49 Character Qualities of the Duggars: A Report Card

49 Character Qualities of the Duggars: A Report Card September 10, 2010

[Note: The point of this post is not about passing judgment on the Duggar family. The question is, does the lifestyle they endorse actually do what they say it will? Is it the perfect formula for a godly family? Or is what we’re seeing just a set of normal people striving within a very difficult way of living?

This post examines the Duggars’ own lives within the paradigm they themselves endorse. Given that we only see what our televisions allow us to– does what we can see, reflect the image held up to us? And if it does not, how can we be sure about what we can‘t see?

No one expects the Duggars to be perfect. But that is not the question. The real question is: are they really showing us the best, most godly way to live– or are we recipients of some level of what might be called “false advertising?” Please read “Duggar Bashing” for Vyckie’s perspective on this Report Card..]

All of Bill Gothard’s 49 Character Qualities can be viewed online here.

by Hopewell

Alertness vs. Unawareness

Being aware of that which is taking place around me so I can have the right response to it (Mark 14:38)

Parents Jim-Bob and Michelle often seem oblivious to all that’s going on around them! Not to mention their apparent total disregard for OSHA regulations in building their home, it’s been quite a few years [on TV at least] since a bike helmet has been spotted and the girls continue to run things like an saw for cutting tile in loose dresses with unsecured long hair. Negative marks to Josh for only showing alertness of greed on the birth of his daughter and opting to have his wife deliver at home instead of overriding her panic at a new doctor. Sorry, but that seems more like “oh no, we’ll lose ratings for not showing the birth!” than any real concern for Anna and the baby. Kuddos, though, to Josh and John David for being alert to a roadside accident victim and performing lifesaving assistance. A big improvement in alertness to little Josie since her near-death experience when first home.

Grade for the Family D+

Attentiveness vs. Unconcern

Showing the worth of a person by giving undivided attention to his words and emotions (Hebrews 2:1)

Jim-Bob and Michelle model this perfectly for their children. Michelle’s rapt gaze as Jim-Bob speaks encourages her husband and shows him that what he is saying matters to her. As is typical of younger people, Josh and Anna struggle with this one more—especially Joshua who is likely used to being the oldest and shouting the loudest. He has gotten better at this over his first year, almost two years, of marriage.

Cousin Amy struggles with this. Grandma has it down to a “t” and the four oldest girls are coming along fine.

GRADE for the family: B+

Availability vs. Self-centeredness

Making my own schedule and priorities secondary to the wishes of those I am serving (Philippians 2:20–21)

The Duggars teach their children “J.O.Y: Jesus First, Others Second, Yourself Last.” And, surprisingly, they do a decent job of this. We’ve seen the girls make middle-of-the-night breakfast for Dad on his way to the hospital with Mama, Grandma tirelessly manning the single washer and dryer in the Little Rock house, Grandma cleaning and watching kids whenever needed, John David helping at Josh’s car lot,  John David and Joseph staying  behind to continue working on the Bates’ home, the older girls helping at everything all the time, Josiah picking flowers for Grandma and the girls, kids making cards and banners, even Cousin Amy pitching in to help with the little kids. Michelle loses some points here for not seeming to respond much to her little children’s needs for love and affection. (This could be the editing of the show, but seems likely to be more than that).

Grade for the family: A-

Boldness vs. Fearfulness

Confidence that what I have to say or do is true and right and just in the sight of God (Acts 4:29)

Although it’s to be expected that toddlers may be frightened of new experiences, Jennifer really took fearfulness to extremes for a while! Ditto Jed and Jinger who are afraid of heights. Anna’s over-protectiveness [rational in a first pregnancy, but unwarranted] in not driving a go-cart when only other supposedly caring family members were present was also a tad silly. Michelle not wanting to fall roller skating is a little more understandable, but she showed commendable boldness by conquering her fear and skating like the pro she once nearly was. Jim-Bob’s boldness in eating the bug, the family’s restrained boldness in trying Ethopian food, the subway and being open to new experiences gained them points. Certainly letting kids work on house construction with power tools, long untied hair and long skirts was dangerous, but bold. The Bates earned extra points for the family by offering a ride on their bucking mini-stallion and for their homemade hovercraft ride!

