TLC’s 19 Kids & Counting: The Duggar Family on How To Prepare For Courtship & Marriage
“Helpmeet” is such an odd-sounding word to modern ears! But it resonates well in the lingo of the King James Bible. Girls born to Quiverfull families begin their training for the life’s calling as a Helpmeet [aka wife and homemaker] almost at birth.
Girls are born for one and only one reason: to serve a husband. In that capacity, as his helpmeet, she will bear and raise his children, feed as many children as God sends on whatever income he earns, may raise a garden and animals or run a home-based business [with his approval], may home birth and will certainly homeschool all of her children.
Becoming a successful, multi-tasking helpmeet is not something you just “do.” Something that important cannot be left to chance. The training starts almost at birth with “child training.” Moms have a number of helpful “ministries” to turn to for child training guidance. For infants and toddlers two of the best known are Ezzo and the Pearls—both of whom are very controversial to the secular world. We’ll briefly look at each.
Gary and Anne Marie Ezzo developed the popular and often criticized programs “Babywise” and “Growing Kids God’s Way.” As with any program there IS some good and helpful information as well as a lot that many people find abhorrent. “Babywise” teaches new parents to adhere to rigid schedules and rules for bedtime, breast feeding on a parent-friendly schedule and bedtime rigidly enforced with few, if any, interactions with parents after “lights out” no matter the tone of the child’s cry.
“Growing Kids God’s Way” is a huge undertaking for parents. Both parents must attend each session and both must complete weekly homework. This program met tremendous success in conservative churches and megachurches during the late 90s and on. [They also do offer a single-parent version now.] Parents are taught to take back their lives by having a parent-centered, rather than child-centered home. [For the gist of the controversies see www.ezzo.info, but please note this IS a biased site.]
Michael and Debi Pearl of “No Greater Joy Ministries” are some of the most controversial child training advocates in the world today. Several deaths have occurred in homes following the Pearls advice. [NOTE: I am NOT saying in any way that the Pearls are responsible for the deaths, just that the parents were known to follow their methods.]
Their book, To Train Up a Child, advocates corporal punishment to a degree seldom seen today. The idea is to compel instant, willing and cheerful obedience at all times from even the youngest children. Failure to comply results in physical punishment. Parents are taught that children are born with a sinful nature and that they must begin early to “train” the child in the “way he should go” as is taught in Proverbs 22:6. Therefore, it is appropriate to even “chastise” babies with a switch—even one made of plumbing supply line. Parents are told
“Training does not necessarily require that the trainee be capable of reason…”[Pearl & Pearl, Chapter 1.]
With this background in mind we can now try to piece together the “training” of a future helpmeet. In her infancy the girl we will call “Jerusha Faith” may be enticed with a toy and swatted for reaching for it. She may be fed only when Mama says and not when her tummy says she is truly empty and hungry. She may be left in the throes of colicky insomnia to cry it out alone for hours on end. In short, she is learning, like a Nun, to deny her “self.”[Note: it is important to remember that ALL families are different not all my use these practices and some may even agree with the critics!]
This dying to self will include seemly innocuous phrases like the one the Duggar family uses which is summed up by the acronym “JOY”—Jesus First, Others Second, Yourself LAST. (Duggar family website, FAQ) Even in infancy little Jerusha Faith is learning that she is not important as herself. She is merely important when she is doing the will of her authority figures—in this stage her parents.