucked up?

Throwaway1of16kids613 karma

Honestly, a lot. The more I go to therapy and learn about dysfunction, the more there is to unpack. Being homeschooled and limited to friends who had similar families meant I didn't have much to compare with. Parentification (where a child learns to take on the parents' role) was common for me. Educational neglect was a big one, because it was so severe that I didn't even recognize until pretty recently how little I know compared to my peers. We were told we were being educated better than "public schoolers," while our parents hardly managed to teach us how to read. My mom mostly gave birth at home with little medical support. Also, while I didn't think everything was TOTALLY normal...whatever wasn't normal was considered in a self-righteous way something that made us better than the "heathens" in the rest of "the world."

jianantonic217 karma

What things were you surprised to learn about the secular world once you left your religion?

Throwaway1of16kids412 karma

So many things. The first was that people generally just say "religion" instead of what we would say on the inside, like "Christian" or "believer" or "Christ-follower." A lot of Christians even distance themselves from it by saying "It's not a religion, it's a relationship." I was also surprised by how little people generally know about religion. On the other hand I also was surprised to learn how much of mainstream culture still clings to religious mindsets, like with homophobia and transphobia.

Tawny_Frogmouth106 karma

Do you mean that you expected people to view your belief system as categorically distinct from e.g Islam or Judaism? Or that they would see it as "the" Christianity and not just one of many denominations?

Throwaway1of16kids154 karma

Both. People just say "religious." Even being categorically distinct from Catholicism or Mormonism doesn't really matter to the outside world, much less Islam or Judaism.

zoobrix199 karma

As you say you ended up helping to raise your younger brother and sisters. It's fine for older siblings to help out with younger kids of course but it always seems like when a family gets as big as yours the older kids are doing way to much parenting themselves and having responsibilities placed on them that shouldn't be.

How did you deal with the stress that must have caused growing up?

Throwaway1of16kids284 karma

I had really poor coping skills at the time, and I thought the answer was being the best Christian I could be. I prayed hard and worked hard and did my best to make it work. Now I know that this kind of strain only leads to burnout.

bigbrothersrule259 karma

One of the cruelest conceits of fundamentalism is if you’re unhappy you must be doing it wrong. Just be more, harder, devouter (is that a word?).

Throwaway1of16kids227 karma

Yup. The lie they tell is that if it's not working for you, you must not be doing it right, or you're not good enough.

siptyx225 karma

Funny, that's the same lie they tell us about capitalism.

Throwaway1of16kids126 karma

So true!

jianantonic176 karma

Are you in touch with any of your family now? Would your siblings know how to reach you if they got out?

Throwaway1of16kids282 karma

I talk to some siblings. Yes, they could reach me if they wanted to. I don't speak to my parents or most of my siblings, though.

spiffster_167 karma

Why won’t you watch the doc?

Throwaway1of16kids387 karma

I don't think I'd learn new information from it, and it would just make me angry.

Celestaria158 karma

Having never watched the shows, my biggest question is why "Artemis Stardust", and was it an homage to Ziggy?

Throwaway1of16kids309 karma

I went through a ton of names and none of them seemed to really fit me except Artemis. As for Stardust, I like the concept of literally being made of the stuff of dead stars, because I was taught young-earth creationism and learned as an adult that certain elements wouldn't exist without the life cycle of stars. I didn't learn about Ziggy until I mentioned my name choice to someone older than me lol.

Celestaria65 karma

As a Joni Mitchell fan, now I have to ask a follow-up question...

Had you heard the song "Woodstock" before choosing your surname?

The lyrics seem relevant:

Throwaway1of16kids64 karma

I hadn't! I can see some relevance here but I think a lot of music is like that.

Smittx135 karma

How many of the kids are still religious?

Throwaway1of16kids206 karma

To my knowledge, 13. I can't speak with full authority on the subject because I'm not in touch with most of them, but only a few of us aren't. One is no longer Christian but ended up converting to another religion.

Ohmannothankyou79 karma

Did they convert to another high control religion, or something with more autonomy?

Throwaway1of16kids168 karma

Islam. I think it's high control but they disagree. They've said it made more sense and introduced them to a more loving and open version of god.