Grade for the Family: B

Cautiousness vs. Rashness

Knowing how important right timing is in accomplishing right actions (Proverbs 19:2)

This definition seems a bit “off” to me. I suppose Jim-Bob’s early business failures would show “rashness” in this sense. In their book he details why those endeavors failed– he did not stop to wait upon the Lord, pray and receive an answer. To most viewers it would appear way, way less than cautious to leave family planning “up to God.” Homeschooling in the family seems to be lacking “cautiousness” in that it seems to be worked in around “everything else” rather than “everything else” being worked in around homeschooling.

Grade for the Family C

Compassion vs. Indifference

Investing whatever is necessary to heal the hurts of others (I John 3:17)

The Duggars are a compassionate family. While their high-profile in ATI means they will likely never actually adopt a child, they have made repeated trips [beginning before the TV show] to El Salvador to help the poor and to help at a program for children and orphans, they allowed Jana and John David to go on a missionary trip to South East Asia to benefit orphans and other children, Jim-Bob takes fatherless friends along on Father/Daughter trips, they include Cousin Amy regardless of her wardrobe or opinions, they’ve raised money for the hospital that cared for Josie, run in a mini-marathon for charity, served in a soup kitchen and countless other non-televised acts of compassion. To top it off, Josh and John David used their ALERT cadet emergency response training to save a life.

Grade for the Family: A+

Contentment vs. Covetousness

Realizing that God has provided everything I need for my present happiness (I Timothy 6:8)

While cynics may debate this one for Jim-Bob, the family has shown since the beginning of Jim-Bob and Michelle’s marriage, that the couple has found contentment in their “present reality”—delaying gratification of most material wants until they could be had debt-free. While all young people make mistakes along the way, the Duggars have been very up-front and honest (in their book) about the places GREED got in their way and how they were humbled by short-sighted, money-seeking business ventures. They have brought their children up to be content with their “buy used, save the difference” approach to material goods, while not skimping on what really matters: family time together.

Grade for the family: B+

Creativity vs. Underachievement

Approaching a need, a task, an idea from a new perspective (Romans 12:2)

Certainly Jim-Bob gets an A in this for supporting his family. Early on he saw that a regular job would take him away from his family way, way more than he desired. He and Michelle were very creative in dealing with fluctuating income over the years. Michelle has also researched and used or even created unique solutions to problems in managing such a large family—such as one color of socks ONLY for boys and one color ONLY for girls (at least in the old days). Their “family closet” and her “moving” system are others that she researched and adopted.

Grade for the family: B

Decisiveness vs. Double-mindedness

The ability to finalize difficult decisions based on the will and ways of God (James 1:5)

Jim-Bob’s early business failures and most important of all, the miscarriage that he and Michelle believe they “caused” by having her take birth control pills have led them to steadfastly take every difficult decision after much prayer and reflection.

Grade for the Family: A-

Deference vs. Rudeness

Limiting my freedom in order not offend the tastes of those whom God has called me to serve (Romans 14:21)

Aside from cultural gaffes in El Salvador, waving money to get a taxi and very guarded language by Jim-Bob, the family seems to muddle thru on this one. They do not say that everyone should dress as they do, although they may think that. They say TV is not something for their family but do not work to have all families give up TV. They have taken a stand on the sale of alcohol near their home that upset people. They have, in the past, protested at abortion rallys and, in their book, detail how they took a huge hit financially when they decided to end tobacco sales at their mini-mart. All of these, of course, they are free to do as Americans. They do not engage in “hate” speech, display hate-associated emblems or anything overt like that. Their membership in ATI however does send a “message” to anyone familiar with the group.

Grade for the Family: C-

Dependability vs. Inconsistency

Fulfilling what I consented to do even if it means unexpected sacrifice (Psalm 15:4)

Except for keeping time, the Duggars ARE dependable!

Grade for the Family: A

Determination vs. Faintheartedness

Purposing to accomplish God’s goals in God’s time regardless of the opposition (II Timothy 4:7–8)

Clearly living their life in their way is something they have “purposed” to accomplish in God’s time regardless of the opposition! How much easier to have stopped at 3 kids and both parents continue to sell real estate and live a “normal” suburban life. They set out to achieve the vision of a God-honoring family and, by their definition, they have achieved that.

