Carefully scripted lives: My concerns about the Duggars

I can’t say how often I’ve heard ordinary Americans defend Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar and their popular TLC television show, 19 Kids and Counting. “I wouldn’t choose to have nineteen kids,” they say, “but if they can manage it, who am I to question their choice?” “The kids look happy and healthy,” they say, “look how polite and well mannered they are.” I hear these comments and I just have to sigh.

First of all, I want to pout out that I would have concerns about the Duggars even if they were your ordinary family plus seventeen extra children. For one thing, there is no way any two parents can give nineteen children the individual attention and time they need. It’s just not feasibly possible. The Duggars like to say that “love multiplies,” but the thing is, time doesn’t. And then, of course, there is the population issue.

But it’s not these things I’m going to discuss here. The fact is, the Duggars aren’t just your ordinary family plus seventeen extra children. There is a great deal of editing that goes into making TV, and one thing that gets edited out are the Duggars’ religious beliefs and their beliefs about child rearing. There is much, much more going on here than you see on TV.

I know this because I grew up in a family very much like the Duggars. We had a third fewer kids and we didn’t have a TV show, but otherwise it was about the same. Our beliefs were nearly identical to theirs, as was our way of living. When I look at the older Duggar girls, I see myself. I was them. With that in mind, I’m going to take a moment to outline nine specific concerns I have about the Duggars.

1. Isolation and Indoctrination

The Duggar childern are homeschooled in part in order to shelter them from bad influences, i.e. from other kids and teachers who hold different beliefs or live different sorts of lives. The Duggar kids don’t have friends who aren’t pre-approved by their parents. In fact, the Duggar kids aren’t even involved in church activities – their family participates in a “home church” where they and several other like-minded families get together on Sunday mornings and worship together.

Furthermore, even the older Duggar children are not allowed to go anywhere without having an “accountability partner,” i.e. another sibling, to keep tabs on them. When one of the older boys volunteered at the local fire department, one of his sisters always went with him to keep an eye on him and make sure he didn’t get in trouble.

Another reason the Duggar children are homeschooled is in order to teach them “God’s truth.” This means that they use religious textbooks, creationist science curriculum, etc. I understand that we have this thing called “freedom of religion” in our country, but I also believe that children have a right to an education, and teaching children one side of everything becomes indoctrination rather than education.

Not surprisingly, the Duggars’ computers have internet access limited to about seventy “approved” websites. To get unlimited internet access, the children – even the older ones – have to get a password from their mother and then have another sibling sitting by them watching the screen as they surf the web to make sure they stay out of trouble. The main reason for this is likely to keep the children from viewing internet pornography, but it also helps ensure that they don’t get subversive information or other viewpoints.

2. Children raising children

If you think Michelle is the one raising all of those kids, think again. Those older daughters, some of them already adults, are the ones who are actually doing the majority of the cooking, cleaning, and childcare. They are, in effect, raising their younger siblings.

Now I’m not saying Michelle sits back and watches soap operas while the kids work, but rather that with that many children there is simply too much for her to do on her own. She doesn’t have the time or energy to raise her children without her older daughters’ help. And fortunately, because the Duggars homeschool, those older daughters are available to help 24/7.

The Duggars have this thing called the “buddy system.” When each new child is born, that child is assigned to one of the older children. In this way, the older children are responsible for dressing, feeding, and even educating the younger children. Michelle had this to say about the buddy system:

This house would not work if we didn’t have the buddy system. The older children mentor the younger ones. They help them with their little phonics lessons and games during the day, help them practice their music lessons. They will play with them or help them pick out the color of their outfit that they want to wear that day, and just all of those types of things.

I’m all for siblings helping each other and playing together, but this goes way further than this. This is siblings raising each other. And as we’ll see, this means a lot of sacrifice for the older siblings doing the raising.

3. Authoritarian discipline

Though they have not directly admitted it, there is a lot to indicate that the Duggars follow Michael and Debi Pearl’s discipline methods. This means they require absolute obedience from their children and see even bad attitudes as signs of disobedience. It also means they use corporal punishment. The Pearls suggest that you begin to spank your children at around six months, and they urge parents to spank a disobedient child until that child submits completely. Complete submission to the parent’s will is the hallmark of the Pearls’ teachings. Here is a quote:

If you are just beginning to institute training on an already rebellious child, who runs from discipline and is too incoherent to listen, then use whatever force is necessary to bring him to bay. If you have to sit on him to spank him then do not hesitate. And hold him there until he is surrendered. Prove that you are bigger, tougher, more patiently enduring and are unmoved by his wailing. Defeat him totally. Accept no conditions for surrender. No compromise. You are to rule over him as a benevolent sovereign. Your word is final. (To Train Up A Child, page 49)

The Duggars have stated that they use blanket training. What they do is place a baby on a blanket and tell the baby not to get off. If the baby crawls off, he or she is spanked on the leg, told “no,” and placed back on the blanket. If you do this for long enough, the baby will learn to stay on the blanket, and then you can safely leave the baby there while you cook lunch or school the older ones. This all seems counter to the nature of a naturally curious baby.

Authoritarian discipline shuts off questions and leaves little room for children to explore. The emphasis on obedience overrides anything else, and as I’ve written before, this can be highly problematic.

4. Bill Gothard and IBLP

The Duggars are big fans of Bill Gothard and are enrolled in his Institutes for Basic Life Principles. Outside of the circle of his followers, Bill Gothard is frequently regarded as a cult leader. He teaches, for instance, that troll dolls delay labor, that cabbage patch dolls are possessed by demons, and that Christians today must follow Old Testament sexual purity codes, including abstaining from sex the evening before weekly worship. Oh, and he teaches that tampons take girls’ virginity.

Until 2002 Gothard ran a group home for delinquent children in Indianapolis, Indiana. Children were sent there by the juvenile justice system for years until the place was closed down under allegations of abuse, including Gothard’s notorious “prayer closets.” There has been a growing movement among young people raised on Gothard’s teachings to expose the abuse, physical, emotional, and spiritual, they suffered at the hand of Gothard and his multiple ministries, including orphanages in places like Russia.

What bothers me most about the Duggars’ involvement with Gothard and IBLP is their use of his “re-education” camps (my term). When Josh Duggar was showing some signs of being “rebellious” years ago, they sent him to Gothard’s military boot camp for young men, the ALERT Academy. He returned much subdued. They’ve done the same with some of the girls, sending them to Gothard’s Journey to the Heart programs, where they are reminded of how wicked and sinful they are and told again and again that following God means obeying their earthly parents.

5. Emotional control

The Duggar children are also taught to carefully control their emotions, and emotions like anger or ingratitude are not acceptable. I’ve often heard people argue in favor of the Duggars by stating that “they look so happy!” Here is an excerpt from blogger Dulce, who was raised on the same teachings as the Duggars, dealing specifically with this issue:

One of the creepiest things about Gothard and the Pearls is that they teach that happy is the only acceptable emotion.  If you do not have a joyful countenance, you are publicly shaming your authorities.  In other words, if the kid looks unhappy, it is a personal offense against the parents.  Pearl also has nauseating quotes and anecdotes about how any time his kids expressed unhappiness or anger they were hit even harder and longer until they were cheerful.  How twisted is that?  Children are taught from babyhood to always be cheerful, or else they deserve a spanking.  As they grow older, it is not just the fear of a spanking that causes them to keep smiling.  It is the sincere belief that they are sinning with ingratitude, rebellion and more if they don’t present a happy face.

As I said earlier that a bad attitude is seen as rebellion, and immediately dealt with. I have no idea whether the Duggar children are happy or not, but I know that if they are unhappy they aren’t allowed to express it, especially for the TV cameras (being a Christian “witness” to the world and all that jazz).

6. A quiver full of expectations

As I said in my introduction to the Quiverfull movement, Quiverfull is more than just seeing children as a gift from God. It’s also about seeing children as potential culture warriors. Children are “arrows” who are to be sent out into the world spreading the gospel and Christian values and replicating their parents beliefs and lifestyles. This mindset leaves little room for children who may differ from their parents or what a different sort of life.

In a family influenced by Quiverfull beliefs, children who embrace different beliefs or ways of life from their parents are seen as failures. The idea is to raise ideological clones. The amount of expectations this places on children is immense. I really don’t know what those older Duggar kids want out of life, but I do know that if they want something different from what their parents want for them they are in for a lot of trouble, a lot of emotional manipulation, and a lot of guilt.

7. A patriarchal family order

The main emphasis in the Christian Patriarchy movement, as I pointed out in my introduction to it, is on a hierarchical family order where each member plays his or her role and everyone stays in their place.  As an example, click here and here to see what the teachings the Duggars follow regarding the proper role of the husband and of the wife. The gist is, of course, that the husband is to lead and the wife is to submit.

The main way this plays out for the children is threefold. First, the children are required to obey their parents without exception. Second, the children are being raised for their future roles – the boys are to be providers and protectors and the girls are to be homemakers. They’re taught this from day one. Third, daughters are taught that they must obey their father even after they become adults.

Those older Duggar girls have been taught that they are under their father’s authority, and that they must follow his will for them. His commands are absolute, just as their obedience is to be absolute. By obeying their father, they are preparing for the time when they will similarly obey their future husbands. Furthermore, by staying at home rather than leaving the home to attend college or get a job, they are preparing to spend their lives as homemakers, as mandated by their gender.

8. Courtship, modesty, and purity

Like many Americans, the Duggars teach their children to remain sexually abstinent until marriage. But they go further, teaching that even kissing should wait until the wedding day. Furthermore, virginity is not just physical, it is also emotional. “Giving away pieces of your heart” through crushes or childhood romances is viewed as permanently damaging, and sexual thoughts are strictly forbidden.

The Duggar girls are also taught that they must dress extremely modestly so as not to “tempt” their “brethren in Christ” (why is this always the female’s responsibility?). That is, of course, what is behind their long jean skirts. This sort of emphasis on “modesty” can be damaging to both girls and boys.

In addition, the Duggars believe that their children should find spouses through parent-guided “courtships” rather than through dating. Dating is portrayed as “practice for divorce” rather than more realistically as “practice for carrying out relationships.” I’ll give an overview of what such a courtship looks like below, but for a young woman’s excellent courtship story, which finishes with damning analysis, click here.

First a young man goes to a young woman’s father and asks to court her, and the father says either yes or no (or sometimes maybe later). The young woman is given the chance to veto the courtship if she is not interested in the young man. If a young woman has her eye on a guy, she can share that with her father and he can possibly talk to the young man or the young man’s father, but she can’t initiate anything herself.

A courting couple is ever under the watchful eye of parents and other chaperons, and sometimes is not given a chance of privacy at all. The father can call or suspend the courtship off at any time for any reason. Eventually, if the courtship goes well, the young man asks the young woman’s father for permission to marry her, and if he obtains that permission he asks the young woman, and if she says yes a wedding follows almost immediately.

9. No teenagers allowed

Perhaps the most disconcerting thing about the Duggars is that their older children aren’t allowed to be teenagers or make their own choices. You can see this strung throughout this entire post.

