A Book Review The Duggars: 20 and Counting

The Duggars: 20 and Counting by Michelle & Jim Bob Duggar.

I am a self professed reality TV junkie, the more reality based, the better. So when I read about the Duggar family on Television Without Pity a few years ago, I knew I had to see them for myself. Soon I had seen all of the one hour specials and was oddly fascinated and oddly appalled all at the same time. I didn’t see how any of the kids could ever grow up to have a “normal” life. I didn’t like how it seemed like the kids weren’t encouraged to be independent thinkers or allowed to make everyday decisions. I didn’t quite understand what exactly the parents were doing all day other than controlling their kids’ every thought and action. I didn’t like them.

continue

54 comments:

fostersmom said...

The Duggars: 20 and Counting by Michelle & Jim Bob Duggar.

I am a self professed reality TV junkie, the more reality based, the better. So when I read about the Duggar family on Television Without Pity a few years ago, I knew I had to see them for myself. Soon I had seen all of the one hour specials and was oddly fascinated and oddly appalled all at the same time. I didn’t see how any of the kids could ever grow up to have a “normal” life. I didn’t like how it seemed like the kids weren’t encouraged to be independent thinkers or allowed to make everyday decisions. I didn’t quite understand what exactly the parents were doing all day other than controlling their kids’ every thought and action. I didn’t like them.

Then the Raising 17 Children series premiered. Of course there was no way I was going to miss this! Surprisingly, I found myself almost liking the Duggars as the weeks went by. The parents seemed much less creepy than they had in the one hour specials and the kids seemed like pretty much like every suburban kid I have ever met, albeit a lot more religious and a lot more sheltered. Maybe I had this family pegged wrong.

Along with my reality TV addiction, I also love to read. I’ve developed a particular fondness for biographies over the past year. So when the opportunity came up for one of us here on DWoP to get a copy of the book, I volunteered. I’d be more than happy to write up a book review. Reality TV, a biography, and a book all wrapped into one? How could I not love it? Now I wish I had never read this book. I’m right back to not liking the family so much these days. To be fair, I do like the kids, it’s the parents whom I don’t like.

The book opens with a little bit of history about Jim Bob and Michelle. Jim Bob grew up in a church going family where lack of money was a constant issue. Michelle, on the other hand, grew up in a family that was financially stable, but not regular church goers. Both tell a tale of a criminal past.... Jim Bob shoplifting a treat as a child and Michelle stealing change out of a woman’s purse at the community pool as a preteen.

The book jumps back and forth between their voices with them identifying themselves throughout. At times it’s a bit hard to follow who is telling the story, but not as hard as it is to actually read the book. I’m sure that Michelle and Jim Bob had no say over the layout of the book, but it’s a very disjointed read. On almost every page there are random asides, pictures and captions, e-mails and answers, recipes, and Duggar facts are right in the middle of a sentence. Turning the page while reading a story about Jim Bob being bound and gagged and robbed at gun point, while Michelle and baby Josh were in another room of the car lot house, I find a recipe for apple lemonade. To say that all these random bits interrupt the flow of the book, is an understatement.

The book covers quite a bit of their early years fairly in-depth. The story of how they met is told, how they fell in love, and how they even went on a few car dates. We learn about their used car dealerships, their towing company, a mini mart, their various property deals, and the first years when they had five or less kids in detail. They make sure to tell us time and time and time again that they paid for everything in cash, never taking on debt with the exception of their very first house which Jim Bob bought when they were newlyweds. We learn again and again that they are a team and all decisions were made together. In fact, to drill this point home, we get a few examples of Jim Bob making decisions on his own and of course these all turn out to be disasters.

The years between five kids and nine kids are glossed over and we soon are at the point were there are nine children, another on the way, and Jim Bob’s short lived political career starts and ends. His four years in politics are covered in a few pages and suddenly there’s more kids and it’s back to car sales and real estate. The family continues to grow and we get to the the first TV special. After that, most of the book details how they live, not so much of the where or when. Honestly, this is where they lost me.

Of course religion and God is a very huge part of their lives. But the way that they present this is very heavy handed. No decision is made without lots of prayer to find the right answer. And wouldn’t you know it, everything that they want to do is approved. These ideas come to them, always through God, and after much prayer they know that this is what God wants them to do. Amazing! Jim Bob thinks he should start this business or that business, he’s inspired to to do this, and prayer is in order. God never seems to say no to them. Now, Jim Bob’s parents and grandfather all were involved in real estate and his father sold used cars, but the idea for Jim Bob and Michelle to do the same were God inspired. Huh.

God must love this couple more than any couple I’ve ever met. Everything they need miraculously comes out perfect, at the perfect price, at the perfect time. A new vacuum, a pink baby blanket for one of the girls, houses, land deals worth millions (but gained for a fraction of the cost), even truck loads of dirt, they all appear practically out of nowhere with always the exactly right requirements.

About half the book is about organizing, training children, home schooling, and just raising kids. There’s the standards that we knew, the blanket training, the ATI home schooling and Wisdom Books, the jurisdictions, and things like clothes and shopping. Most everything they have used to raise the family is based on a specific seminar, book, or system and all are referenced in the back of the book for those interested in the exact name or author. Questions that I’ve seen for years about them are answered. They do have private health insurance, it’s got high deductibles and co-pays, but lower premiums. They’ve never been on any kind of public assistance. The boys wear polo shirts because they don’t need to be ironed. And, for those wanting to know, Michelle was surprisingly candid with certain details pertaining to child birth and breast feeding.

Two things really jumped out at me after reading the book, how the kids are being raised and how Michelle and Jim Bob came to most of their decisions on how to raise their family. These go hand in hand. Throughout the whole book, we read that a specific way of Duggar life came to be because of something that Jim Bob or Michelle was told by friends, read, or heard in a seminar. Everything from the home schooling decision to the jurisdictions to the blanket training to the paying in cash, all of these came from being told by someone else. These were all introduced by someone and Jim Bob or Michelle took it to the other and they adopted it into their lives. It would seem that they are easily influenced by others. But the kids are being raised to never question, to never have these outside influences. Actually, the kids aren’t taught, they are “trained”. One of the things they practice with the kids is to train them to instantly obey any direction, without any hesitation or resistance. While it may sound cute that they play a “game” in which the little kids are given random nonsense directions at high speed and there’s a handful of kids running around to sit on steps or walk backwards, all while saying “Yes ma’am, I’d be happy to!” shouldn’t kids be taught to think and question, not blindly obey? I want kids to listen as much as the next guy, but I also want them to learn to make good decisions. Sometimes kids need the chance to make a bad decision so they can make better ones in the future.