Grade for the Family: A

Diligence vs. Slothfulness

Visualizing each task as a special assignment from the Lord and using all my energies to accomplish it (Colossians 3:23)

A family that spends nearly three years building their own house is nothing if not diligent! They have expressed many times that they feel being on TV is a way of serving in the mission field for God

Grade for the Family: A

Discernment vs. Judgment

The God-given ability to understand why things happen (I Samuel 16:7)

The Duggars do not always understand things the way non-ATI members do. For example, they view dating as unhealthy leading to a diminished capacity to love your eventual spouse. In dating you “give away pieces of your heart.” They view adulthood as something that begins with a parent-approved marriage and at no other time. Until then, they believe that children must remain at home under their father’s “authority.” They believe that allowing Michelle to take birth control pills “caused” her miscarriage. They believe rock and roll music and dancing are bad because they cause a person to “lose control of themselves” (as Josiah has explained on TV). They allow very little TV or other media in their home due to worldly influences and encouragement of impure thoughts. They see it as a woman’s responsibility to dress modestly to avoid “defrauding” a man a “causing” him to have sinful thoughts. These are some of the many examples of off-the-main-line thought in the Duggar household.

Grade for the Family: D

Discretion vs. Simplemindedness

The ability to avoid words, actions, and attitudes which could result in undesirable consequences (Proverbs 22:3)

The children from Josiah upwards have definitely mastered this. They stay “on message” when interviewed about tricky topics like purity, defrauding, courtship, siblings as friend, tolerance, etc. The parents are overly discreet in keeping information “from the world” away from their children.

Grade for the Family: C-

Endurance vs. Giving up

The inward strength to withstand stress to accomplish God’s best (Galatians 6:9)

Jim-Bob and Michelle have never given up on their dreams—either economic or in how they want their family to live [whether anyone agrees with their dream or not].

Grade for the Family: A

Enthusiasm vs. Apathy

Expressing with my soul the joy of my spirit (I Thessalonians 5:16,19)

With so many teenagers it’s unlikely that apathy and attitude could be 100% squelched. As in a few other things, this could be “enhanced” by creative editing.  On the whole, some snarky looks and eye-rolling aside, the family seems to be pretty positive about life.

Grade for the Family: A-

Faith vs. Presumption

Visualizing what God intends to do in a given situation and acting in harmony with it (Hebrews 11:1)

No question the Duggars live their faith in the way they see it. They were visibly shaken by Josie’s birth, but went ahead with the life-saving early c-section even though Josie’s chances of survival were poor. They have held on to their faith thru other, slightly less dramatic incidents—other necessary c-sections, the one for John and Jana also necessitated by preeclampsia, but further into the pregnancy. They have shown faith in God’s provision in building their home and in the challenging hunt for a landlord to rent to them when they had 14 children. They truly believe God provides.

Grade for the Family: A

Flexibility vs. Resistance

Not setting my affections on ideas or plans which could be changed by God or others (Colossians 3:2)

Like most parents, Jim-Bob and Michelle have had to let go of some of the small stuff as more and more of their children have reached the teenage years. While holding to their core beliefs on modesty, courtship, authority have not changed, they have allowed significant liberalization in their children’s dress. Both boys and girls have been seen wearing t-shirts, the girls dress in far trendier, yet still very modest styles, and the boys no longer wear the same polo shirt, tucked in with a belt. Recently, as extras in a Christian film, some of the younger boys were allowed to wear long shorts. The younger girls sport trendy leggings instead of embarrassing “Little House on the Prairie-“style bloomers.

Hearing one of the girls play a Contemporary Christian Worship song on the piano, having very rhythmic bluegrass music played, allowing John David to play an [unamplified] electric guitar and attending an integrated Church with rock-ish music and lots of movement are among the many signs of flexibility without compromising their true beliefs.