The older children spend their teen years raising their younger siblings and are only allowed friends from a small pool of approved families. Their access to the internet is strongly curtailed, and they aren’t allowed to go anywhere without an “accountability partner.” Disobedience or ingratitude is seen as rebellion and dealt with swiftly and immediately, sometimes through one of Gothard’s many “re-education” camps. Extreme modesty is enforced and dating is forbidden. Contact with the opposite sex is watched closely. Adult daughters are expected to obey their father’s will for them, are taught that being a homemaker is their God-mandated role in life, and are only allowed to marry through a courtship controlled by their fathers. Furthermore, teen and adult children are expected to adopt their parents exact beliefs and way of life, and any other option is seen as failure.

All this is seen as a good thing. Just like my parents, you see, the Duggars don’t believe in teenagers. Let me quote myself on this issue:

It’s true that the word teenager is less than a hundred years old, and it’s true that our current modern conception of the teenager is new. But the reality is, in our society today, being a teenager is not simply about gossip and boys and a lack of responsibility, it’s about figuring out who you are as an entity separate from your family and their beliefs. Because I was never allowed to be a teenager, I never differentiated myself from my parents at all. I never learned who was. I was never allowed to.

While I do wish I had been allowed to be a teenager in external trappings – clothes, dating, hanging out at the mall – what I really regret about not being allowed to be a teenager is not the material trappings but rather not ever separating myself and my identity from those of my parents. I wish I had been allowed to be different from them, and encouraged to find my own interests and beliefs. I wish I hadn’t been so enmeshed in my parents’ lives and identities as to lose myself completely.

The Duggar children are given no real chance to differentiate from their parents and to explore what they themselves believe and want from life. Instead, they are set off along a prescribed path and are quickly nudged back onto it if they so much as angle to toward the edge. Rather than forging their own paths, the Duggar children are expected to simply follow the path forged by their parents. No questions, no buts, no backtalk.

Have you noticed that all the Duggar girls share one room and all the Duggar boys share another? Michelle said that’s because that’s how the children wanted it – they didn’t want to be separated. That may well be true, but it’s worth noting that when you share your room with your eight sisters, some still toddlers or babies, it’s really hard to find a moment of privacy or a place for sharing secrets.

Conclusion

Most of this stuff doesn’t come across on the TV show, does it? On the TV show the Duggars try to portray themselves as just one big happy family following God’s commands – a witness to others. What you don’t see is that the Duggar children live lives in a fishbowl, carefully scripted lives from which no dissent or differentiation is allowed. Their lives are laid out for them, and growing up is not about exploration but rather fulfilling the expectations of their parents. Conformity is key and stepping out of line is not acceptable.

Bowing to negative publicity, the Duggars recently enrolled some of their children, including the older girls, in an online college program highly promoted by premier Christian Patriarchy group Vision Forum. This program promises bachelors degrees in as little as two years and has the advantage of keeping the Duggar children safely under their parents’ watchful eyes. Not surprisingly, the girls are interested in studying things like nursing and midwifery. I have no idea whether they’ll actually finish, but it would be great for those older girls if they were able to get college degrees of some sort, because it might open more horizons for them in the future.

As for what’s in the future for the Duggar kids, if all follows their parents’ plans the boys will be set up with careers of some sort and will court girls from like-minded families and then start their own families with a baby at least every other year. We’ve already seen Josh Duggar follow this prescribed path.

The Duggar girls, in contrast, will remain at home until some suitable suitor approaches Jim Bob to ask to court them, and they will then move to their own homes to continue their duty as homemakers and begin having numerous children of their own.

If things work out differently, though, and one or more of the Duggar kids strike out on their own, I can only guess how hard things will be for them. And I have to say, the TV cameras and publicity won’t help. I can only wish them the best.

About Libby Anne

Libby Anne grew up in a large evangelical homeschool family highly involved in the Christian Right. College turned her world upside down, and she is today an atheist, a feminist, and a progressive. She blogs about leaving religion, her experience with the Christian Patriarchy and Quiverfull movements, the detrimental effects of the "purity culture," the contradictions of conservative politics, and the importance of feminism.

  • ‘Tis Himself, OM

    I read the OP and was reminded of 1984. The Duggars follow a similar authoritarian ideology, with Jesus replacing Big Brother.

    • http://ordinary-gentlemen.com/ James K

      Yeah, reading all of that I couldn’t help but thing of the Soviet Union.

      • Rebecca

        Wow… not that i am defending it, but do you know anything about the Soviet Union? As only intense historical revisionism would make anything printed in this article comparable…

  • Ace of Sevens

    Wow. I grew up hearing that dating was practice for divorce and that ideally, you would never kiss anyone but your wife, and that you needed to ask a potential partners parents, but no one was really expected to uphold these ideals. I guess I was on the fringes of the nuts instead of in them hardcore.

  • kraut

    Reading about those GULAG families I am grateful to have been raised in a family that was nominally Catholic.
    I and both my sisters had the freedom to explore, both intellectually (that is why I turned Marxist Leninist when 16)and physically.
    I went hitchhiking through Germany and England when I was sixteen, was involved at the student protests in Germany at the time, visiting all kinds of anti government organizations and participated in demonstrations, read all the appropriate subversive books including Bakunin, Marx, Engels, Lenin, some Kant and grew up in an environment where there only rule was: We love you whatever you do, and try not to get hurt.
    I had acrimonious discussions about politics and the way to live with my dad for hours, disgusted by his close mindedness.

    As a kid I received some heavy spanking when I violated the one important rule in the house: tell us where you go, and be home on time. A rule necessary to a kid who at the age of seven roamed went roaming freely around the neighbourhood, alone or with friends, and from the age of ten explored by bike the forest and areas around Frankfurt, during school holidays typically from eight in the morning till supper at six.
    I was free to go and act with whomever and developed enough street smarts to sense danger, assess personalities and to avoid trouble with the law.

    I treasure my childhood and the freedom I had, and did the same with my kids, without the spanking.
    I cannot imagine to live in a stifling prison environment as the Duggars, all of them. The parents are in the same prison as their children.

  • chrisj

    I’d never realised that anyone thought “the beatings will continue until morale improves” was actually a good way of doing things. Mind you, I was also surprised when I first encountered people who regarded “1984″ and “the Handmaid’s tale” as how-to guides rather than warnings.

  • Steve

    >”When one of the older boys volunteered at the local fire department, one of his sisters always went with him to keep an eye on him and make sure he didn’t get in trouble.”

    I guess that makes them progressive. A girl keeping tabs on a boy! What is the world coming to?

  • dianne

    If some of the Duggar children are now adults, how is demanding that they stay at home and only go out with a spy anything other than kidnapping? I realize that they’re relying more on emotional control than physical, but how can they get away with demanding that their adult children only go out with a sibling? And why hasn’t anyone-the other volunteers at the fire department, the camera crew, maybe even a kid from another approved family-clue them in to the fact that they are being held illegally? For that matter, where is CPS? Shouldn’t they be keeping an eye on a family like this that admits to abusing their infants?

    • Libby Anne

      If the Duggar kids decided to leave, their parents couldn’t actually stop them. The Duggars aren’t actually being imprisoned against their wills.

      The problem is that the consequences of one of those older adult children deciding not to follow the rules would be extremely upset parents and, if they the kids didn’t step back in line, likely having to leave home and potentially not being allowed to see their siblings – and at the very least a severe rupture of family harmony. So if you believe that God wants you to follow the rules your parents set, and know what would happen if you stopped following them, you’re likely to willingly go along with them.

      As for the discipline issue, it’s not illegal in the U.S. to spank children, so legally there’s no abuse going on.

      • lucrezaborgia

        I would imagine that being a parental figure to your siblings would also stop the girls from leaving. You would break the little kids hearts.

      • dianne

        I suppose, realistically, it would be overwhelmingly difficult. Sure, they can walk out the door, but then what? They have no job skills, no contacts, certainly no money or anything to trade for money. Where does an indoctrinated fundie kid whose parents are keeping them at home as slave labor and a spare uterus go for help?

      • http://carpescriptura.wordpress.com/ MrPopularSentiment

        They don’t have to forcibly keep the kids home. They probably don’t have to tell them to take a ‘buddy’ when they go out, because the training has already taken place. These kids wouldn’t even think of going out alone at this point. If you watch the show, you’ll see for example one of the little girls covering part of the TV when there’s a woman with a low-cut shirt on. She didn’t have to be asked, the training has already taken place. It’s her responsibility to shield her brothers from “sin.”

        As for the skills, I’d say that the Duggar kids are probably better off on that front than most other QF families. All the boys are taught trade skills to lead them towards self-sufficiency. Even the girls wouldn’t have any trouble finding work given their national fame for child-minding. But the culture shock would be incredible. They lack “street-smarts,” or an understanding of how to navigate the QF/patriarchal world. They’ve also been brought up to see the non-QF/patriarchal world as extremely hostile. But I think that the media presence of the Duggars would both make escaping easier (think of the outpouring of support a leaving Duggar kid would get from atheist groups, not to mention the public at large who, at the very least, would want to support the kid long enough to get all the “dirt” out of them), and more difficult.

  • http://anexerciseinfutility.blogspot.com tommykey

    Now I’m not saying Michelle sits back and watches soap operas while the kids work, but rather that with that many children there is simply too much for her to do on her own. She doesn’t have the time or energy to raise her children without her older daughters’ help.

    Given that she seems to be in an almost permanent state of pregnancy, I would imagine that also curtails her ability to do much housework.

  • Didaktylos

    So – which of them is gay?

    • dianne

      We’ll never know until they run for office.

      • Stephanie

        Lol. Actually, a number of them have already run for office.

  • Didaktylos

    And another thing to ponder: one of the lesser arguments in favour of some form compulsory military/community service is that it means young people brought up in that sort of bubble do have to spend at least a short period of their lives outside it.

  • Beck

    Libby, I’m sitting here agreeing with you so hard that it hurts.

    I was only one of 8, not 19, so I experienced it on a smaller scale, but I know exactly what this is like. I can’t even watch their show, because it’s so triggering.

    I’ve pretty much raised my youngest 4 siblings. I was homeschooled home indoctrinated, made to wear long dresses and jean jumpers and shapeless baggy tops, disciplined for not being happy, forbidden to date or have secular friends–basically the whole shebang. Luckily my father left before I hit my mid-teens, or I’m sure I would have been sent to one of those horrific Christian “re-education” camps.

    After my father left, I was the one that started breaking all the rules. I was the first girl (of 5) to get a haircut, to wear jeans, to wear makeup, to wear jewelry, to date, to stop attending church, everything. I’m permanently marked as the black sheep of my family, but at least my little sisters are experiencing a semi-normal childhood.

    @lucrezaborgia,

    I would imagine that being a parental figure to your siblings would also stop the girls from leaving. You would break the little kids hearts.

    This is why I can’t afford to confront my mother about the way she treats me and my wife. Doing so means getting all access cut off to my little siblings, which not only would break my heart as well as theirs, but means I can’t watch out for their safety, and there are several extremely important reasons why that cannot happen.

    @Didaktylos

    So – which of them is gay?