By the end of the book, I was back to thinking that these kids will never be given the chance to live any kind of life beyond what their parents live. Home schooling was chosen so that the parents could be the primary influence on every aspect of their children’s lives. The kids are being taught to equate their parents voices with the voice of God. Normal kid thoughts of temptation or failures aren’t growing or learning, they are “attacks from Satan” with an escape plan from God. Oddly enough, while Anna Keller is introduced, there is no mention of courting at all in the book. The saddest part of all is that I don’t see any value on education within this family. Kids are home schooling mostly on their own on the computer or with help from a buddy. College and careers aren’t being encouraged, beyond the family business. Josh says he wants to go into law, but he got his GED at 16, four or five years ago. No further education has been pursued. In fact, it reads that professional jobs are discouraged. They are being taught to do something they like after weighing the safety concerns, but that their time should be spent in the home and that enough money should be made to raise a large family. A teacher, police officer, or lawyer isn’t exactly going to fit those criteria. But a stay at home mom or following Dad into the family car lot/real estate businesses will.

While Michelle and Jim Bob are obviously grateful for their children and life, and all that has been provided to them thru their work or from others, the book reads very “PollyAnna-ish”. They thank family and friends that have helped them along the way, they acknowledge the help from TLC in the building of the house, and they praise and love the people in their lives. That’s wonderful and refreshing. It just comes across as so trite. Almost like an infomercial. You too can have a perfectly charmed life, all your needs magically met, and all for the low, low price of free prayer!

Stacey T. said...

What is "blanet training"?

Great review!!

SuzanneDeAZ said...

I read the book too. I see nothing negative about them getting ideas from other through books and seminars and implementing them in their lives. If it works for them good.

Jen said...

I have yet to read the book. I'd like to.

We also have taught our children to obey us upon first request. They are required to acknowledge the request with a "Yes, Mom" or "Yes, Dad" - but only in the way that if they acknowledge the request, they can't say later that they didn't hear it if it isn't completed. I don't find this to be teaching our kids to blindly obey everything. I find it to be teaching respect.

Stacy T -

Blanket training is teaching an older baby/young toddler to stay on a blanket and not move from the blanket. If the baby moves from the blanket, they get put back on and told "No." Some reports say that the Duggars "tap" the child's hand when it goes off the blanket, some do not. Essentially, the blanket is a playpen (without the walls).

SuperMomdel said...

Blanket training is when you teach a small child to play on a blanket and not leave the boundaries of the blanket. It's a good way to keep a child busy and safe if you can't be with them all the time.

SuzanneDeAZ said...

If you think this family is huge, what do you think of this other family? The two families are compared in this article I found. If you do not like the Duggars you may perfer this other large family:

http://www.newsnet14.com/2009/01/duggar-family-in-tontitown-arkansas-and-the-family-of-latrica-ryan-have-received-publicity-for-different-reasons/

Serena said...

what do you think of this other family?

I feel sorry for the kids, sounds like they live in an unstable environment with no father figure around and not much income.

Shawna said...

I have read the book as well and I totally agree with you on the outside influences thing. It seems that Jim Bob and Michelle's whole philosophy is based off of outsiders opinions, yet it seems the kids have NO access to the outside world, so they are forced to think exactly as their parents do, as they are taught not to question authority at all. Dont get me wrong, the book didn't make me dislike the family or anything. They're just quirky and that seems to make money (like J&K plus 8).

One of my main turnoffs, however, was that Jim Bob goes so far with his religious philosophies that he calls pot-luck meals 'pot-faith' because he doesnt believe in luck. That is just ridiculous to me. I mean, if you believe in flipping a coin in order for God to answer a question about a major life decision, I dont think 'luck' is all too far out of the picture. I understand that casting lots is in the Bible, but seriously, that seemed like a major contradiction to me. It just sounds like they're trying to be oh-so-holy.

That's about all though, great review!

Sally said...

I feel sorry for the kids in the article too, but I feel more sorry for the Duggar children. They are being exploited and isolated to the point where its ridiculous.

SuzanneDeAZ said...

I do not see them holier than others. I just see that they see things differently. A lot of Christians do not believe in the word "luck".

It is hard for me to feel sorrier for children of an intact family than one where the mother is single and has to struggle.

Serena said...

It is hard for me to feel sorrier for children of an intact family than one where the mother is single and has to struggle.

I don't see the need to rank children in a hierarchy of "suffering" to see who has it worst. That leads to people refusing to empathize with anyone because someone else always has it worse.

The Duggar children are being raised in a scenario that would be many people's worst nightmare... but "at least their home is intact"...

Latrice Ryan's children are growing up in a broken home... but "at least none of them are in the hospital dying of cancer"...

Do only those children in the most dire of circumstances deserve our concern?

SuzanneDeAZ said...

I have always felt excuses that people give when they say so and so did something worse as lame. Maybe you have a point here as well. I just do not feel sorry for the Duggars. I think the children are very well taken care of and will deal with adulthood just fine.

Serena said...

I just do not feel sorry for the Duggars. I think the children are very well taken care of and will deal with adulthood just fine.

I think only time will tell. There are those raised in the mindset similar to the Duggars who emerge just fine, while others emerge with scars and resentment. The Duggar children will probably run the gamut.

SuzanneDeAZ said...

I wonder which of the two families will survive better in this economic crisis as it gets into a depression, one that is independant from the government or the one who depends on the government. What say you?

Jojo said...

There are obviously reasons to pity BOTH families. SuzanneDeAZ, you do not have to pick just one, you know. There is enough concern to go around, one might say.

First, there's the issue of there not being enough attention to go around. This applies to both families. But it's different. Though the Duggars have 1 more parent, Latrica Ryans' family has 8 fewer kids to take care of in the first place.

This probably means that less attention is inevitably paid to each Duggar child than each Ryans child.

So, that alone is reason enough to show concern for the Duggar children's well-being.