Realexis1127 karma

What do you find enjoyable now that you might’ve otherwise been blocked from / hidden away from? Shows, TV, hobbies, etc?

A lot of heavy questions here so I figured a light and interesting one was due - living with joy intentionally is difficult so I’m hoping you’ve found some stuff that brings that

Throwaway1of16kids333 karma

Thank you! Honestly one of the most difficult things has been finding things I like, because there was such an emphasis on being productive. One thing I really appreciate is having the ability/time to really bond with my cats. We had animals growing up but I never felt very attached to them and it's been awesome to see my cats' personalities develop because I take good care of them.

Realexis197 karma

Wow, that’s really insightful and awesome you’re bonding with your cats, I got my first cat years ago and went through a similar journey. I hope you have an amazing time with your pets and get the full brunt of love and fulfillment and wholeness pets bring.

To your first point : I don’t have your background but did internalize a lot of productivity / hustle bs and similarly had to unlearn that kind of guilt, if I could leave anything useful I’d recommend luxury hobbies as a transition towards unproductive fun without guilt in that those hobbies require productivity but are ultimately pleasure centric ( buying expensive ingredients for a fancy meal you wouldn’t normally cook, setting up a whole candle / tea / desert station to read a book or comic, etc ).

Throwaway1of16kids52 karma

I love those ideas! Thank you so much!

Orcwin47 karma

I don't really have a question (I'm not really familiar with your background), but just wanted to say you seem to be a pretty sensible, educated and sociable person. So whatever damage your upbringing may have done, you've managed to overcome it quite well.

Throwaway1of16kids108 karma

While I appreciate your kindness, I would say it's really impossible to tell those things from just these comments.

mentalmedicine100 karma

What's a day-to-day challenge of being part of a big family that most people -- especially the shows like those on TLC -- tend to overlook?

Throwaway1of16kids228 karma

I think they edited out a LOT of the dysfunction. Even when I was in the midst of it I said things that would definitely be red flags to me now. One thing I said to the camera was that I believed I should get along with all my siblings or else I wouldn't be able to make my future marriage work, because god chose my siblings and would choose my future spouse!

Heliosvector98 karma

Do you or your parents get residuals for the series?

Throwaway1of16kids167 karma

No. They apparently got one check at the time for one grand, but I never saw it myself.

cheeseburgerwaffles244 karma

That's so wildly exploitative of your family.

Throwaway1of16kids102 karma

Agreed! It wasn't much.

Cyberpunkapostle97 karma

What are your current religious/spiritual convictions, if any?

Throwaway1of16kids285 karma

I'm a pretty solid atheist, but I'm open to spiritual practice like mindfulness and meditation.

RoguePlanet170 karma

How would you suggest dealing with born-again types, who don't feel as if they're in a cult, but also keep themselves in a big bubble? Also, how to respond to them when they make some sort of biblical proclamation before walking away?

Was there anything in particular that helped you to escape the mindset?

Throwaway1of16kids175 karma

Patience and care. Directly asking them questions like "do you feel safe" don't work because they've been conditioned to either believe they actually are, or don't feel safe to answer honestly. Instead, try to get involved in their lives and have conversations about their beliefs and lifestyles. Demonstrate a different approach to relationships, especially respect for boundaries, autonomy, and consent ethics. If they make a biblical proclamation and walk away, they're just trying to have the last word, so ask if they're afraid of feeling doubtful. For me, making friends in a college setting helped a lot with facilitating helpful conversations. Bubbles don't burst overnight, so just remember you're probably one of a lot of people who will influence their choices.

Double-Parked_TARDIS59 karma

Hello! Was your family political or apolitical? And if the former, what political positions were and were not informed by your relatives’ religious beliefs?

Throwaway1of16kids133 karma

Hi! Very political. They strongly supported every Republican presidential candidate and detested Democrats with an emphasis on the "family values" aspect of Christian evangelical fundamentalism. Once we even read through a book about how Abraham Lincoln was apparently a great Christian leader.

leftoverscience53 karma

Have you read Educated by Tara Westover? Do you find similarities between your upbringing?