    Statistically, probably two. And I really, really hope those poor kids don’t end up dead.

  • http://www.freeratio.org/ Brian63

    Libby, you mention that sons would look for girls in like-minded families to court for themselves. I am just curious how common families like this are, and how easy/difficult it is to find potential mates of the right gender, within the same age range, and of the same family/religious type, who are available and interested and whose parents mutually approve. It seems like the pool for such people who meet all those criteria would be pretty small within a certain geographical area. Is it easy to find other Quiverfull families if you are one? Before coming across your blog, I had never heard the term, though was familiar with the general religious concepts. If other families like this are fairly difficult to find, does it happen that the same families often have multiple members who marry each other? In other words, is it common to have a boy from one family marry a girl from another, and also another boy and girl from those same 2 families who marry each other?

    So you could have a sibling-in-law in more than 1 way: The same person could be your spouse’s sibling, and also your sibling’s spouse!

    Brian

    • Libby Anne

      I can’t answer your second question, but your first is easy. There are PLENTY of ways to meet “like-minded” families. The Duggars have “home church” with a number of such families, and Josh Duggar, the only married Duggar kid, met his wife at a homeschool convention. Homeschool conventions, Gothard camps and conferences, Vision Forum events – there are plenty of ways to meet “like-minded” families, really.

      • http://www.freeratio.org/ Brian63

        It sounds to me then that they are not common, but they can still find each other because they tend to gravitate towards each other. On a similar theme, Mormons and Amish build communities amongst themselves and tend to reside in the same geographical areas. Even regular churches operate in a similar way, though on a lesser scale. Methodists seek out other Methodists, Baptists tend to socialize with other Baptists, Lutherans build churches that attract other Lutherans, etc.

        These conventions and forums sound like the same sort of principle at work, where the people may just be spread further apart but come together when they have common interests.

        Brian

      • Didaktylos

        … and I would imagine that by now, matchmaking agencies would have sprung up.

      • Yukimi

        Actually I think there was indeed one “matching agency” but for the parents who would choose who could court their daughter/son formt he website or something like that. At least it appeared in one of the texts Lewis’ linked. IT didn’t seem like it was something very wide-spread or recommended.

      • Yukimi
  • Amy (T)

    I wonder, does anyone know if the kids are getting paid? I would hope the ones over 18 are getting their own paycheck, so that if they ever do leave, they have done of their own money. But do the younger ones get anything, that is in their name only?

    • Libby Anne

      I sincerely doubt any of them are getting paid. Stay at home daughters are supposed to be serving their families and gaining homemaking skills. Why would they get paid for what is their God-given duty? I’ve never heard of adult daughters, or even under 18 sons or daughters, being paid a salary for housework.

      They may get an allowance like normal kids, though.

      • Liriel

        I think Amy (T) might have been referring to the kids getting paid for the tv show, not being paid by their parents.

      • jemand

        I think that was about the money the show makes… I still think it’s unlikely, but it would sure be great if the rules about child actors applied to reality TV…

      • Libby Anne

        If that was the question, then I really have no idea. I think you get into reality TV ethical issues there, and let me just say that I think there are a LOT of them, and not just with 19 Kids and Counting, but with Teen Mom and plenty others as well.

    • Amy (T)

      Yes, I was talking about being paid for by the show. I know the family (parents) have made a lot of m

      • Amy (T)

        (sorry, iPhone issues from above reply). The parents have made a lot of money, and I know there are a lot of child acting laws, but don’t know how that works out to reality child stars. I just think it would be so sad if one of the children did decide to leave and had no money because the parents keep it all.

    • Lisa

      The likelihood of them being paid is almost nil. See, reality TV shows that involve kids are able to slip through a very sneaky loophole in child labour laws. Because the shows are “reality” TV, the children are considered “documentary participants” and not child actors. This means they aren’t entitled to any of the physical or financial protection that companies are required under the law to provide child actors. The company doesn’t have to pay them a dime, or have a neutral third party on set to speak out for the children’s best interests. It’s left entirely up to the parent/guardian to determine if the environment is safe, if filming is going on too long and how much, if any, compensation the kids receive. As you can guess, this often creates a major conflict of interest. Kate Gosselin famously said “I work while they play!,” facetiously overlooking the emotional and social impact of living their lives, as Libby said, in a fishbowl. The Gosselin children worked for 4 years straight without being paid anything. The original contract signed by their parents DID NOT EVEN MENTION THEM, even though the ONLY reason anyone wanted to film the family was because of them. The same goes for the Duggars. I never thought I would use Kim Kardashian as a positive example, but she is the only Reality TV parent I know of who insists that her son (Mason) be paid directly for every appearance on her show. It is really despicable, IMO, to profit off the fame created by your children, destroy their privacy and expose their personal lives to constant public scrutiny, and then deny them access to the funds generated thereof. It’s a strange world where the immodest and unchristian Kim Kardashian treats her child’s contributions with more respect than the people who constantly gush about how much they value their precious blessings from God!

      • Olivia

        Kourtney is Mason’s mom. Kim is the one who got them all in the limelight through her sex tape with Ray J, as well as because the older girls’ father was OJ Simpson’s lawyer.

        Kim is currently dating Kanye West. Kourtney is married (I believe) and just had her second child, a girl. Khloe is married to Lamar Oden (unless they divorced already). They also have a brother, Rob. And then two younger sisters who are from Bruce Jenner. Their mom’s name is Kris.

        (I seriously don’t know why I know all of this, LOL).

  • Beth

    Wow. A lot of stuff I hadn’t thought of before. Thanks for illuminating me about it.

    It’s really hard for me to know what to think about this. On the one hand, they aren’t neglecting or abusing (unless the physical discipline crosses over the gray area and into physical abuse, which it may, but that’s another issue) their children. They really are loving hard-working parents taking exceptional care in raising their children.

    Your parents sounded that way. Given the number of neglected and abused children, the number of children living in poverty and how many are homeless in our country, worrying about how these people are raising their kids seems like it should be low down on my list of social ills to concern myself about.

    On the other hand, I can well understand how horrible it would be to have it forced on you, and if it isn’t an easy fit for you, how chafing it would be to live under all those restrictions. My own upbringing under very strict fundamentalist parents was difficult enough, but it wasn’t like that!

    I’m curious. Quiverfull seems so much like the Amish and some other Mennonite communities that have been around for ages where I live. Is this the same type thing? Or do they differ in significant ways?

    How do Quiverfull families support their lifestyle? It’s damn hard to just support a ‘normal’ family these days on one person’s salary. How are they managing? The one’s that don’t have a TV show anyway.

    The Mennonite families I know strongly advocate their children (both boys and girls) getting a college education. Engineering is popular major for the boys. But how can folks who work at menial jobs manage it?

    • resident_alien

      Did you even read the post? Of course the Duggar children are being neglected,in the sense that their own needs are being unmet and denied.Not every form of neglect is the “I forgot my baby on the toilet at K-Mart”-type neglect.Bizzarely as it sounds,a parent can neglect a child through over-involvenent and smothering.
      Remember that Fritzl guy who kept his daughter imprisoned in the basement for decades? He was actually arguing he was good guy because he always supplied her with food and medicine (when he could have just let her die) and was really doing it all because she supposedly was a volatile girl who needed to be “protected from drugs”.
      It is typical of abusers to frame the abuse they perpetuate as “for the own good” of their victims.Hence the whitewashing of physical abuse as “discipline”.There is no “grey area”.Every smack or spanking is a humiliation,is a failure on the parent’s part,is abuse,is wrong.

    • Pteryxx

      Actually, emotional and financial abuse are recognized elements of domestic abuse. Emotional abuse includes isolation, monitoring all activities, controlling access to friends or relatives, not allowing privacy, and punishment for expressing negative emotion. Financial abuse includes controlling all money and spending, demanding an accounting of every dollar spent, withholding education and knowledge about how money works, and preventing individuals from obtaining work and financial independence.

      http://www.hiddenhurt.co.uk/types_of_abuse.html

    • http://www.sustainablemommy.wordpress.com Naomi

      Hi, Beth,

      Of course I don’t know for sure, but I expect the Mennonite families you know are from the more progressive end of the spectrum. I was born and raised an Amish Mennonite minister’s daughter (also homeschooled and raised under the influence of IBLP, the organization Libby mentions above). I would say that in many ways the quiverfull/sheltering/homeschooling culture of the Duggars formalize many of the patriarchal practices that many Amish and conservative Mennonite communities do out of tradition.

      So, for example, while it was _traditional_ for me to stay home after high school and help raise my siblings and not go to college and obey my parents in all things, there weren’t any explicit rules that I had to do so. I had friends who pursued higher education (usually nursing), but at the same time it wasn’t considered at all odd that I stayed home indefinitely. What the quiverfull/sheltering/homeschooling/IBLP culture provided my father was the explicit teaching that I _must_ “be a servant to the family” (his words). It spritualized and biblicized what would have otherwise been an uncritically accepted tradition. It was the worst of two worlds.

  • Liriel

    Google search led me to here. Doesn’t really sound promising to me, if that’s the case.

  • Deborah S

    Libby, the more I read your blog the more I can identify. I was sent to one of the “re-indoctrination” Gothard camps, Journey to the Heart in Michigan, when I was 16. I had recently begun to “rebel” against the fundamentalism my parents where pushing on me. I still went to their fundy church and dressed “modestly” in public. But at home I started listening to evil Christian Contemporary music and wearing loose fitting pants. But even this was enough for my parents to desperately send me away for two weeks to the backwoods of Michigan.

    It was probably one of the worse things they could have done. When exposed to that intense level of indoctrination I saw right through it. I never read the gigantic workbook they gave us. I scoffed at a small pamphlet they handed to us on the bus ride up to the camp entitled “Born to Reproduce” (of course written by a 1950s, white, male paster). I had hidden a copy of Lord of the Rings in my bags which I read for an hour a night in the bathroom (when we were suppose to be reading our Bibles). When we were suppose to be fasting for a day I happily ate snacks hidden in my pockets (even when I was a Christian I never understood fasting, looking back of course I see the masochistic elements in it.) Two hours a night we would have a hymnal sing along, I would sit in the back and not sing. I even stuck out of our house with a couple other girls and meet up with some guys; no monkey business, just to complain about how awful the camp was.

    But probably the worst thing I did there, for which of course I am proudest, was before we left for the camp, we all stayed in housing at IBLP headquarters. Everyone going to the camp was to have a personal meeting with Bill Gothard. I had always thought he was kind of creepy, but kept those opinions to myself. Once I got in his office, my suspicions were confirmed, the first question out of this mouth was “Have you ever been sexually abused”. I was speechless, then told him that it was none of his business. He informed me that God was working though him to touch my life, so he needed to know. Thankfully at that moment his assistant informed Gothard that he had a senator waiting to speak to him in his waiting room (I really wish I could remember that senator’s name). So Gothard hurried me out of the room into a large conference room adjacent to his office and told me to wait for him. I waited, for about 15 minutes, then I worked up my courage, sneaked out the side door, down the staircase and out the front doors of the building. Then ran back to my house, quite pleased with myself for not giving respect to that man.