Sure, there are OBVIOUSLY more reasons to pity the Ryans kids.
But this doesn't mean you can only stretch that far. Have a heart.

7 out of the 18 Duggar children are under 8 years old (which is Mady & Cara Gosselin's age, and far too young to be under virtually constant survelliance of a camera.)

And now, poor little Jordyn-Grace has now been being filmed nearly her whole life. It's invasive.

Mom_of_7 said...

I read the book. I liked it, other than the described format of it. It really didn't flow and was hard to concentrate on one story without being interupted with another thing.

I really appreciate how honest they are about their beliefs. They don't care how they are perceived. I think that is refreshing. I also think that if you watch the Duggar kids on the show, they are so not like the exploited Gosselins who do not want to be filmed. The Duggars seem to enjoy it and do not seem to be letting the money taint them. In the book they say how they were worried about the designer Discovery picked for them and that she would bring "high fallutin ideas" to them that they did not want. They seem to be remaining who they are, and even if you do not agree with who that is, there is something to be said for their integrity.

I also have noticed how the Duggars are not on every Monday night. There is not this over saturation with them like there is the Gosselins. Kate and Jon want to be a brand. They want to be spokespersons. They want riches and fame and will walk on the backs of their kids to get it. The Duggars are nothing like that. I see the book coinciding with the family I see on TV. It was really refreshing to me.

SuzanneDeAZ said...

I do not agree with those who think that the Duggar kids are not getting attention from their parents. Neither parent hold full time jobs and the kids are homeschooled so right there you can see there is more child/parent contact. You do not have to have alone time to have contact with a parent. A parent can give attention to children when they are in the midst of several children. That is not to say one to one time is not necessary. They have 3 meals together each day, a time in which each child can share something with the family. They have family devotions twice a day thus giving time that each child can speak. The book talks about the heart to heart talks that take place late unto the night at times. I really do not doubt that the kids do get attention from their parents.

SuperMomdel said...

The Duggar kids are getting way more attention from their parents than a family of 2 or 3 kids where the parents work all the time and leave their children to be raised in daycares and public schools, after school programs, and activities. Those parents are with their children for maybe a half hour a day before bedtime, the rest of the time they are cooking, cleaning and complaining.

Rukiya said...

The Duggar kids may be getting more communal attention, but individual, one-on-one attention? The kind where you talk to the child with no other distractions around and really HEAR them and have a chance to converse with them as an individual person?

I have two children. Out of the 16 hours a day that I'm not sleeping, I try to commit 30 minutes a day of completely individual attention to each child. A half-hour out of 16 hours -- sounds very stingy and not worth much, and it only takes an hour out of my day. Some days I spend more than a half-hour of course... but I guarantee a half-hour at the minimum. I think it takes at least that much time to make sure I have truly connected in a meaningful way with each child.

Out of the 18 Duggar children, one is a newborn and one is out of the nest. So let's take it down to 16 children. Spending 30 minutes a day with each child would require 8 hours. Even cutting that time down to 20 minutes a day would still require over 5 hours a day of one-on-one time.

No, I seriously doubt that is happening. The parents may be there physically more than working parents, but they are still only human and can only spread themselves so thin. Michelle may delegate a huge amount of work to her free live-in labor, but she still has a lot of responsibility taking her time and attention away from her jumbo-sized litter.

SuperMomdel said...

There are 2 parents in the house, so that would be 4 hours, BTW. Also, our pastor once said that kids spell love T-I-M-E. Kids just want you around, not in some contrived half hour of focus. With kids, quantity is more important. The Duggar kids are getting that in spades.

mamawama said...

I don't think that individual attention should be given as a mandatory 30 minute segment. I'm sure that they respond to each child as needed. If Jill is having a hard day, they probably spend a lot more time helping her through whatever. Not every child needs 30 minutes every day.

ALSO, in a big family, there are many relationships. So if you multiply 20x20, you have 400 different relationships happening at the same time! If a small child needs attention, it may not always be mom and dad that gives it, but the small child still feels loved, and the older child feels needed. Its a win win situation. It builds family bonds. I think it is obvious by watching the Duggars that the kids get enough attention. Kids who do not get enough attention act more like Mady Gosselin than a Duggar child.

Rukiya said...

Kids just want you around, not in some contrived half hour of focus.

A parent approaching one-on-one time with an open heart and an open ear provides anything BUT "contrived" focus. Maybe the self-discipline required to commit to that just isn't there for you yet.

And there's nothing more contrived than telling your kids where to sign the schedule to get one-on-one time with you.

You know - and try to wrap your mind around this difficult concept - you can be around a lot for casual interaction AND ALSO make one-on-one time an important part of your day. Yep, you can do both. Unless of course you have to try to squeeze it in for 16 children. In that case, when speaking of eaach child as an individual, the best you'll be able to do is say, "Oh, that one likes pickles...", or "Oh, he's the more energetic twin...".

SuperMomdel said...

I homeschool my children, which requires much self-discipline and sacrifice. I am guessing those people so defensive are the ones who feel guilty about working all the time and letting others raise their children.

Classroom teachers often have 20 or more kids in a class - no one is complaining that they are not giving adequate attention to each child - they are put on pedestals as heroes (I used to teach in public schools, so I know first hand that it's mostly keeping kids under control rather than quality time). Michelle Duggar has way fewer kids in her "classroom" is is awesome.

Rukiya said...

I wouldn't know. I homeschooled my daughter from K-8; she is now a freshman at a college prep academy; my 6th greade son is still homeschooled.

I think you are mistaking wisdom for defensiveness.

SuzanneDeAZ said...

"
There are 2 parents in the house, so that would be 4 hours, BTW. Also, our pastor once said that kids spell love T-I-M-E. Kids just want you around, not in some contrived half hour of focus. With kids, quantity is more important. The Duggar kids are getting that in spades."



Last night when I was lying in bed I was trying to think back about my childhood and the relationship I had with my mother. I could not recall having individual conversations, however my found memories of her was knowing she was always there. I remember watching for hours her ironing or sewing or talking to the neighbors. Just knowing she was around was my greatest need, not necessary having one to one conversations. However, as an adult I did look forward to those one to one talks. My fond memories of one to one time was not during childhood but adulthood. It is not cause mom never talked to me, I am sure she did but I just do not remember. My memories are in just having her "HOME".