Grade for the Family: A-

Forgiveness vs. Rejection

Clearing the record of those who have wronged me and allowing God to love them through me (Ephesians 4:32)

Jim-Bob’s sister was a single-Mom and Michelle’s sister is gay, yet both are included at least to some extent in their lives. Jim-Bob’s sister is often on the show and her daughter Amy has been included in nearly every family outing and event since birth. Jim-Bob also relates in their book the story of him being attacked, tied and gagged by a would-be car buyer and persuading them not to hurt Michelle who was pregnant and asleep in another room. He later went to the jail and delivered a Bible to his attacker (Duggars, p. 59—66).

Grade for the Family: C

Generosity vs. Stinginess

Realizing that all I have belongs to God and using it for His purposes (II Corinthians 9:6)

The Duggars [ok, yes, AND TLC and OTHERS] are VERY generous. The amount of labor alone donated by Jim-Bob, Josh, John David, and Joseph [the last two stayed on much longer to help] in building the Bates home is an amazing gift—and yes, it is the kind of thing they would do with no cameras around. The money they spend going to El Salvador on gifts, etc, is tremendous. They have supported a missionary there since before their TV show started featuring the trips. They have opened their home to both Michelle and Jim-Bob’s dying fathers—although only Jim-Bob’s Dad was filmed (Duggars, p. 219).

Grade for the Family: A+

Gentleness vs. Harshness

Showing personal care and concern in meeting the need of others (I Thessalonians 2:7)

The little kids are often way less than “gentle” in their treatment of each other! Michelle often seems “distant” or “cold” to the children, but not necessarily “harsh.” Jim-Bob is openly affectionate with his children and seems to care deeply about them. Michelle seems to care, but often seems “anesthetized” or “far off” in some way. Grandma is quiet and efficient.

Grade for the Family: C

Gratefulness vs. Unthankfulness

Making known to God and others in what ways they have benefited my life (I Corinthians 4:7)

The Duggars acknowledge God’s blessing in all their success. In their book they express praise for products, people, services that have blessed their lives.

Grade for the Family: A

Hospitality vs. Loneliness

Cheerfully sharing food, shelter, and spiritual refreshment with those whom God brings into my life (Hebrews 13:2)

The Duggars built their 7,000 square foot dream home with a vision of not only their daily family life, but of home church service, hosting seminars and other business meetings and of welcoming friends to stay. Not only the Bates family, who have appeared in several episodes, but a variety of other ATI families have visited and enjoyed the Duggar’s hospitality. While obviously, it is good business to do so, the Duggars are very generous in welcoming numerous film crews each year from around the world. They seem to genuinely enjoy entertaining friends and family.

Grade for the Family: A

Humility vs. Pride

Recognizing that it is actually God and others who are responsible for the achievements in my life (James 4:6)

One man may see another’s pride as conceit, humbleness as fake. This one is harder to grade. On the one hand it does not seem very “humble” to put yourself into a reality show. On the other if their motives in using their TV show as a misson, as a way of living the Great Commission, then it possibly is humble. Sadly, for a family who watches “very little TV” and belongs to a group that overall condemns television viewing, this is a bit ….odd…. (Still, they may at least find converts to no TV, if not to the Gothard way of life.)

Jim-Bob, as the head of the family, would have to take the blame here.

Jim-Bob, aka “Smugger” Duggar on the Television Without Pity Discussion Boards and son Joshua, aka “Smugger Jr” seem the least humble on screen. John David and, for the most part, each of the older girls [occasional lapses appropriate to their age] seem to be much more humble than Daddy and big brother. Certainly the children have been humbled by their missionary trips to El Salvador, and South East Asia,  by serving in a homeless shelter and by the fragility of baby sister Josie. Michelle and Jim-Bob do earn points for TRYING to teach their children to have humility and by giving them appropriate experiences to show them how blessed there are economically.

Grade for the Family: C-

Initiative vs. Unresponsiveness

Recognizing and doing what needs to be done before I am asked to do it (Romans 12:21)

Not many men would order a giant “tinker-toy set” [as Jim-Bob and Michelle have called it] and taken the initiative to build a 7,000 square foot home out of it! Jim-Bob hired experts when necessary for  a task or to teach him to do something and spent almost 3 years with mostly sons Josh and John David as help, building their home. Yes, the received help to finish it, but in time they would have finished it on their own—probably living amid the mess of construction like the Bates family has. Jim-Bob also had a dream of how he wanted to live with his family and, with no higher education, found ways to efficiently and adequately support his growing family in a way that let him be with them the majority of the time.