    Three years later I became on atheist, but looking back, that camp was the moment I lost my fundamentalist approach to life and the Bible.

  • http://www.freeratio.org/ Brian63

    Didaktylos above mentions:

    http://freethoughtblogs.com/lovejoyfeminism/2012/02/25/carefully-scripted-lives-my-concerns-about-the-duggars/#comment-5946

    “… and I would imagine that by now, matchmaking agencies would have sprung up.”

    I wonder how that would work. Since the parents have to first approve of any guy that is trying to pursue their daughter, would it be the parents that register on behalf of their daughters and respond to the males? Do the parents do the matching? Via a quick search, I could not find any *working* Quiverfull dating websites (just 1 that seemed to be having technical problems). Now I am curious how they function though.

    Brian

    • Yukimi

      It’s been awfully hard to find but here it’s an article that mentions “matching agencies” for Q/CP people. Obviously it’s directed to the parents… and it’s centered on courtship and only for “extreme” cases and not that well seen I would guess.

    • Yukimi

      I forgot to include the link. It’s more or less near the end of the article

      http://www.unlessthelordmagazine.com/articles/when_your_daughter_is_grown.htm

      • dianne

        Interesting article. It almost flat out admits that any young woman given the option will escape and that therefore parents should be careful to make sure she has no options.

    • Anat

      Why not? This was (probably still is) common among Haredi (Ultra-Orthodox) Jews. Parents go to the matchmaker, get a list of potential candidates, if the parents of both sides come to an agreement the respective son/daughter meet (chaperoned) a few times and if they get along they get engaged.

      • AztecQueen2000

        Probably? Try definitely. (I have nephews who were married at 18).

  • anotherone

    I was wondering if you, Libby, or anyone else, can lead me to any concrete critiques of CollegePlus!. I’ve recently learned that this is my parents’ plan for my younger siblings, who (alas) are still caught up in this mess of fundamentalist ideology. I hadn’t realized it was connected so closely with the most conservative parts of the homeschooling/quiverfull movement, and until I read your post, I had had some hope that it would help my younger siblings actually get some form of education and maybe one day escape. Is there anything to this program, or is it just some kind of fundy diploma mill?

    • Libby Anne

      Okay, here’s the lowdown, because I did a lot of research on it at one point. College Plus grants legitimate real degrees through a state college in New Jersey. They’re real. It does actually work.

      The fundy Christian promotion has two aspects – First, College Plus does includes some “character training” aspects that are all religions, though they are not the actual coursework for the actual degree; second, College Plus makes it possible for parents to keep their kids home and under close watch rather than sending them into those dens of hedonism, universities. This last is the biggest reason Vision Forum is so into promoting College Plus.

      The way it works is you are assigned a tutor/guide who helps you through the program, and you start by taking CLEP tests for everything you possibly can. Once you’ve exhausted testing out of courses, you start taking the online courses the New Jersey college offers. Anything that can’t be taken online, that has hands-on experiences and whatnot, you take them at your local community college.

      If you finish the program, you get a real degree. However, it’s expensive (in most cases you could attend a community college and live at home and pay less) and the number of different degrees they offer is limited (and bizarrely so – math and physics are combined into one joint degree).

      My position is that I would prefer kids go to an actual college and get out of the house and learn who they are, but for kids in situations like the Duggars, at least College Plus does offer them the chance to get an actual accredited degree, which may help in the future.

      • http://dream-wind.livejournal.com/ Christine

        I have a sneaking suspicion those degrees may not be worth much in a professional sense. Yes, it’s an official piece of paper and a set of letters, but in any profession, there’s some letters, and some institutions, that mean more than others. Here in Australia, there are certain qualifications that aren’t worth the paper they’re printed on, let alone the money they cost, particularly in the health sector. But then, there are probably QF institutions that would regard those pieces of paper very highly – especially if they have “Duggar” on them.

    • Libby Anne

      So I hope that info helps, and for your siblings, College Plus is better than nothing. I wish them and you all the best!

      • anotherone

        Thanks, Libby. That’s good to know. You’re a wonderful source of information, and I’m really glad you blog. I don’t have much hope for my younger siblings, at least in the short run. From what I can tell, they aren’t really even pursuing CollegePlus with any seriousness. To me it feels like a front–something to tell people who are curious as to what on earth young twentysomethings are doing living at home under more supervision than the average 8 year old. It’s painful to see.

  • lordshipmayhem

    I saw a brief clip from one episode where the Duggers take their brood to a seashore, where they mock the sign stating the fossils are hundreds of millions of years old – how, they demand of the Park employee, did they arrive at that age for the rock? The park ranger answered the verbal question (because of the fossils in it) but not the implied question, which is that those fossils have been only found in rocks radiometrically measured to be a certain range, using techniques that have built-in cross checks.

    After the dad rolled his eyes at the camera at what he considered a stupid answer, I had to change the channel. I can only take so much ignorance of basic science before I put my foot through the tube.

  • SteveS

    This is chilling. People actually watch this stuff and have no idea that Quiverfull is a CULT. It’s like having a show about members from The People’s Temple featured on TV or members of Heaven’s Gate. The Duggars disgust me. I’m wondering how many children their kids will have. Quiverfull disgusts me. It’s sick how it tries to control all of a person’s life. I’m wondering how Jim Bob (such a disgusting name) and Michelle (slightly better) met. How far back does this cult stretch? And if they can say that you’re only allowed to be with one person for the rest of your life because of “love virginity”, why don’t they apply that same principle to having kids? Why not only have one child so that you don’t have to share your love for that kid with anybody else. If you can give pieces of your heart away through dating, why not apply that same view to having kids? To think I actually wondered if their way was the “right” way. I’m glad I became an atheist, but I know what the price of my atheism is. It’s devoting time to combating these evil ideologies that cripple our world. I want to see them destroyed. I want to know…what can I do? Because I’m mad as hell, not for my sake, but for theirs. This is no way for human beings to be treated.

    • Judy L.

      It’s disrespectful and dismissive to call a new or wacky religious sect a “cult”. The only difference between a religion and a cult is that a religion is a supernatural belief system that you think deserves your respect, and a cult is a supernatural belief system that you think is crap. All religions are crap, and the Christian Patriarchy Movement is just one of the more perverted alternative lifestyles practiced by religious men who enjoy controlling women and children.

      • anotherone

        In a popular sense you may be right–for the last century or more “cult” has, in a colloquial sense, been used as a pejorative sense to describe a new religion/breakoff religion/religious group with which one does agree. But from a sociological/psychological/academic standpoint there are very real differences between cults and religions. It has to do with certain practices and group psychology if I understand correctly. (I don’t know that Quiverfull groups would necessarily fall into the academic definition of cult–Libby Ann probably knows more about that).

      • anotherone

        with which one *doesn’t* agree

      • leftwingfox

        I find the Rick Ross Institute’s cult definition is far more useful than being a simple insult for “nutty religion”

        Psychiatrist Robert Jay Lifton, who wrote the definitive book about thought reform (often called “brainwashing”) also wrote a paper about cult formation. Lifton defined a cult as having the following three characteristics:

        1: A charismatic leader, who increasingly becomes an object of worship as the general principles that may have originally sustained the group lose power.

        2: A process [is in use] call[ed] coercive persuasion or thought reform.

        3: Economic, sexual, and other exploitation of group members by the leader and the ruling coterie.

        These patriarchal systems are “cults” not because they aren’t mainstream, but because of the authoritarian worship (Father or Gothard), Coercive control over behaviour and isolation. The last could certainly be said to count of the economic exploitation of the older children in caring for the younger, but we’ve certainly seen in many situations where these situations can devolve into sexual assault (such as the FLDS)

      • Bruce Gorton

        1 through 3 sound like Christianity to me.

    • Steve

      Quiverfull isn’t really a cult in the strictest sense. Unlike Mormonism or Jehovah’s Witnesses, they lack a definite leadership for that. It’s more of a loosely organized movement. They all follow the same ideology. They may coerce each other through group pressure, but interestingly, there isn’t any pressure from outside. From the point of view of the parents (or at least the men) it’s self-inflicted insanity

  • Pteryxx

    Libby Anne: semi-OT, I saw this quote on one of your spanking posts referenced here:

    Conservative Protestant parents are more likely are more apt to value children’s obedience to parental authority, whereas their non-Evangelical counterparts tend to value youngsters’ autonomy and self-direction.

    so I want to ask, what exactly does “Evangelical” mean as opposed to non-Evangelical? The word sure does get tossed around a lot.

    (I’m about as ignorant of religion as someone raised by fundies can get, aren’t I…)

    • Libby Anne

      In that sentence, “conservative Christian” and “evangelical” are used as synonyms – and they often are. It gets very complicated when you get technical about it though.

      David Bebbington’s widely accepted definition of evangelical includes four aspects:

      * biblicism, an emphasis on the importance of the Bible
      * crucicentrism, the centrality of the atoning work of Christ on the cross
      * conversionism, the belief that conversion is necessary for salvation
      * activism, a belief in the importance of sharing the gospel and building Christ’s kingdom

      Other scholars, however, have emphasized the importance of culture. Marsden said that an evangelical in the years following WWII was “anyone who liked Billy Graham.” McDannell has defined an evangelical as essentially anyone who participates in the distinctive evangelical culture of WWJD bracelets, Christian bookstores, and contemporary Christian music.

      Adding to the complication is that many who technically should not be counted as evangelical – such as Catholics – have been influenced by evangelical beliefs and evangelical culture. It’s not uncommon for Catholics to visit evangelical Christian bookstores and listen to evangelical Christian music.

      The definition of “fundamentalist” is also complicated. It’s often used colloquially to mean any sort of extremist religion. Christian fundamentalists generally differ from evangelicals only in that they have stricter codes of living (i.e. long hair, skirts only, no dancing or alcohol) and in holding more strictly to particular doctrines (a greater emphasis on the literalism of the Bible and the details of dispensational premillenialism). For all intents and purposes, the two groups have similarities and overlap, and are in some sense simply on a spectrum.

      I hope that helps a little.

      • Pteryxx

        Thanks, that actually helps. Also, because of no dancing, I can confirm I was definitely raised by fundies. *nodnod*

  • Nolrai

    “Pearl also has nauseating quotes and anecdotes about how any time his kids expressed unhappiness or anger they were hit even harder and longer until they were cheerful.”

    Wait so, literally “the beatings will continue until moral improves.”

  • http://carpescriptura.wordpress.com MrPopularSentiment

    I didn’t know that Josh Duggar had ever shown signs of rebelliousness, or that he’d been sent away to be “fixed.” You didn’t site your source for that, and I’d be really interested in hearing more about what happened. Do you have more information?

    • Libby Anne

      Sadly, no. I maybe should have mentioned in the post that this wasn’t 100% verified – I can’t even remember where I read it. Look up “sin in the camp” for speculation and discussion on this, but it’s hard to verify things sometimes because the Duggars are naturally very hush hush.

      • http://carpescriptura.wordpress.com/ MrPopularSentiment

        Thank you! And yes, they are. I find the QF movement really interesting, and the Duggars especially so. They straddle that weird line between trying to look like “just a normal family, but with way more kids” for the media, and being a part of a really wacky fringe group.