Throwaway1of16kids71 karma

Yes! It was really good and there were definitely similarities. It was one of the things that helped me realize I had been neglected educationally.

popemichael51 karma

Do you feel the lack of sex education lead to a lot of the abuse that your ex-cult is known for..?

Or perhaps do you see the abuse as something that was purposefully created, and ignorance was a tool to perpetuate said abuse?

Throwaway1of16kids99 karma

Both. Sex ed is actively forbidden/fought against because the whole ethical system depends on reinforcing patriarchal and sexist norms. Abusers both take advantage of it and are protected by it.

Romaine2k51 karma

In your opinion, should the general public be trying to do something more about kids isolated in fundamentalist cults? We snarkers hear so much about the general neglect, the food insecurity, the spiritual (and worse) abuse, and so on, and I'm sure we'd all love to do something - but what if anything would actually help?

Throwaway1of16kids148 karma

This one is so hard because I think a lot would have to change to effectively help in the long run. For instance, I don't think the Turpin kids got sufficient help because our system has almost no safety net. "Good Christians" get the benefit of the doubt. CPS and the foster care system play right into it, ignoring the signs or backing down because of pressure from HSLDA and other conservative political powers. We need to take down the patriarchy and racist, classist systems that treat children like property and resources.

Long answer short, I'd tell individuals who see things to be persistently, radically defensive of children. All children, and especially children who are labeled "bad" or children who get talked over. If a child indicates that something is wrong, believe them and report to real authorities - NOT a parent, family member, or church leadership.

lord_tubbington50 karma

What was the weirdest part about a television crew rolling into your life?

Throwaway1of16kids87 karma

It was so invasive because I had no real experience with what a television crew even looked like, we didn't watch TV at all. So I was just like, those are really huge cameras and I didn't know what a boom pole was.

Ohmannothankyou47 karma

Did you see that Focus on the Family is finally getting some heat?

Throwaway1of16kids57 karma

They've been losing popularity since the mid-2000s. Idk if you're referring to something specific though.

Ohmannothankyou42 karma

The documentary you’re not watching spells out basically that it’s a multilevel marketing scheme where every man can start and monetize his own mini cult. And I’m like, yeah that checks.

Throwaway1of16kids56 karma

That checks for sure. My dad definitely did that with the family business, and when that toppled, he started another one.

gnomz3 karma

Any sources other than the documentary?

Throwaway1of16kids15 karma

Focus on the Family and the Family Research Council are two different organizations. There are a bunch of them.

MightBeAGoodIdea46 karma

What was the first rebellious thing you did once you broke free from all that? How'd it go? Do you miss anything at all about being in with it all?

Throwaway1of16kids91 karma

I went and had sex for the first time, lol. I don't really miss it, no.

matty84242 karma

How's your day going?

Throwaway1of16kids68 karma

Pretty well. It's been quiet and I got some rest after a busy week. Thank you for asking!

hops4beer38 karma

How much do you resent your parents if at all?

Throwaway1of16kids100 karma

A lot tbh, but not as much as I used to. I recognize why they made the choices they did while knowing that doesn't excuse them.

hops4beer30 karma

You sound cool, I'd probably be angry if I went through what you have.

Throwaway1of16kids59 karma

Thanks! There's definitely anger still but I'm doing my best to stay in therapy.

Ashallond37 karma

How prevalent are situations like yours and that other family in Arkansas in the US?

Throwaway1of16kids61 karma

I don't have statistical analysis insights but I would say it's more common than most people think. One reason is that these families are secluded, often living in rural areas and homeschooling. The other reason is that not all the families are big. You could have two kids and still share the belief that god gave you that many for a variety of health reasons.

SelleckMotors37 karma

When did you realize you were a member of a cult?

Throwaway1of16kids140 karma

It wasn't one moment, but a series of chipping away at certain ideas. As a teenager, I started writing arguments defending the theology and was surprised at how bad the evidence/defenses were for core subjects. Then as a young adult I tried being a good conservative Christian and it didn't work very well. There were so many loopholes and when I talked to my parents about them, I was shamed and silenced and punished. That made me realize I couldn't safely question or be myself.

Im_homer_simpson29 karma

Have you watched The Simpsons?