Now do I have any fond memories of dad? NO! What I do remember was not good. My parents were either separated or divorced since age 3 so I have little memories of my father. Just like the black family I doubt if they will have very fond memories of their fathers as if they do not live with you most likely the memories are sparce. And if the parents were never married and child support becomes an issue most likely the memories are not good knowing the mother you loved is having issues with the one who help bring you into the world.

So no way do I think that the family with a single mother is having better memories than the family with two parents who are home all of the time.

SuzanneDeAZ said...

" Rukiya said...
I wouldn't know. I homeschooled my daughter from K-8; she is now a freshman at a college prep academy; my 6th greade son is still homeschooled.

I think you are mistaking wisdom for defensiveness."

I do not think she is being defensive. I just do not think you have to have a face to face 30 min. a day talk to have your child feel they are being given attentiion. I agree about the school classroom. I know my kids when I taught school even though I had 20 at a time. I homeschooled for seven years several kids at a time. I think kids thrive regardless if a teacher has 20 or 2 or 3 kids to teach. One thing I noted in the Duggar book is that Michelle makes herself available for heart to heart talks once the kids are in bed. I am sure if she feels a kid needs to have that one to one talk she makes time. You do not have to schedule 30 min. a day per child to give your child what she or he needs. That too would seem a little bit artificial.

SuzanneDeAZ said...

I just read this story:

"Family Adopts Eight Siblings Separated by Foster Care
Posted by JeanneSager
It's like Jon and Kate Plus Eight without Mother Nature pulling the punches. Or maybe 17 KIds and Counting without all the baby-making.

An Ohio family has added eight children to its brood completely by choice - they've adopted a set of eight siblings, who were previously split between three separate foster homes.

Oh yeah, and they already have seven kids of their own living at home.

The presiding Judge, Allan Davis, says this is the most unusual adoption he's seen in all his years on the bench in Hancock County, Ohio. But it's no less heartwarming.

The kids - whose ages range from five to seventeen - were removed from their biological parents in 2006 when social services found they were living in a deplorable conditions. There was just one bathroom in the house - and the plumbing didn't even work (imagine, no potty, and eight kids?). Dubbed mildly mentally retarded in court papers, the parents reportedly failed to complete a case plan and were unable to obtain appropriate housing for their kids - resulting in a complete loss of parental rights.

The eight kids have spent the last six months living with their new family as a sort of "trial run," to ensure it was more than a hunch that that this group must somehow form a family. (hum along with me folks. . . ). Monday, they were all in court to give the judge their own OK on officially becoming the kids of their new parents.

I'd be terrified to have that many kids, but good for these folks - for realizing siblings need to be able to stick together. I know the foster system tries as often as possible not to break up families, but in a family so large, this was likely the only chance these kids would have at a normal life.


The new, big, happy family jumped in a van to go home after the court appearance - any guesses on whether they stopped off for jerseys? They've got just enough for a rugby team.

Image: University of Nebraska"

http://www.babble.com/CS/blogs/strollerderby/archive/2009/01/14/family-adopts-eight-siblings-separated-by-foster-care.aspx

The reason I am posting this here is because the COURTS place 8 kids in a family that already has 7 kids. That makes it a total of 15 kids. Now would the courts place 8 kids in an already large family if they felt the kids were going to NOT get the adult attention they need? NOT

The fact is they felt the kids are better off in this family than being in foster homes separated from each other as siblings. If the COURTS had the mentality of some here who thinks smaller famlies make better famlies so each kids can have that ONE to ONE time they would have not been placed in this family. They would have put one or two siblings in a home with just one or two other kids. That was not in their best interest. I just do not think kids are being neglected cause there are many kids in a family.

I remember seeing some specials on TV with couples that would adopt many children sometimes over a dozen and no one is complaining. In fact they are being admired. The kids are well taken care of. In this one case all of the kids were handicapped yet the parents were able to take care of the dozen plus kids. The kids felt "priviledge" to be part of that growing family. Most of them were adopted as older kids so they had a "voice" if they wanted to be part of that family. These kids went to public schools so I wonder how much 30 min. one to one time they have yet they chosed to be part of that family.

James said...

Now would the courts place 8 kids in an already large family if they felt the kids were going to NOT get the adult attention they need?

--------

Oh yeah, like the courts are such paragons of good judgment and responsibility when it comes to child welfare! Of course this is better than the kids being split up but to defend something on the grounds that "if the courts do it, it must be good" is ridiculous. The legal system in this country routinely harms children.

Benny Lava said...

Quote: "If the COURTS had the mentality of some here who thinks smaller famlies make better famlies so each kids can have that ONE to ONE time"

I don't see anyone here saying that. I do see people saying that in a family with 18 children, the parents are not going to be able to devote as much one-on-one time with each child as those children might benefit from, and I agree with that sentiment.

And I for one clearly remember and value the one-on-one time I had with my mother. Sometimes it was spontaneous, which was great, and sometimes it was planned, which made me feel very special.

Yeah it was nice to know she was "around" but to have her all to myself was something I cherished. And she knew a lot more about me than what I liked to snack on. I don't think siblings are interchangeable for that role. I don't think a sibling is "just as good as" or equivalent to a "second mother".

And I'll tell you one thing, my father sure as hell knew all the birthdays of all his children, unlike Jim Bob who jokes about not knowing his own kids' birthdays.

mamawama said...

Benny Lava,
Isn't that exactly what the Duggars do? They have planned one on one times that are even on a schedule and then I'm sure there are plenty of spontaneous one on one times.

Bottom line, kids with attention needs DO NOT act like the Duggar children. They misbehave to get attention. The proof is in their behavior. AND the Duggar children themselves have said that they get enough attention from mom and dad. Shouldn't we believe it straight from their own mouths?

fostersmom said...

Shawna said...
I mean, if you believe in flipping a coin in order for God to answer a question about a major life decision, I dont think 'luck' is all too far out of the picture. I understand that casting lots is in the Bible, but seriously, that seemed like a major contradiction to me.


But that coin wasn't about luck at all... it was God deciding which way the coin would land....RME. LOL! I do know people and churches that don't believe in luck, but they also wouldn't be making life decisions by flipping a coin. That would be like me saying that I don't believe in religion and then praying over a decision. Both don't make sense.

fostersmom said...