        I’m interested in what being in the public eye will mean for the kids as they grow older. I imagine that the pressure against breaking away from the belief system will be all the greater because it would mean not just betraying the family, but doing so publicly.

        On a somewhat unrelated note, I got “20 and Counting” (the book) out from the library a few weeks ago. That was rather embarrassing ;)

  • Judy L.

    Just a quibble: teaching creationism isn’t teaching ‘one side’ of biology or human development or human origins. Teaching creationism is a rejection of science and presenting myths in place of facts. I don’t see any of the Duggar boys pursuing careers in science. I have great respect for skilled trades and work of all kinds, but if the world were populated with these kinds of Christians, there would be no medicine, no science, no chemistry or biology, and no decent literature or art in the world.

    The Duggars freak me out, and probably more so because they’re packaged as just a family with “wholesome conservative values”. They really need to be revealed for what they are: dystopic and oppressive. I hope that their gay children have the courage to come out one day, and that the others who want to live in the world too will be able to make their escape.

  • http://occupyequestria.tumblr.com nekohime

    Wow, I was always a bit disturbed by the Duggars, but I couldn’t put my finger on exactly why that is. Every time I tried saying there was a problem, people would defend the Duggars–exactly like what you said in the first paragraph–and I would find myself reluctantly agreeing that well, they DO seem happy, and it’s their choice on how to live their lives and raise their kids. As a feminist, I’m supposed to encourage choice, right?

    This post articulates why they are problematic, and I just found myself nodding at each point. Sure, Michelle may have chosen that life for herself, and maybe her older children will choose the same life, but… if all your life you are indoctrinated towards a certain path, and there are serious consequences from straying from said path, is it really a choice?

    Also, I had a much more liberal Catholic upbringing (with much less kids!), but I did experience the children raising children bit. I have to say, it turned me off from ever having kids of my own. I mean, I experienced raising kids already, so why do I need to repeat the process with my own spawn? No thanks. I want to enjoy a free adulthood.

  • http://skjaere.livejournal.com/ Skjaere

    My mother took a hard Right turn when I was a teenager. In the past few years, I’ve heard her voice once or twice that she wishes she had been more of a strict disciplinarian with me and my sister. I feel like I really dodged a bullet. Even when my mom was comparatively “liberal”, I still got grounded once for two weeks for kissing my boyfriend.

    I feel for these kids, and I hope that some of them, like you, manage to break out of it, and serve as an example to the others that there are more options in life. But I know that most of them will probably end up as clones of their parents. It seems like such a waste of human potential.

    • http://skjaere.livejournal.com/ Skjaere

      By the way, I just wanted to mention that all your posts are so good that I end up sharing just about every single one of them on FaceBook. Keep doing what you’re doing.

  • Deborah S

    Here’s some straight forward, video evidence that the Duggar kids are being indoctrinated. I really feel sorry for them.

    Dugggar’s at the Creation Museum:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9SsLgHr5rSk

    • http://carolziogas.com Carol

      That video clip is absolutely heartbreaking. Creationism is more “scientifically proven”? How is that even logical?

  • John Morales

    I can hardly imagine a more suitable milieu for incest.

    • PleasingToDaddy

      Verily, verily, I say unto thee, What is pleasing to daddy is pleasing unto Me, yea, even pleasing to the LORD-

      -Jesus as quoted in the Gospel of Duggar

  • Tsu Dho Nimh

    What does it say about the Duggar’s faith in their parenting ability if they don’t trust that their older children can stay “pure” without a chaperone along?

  • http://thaliasmusingsnovels.com/ Amethyst

    Disclaimer: I have no idea whether anyone associated with this band has any experience with IBLP. However, I have a hard time imagining this song being about anything else.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zqx_dmgNI8g

  • Speedster

    I heard a rumor about a year ago that the Duggars actually have a child older than Josh. Apparently this daughter did not agree with much of what the family stand for, and rebeled. According to the rumor mill, she is banned from the family and is not allowed any contact with the siblings. Has anyone else heard this? I have tried googling to no avail.
    Perhaps it really is just a rumor…?
    I figure you would be the perfect person to ask.

    • LutheranEmily

      THat wasn’t the Duggars. That was the Jeub family, another supersize family.

      And they have since reunited with their rebellious daughter.

  • jamessweet

    I see others already mentioned this, but just playing the odds, it’s a virtually certainty that at least one of their sons is gay. Which raises the distinct possibility that at some point, one of the Duggar boys will either publicly come out of the closet, or (probably almost as likely, I’m afraid) commit suicide.

    Of course any gay children they have could remain closeted indefinitely, too. I’m not sure how to even guess on what the odds would be…

    • http://carpescriptura.wordpress.com/ MrPopularSentiment

      Or one of their daughters. Regardless, I’d say that the media exposure will have an impact, and probably delay any ‘coming out.’ It’s possible that the dissonance between public (very public) persona and the internal self may lead to some very destructive behaviour. I would be surprised if we see at least one of the kids developing a drug addiction in the nest 10-15 years.

      • LutheranEmily

        ridiculous!

        Just because there are 20 of them does NOT mean that any of them are gay..

        That is just silly talk.

    • Jake

      jamessweet, if you accept the 10% thing, then the probability of none of their kids being gay is 0.9^19 which is about 0.135, in other words, the probility of at least one of them being gay would be 86.5%. Of course, it is a whole lot more complicated than that in reality, since there is a genitic factor, and gay or straight is not a binary thing anyway. Nevertheless, if any of their close ancestors are gay, then the probability would go way up, if not, then I am probabily overestimating.

      • kisekileia

        The other factor that raises the odds of gay Duggar kids, and specifically gay male Duggar kids, is that boys with a lot of older brothers are (for biological reasons) disproportionately likely to be gay. So the odds of some of the younger Duggar boys being gay are very high.

      • vasaroti

        Look up the “fraternal birth order effect,” discovered by Dr. Anthony Bogaert and confirmed by subsequent studies. The baseline incidence of homosexuality is around 3% of all males.

        “Logistic regression analysis showed that homosexuality was positively correlated with the proband’s number of older brothers but not with older sisters, younger brothers, younger sisters, or parental age at the time of the proband’s birth. {Each additional older brother increased the odds of homosexuality by 33%.}
        http://utahcog.blogspot.com/2006/11/big-brother-makes-you-gay.html

        So, yeah, it would be no surprise if one were gay, but your probability estimate is too high.

  • raven

    How do you support a family of 12 or 17 kids?

    At least in the suburban American lifestyle, children are expensive. Most families I know struggled or are struggling these days to support 1 or 2 kids.

    Jobs aren’t plentiful and they are all unstable, incomes are falling for 4 years now by a lot, poverty is rising.

    Even the US birth rate has been dropping during the Great Recession. People are looking at the economy and deciding they really can’t afford children right now.

    • http://carpescriptura.wordpress.com/ MrPopularSentiment

      Well, the first thing is that kids get less expensive (per child) the more you have, because resources are shared. Clothes and toys can be handed down, for example.

      Also, there are different definitions of childhood. For example, most suburban parents would want their kids to have violin lessons, to participate in sports, etc. Whereas in most QF families, that might not factor in as a “necessity” of raising a child. Also, many QF families forego things like health/dental care for their children (under the guise of ‘faith healing’), which reduces costs.

      If you factor in the cross-over with the homesteading movement, living far from urban centres and growing much of your own food makes a huge cost difference.

      And then there’s all the ‘household arts’ that can save costs, such as sewing. Clothes that start to become too threadbare to be used in their current state can be taken apart and recycled to make new clothes. Making your own soap or laundry detergent can reduces costs by quite a bit.

      But it’s also important to recognize that the Duggars are the exception, not the rule. Most QF families are really struggling. If you watch the Duggars show at all, there’s an episode where they visit another QF family that lives in a house only about the same size as my apartment (which already feels cramped with only 3 people). The Duggars themselves lived in very cramped quarters before the home they currently live in. So I think a lot of it comes down to a difference in living standard. So while I, for example, wouldn’t have more children than I can afford to put through college, a QF family would recategorise these sorts of things as ‘luxuries’ rather than ‘necessities.’

      • raven

        Oh, an 18th or 19th century lifestyle. Sounds pretty bleak and not fun to me.

        I’d be careful with the faith healing. You will lose kids that way and it happens often. I’ve found two families that have lost not one but two of their kids to easily treatable childhood diseases.

        In some states they are starting to prosecute them for homicide.

  • E.A. Blair

    I can only wonder how thes “arrows” can be expected to be “shot out into the world” to spread the parents’ brand of Christianity when they are raised in such an insular environment and have no experience in dealing with the outsiders whom they are expected to bring around to their point of view.

  • http://www.facebook.com/mvils leni

    Yeah I was wondering where exactly those arrows are supposed to land as well. They’ve really segregated themselves from the world. Maybe the “arrows” are just supposed to land next door, but since they plan to out-reproduce the rest of us, next door is eventually everywhere.

    Creep.y.

    Even Mormons go door to door and sometimes out of the country, which is kind of annoying for the rest of us, but at least exposes them to other kinds of people. Most of whom are probably rude, but hey. At least they get out and meet other people.

    Also I’ve really been enjoying your blog, Libby Anne, and the other stories you’ve link to. Really eye-opening.

    • E.A. Blair

      At least when Mormons come to your door (in my experience, at least) and you tell them you’re not interested, they’ll do the polite thing, apologize for borthering you and leave. The Jehovah’s Witlesses, on the other hand, don’t get the message unless you slam the door in their faces – and one time, they just stayed on my porch and kept ringing my bell until I called the cops.

      • Jake

        The last time a JW came to my door, I had a Dungeons & Dragons book in my hand, and they couldn’t get away from me fast enough. They literally stopped mid sentence and ran away. I’m not sure if D&D would have the same effect these days, but maybe Harry Potter would work?

      • Aliasalpha

        Jake, I think what would worrk best is carrying a death metal CD, ideally one by Cannibal Corpse. That cover artwork would make them run pretty damned fast

      • Lisa

        The JWs came to my door one day. My roommate was polite but firm about being uninterested and shut the door. When I realized who had just knocked, I ran down the stairs, threw open the door and screamed “HAIL SATAN!”
        For some odd reason, they never came back.
        PS: I was just screwing with them, in case you’re wondering. I’ve never been a satanist.

      • Christine

        I managed to get them to leave by apologizing for interrupting the conversation they were having with my husband, but they interrupted as we were on our way out, and the reason the baby was screaming is she had noticed this, and was feeling cheated that we were still in the apartment. Granted, I think they were happy to seize on an excuse. Pro tip: don’t tick off a pacifist, not in the context of what you’re pretending is a conversation.

      • http://www.facebook.com/kelly.crawford.182 Kelly Crawford

        Here’s a funny thing that was told to me by a former JW. If you tell them you’re Jewish not only will they leave you alone but they’ll take you off of all lists because they apparently believe that Jews are the chosen ones.

      • Scrapple66

        Ha, I tried this once. They just started peppering me with more questions- “what branch? Do you keep kosher? Do you have two refrigerators?”