Throwaway1of16kids35 karma

Nope! I know the common memes but I haven't seen a single episode through.

unseen000026 karma

Would you recommend religion to any non religious person? Why or why not?

Throwaway1of16kids113 karma

I wouldn't say that I'm informed enough about all world religion to speak against it as a whole. There's a problem among formerly Christian atheists to generalize religions based on our own limited experience. However, I also can't say I'd recommend any religions with a literal deity as the central focus, like the three Abrahamic religions. Buddhist practices seem chill, though, from what I've read/engaged in.

BlackbirdNamedJude18 karma

Have you listened to the podcast "Leaving Eden?" or do you in general follow anyone on social media known for bringing attention to the cultyness of fundamentalism?

If so, who and why? Also what are your thoughts on using social media for this platform?

Throwaway1of16kids27 karma

I haven't, but podcasts are hard because I have pretty bad ADHD and I just lose focus no matter what it is. I do follow quite a few others who run in the same circles. Idk that I could really list them all but you can see who I follow on twitter. I think social media is kind of necessary if you're going to be outspoken on this issue or any important/personally relevant issue.

OfflineMilk18 karma

Do you think your siblings will raise/are raising their families like you were raised?

Throwaway1of16kids28 karma

Hard to say. I think they're mostly religious and conservative but only time will tell if they end up having a lot of kids themselves, most of my siblings are under 30 still.

CoffinRehersal17 karma

Why can't you tell us which shows you were on?

Throwaway1of16kids75 karma

I didn't say I couldn't...we were the third episode of the first season of Kids by the Dozen on TLC, and then on an episode of the WE-TV show "Secret Lives of Women" called "Born to Breed".

CoffinRehersal9 karma

Gotcha! I was curious if there was some specific reason like an NDA.

Throwaway1of16kids35 karma

I don't remember signing an NDA. I've been pretty vocal about the experience.

CoffinRehersal5 karma

As a kid do you ever actually sign anything when part of a production like that? I assume legally it all goes through the parents, but does anyone aside from them ever sit you down and go over what was going on with the show?

Throwaway1of16kids16 karma

Idk if it's different for different companies and stuff, but no, it was never explained to me except through my parents being excited about it beforehand.

pleok14 karma

Based on your ring, it looks like you are married. Is/was your husband/wife religious?

Throwaway1of16kids38 karma

It's an engagement band. My partner and I are gay and trans non-binary people, and we're going to get married when we can.

Gr8TacoDebate13 karma

How are the numerous go fund me’s going?

Is there a particular reason why you have deemed yourself unable to work? Isn’t it a little suspicious that you have the energy and wherewithal to schlep all over Seattle but you couldn’t do something that isn’t physically demanding and doesn’t require a GED, such as call centers?

Is there a particular purpose behind not taking advantage of the robust social welfare system Washington has to offer? Isn’t it true, Ms. Jeub, that you’ve been grifting an existence for the last several years?

Why couldn’t you simply launder all your belongings? Why did you insist people pay for brand new ones under the dubious assumption of “toxic mold” that was never confirmed? Is there a reason you’ve grifted your entire existence, trading your alleged trauma and family name for money?

Throwaway1of16kids23 karma

I don’t lie or make fraudulent claims to get money. That’s what a grifter is. I’ve closed all previous fundraisers and not all of them were successfully funded – for instance my legal name change and wedding fund did not get funded, so I still haven’t had a chance to do those things.

I’m unable to work for a variety of medically supported reasons. It’s not okay to ask disabled people for proof of their disability simply because it’s medical information. To entertain the question is to concede that it’s okay to go ask other disabled people for their private medical history. It’s a common misconception that people pretend to be disabled for benefits or monetary gain, but it’s rare and doesn’t really make sense to do because benefits and fundraising add up to so little.

I have been going to Seattle to look at possible places to live because it’s literally unavoidable, and I’ve been in severe pain because of it. That doesn’t mean I could do manual labor on a consistent basis. I don’t even drive, so I’ve had to cover gas and ask friends for help with rides.