Mom_of_7 said...
I really appreciate how honest they are about their beliefs. They don't care how they are perceived. I think that is refreshing. I also think that if you watch the Duggar kids on the show, they are so not like the exploited Gosselins who do not want to be filmed. The Duggars seem to enjoy it and do not seem to be letting the money taint them.


I do like that what you see on the show is basically what you get with the Duggars. They don't portray themselves to be one thing and then turn out to be completely different. Even with their weekly show, it was filmed in 2007, we didn't see it until 2008, and there's not the constant churning out of episodes that another family is fond of. Now, I do think that they do let a few things in their life be dictated by the filming schedule, but it's no where near as invasive as it could be.

But I can't help but think that if any of the kids weren't happy with the filming, they wouldn't say it or show it. They've been trained to never question any instruction their parents give them. They've been trained that no one should ever be angry, not to display anger. So if any of the kids hated the camera, would they say so or would they keep it to themselves? I don't think that any of the kids hate the camera now, they don't film as much and it's not overly invasive, if it becomes a more regular occurrence, those feelings could change.

fostersmom said...

Jen said...
I have yet to read the book. I'd like to.

We also have taught our children to obey us upon first request. They are required to acknowledge the request with a "Yes, Mom" or "Yes, Dad" - but only in the way that if they acknowledge the request, they can't say later that they didn't hear it if it isn't completed. I don't find this to be teaching our kids to blindly obey everything. I find it to be teaching respect.


My mom taught us to listen the fist time too. We were also expected to listen to any adult the first time, but she also taught us to make sure those directions were safe and healthy. That's what bothers me about the Duggars "game". Expecting your kids to listen the first time you tell them to make their bed is one thing, but expecting them to follow any nonsense instruction is another. It makes me worry for the kids safety. Not from their parents, but other adults that could prey on this.

Mom_Of_7 said...

fostersmom said...

But I can't help but think that if any of the kids weren't happy with the filming, they wouldn't say it or show it. They've been trained to never question any instruction their parents give them. They've been trained that no one should ever be angry, not to display anger. So if any of the kids hated the camera, would they say so or would they keep it to themselves?

I think that if they were really bothered with the show that they would address it with their parents during one of the "late night conversations" that they say in the book they regularly have. When something is bothering one of the kids then they come to their parents, who have an open door policy, and talk to them about it in private, sometimes into the wee hours of the morning. This is when I believe an issue with the filming would be discussed.

Lurker said...

Um...Did anyone else notice that the link for that other large family posted early in the thread (the family of Latrica Ryan) is from a white supremacist, Holocaust-denying site?

That destroys any credibility that article might have had.

James said...

"Um...Did anyone else notice that the link for that other large family posted early in the thread (the family of Latrica Ryan) is from a white supremacist, Holocaust-denying site?

That destroys any credibility that article might have had."

-------------------

Oh yeah I noticed that. Did you see the foul racist comments posted there as well?

Kind of explained a lot to me about where SuzanneDeAZ is coming from, to have found such a site and posted it here as a defense of the Duggars.

SuzanneDeAZ said...

After I read the article I too found out who wrote it. In no way do I support the skin head's philosophy. I only found the site as I get at least 5 or 6 emails from goggle a day that contains links to the Duggars. I have google send me these. That is how I found this site. I posted for a while on a Labador dog site even though I have a bull dog. I am led to these sites by google.

While I realize that the skin heads have issues that I do not condone, I felt it would be worth discussing the other family and ask the questions I asked. I mainly brought it to this forum as I wanted to see how others felt about a large family headed by a single mother. I defended the Duggars or at least for me I feel that the kids have better advantage as I do believe a two parent family offers a lot more than a one parent family. One parent family is three generations in my own family and I see how children, including myself have missed out by not having a partcipating parent.

My own niece who died 3 years ago with breast cancer left behind 4 kids that were fathered by 4 men. Two of which she was married to. However, none of the 4 were very supportive to their children's welfare. Her death caused a lot of grief, more than most families as the kids were split up being they had different fathers. Before he death she had to fight with the fathers to provide enough money to keep a roof over their heads. If my sister and her husband did not rescue her she would have been homeless. My sister and I had to become very creative to keep the kids together as much as possible.

At the time of her death I was homeschooling 3 of her 4 children along with my own daughter. When my daughter finished second grade she asked me to homeschool her. I left the public school system to work with my daughter. My niece had a daughter just a few months younger than my own. So I started to homeschool the two girls together. As my niece progressed through various relationships she would bare a child from various men. As soon as the children reached school age I would add them to my fold of homeschooling. I did this till she died. She died in Oct. and by Jan. 2 or the 3 children I was homeschooling ended up in public school. The next year I put my daughter in a charter school as 2 of my niece's kids were attending that school. In order to keep the kids together we had to make changes.

At the moment all the kids are in public schools including my daughter. I returned back to college to keep my teaching credentials current and presently am working in a public school a few days a week subbing.

I have witnessed over 3 generations in my own family how children suffer when they are in a one parent home. The intent of putting up that article was not because of the race of the other family. It was a contrast of the two families, one being intact and the other one having one parent. To be truthful the family that did not have a father represents more of my extended family and past generations than the Duggars.

I myself got married at age 36. After 5 years of marriage and not having children of our own we adopted. The Duggars are NOT representative of my own family. I just find them interesting and I find it interesting to see how others view them.

SuzanneDeAZ said...

I just got another Duggar email alert from google. It is from the Maxell family. Most likely this family follows AIT, an organization by Bill Gothard. Now that I have this article and am presently going to share it with you does that make me a Gotharite?NOT. Years ago when I first had a teaching assignment the principal had me attend a conference hosted by Bill Gothard. At that time I saw that Bill's influence over the principal of this school caused him to become a "control" freak. I was single at that time not living at home. When they hired me they knew that and it was NOT an issue. After the conference it became a BIG issue. The principal made my life miserable so that I would return home as I was living out of state. It was a very bad experience. Years later I met up with this man and he bragged how he made other single women miserable so they would go running home.

In my case when I returned home I stayed with my mother and my newly divorced sister. As soon as I could I bought a home and invited my mother to live with me. Yes, we shared a home but she was not controlling me. I am not a AIT fan, however if AIT works for this family so be it. It certainly is not my cup of tea.