  • http://www.facebook.com/mvils leni

    E.A. Blair, I’ve had similar experiences and the Mormon kids are unfailingly polite and for the most part I just feel sorry for them. I make my best effort to be pleasant back, but I always tell them I’m an atheist. I consider it a civic duty :)

    But, yeah, The JW’s don’t seem to get the message as quickly.

    I remember two JW’s coming to the door when I was a child and my mother turning on the vacuum cleaner and pretending she couldn’t hear them while shutting the door in their faces. While I’m sure this was most likely a result of her Catholic upbringing, I still laugh about it.

    • E.A. Blair

      I have this plaque on my front door, but it must be too subtle for the witlesses. My father, who, if he were still alive would probably be 1000% for Santorum, used to try to argue with JWs, which usually kept him busy for several hours. I kept trying to tell him that it didn’t do any good, but my agruments weren’t any more persuasive than his.

      And this pretty much says it all about the Duggars and the Quiverfull movement. Maybe they will finally stop having kids when they run out of names that begin with “J”.

  • Nurse Bee

    I have to think the saying the girls would like to become nurses is just talk. Nurses deal with a lot of dirty things and (probably more importantly to people like them) sometimes you are going to be alone with members of the opposite sex and it may involve delicate issues. Even if they went into nursing school with the intention of taking care of babies or labor and delivery, you still have to learn how to do everything.

  • http://www.thelittlepecan.com thelittlepecan

    I’ve known about most of this for years, I study sociology of religion and I have a specific interest in evangelical/fundamentalist beliefs (recovering SBC).

    Blanket training makes me cry.

  • Duggar Friend

    I don’t know where to begin. This article is such a lame misunderstanding of the Duggars and how their family works. I know the family. Most of what you say here simply isn’t true. Not some, MOST.

    They all have minds of their own. The older kids love being there and any adult can leave whenever they please. And this family is about love. The compliments from parent to child are constant. More than I’ve ever been around.

    I don’t know if you’re actually a writer or just a blogger in pajamas with anger to vent, but I hope you do some real research on the family instead of coughing up lousy assumptions. You’ll be embarassed if you do.

    • http://aceofsevens.wordpress.com Ace of Sevens

      Could you be more specific?

    • Libby Anne

      If you reread the post, I never said the Duggar children are not happy. They may very well be. That wasn’t the point of my post.

      Like Ace of Sevens suggests, some more specific refutation might be helpful. Do the Duggars not practice courtship? Are they not enrolled in IBLP? Are the Duggar girls not being taught that their role is in the home? Do the Duggars not believe that wives must submit to their husbands? Are the Duggar children not expected to grow up to hold their parents’ exact beliefs? Do the Duggars not promote the Pearls? Do they not have an internet filter, as I described? Do they not practice the buddy system? Are the older children not expected to always have an “accountability partner?”

      I’ll be honest – most of this stuff comes straight from the Duggars website and their books. If it’s incorrect, please let me know.

  • bla

    I don’t know..they are pretty funny! When Jim Bob says that some men also had shown interest in their daughters one girl is saying that the guys were creeps and weirdos – of course, that doesn`t mean you are not right, I just think Jim Bob seems to be a person you can rely on and sometimes the kids are sarcastic and making fun of each other (but never hurtful). Anna (Josh’s wife)and the Keller`s are way more creepy…they seem like they never laughed or made thoughtful jokes .. (unfortunately this lifestyle made Anna actually lost without a man who tells her what to do, she seems really narrow-minded to me…)
    And I don`t agree that short t-shirts and knee-long skirts are “extremely” modest, muslim women with veils and long armed oversized dresses are “extremely” modest to me…I chose not to show cleavage either – not because god tells me to, I just feel uncomfortable…nothing bad about clothing correctly
    How does that Pearl stuff go with their rules “never raise a hand to hit” and “never raise a voice to yell”??
    But I agree, with all the TV stuff, politics, bookwriting, the girls are raising their siblings!
    Well, we are all going to see what really is going on when one of the kids writes her/his own book! And the chances are good with 18 kids…the thing bothering me most is: what if one child is a homosexual? (chances good here either!)

  • Pingback: Is IBLP a Cult? Yesssss… « Echoes In The Wind

  • http://isomorphismes.tumblr.com isomorphismes

    Those older daughters, some of them already adults, are the ones who are actually doing the majority of the cooking, cleaning, and childcare. They are, in effect, raising their younger siblings.

    So?

    And then, of course, there is the population issue.

    One family with 19 kids isn’t affecting the world population.

    • Arthur Dale

      See my post number 116.

    • Arthur Dale

      See my reply number 117(correction)

  • Pingback: The Duggar Family Doesn’t Go to the Beach, and Why That’s Bad for Their Kids

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  • English/Atheist/Feminist/Cohabitee/Catowner/Birdwatcher/Masturbater/Cyclist/ClassicFictionReader/

    I am astonished by all that I have read here, and horrified by the clear child abuse (blanket training). Hitting an infant to get it to stay still is so intolerably cruel, you would be arrested for doing that here in England, and society would be disgusted by your actions. Noone is allowed to hit their children here, it is deemed child abuse.
    The crazy religious stuff blows my mind, most of Britain is atheist, the clear majority, and we just don’t have any of this stuff here. I am so thankful. My mum is an atheist, my dad is an atheist, I was left to make up my own mind, I too am an atheist, as is my boyfriend of ten years, not one single person I grew up with believes in god. You would be laughed at and thought of as a weirdo if you said “I’m a Christian”. In some of our major cities some of your latterday saints bible bashers come over and preach in the street outside universities, we think they are complete dunces, nobody gives them the time of day. Hardly anybody Christens their kids. I’m not Christened, nor are my siblings. So reading this crazy stuff is mind boggling! What is with America’s obsession with abortion??? It’s just so not a big deal here, no different to removing an in-grown toenail, tumour or cyst. It beggars belief that Dr’s are murdered in America for doing their jobs. Gobsmacking.
    These parts of America that contain these sorts of people just seem so much like Saudi Arabia. I(‘s fascinating to read about though. It’s a Christian version of Saudi Arabia. Startling and terrifying but interesting nonetheless.

    • lizard

      Well said Anna, I think there’s a Bible verse for this website. It goes something like… Woe to those who call evil good and good evil; who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter. Isaiah 5:20 I would rather have this parenting style and be protected under my parents then giving me away at 5 to others for my education, spiritual direction and moral guidance. Why on earth are you troubled that they keep the internet protected and guarded?? That is common place in Australia in any decent home. MOST parents are really concerned Christian and non Christian, so I don’t even understand your point. Except that you are probably a very ungrateful person who can’t see the benefits in how you were raised. Hey, my parents didn’t do every thing right but they did their best! Have you heard the saying… “build a bridge”? in other words get over it!

    • closetatheist

      right, why can’t these people use a pack n play to contain their infant? its like they WANT a reason to hit their kid.

    • Cleo

      “What is with America’s obsession with abortion??? It’s just so not a big deal here, no different to removing an in-grown toenail, tumour or cyst.”
      It is incredibly sad that you believe a zygote/embryo/fetus to be no different than an in-grown toenail, tumour or cyst! YOU were once a zygote, an embryo, a fetus, an unborn baby in your mother’s womb.

    • Alex

      1. That’s why we left Great Britain

      2. We beat Great Britain
      3. Twice
      4. We helped bail you out of a world war
      5. Twice

  • Jemima B. Ulyett

    Blimey. America is so different to Europe. I suppose there is no national memory of the Enlightenment or the Reformation. I can’t believe a western country can be so puritanical in the 21st Century (Republic of Ireland excluded).

    • UK Traditionalist Conservative

      I am a Christian, there is no evidence that the “clear majority” of people here are atheists, I believe in God and a lot of the people around me, probably half to 70%, believe in God [but not a fundamentalist doctrine.] I live in a large British city and study a science at a perfectly non-religious establishment and there is no reason for me to think that anti-religion is the dominant view here. I believe if you laugh AT me and call me a “weirdo” then that will be your eternal loss unless you repent. I have been baptised as an adult, father was Jewish so was not Christened at birth, and will be Christening my children should I have any.

      As for abortion- I am 100% pro-life from conception. I believe it is murder. 20-30% of young people in the UK are pro-life, not enough to get abortion made illegal but still a lot. The majority of 70-80% pro choicers still see abortion as a big decision in general, only a few heartless twits would suggest it was no different to removing a diseased part of the body which does not belong there. Doctors should not be murdered, but equally they should not do their “jobs” any more than a contract killer or an arms dealer.

      America is very, very different to Europe, yes. Here we have tax-funded abortion, ridiculously high progressive taxation rates, extremist gun control, schools bashing parents and their morals, thought-crime laws, and aggressive “anti-God fundamentalists”. Traditionally, aesthetically and with respect to the long-term deposit of cultural artifacts Europe is much better… I cannot understand why its politics and mainstream moral views have gone so bad since World War II.

      As far as the Duggars “not doing teenagers” and rejecting the idea of a time of self-discovery between childhood and full adult responsibilities which is one of the achievements of the modern West: that’s bad, but perhaps it is possible to go way too far the other way to anti-parental measures. There are schools in this country where Muslim parents send their 13/14 year old daughters, after having taught them abstinence until marriage, only for teachers to let the girls discuss their sexual experimentation *in secret*. The parents don’t get to find out any information whatsoever, and if they complain the school should butt out and get back to teaching curriculum, they will be told something about “confidential pastoral care”. (yes, confidential) Montana’s parental-notification ballot this November seems so far away across the Atlantic…

      • Daniela

        That’s interesting. As a Brit, I would agree that the high majority is agnostic or athiestic, but plain and simply not living life quoting the bible, and if they did read the bible the majority would be realistic and say its a load of old ancient ideas where stories were made because we didnt know any better. Fair enough. And some Brits may at the most go as far to say that it IS possible some ‘thing’ spurred on evolution, because we can’t prove anything. All we can say is the god that exists in the minds of most people is humanised to the extent that there is no proof for it, except the words of ordinary men.

        As someone who is an average British citizen, none of my many friends and acquaintances follow religion, (barring those following any other religion aside from Christianity) and only encounter such tosh when getting marriage and being forced to go to church. My Italian family however do believe in god if i asked them, but unlike Americans, they dont go to church and dont use this belief as a guide for moral behaviour, not do they think about god on a daily basis as if he is a big deal. This is a typical European view. Americans are stuck in the past, this is now a modern scientific world, and most Europeans have awoken.

  • makalove

    i grew up in a somewhat less strict family, but from 8th grade through high school graduation (in 1987) i attended a private church-school that subscribed to all of these beliefs and promoted Gothard – we were required to attend the Basic Youth Conflicts seminar (i think that’s what it was called?) every year. i am still, at 43 years old, unraveling and processing the damage that was done to me by their brainwashing.

