Big and small families have their drawbacks. But what happens when you have 20 brothers and sisters and a mother who was mentally ill? Well, according to Paul Lamar Hunter, you fly or your fall. Paul is the 19th child of 21 natural children (18 now living today) born to a schizophrenic mother who treated her children with utter disdain. Paul Hunter is the first (and only of his sibling)s to have graduated from college with a Bachelor of Science Degree from Upper Iowa University. Hunter’s inaugural literary offering is a gripping autobiographical account of growing up in a dysfunctional and abusive environment in an enthralling biographical literary offering titled “No Love, No Charity: The Success of the 19th Child.”
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Having had 20 siblings, Hunter grew up with as many as 17 in the home at one time, in what he describes as abject poverty, chaos, and physical and mental abuse. His mother was frequently dismissive and often made downgrading and derogatory comments to her children. She told them that they would never be successful, and would amount to nothing in life. Most of the siblings receive her negative remarks, but Hunter often did not accept her unkind words because he was defiant and determined to become the successful one in the Hunter family.
They were all recipients of physical abuse. Whenever his mother was in a bad mood or experienced a bad day, she took it out on her children. Often for no reason, she disciplined them with any object that was close at hand. It was an old slave whipping. She would use a switch (a small thin tree or bush limb), extension cord or high-heeled shoe; she hit them in the face with her fist.
The mentally ill mother, also subjected Hunter and his brothers and sisters to mental abuse. She discouraged school and offered no encouragement. She would sometimes call the girls prostitutes, ugly and drug addicts. She told her boys that they were lazy and would likely spend their respective lives in jail. Hunter’s mother was relentless in her attempts to destroy her children. As a result, the 19th child and some of his siblings became stronger and contributors to society. Today she is grandmother to 63 who are themselves parent to 61.