Here is the article:

http://www.titus2.com/blog/index.php/2009/01/16/fellowship-on-the-road/

Anonymous said...

I cannot believe that some people choose to bash the Jon and Kate tribe and choose to worship this group. It's all the same thing...all these parents are making money off their children. There's a difference between parenting 6 kids the same age and kids two years apart that the older kids look after anyways. Having a new baby ASAP is the Duggar's claim to fame...and the bank account. That being said, I enjoy watching everyone and wish them all the best and if I had to live with filming crews, I would hopefully be getting something out of it too!

MomOfThree said...

SuzanneDeAZ...

What a shame it is that you have had to disclose and explain your personal information in order to justify your posts here. Our personal experiences absolutley temper our opinions and interests and how we relate to other's situations. From time to time, I also have felt that my opinions here and on GWOP have been misconstrued. We are all entitled to our opinions whether they fall within those of the majority or not. We all have our problems and issues; we all make mistakes and because of this, I really try to not to be judgemental of anybody and I try to put myself in other people's predicaments before I am so quick to sum up their "motives".

Please, let's all try to extend each other some courtesy and not make assumptions based on someone's comments. The moderators here, in my opinion, do a fantastic job of having all sides of the stories represented, even though they may not agree with everything they read. Let's all try to lighten up on each other so it's not necessary "tell our whole life story" to explain ourselves.

SuzanneDeAZ said...

Thanks for your kind words, "MOMOFThree" Afer I wrote that I was wondering if I was getting off base talking so much of myself. I think what made me share so much was the fact that some were trying to read into things about me that were not true. Just because I happened to read an article from a web site of skin heads does not mean I hold their beliefs. I happened to get that article as it mentioned "Duggars" and google send me articles throughout the day about anything that mentions Duggars. I thought it would make for a good discussion not having it reflect on who I am. Well, now you all know a little about me, maybe more than you wanted to know.

Lisa said...

I don't always watch the Duggar show but I've seen enough to form my own opinion of them. I haven't read the book, if I can find it at the library or some other free way, I'd read it just to see if my opinion changes. Anyway, I have issues with the individual attention that these kids (don't) receive from their parents, the use of the oldest children as substitute parents for the little kids and the lack of ambition that these children show. Most of these points have already been addressed in this thread. The older girls almost remind me of the FLDS children, they seem to be raised to "serve" men and that bothers me a lot. During the older specials, the teenage girls always dressed just like mom in the homemade dresses and the long hair, very much like the FLDS women. Since the series has started, I've noticed that the older girls are dressing more "mainstream" and their hair is not quite so extreme. I like that. I just wish one of the girls would say something like "I'm going to college to be a doctor" and then go through with it.

The whole Josh/Anna no kissing before marriage thing was far too extreme for my tastes. I understand fully if a couple chooses not to have sex before marriage but KISSING, come on!

Jim Bob and his sh*t eating grin drives me nutty too. Michelle is so calm and soft spoken, I'd almost like her if she didn't come across as some kind of cult follower of Jim Bob. Jim Bob is highly annoying in a "my way or the highway" kind of way. I don't like the blind following that others have mentioned here - that the kids are taught to obey at all costs. If you dropped one of those children in the middle of New York City and asked them to find a job and a place to live on their own, they wouldn't know what to do without calling daddy. I think good parenting also prepares children for the greater world and the Duggars are lacking in this regard.

mamawama said...

From what I understand from the book, their main goal is not about education but to have kids who believe in God about everything.

In our society a "good" child is one who does well academically. The Duggars seem to have different goals for their children.

Also, I don't know if *I could function if I was just suddenly dropped in NY city. I would be calling my Dad for sure! LOL

Thank goodness these kids have family who loves them and wouldn't just drop them into any enviroment and leave them to fend.

SuzanneDeAZ said...

I agree with mamawama. I too would not know what to do if I just was dropped off in NYC.

If I had a father I would call on him too.

Ancient of Days said...

I wish I hadn't followed the link to the article about the Duggars and the Ryans. When I got to it, I was curious about the venue of the article. It seems to be from a site for those of "European descent," and, if you read the comments to the article itself, you see disparaging comments about African Americans. Sure, I'm interested in sociology, and thus in the comparisons and contrasts that exist between the two families, but I don't want to read things in a context of hate.

I'm positive the person who posted the link wasn't aware that she was leading us to Aryan Nation material, so my negative comments aren't directed at her. I just thought I'd give a heads-up to those of you who haven't read the article yet.

overwithKON said...

I really appreciate how honest they are about their beliefs. They don't care how they are perceived. I think that is refreshing. I also think that if you watch the Duggar kids on the show, they are so not like the exploited Gosselins who do not want to be filmed. The Duggars seem to enjoy it and do not seem to be letting the money taint them. In the book they say how they were worried about the designer Discovery picked for them and that she would bring "high fallutin ideas" to them that they did not want. They seem to be remaining who they are, and even if you do not agree with who that is, there is something to be said for their integrity.

I also have noticed how the Duggars are not on every Monday night. There is not this over saturation with them like there is the Gosselins. Kate and Jon want to be a brand. They want to be spokespersons. They want riches and fame and will walk on the backs of their kids to get it. The Duggars are nothing like that. I see the book coinciding with the family I see on TV. It was really refreshing to me.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I totally agree, I have not read the book yet, but I want to, and I see the exact same things on the show that you say. I see a FAMILY that above all else is there for each other, and they are not afraid of who they really are. I dont agree with everything they do and believe, but I do find their honesty to be what I need right now. I think they are great role models. And by role model, I dont mean to be exactly like them, but to be real and who you are, like they are doing.

Honestly I thought I was on another planet when I saw the Duggar Dating Rules one. But the more I thought about it and rewatched it(love DVR)I began to realise that I can learn ALOT from them, and scale it to meet my families needs. I have 2 tweenage girls and I had them watch that episode and the other one where Josh proposes, it doesnt hurt to show them a good example, and it was a great springboard for conversation about alot of subjects.