  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r1bMlkxywNo eeaan

    Is that true? I’ll spread this info. Anyway, good posting

  • Teresa

    Isolation? If keeping your children isolated from the filth that is on the internet and on television is a bad thing well then I am also guilty. If you want to see the kind of dicipline and self-control that the majority of parents teach their children is like, just go to Wal-Mart. I am positive you will find at least a dozen or so children who can’t manage a shopping trip without tantrum…..no matter their age. And let’s take a look at the product of some of this parenting based on various “Dr.’s” and therapist. Take a look at our 20 some year olds that are already divorced, unemployed, living on assistance and seeing yet another therapist who won’t do them any good but will prescribe them some pretty good depression meds. Modesty? You mean to say that having boys and girls dressing like they are thugs and prostitutues is so much more mentally healthy for our young people? Again…..take a trip to the local mall and see the product of that reasoning.

    I agree that children should be given the option AT SOME POINT to make their own decisions about their life. But only when they have been taught the difference between what is right and wrong. And if their parents use the Bible as their guide to bringing up a child…..well then I am positive that the Bible is a much better choice than Dr. Phil or any other nut job that wants your money. The Bible will cost you $20.00 or contact a local church and they will actually give you one for free. And you won’t be forced to hop your still developing children on pschye meds either that no one can tell you the long term side effects of.

    I don’t believe that spanking a 6 month old child is the answer but neither is taking care of your adult children and your grandchildren later in life because your adult child never learned how to be responsible for themselves or anyone else. But if you want to reap those “rewards” in your golden years then have at it! You might want to find a good therapist so you can get some happy pills…..you’re gonna need them.

    • Jitterbits

      “neither is taking care of your adult children and your grandchildren
      later in life because your adult child never learned how to be
      responsible for themselves or anyone else”

      I realize this is super late, but you seem to be totally unaware of the fact that in these Christian Patriarchal families, they DO expect to take care of their children through their old age if, for some reason, their children never marry.

      Also, there are other choices between the Bible (which really is not a good moral authority at all, if you actually study it) and Dr. Phil. Furthermore, a lot of money is filtered through the church, so your claim that only the secular organizations exist to profit is truly laughable. Christian families give at very least 10% of their total income to the church. Therapists don’t demand that. Your claim that religion is a good substitute for psychotropic meds is incredibly dangerous. You know who believed that exact same thing? Rusty and Andrea Yates.

  • PleasingToDaddy

    These duggars always talk about whst is pleasing to the LORD, but I hink what they are concerned about is pleasing daddy. Is pleasing to the lord and pleasing to daddy the same thing.

  • Anna

    It seems strange that if a persons beliefs aren’t the same as yours, then they must be all wrong. Many different religions have rules about what to eat, wear, what to abstain from etc. and it you don’t hear much about it, it’s just accepted. But christians who are more conservative are looked at as extreme, and as hurting there kids. They’re wrong for teaching them to obey and have a sweet spirit? In several episodes I’ve seen kids crying, or showing sadness about things. I don’t think they’re teaching them that it’s wrong to feel anything but happiness. They’re teaching them that when it comes to obeying it should be done with the right attitude. Wouldn’t you agree that when a teacher instructs a child to do something the child should be respectful and obey? Or is it okay to have a sour attitude, get snotty, and talk back about it? The kids that react in the correct way are the ones who have parents training them at home how to respect authority. If those same parents choose to home school and teach there kids there spiritual beliefs they have every right to do that. That’s what parenting is! We pass down our morals, values, and religious beliefs to our kids. I would really wonder about a parent who believes so strongly in a faith….but doesn’t care to teach there kids it. Many religions “Baptize” there infants into there religion without the baby deciding anything on it’s own. The Duggars are a faith that believes a child needs to be old enough to understand and make that decision on there own, that a parent can’t choose for the child. It’s between God and the child. But because they teach them as much as they can about the Bible and there beliefs they’re way more wrong than parents who convert an infant through baptism? And so what if a girl decides to wait until marriage for the first kiss!!!! Are we seriously going to try and make that look bad???? It used to look bad to “shack up” before marriage, now that’s fine and it’s bad for a sweet innocent girl to try and be as pure as possible before marriage! You have no idea how nuts this article looks! As parents our job is to “Train up our kids” not just let them do as they wish! Go out in public and you’ll see a 3 year old having a tantrum over not getting there way ( and parents doing nothing about it because they need to express there feelings they are people too and have desires and dreams.), the same 3 year old 10 years later is screaming at his parents over a cell phone or internet time, a few years later in jail because “who does the government think they are to tell me I have to obey laws?!” I would love to see how your kids turn out with this type of philosophy :)!!!!

    • http://www.facebook.com/lucrezaborgia Lucreza Borgia

      Of course all 3 year-olds who tantrum around parents who don’t instantly discipline according to your liking are going to end up as criminals! It’s so logical, I don’t see why anyone doesn’t agree!

      “They’re teaching them that when it comes to obeying it should be done with the right attitude. Wouldn’t you agree that when a teacher instructs a child to do something the child should be respectful and obey?”

      No, because not every command is worthy of being followed. Depending on the age, children do not have the discernment to figure out what is a good or bad command. Many people who were raised up under ATI have reported that they were abused because they were taught that all adults had authority over them and they didn’t know they could say no. As to the right attitude, ATI takes it to the extreme and demands that everyone always give a cheerful countenance. Just because you see the smaller children have sad emotions doesn’t mean that it’s not expected for everyone to put on a facade.

    • Uly

      Wouldn’t you agree that when a teacher instructs a child to do something the child should be respectful and obey?

      Not necessarily. What if the teacher is telling my kid to do something wrong, like cheat on a state test? What if the teacher is attempting to molest her, as does occasionally happen? What if the teacher is giving instructions that conflict with her own sense of morality, like telling her to pray (or not)? What if the instructions are unclear? What if they’re simply wrong, like, say, if the teacher made a careless error when explaining multiplication and the kid knows better? What if the teacher is accidentally telling her to do something dangerous, like turn left during a fire evacuation when the kid, at the front of the line, knows that the smoke gets worse there? I can think of literally dozens of situations which call for thought instead of mindless obedience.

      Or is it okay to have a sour attitude, get snotty, and talk back about it?

      What, do you think those are the only two options?

      Also, seriously, it’d be easier to take you seriously if you’d embrace the word their. It seems frivolous, but just as you have to follow the law you also should follow the rules of English orthography. Spelling incorrectly is like leaving the house in messy hair and dirty clothes. It shows a lack of respect for the people you are communicating with as well as a basic lack of respect for yourself.

  • vasaroti

    “he teaches that tampons take girls’ virginity” I’m surprised; I’d have guessed that he knew where the hymen was down to the last mm.

  • http://Yahoo Midwest5

    Libby Anne – you expressed eloquently what I have been thinking about this family for some time. And it’s my personal opinion that these kids are home schooled and isolated so that they won’t be “tempted” by what goes on in the real world, and find out that they’ve been brainwashed and stunted in their ability to think for themselves and have their own ideas and opinions. And I could not agree more that the older daughters have had to be the parents to their younger siblings, like it or not. Too bad they won’t be able to experience motherhood as “real” first-time moms, as they’ve done everything but give birth. I guarantee that if Michelle and JB had to actually parent, there’d be significantly fewer children in that household. And now that, at age 45, Michelle is pregnant, JB’s total domination in that family is as clear as it can be. If he had any respect for Michelle, (or her for herself) she would never have become pregnant again. Granted, she may come out of this pregnancy a-ok, but the odds have greatly diminished. And what of the baby? Apparently Josie’s suffering wasn’t enough for their common sense to kick in. Perhaps their view of the world is so distorted that they feel there is nothing but evil out there. Apparently they have closed their eyes, minds and hearts to the fact that the world, and yes, the US is full of good, decent people. How sad for the kids. And I fear that Michelle is what she is now thanks to a liberal dose of brainwashing from her beloved. From the little that’s been shown of her young life, she seems to have been a pretty normal, fun teenager. Great article – and great comments.

  • Arthur Dale

    If the 19 Duggar children have the same mindset as their parents, and this continues with each generation, Jim Bob and Michelle will have 361 grandchildren, 6859 great grandchildren. Seven generations below Jim Bob and Michelle would result in a total of 17,927,094,320 offspring. The Duggars will run out of J names. Also the clan will have to go outside the US to find spouses. Other planets will have to be colonized to hold all of them.

  • Lesley

    Hey Libby Anne,
    I don’t know if this is the right place to put this but I had an edit for this article. Second paragraph first sentence reads: “First of all, I want to pout out that I would have concerns about the Duggars even if they were your ordinary family plus seventeen extra children.” I assume you probably meant to say “I want to point out.” Just wanted to let you know and feel free to email me if there if a way you would prefer readers to send this kind of feedback. I love reading your blog and I have learned so much from it.

  • roz

    This family sounds like a cult.
    restricting kids from the real world. I would never watch their show. This family needs a reality check.They get to travel all over while making money from their show. Sounds to me like the father is very controlling/ I think their are more important things to worryabout then the Duggars reality show

  • Jennifer

    I know this will not be received well but nothing you said here sounded to me as a bad thing. They are parenting their children and protecting them. I wish would have had this type of protection and guidance. I value all the things you mentioned. This to me sounds like loving Parenting – not leavIng them to “find themselves” in today’s culture. That leads to regrets, pain, confusion.
    I think these children are blessed.
    I am sure it’s difficult for you to understand my perspective, just like its difficult for me to read the words you wrote as negative things.
    It’s all in what you value and believe is ultimately important.

    • Nea

      I do understand your perspective. It is because I understand it that I reject it as unhealthy and invalid for me.

      Do you understand that the author of this blog found regrets, pain, and confusion in her earnest attempt to try to live up to the lifestyle promoted by the Duggars and the preachers they follow? Do you understand that this form of protection and guidance for the Duggar children is leaving them incapable of either determining for themselves what it necessary for their own individual lives or to deal with the world without running it through someone else’s filter? (The boys, in particular, are being told both that they cannot cope with the world and that it is their job to protect their own wives and children from that world. Do you see the disconnect there?)

      Do you also understand that not everyone in today’s culture flails around trying to “find themselves”?

      What I value and consider ultimately important is that my parents did their best to make sure that I understood the world and understood myself. Their loving parenting stressed education, logic, self-sufficiency. They taught me that there was nothing to fear, and that I could take care of myself and those I care about. Because these are things I value, I worry deeply when I see these children robbed of it in the name of protection and guidance.

    • lizard

      Totally agree Jennifer, I felt exactly the same if only parents would PARENT their kids today and not leave them and abandon them, it’s tragic. So please don’t use your site to whinge & whine!

      • jennifer

        Just because I am not christian and smothering my kids with fear does NOT mean I am letting them do whatever they want or go unattended. I am over protective, heavy into reading and learning and I am the house kids gather at. I have a great time doing it too, snacks, fun and safety and diversity all in my back yard. Imagine that. Who are you to say kids are abandoned just because we are not psycho religious parents having them clean house, home school and have an imaginary ever present god?? Most of what you teach your kids is directly from pagan roots and holidays/thoughts. Maybe that is why you shelter, because the library contains history and truth. Get off your high horse. You are mean and closed minded.

  • Jennifer

    I have to add that mrs duggar does not hit her children to train them to remain on a blanket. She writes about her method of blanket training in her book and she uses encouragement.