Have you ever tried working at a call center? I have. They’re severely strict and demanding, and incredibly demoralizing without paying much. They’re not an accessible alternative for people who can’t do more demanding manual labor. “Get a job like the rest of us” is ableist and is a fundamental misunderstanding of how accessible jobs are. It’s no better than yelling it at someone panhandling on the street. The supposedly “easy” or “low-skill” jobs are still difficult to do.

I do use what resources I can, but it’s a total myth that there’s a robust social welfare system anywhere in the United States. If there was, we wouldn’t have so many hundreds of thousands of homeless people here, with millions more just a few missed paychecks away from joining them.

The toxic mold was confirmed. My partner is literally terminally ill from it. If you read the actual updates, the name of the illness and the research surrounding it have been detailed. We have a letter from the pulmonologist that we sent to the landlord explaining that the environment my partner was in was causing the illness. Again, you’re demanding medical proof that you have no reason to ask about. Some things can’t just be washed out.

I am as clear as I can possibly be about specific needs so that people know what they’re helping to support. I have said again and again that people shouldn’t give unless they can spare it and want to help. I even said that in the post linked to in this comment thread. My patreon is explicitly to support my writing.

So why am I still fundraising and making money off telling my story? Because I literally have no other real options. I’ve been formally diagnosed with PTSD, it’s not “alleged trauma.” If it was working all that well, I wouldn’t have to keep detailing my needs.

The real grifters in our society are billionaires, not poor disabled people. You sound like you just hate us for trying to exist.

Fatbottombabyjoe9 karma

I’m one of 16 as well. I’m the second to the baby. What is your opinion on big families? I feel it’s sad for the children because it guarantees emotional neglect.

Throwaway1of16kids11 karma

I agree. I think it's impossible for the parents to give adequate attention to each child.

Clowncarwomb9 karma

I'm curious about your perspective on work and reliance on assistance as a former fundie. Could you share your thoughts on the balance between personal effort and receiving support? How has your belief system influenced your views on work and assistance, and how have your attitudes evolved over time?

Throwaway1of16kids20 karma

I think our whole society's perception of work and assistance needs to change. There's a lot of people who still think that poverty is a result of failure to work hard enough. It's also important to recognize that disabled people deserve to survive even if they can't contribute. I also think that universal healthcare and housing are necessary.

Stardust-Parade7 karma

This will probably get buried but was it hard for you to make friends and learn about society when you got out into the real world? Sorry if I worded this stupidly. I’m not good with my words lol. I like your hair btw. And I’m sure you’ve already been asked this so I apologize if it’s been asked before, but do you want to have kids?

Throwaway1of16kids8 karma

It's still hard to figure out how to make friends. No, I don't want kids.

AquaHairYo4 karma

Pronouns they/them, right, Art?

Throwaway1of16kids7 karma

That's correct, thank you!

Ok-Feedback56043 karma

Now what's your family doing now after leaving behind limelight?

Throwaway1of16kids4 karma

You can still find us in various places - local news, TikTok, etc.

moby__dick3 karma

Did you ever try and learn about Jesus from other sources, outside of the “control-freak Christianity “ World?

Throwaway1of16kids14 karma

Yup. Still not a fan.

Smarterthanthat2 karma

Have you been able to move past the dogma? Have any of your siblings? Have you sought higher education? I never saw your show but have seen others with a similar theme. I do admire your ability to overcome so much.

Throwaway1of16kids4 karma

I am still learning all the time. My oldest sibling and I talk about it some. I went to college from the ages of 19 to 21, but I couldn't keep up. I'm starting over and I'm almost finished with a high school program to earn my diploma officially. I hope to restart college after that.

ThugExplainBot0 karma

Looking back at your parents' extreme religious and right wing political views, does it make you dislike Christians and Conservative people for those values? If not is there any notable people under those descriptions you admire?

Throwaway1of16kids33 karma

I think historically that conservativism and Christianity spread through disregard for the consent of other people. It's not about disliking people particularly, I have some friends who are Christians. Love the Christian, hate the religion, I say. I can't think of any notable people under those descriptions that I admire, though.

ath1n-21 karma

At you going to shave your mustache?

Edit : why am I getting down voted for this question?

Throwaway1of16kids22 karma

Nope! I grew it on purpose. Glad it's starting to show!