I like them, plain and simple!

overwithKON said...

mamawa said

ALSO, in a big family, there are many relationships. **So if you multiply 20x20, you have 400 different relationships happening at the same time! If a small child needs attention, it may not always be mom and dad that gives it, but the small child still feels loved, and the older child feels needed. Its a win win situation.** It builds family bonds. I think it is obvious by watching the Duggars that the kids get enough attention. Kids who do not get enough attention act more like Mady Gosselin than a Duggar child.
~~~~~~~~~~~~

You put my thoughts into words. The kids may not have total Mom and Dad every minute, but they do all have each other, and it seems like everyone of them is in it for the long haul! =0)

Anonymous said...

I have a 7 month old daughter, and I would never blanket train, or allow anyone to do it. Stop having so many damn kids if you have to make a baby or toddler obey your every command. Buy a baby gate, theres an idea.

Melissa said...

Being dropped in NYC is a fairly extreme case, but I get the point. It's the ability to adapt and defend yourself in various situations. Being an only child, I can attest to being an individualist and extremely independent. Depending on the child, they may want to rebel a bit and have more time away from familiarity. Not everybody wants to (or has the personality) to be fed commands by their parents and continually take care of their younger siblings. Does that mean they're a "bad" or "unholy" ingrate? Absolutely not. It doesn't mean they'll abandon their family. They may just find a better life doing something different.

Just food for thought...The Amish let their older teens go off on their own for a bit to get a view of the world...their religious values are more extreme than the Duggars.

Anonymous said...

The Duggars are interesting, in a there but for the grace of God go I kind of way.

The thing that rubs me the most is the very real desire to sheild their children from the rest of us evil doing, tv watching, evolution believing, school attending heathens. They may not come out on the show with a blanket statement that theirs is the "right" way but in every action and deed they make it clear we are all going to Hell and they will be miraculously saved.

Anonymous said...

I aam a mother of three. Theey are now grown and have families of their own. My religous beliefs are very strong and I taught my children the same way. They were great kids aand it was always, " excuse me, please, may I, yes mam and no mam." I think it's wonderful that children are taught this way. As far as the Dugger family, I look forward to watching their show. The way they have chosen to raise their children is wonderful. It's delightful to see such well behaved and respectful children. The Duggers have done a beautiful job raising their children. If you look and listen to them, you can see the love that surrounds that family. They go on trips and do special things as a family and to me, they all seem to have a wonderful time and all get equal attention. I think the people who are saying the children can't think on their own is entirely wrong. I believe that if they did not have God and prayer in their family you would not see the wonderful family that we see. What's wrong people, are you so envious of what I and many others see as a loving, caring, and well educated children? Children do have minds of their own and they will use it no matter what. But, I think the reason these children are as well ajusted as they are is because they are happy and they know that they are loved and most of all they have religion in their home. I wanted more children but beyond my control, I had cancer and that stopped my dreams of more. It was not to be. Michele is a wonderful mother and like she said she will have what God gives to her. Maybe, just maybe God is trying to say look at this family and learn from it. The Dugger children are not out half the night, on drugs, talking back to their parents, wearing their pants down to their knees and I'd much rather have my children like the Duggers. Children have a mind of their own and will use it, if not taught the values they have been taught. I admire all of them and say Michele and Jim Bob, you have a wonderful family and if people don't like to hear nor see it, there is such of a thing called the off button on the television. Good luck and God Bless your family.

Mint said...

I'd like to add a little bit to the whole two parents vs. one parent issue that has been brought up in this thread. To do that, I'm going to share my family's history and hopefully you'll see that a "broken" home doesn't mean "broken" children.

First off, my father is the second to last of five children. My grandmother, his mother, had four husbands and children from three of those husbands. While they grew up in between poor and middle-class, and their childhoods weren't always honey and roses, they managed with what they had. Their occupations are: a lawyer, a police officer, a safety manager for Pratt and Whitney (my dad), a restaurant owner, and one is on well-fare.

That last one is my aunt, who got into drugs a little too much during her youth. However, she had two children (by two different men), and the older one now has two children of her own and runs a daycare, while the younger one is a genius (seriously, she got 60 points away from a perfect score on her SATs), has a degree in English, living with her boyfriend, and is on her way to becoming a full-time teacher. Both daughters love their mother and understand that life can't always be sunny.

Aside from the lawyer, my dad and his siblings all have two children each - the lawyer has one. My dad and my aunt are the only two to have been divorced and remarried (and divorced again in the case of my aunt). Nearly all of my cousins have gone to or are going to college, and the few that decided not to go to college are finding their own way through life and are doing well enough to live on their own and have an income.

My sister is currently living with her fiancĂ© (husband within a year’s time) and helping his mom. I'm still at home with my mom and step-dad, finishing off my own college degree in English, and have a long-distance boyfriend.

Now true, even though my parents were divorced, I ended up having more parental figures in my life than had they stayed together. For starters, my mom moved in with her mom and dad after the divorce, so it was like being raised by three at once. Then my mom got remarried, I formed a bond with my step-dad, and now I proudly say that I have two fathers and a mother. (My dad only recently got remarried, so while I love my step-mom, she and I don't have the same bond, you know?)

Now, I tell you all of this because I want to point out that just because you don't have both parents under the same roof, or even have both parents (as was the case with my dad and his siblings), to grow up healthy, happy, and a good person. Also, my dad and his siblings weren't brought up religiously and neither were my sister, myself, and most of my cousins. We all respect our parents and authority (not blindly, we do have opinions).

Just to be clear, this isn't me saying that you have to not grow up without religion or two parents to become a decent person. I'm just letting you know that if you grow up without them, you can still become a well-adjusted adult who can make his or her own way in the world. (And two religious parents don’t automatically guarantee a well-adjusted adult…)

And I don't think it's simply a matter of how much time you spend with your kids or how much of that time is one-on-one vs. casual/simply being there. It's a balance. I have had friends who have had stay-at-home-moms that they feel like they really didn't connect with, and this is because even though the mom was always there, she didn't try to show interest in her kids' activities. She cleaned, cooked, talked with friends, husband, and neighbors, but never bonded with her kids by showing love and support to them. I've also had friends who’ve expressed how much they hate their parents always having to know every little thing about them.