    • Nea

      Using “encouragement” to keep them on a blanket is still *confining them to a blanket* in opposition to every child’s need to explore the world they are in. However one trains a child to not be curious, to not explore, to not understand anything but blind obedience and limits, one is damaging that infant’s very development.

      • lizard

        Oh dear, do you even have children?? do you realize the benefits of teaching a child to play in one spot for a time, even a highchair can be used. It is beautiful and useful in keeping order in the house and yea, sure there’s a time for exploring, a time and place for everything. That’s not damaging at all, you are listening to the philosophy of this world which is full of lies and deceit. It’s wonderful she’s even taking the time to sit with her child. How many people give the training of their child to someone else? Some of this stuff may go too far or become legalistic but not all of it and there is much to benefit from here.

      • Jitterbits

        How many people give the training of their child to someone else?

        Well, I can name two off the top of my head: Jim Bob and Michelle. They leave much of the child rearing to their other children.

        And yes, I have three amazing daughters, all of whom have been taught to be the best “them” they can be. All of whom are incredibly kind and polite. Raised completely without religion and corporal punishment. My oldest is 19, my youngest is 6 and none of them have been problematic in any way whatsoever. I have not and will not make the same mistakes my parents made with me, who valued indoctrination over education and dogma over thinking for themselves.

      • Christine

        I want my child to grow up to be a person, I want her to grow up to be intellegent. Deliberately stunting her growth has no benefits that I can see. Can you list even one? “It’s convenient for the parents” is not a reason to stunt a child’s development. It’s a lot more convenient to not have the child in the first place, after all.

  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lw2wzXu9TEU freeroll draftstreet

    Thanks for the good writeup. That the truth is utilised to become the amusement consideration it.

  • lizard

    I can understand you have had a bad experience growing up in your family situation Libby, but I am thankful for the protection my parents gave me, however small. True there is a BIG world out there to explore and learn about, but it’s also very scary for parents and their children, there are a lot of pedophiles around and just plain wickedness. We don’t shelter to the degree of the Duggars BUT we homeschool and we get to have our family with us and hope to build strong relationships. There is absolutely nothing wrong with a parent wanting to protect and keep their child from sin and the evil of the world, the only thing I think is that we need to slowly release them into the world and teach them to be streetwise. Dating does hurt a person emotionally and otherwise it certainly did me, it messes you up! So courtship is a good idea as long as it doesn’t become too controlling. You obviously don’t have your own family yet, because I have heard non religious people even say, “you really have to protect your children these days”. So you need to be careful about having websites that “pick” on different types of families and ways of doing things, not everyone is going to come out negative and bitter about it like you and if you weren’t protected would you be whining about that and how you should have been?

    • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ M

      Libby Anne is married and has two young children. From her parenting posts, she’s encouraging them to explore the world, to be curious and learn about anything and everything, and to respect themselves and stand up for themselves even against adults.

      The world is not full of sin and evil, though there’s definitely bad things out there. Sheltering your kids won’t protect them forever, it’ll just mean that when they see it or meet it, they won’t know how to handle it. Teaching a child “this is my body” is far better protection against pedophiles than “hide in the house where it’s safe”.

      Dating does hurt some people. Or rather, bad relationships hurt people. However, dating was probably the best thing that ever happened to me. I was shy and unconfident before I started dating. I broke up with some boys, and I got hurt, but I learned a lot about relationships, myself, and what I liked and didn’t like in a potential spouse. I never would have learned any of that if I’d been overly sheltered from the vagaries of my own heart. I grew, and I consider the old relationships growing pains.

      One very last thing. Libby Anne is not bitter, nor does she whine. She is introspective about her childhood, recognizing the good aspects and the bad ones. She’s decided that some of the bad aspects were pretty awful, and from what I’ve read I have to agree. Her education was sub-par in some ways, she was stuck in a gendered straitjacket, she was a foreigner in her own country, and her parents tried to emotionally manipulate her for daring to disagree with them on anything! Yes, they did it with the best of intentions, but you know what they say about the road to Hell is paved with, right? You’d be better off learning from her experience and trying to not make the same mistakes her parents did with your own children.

  • http://www.phoenixhous1e.org/locations/california/555ddk9 Olen Vizcarra

    u my good sir are a fudge paking homo

  • Amber Willis

    This post makes me laugh. I live down the street from this family in Arkansas and basically what you see on TV is really how it is. They go out in public, yes they do bring another sibling but they also go out with friends. The older ones love their brothers and sisters and vice versa. Michelle and Jim Bob have chances to show the children individual loving. People just don’t see it and think they are just a baby factory. They treat and raise their kids better than anyone I’ve ever known.

  • Marie – USA

    I am glad you posted this. They need to take these children off TV ASAP. I am a new mom myself and the idea of blanket training is disgusting, and to me considered child abuse. I don’t care what anyone says. To starting “hitting” your child at 6 months will do nothing but confuse them. Babies do not understand “hitting”
    There is so much wrong with everything going in this whole series and I don’t know why it is even on television. These children need all the help they can get and putting their lives on TV is only making it worse.

  • Julie Beam

    I dont believe any of this crap!!!! Two of the girls are going to school to do something they love and Josh is moveing off to do his own thing. Just becus some people want there kids to mind dont mean we have to bet them to get them to do what we want. I have 4 kids and we do the buddy thing what dose it hurt to let a kids do a little bit. God help if they grow up not to bet there wifes and kill there own kids. Who cares how many kids they have, who cares if they have the money to take care of them. I have never seen a show where she gose to DSS to get food stamps or any other help, and i have never seen a show where they come to take any of them away so they most be doing something right! When my kids acted up they get there ass busted just the way it works!

    • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

      Your grammatical, easy to read re-edit is appreciated. I can’t understand the gobbledygook above me. I sure hope you didn’t homeschool, if that’s your version of English!

      • Jitterbits

        Yeah, I was wondering why she seemed to be gambling with her kids, until I figured out that she meant “beat” rather than “bet”. (Though I must say, gambling with your kids, to my mind anyway, is preferable to smacking them around, a sentiment which she unfortunately does not seem to share.)

  • Amber G

    Love this post. I think most this stuff does come off in the show, if you look. I have always felt bad for the children, but the parents too. I can’t imagine being shackled to an ancient belief so strongly and not wanting to teach your kids to be curious and explore and learn everything there is to learn, I look at those kids and I can’t help but see a cure for disease that will never be thought because they weren’t taught science, I a great thought un thought because they aren’t allowed to let their minds run away with them. Kids should be set boundaries there’s no doubt about that, but you can’t hinder their childhood. It will be interesting to see what kind of adults they will all become.

  • sick of Duggar-bashing

    Wow, thanks for the extremely biased and one-sided information. Just because you grew up in a home that you feel is LIKE the Duggars doesn’t mean that it really was. NONE of us have the right to point fingers or judge because NONE of us actually live with them, we only know what we see on TV, read about, and hear through gossipy people who want to trash them for not being like our culture expects ‘normal’ people to be. So teaching children with a Biblical curriculum is indoctrination but public school is not? Public school is it’s own form of indoctrination, especially when it comes to science which is mainly guesses and theories. Obviously there are MANY people who opt out of public school because of the crappy education it provides – many kids instead go to private schools, some Christian, some not. Many kids are homeschooled, some Christian, some not. So don’t badmouth homeschooled kids because you are casting judgement on a LOT of people without adequate information. I’m sorry your childhood was so unhappy but I know plenty of people who grew up in Christian homes with strict rules who did not feel oppressed, but were glad their parents obviously gave crap about them. How is it oppressive to monitor internet usage and tv, expect your children to be obedient, not allow your daughters to dress like miniature prostitutes, etc. Our culture is overly sexualized and severely lacking in morals – why would anyone NOT want to protect their kids from the trash of this world we live in??

    I am GLAD there are parents like the Duggars who aren’t afraid to actually be parents instead of letting their children do whatever they please and dress however they want, because if that’s a bad thing, then are you really saying that it’s better to have young girls walking around in public in shorts so short their butt cheeks hang out? Teenagers having sex because the parents heaven forbid don’t want to teach abstinence? Kids mouthing off and backtalking to their parents and authority because the parents didn’t want to discipline them or teach them to show respect and be obedient? Yeah, that’s so much better. All you parents who think it’s better to be your kids’ pals and let them do as they please so they can ‘find themselves’, have fun raising your grandbabies that your irresponsible children produce and enjoy bailing them out of jail when they break the law because they were never taught to obey rules. And while you’re doing all that just keep making fun of the Duggars and people who actually choose to PARENT their children, and see who REALLY looks stupid.

    • tsara

      I suggest you remove that beam from your eye. It can’t be comfortable.

    • Christine

      It is not necessary to resort to physical abuse to discipline a child. It is not necessary to control what my child is exposed to to teach them to respect themselves instead. If you honestly don’t see how to function in the real world, instead of your one of false dichotomies, there are lots of professionals who can help you with that.

    • Jitterbits

      Wow. You really don’t have the ability to think in shades of grey, do you? It’s either the Christian way or your kids will grow up to be rebellious, perverse, law breaking heathens. You really need to grow up. Black and white thinking is usually the product of a stunted intellect.

  • Heidi W

    poor pity the child in that family who has same sex attraction

  • closetatheist

    From the beginning of this mess I have been patiently waiting for one of the children to veer from the prescribed path and to publically decry their childhood for creating a brainwashed, unhappy, unfulfilled, and emotionally stunted adult. I really hope that at least a few of these kids make it out and come to realize how wonderful, honest and fulfilling a more “worldly” life can be.

  • GeorgiaPeach23

    I was number 6 of 12. My family was Catholic but increasingly less authoritarian as the years progressed.

    I had raised several kids by the time I graduated high school. That wasn’t so bad, I guess. What really left emotional scars was the deeply-rooted sense that there wasn’t enough resources for me. Enough time, enough emotional energy, enough medical care, enough food, enough love, enough anything. Somebody else needed it; somebody else deserved it more. I believed this deeply. I love my parents desperately but they have never and will never have “enough” for me.

    I escaped as soon as I could, took on loans to go to college in another state, fell in love with the first guy who seemed to love me. Fortunately, he is a good guy, because I probably would have married him anyway. He and I have been working on my mental health (with an excellent therapist) for three years. I’m a lot different now than when I left home, but I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to relax. I don’t know if there will ever be “enough” to just be happy. Or if I deserve it.

    And my family wasn’t even as cultish as the Duggars.

  • fiona64

    I realize that I am very late to this party (obviously, I’m reading some older articles along the way), but it strikes me that Stanley Milgram would have had a lot to say about the Duggars and the Pearls.

  • Taylor

    You say nursing like it’s a bad thing. Isn’t saving a life one of the best jobs in the world? The Duggar kids are fully functioning members of society, not stuck on welfare or behind bars. Their standard of living may be a bit higher than yours, but it’s not like they put down other people, it’s just not what they choose to do. And for the record, many breakthrough scientists became scientists to prove the wonders of God’s creation.

    • Taylor

      Oh, and you should look that up in an cited source

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