Grade for the Family: A

Joyfulness vs. Self-pity

The spontaneous enthusiasm of my spirit when my soul is in fellowship with the Lord (Psalm 16:11)

“Joyful” is an odd word to many of us not in the ATI-world. It conjures up Christmas Carols or or an Easter Church service. The Duggars have never shown self-pity—not even when faced with Josie’s birth and near-death condition.

Grade for the Family: A

Justice vs. Fairness

Personal responsibility to God’s unchanging laws (Micah 6:8)

Going by the definition here—again a little out-of-the norm—the Duggars seem to do fine in keeping the 10 Commandments although they may cause viewers to  “stumble”  and sin by coveting their huge house, tour bus or income stream.

Grade for the Family: B+

Love vs. Selfishness

Giving to others’ basic needs without having as my motive personal reward (I Corinthians 13:3)

The Duggars love and provide for the children. The train them up in the way they believe God wants them to go. They are generous to others.

Grade for the Family: A

Loyalty vs. Unfaithfulness

Using difficult times to demonstrate my commitment to God and to those whom He has called me to serve (John 15:13)

While the Duggars have had an obvious falling out with their former good friends the Holts who were shown in some of their early TV specials it does not seem that they have spoken out about them or the break.

Grade for the Family: A

Meekness vs. Anger

Yielding my personal rights and expectations to God (Psalm 62:5)

Another odd definition—not what we generally see “meekness” as meaning.  This appears to be what the older girls do each day in giving up their own desires to serve their family.

Grade for the Family: A

Obedience vs. Willfulness

Freedom to be creative under the protection of divinely appointed authority (II Corinthians 10:5)

Possibly the strangest definition in the list! The Duggars talk at great length about training their children to obey willingly, immediately and joyfully. With the exception of toddlers who are still learning and of James, who appears to be ADD or ADHD (but that could be the editing) and an occasional snarky teenage look, the Duggars seem to be very obedient in every way.

Grade for the Family: A

Orderliness vs. Disorganization

Preparing myself and my surroundings so I will achieve the greatest efficiency (I Corinthians 14:40)

Michelle has faced organizational challenges head-on over the years as her family grew. She credits Steve and Teri Maxwell’s Managers of Their Homes scheduling system  for helping them have a goal each day—a huge help in organizing the chaos of so many kids!

As soon as the children are old enough they are assigned “jurisdictions” [aka chores]. From as young as 11 the older Duggar girls have been responsible for ALL of the family’s laundry, cooking lunch (and not many years later dinner, too) and for numerous other tasks. With so many children the Duggars employ what they call the “buddy system” where an older child helps one or two little ones with their daily tasks like dressing, bed making etc. Today the oldest Duggar girls do nearly everything in the home including a large part of the homeschooling as well as the earliest music lessons—even organizing some of the youngest kids into a hand bell choir.

Their home was designed specifically for their family and their needs.  Two kitchens, an 8 machine laundry room, indoor climbing wall and playground, 9 bathrooms, a built in wet/dry vacuum system, a garage bay-sized pantry and a bedroom-sized family clothes “closet” are among the special helps in this house. The older girls having packing for a family road trip down to an art.

Grade for the Family: A+

Patience vs. Restlessness

Accepting a difficult situation from God without giving Him a deadline to remove it (Romans 5:3–4)

After the miscarriage and Jim-Bob’s early business failures, the couple learned to trust God in all things.

Grade for the Family: A+

Persuasiveness vs. Contentiousness

Guiding vital truths around another’s mental roadblocks (II Timothy 2:24)

Jim-Bob is a master salesman, but even he struggles to sell their lifestyle and earn converts. While many admire their debt-free life, few are willing to put up with the sacrifices that got the Duggars to that state. Many couples, too, would like to trust God to plan their families, but wonder if it isn’t really a case of poor stewardship or if things like Josie’s emergency birth aren’t God’s way of saying “enough.”