In defense of the 30 minutes a day of one-on-one time, I think that's a great idea. I don't think that the person who uses it (sorry, I'm too lazy to re-find your name. >_<; ) schedules for 30 minutes precisely, every day. It feels more like a thing she checks off at the end of the day. "Did I feed everyone? Check. Did I make sure they did their homework? Check. Did I make sure to give them the opportunity to talk with me, share their feelings, and did I listen? Check."

Now, obviously, if you have fewer children, these times can come up more spontaneously. However, I think the Duggars scheduling quality time is something that their family needs to do. Instead of simply giving into the craziness their lives can produce and ending each day with the intent of getting a full night's rest, they make sure their kids know they have the opportunity to talk to them one-on-one. So what if it has to happen at night? I remember growing up that if I had an issue to discuss with my parents, I would schedule a time to talk with them, usually at night. It gave me time to collect my thoughts. The Duggars have to do it more to an extreme because of the size of their family, but they are making sure no kid gets left out.

Okay, this is my last point before I end this very long post (thank you if you have read through it).

Last point: Don't knock the sibling relationship. Some people in this thread have pointed out that if the parents aren't available, they have their brothers and sisters. Some people have said that siblings aren't a substitute for parents. The second batch does have a point, but that doesn't render the siblings useless to each other. When I was growing up, I relied a lot on my sister for emotional support. I always had a friend when she was around (aside from when we argued, but that's for another time). I had the option of always going to my mom or dads when I needed support, even if I had to wait for them to come home, but I didn't. Sometimes my sister, a mere two years older than me, was who I needed. And sometimes it was one of my grandparents. Or even my close friends. And I'm sure if I had another sibling, I would lean on him or her for support, and they (my second sibling and family) lean on me, too. With whoever you have in your family, you create bonds and friendships with. You don't always need to run to your parents but when you do need your parents, it wonderful to know that they'll be there for you.

Even if you have to schedule it. . . . Actually, now that I’m thinking about it, scheduling might not be a bad thing the way the Duggars do it. They don’t say, “Jinger, you HAVE to talk to us every other Tuesday, whether you want to or not.” The kids sign up when they have things to discuss, so not only are the parents being informed that the kid needs their attention, but it’s a stress-free way of notifying the parents. For all of the openness I had with my parents, there were times when I didn’t know how to approach them, especially when they were busy. And if we didn’t set a time (usually defined as “we’ll talk after dinner” or “when you’re done with your homework”), that conversation was not likely to happen.

If you skipped to the end, here's brief overlook of my points:

- "Broken" homes don't mean "broken" people.
- Making sure you spend quality time with your kids/parents is just as important as being with them
- Siblings can provide emotional support
- If you do need to talk to your parents, it’s great to know that you will have the chance to do so, scheduled or otherwise
- Signing up for talks can make it a stress free engager and makes sure the talk actually does happen

momof5 said...

ANON 7:33 said......


The Duggers have done a beautiful job raising their children. If you look and listen to them, you can see the love that surrounds that family. They go on trips and do special things as a family and to me, they all seem to have a wonderful time and all get equal attention. I think the people who are saying the children can't think on their own is entirely wrong. I believe that if they did not have God and prayer in their family you would not see the wonderful family that we see. What's wrong people, are you so envious of what I and many others see as a loving, caring, and well educated children? Children do have minds of their own and they will use it no matter what. But, I think the reason these children are as well ajusted as they are is because they are happy and they know that they are loved and most of all they have religion in their home.
----------------------------------

AMEN!!! Thank you for standing up for the Duggars and their way of life. I think, truth be told, we all secretely wish we could be like the Duggars..peaceful, loving, genuine and debt free with kids who have great work ethics and respect for others and who are loving and obedient to their parents. But so many of us DONT know how to achieve this, therefore, we just get jealous and judge. I wish I could raise my kids the way the Duggars are raising theirs.

Go to I LEFT MY DUGGAR IN SAN FRANCISCO threas and read my blurb on them under this same name. I think we are on the same page ANON!!

Anonymous said...

First, there's the issue of there not being enough attention to go around. This applies to both families. But it's different. Though the Duggars have 1 more parent, Latrica Ryans' family has 8 fewer kids to take care of in the first place.

This probably means that less attention is inevitably paid to each Duggar child than each Ryans child.


Actually, the Duggar child to parent ratio is 1:9 while the Ryans' child parent is 1:10. The Duggar situation is better all around. They get a little more parent attention, although, in my opinion, it still isn't ehough. But apart from that, the Duggars are financially stable, they have a house with enough interior space and land for the children to play on, and the family is religious. From what I have heard, the Ryans' family is quite the opposite.

And how did she end up with 10 children in the first place? Was it in-vitro fertilization from an unknown donor? I think I am sensing a little Nadya Suleman in this story. These types of things just almost never end up well for the children or the parents.

Anyway, the Duggars also get influence from both a mother and a father. Imagine when the boys of the Ryans' family have to talk to their mother about puberty?!? It just isn't right to have children when you are single, because children need influence from both males and females, and the extra spouse/parent provides double (or more) of the income than just a single parent can offer.

I admire the Duggars for how well-behaved their children are and, being 14 myself, think that the older girls are more respectful to their parents and appreciate their family a lot more than me and some of my friends. Having grown up in a mildly-Christian environment, I think that religion is not that important and that it should only guide you so far in every day living, but I respect their decision to have so many children and their choice to involve this amount of religion in their lives.

For those who are concerned about their impact on the environment, I have two things to tell you. First of all, most of their wood they use (the use wood to heat the house) comes from already dead trees. They also have many more ways of having less impact per person on the environment. Second of all, we have these highly religious families who choose to have like 15 children, but we also have families that have two children, which balances out, or just one of even no children. I know at least 20 families with one or no children, so it all balances out. In fact, both my dad's brother and sister have no children, my mom's brother has no children, and my two great aunts and one great-uncle had no children. That's 14 of the Duggar children made up in just one family. I bet every family has a similar story like that.

Phew, that was a really long post. I just wish that people would stop criticizing families for being unique and having their own viewpoints and just focus on their lives, their career, their own business, to make life better for the people around them. I know this makes me hypocritical, but why do people even post on these blogs anyways? Why not do something better with your time that can help people or make you learn? Oh, its because the media has entirely too much influence on our daily lives. Again, sorry this was so long. Just wanted to get my point out there that big families are not really all that bad. I have one sister and I think that it would be nice to have several more. Adios muchachos y muchachas!