Grade for the Family: D

Punctuality vs. Tardiness

Showing high esteem for other people and their time (Ecclesiastes 3:1)

Viewers of the show are very familiar with the phrase “Duggar time” Josh’s self-righteous attitude that the doctor can probably wait a few minutes, expressed, as he was deliberately late for his wife’s first pre-natal check-up rates an “F” all on it’s own. Jim-Bob also seems to have a casual disregard for other’s time evidenced by scurrying around packing at the last minute.  The entire family does not seem to believe in alarm clocks and prides themselves on not being “morning people.” While it is undeniably more challenging to get such a HUGE family out the door, maturity on the part of the parents in getting everyone up and going way early would make a huge difference.

Grade for the Family: F

Resourcefulness vs. Wastefulness

Wise use of that which others would normally overlook or discard (Luke 16:10)

The Duggars are right—they do use up lots of things others throw out. They buy used clothing, shoes, cars, equipment.  They are good stewards of the money they make.

However, as has been pointed out Debt Free Duggars Part I & Part II they are also incredibly wasteful! The eat their meals off paper plates, drink out of disposable cups, use reams of paper towels, aerosol hairspray and cleaners, use disposable diapers, dry all their clothes in the dryers in their family laundry mat, and drive a bus that gets under 10 miles per gallon of fuel. They grow little or none of their food, buy over-priced (for the nutrition) convenience food in tremendous amounts of packaging which goes straight from their family dumpster to the landfill with all those diapers and live in a house that even for their size family is excessive [if desirable].

Grade for the Family D+

Responsibility vs. Unreliability

Knowing and doing what both God and others are expecting from me (Romans 14:12)

Aside from keeping people waiting, the Duggars are very reliable. But DOES God really expect them to birth as many children as possible—not even using abstinence or natural family planning to limit their family size. According to the definition and their beliefs, the Duggars are doing well.

Grade for the Family: B

Reverence vs. Disrespect

Awareness of how God is working through the people and events in my life to produce the character of Christ in me (Proverbs 23:17–18)

Jim-Bob picked their Little Rock Church after seeing a father from that church lead his family in prayer at the hospital where Josie was being treated. That “spoke” to him and in spite of differences in worship style, he accepted the man’s invitation to worship there.  In spite of Bill Gothatrd’s ATI teaching skepticism of doctors, Jim-Bob and Michelle have followed God’s leading and gone to doctors as needed. They have agreed, after prayer, to life-saving c-sections, have taken their last two babies back to the ER when necessary and have even put braces on many of the kids’ teeth. Other ATI families may have not “heard” God in this way, but would have stuck to Bill Gothard’s teachings.

Grade for the Family: A

Security vs. Anxiety

Structuring my life around that which is eternal and cannot be destroyed or taken away (John 6:27)

By this definition, the Duggars are a challenge. While they put faith in God first at all times, they obviously have also stored up treasures on earth.

Grade for the Family: C

Self-Control vs. Self-indulgence

Instant obedience to the initial promptings of God’s Spirit (Galatians 5:24–25)

Jim-Bob’s self-control often seems cold and calculated—like if the cameras were off he’d explode. The Duggars talk at great length about training their children to obey and be self-controlled but what we usually see [albeit after creative editing] are little kids running around like a pack of rabid dogs, Mom’s instructions being ignored [but sister’s obeyed].  Giving a generous allowance for the editing that DOES probably make this look much worse than it normally would be, there is still room for improvement.

Grade for the Family: C+

Sensitivity vs. Callousness

Exercising my senses so I can perceive the true spirit and emotions of those around me (Romans 12:15)

The Duggars, especially Jim-Bob, use “careful” language to avoid stepping into a politically correct land mind. They refer to San Francisco as “the most liberal” city in the world, but do not mention much, if anything, about why it so liberal. Michelle memorably taught the children about Saint Patrick with no reference to Catholicism and appeared to think that “Saint” was his first name and “Patrick” his last name. No need for a pesky discussion of other faiths. One of the older girls memorably explained that they “accept” cousin Amy in spite of her penchant for attention seeking, her dating with no thought to marriage, her way of dressing or the music she listens to. The language used was a model of “careful speech” and appeared carefully rehearsed.

As parents Michelle and Jim-Bob are almost cluelessly insensitive to their growing children’s needs for privacy, for developing a unique personal identity aside from their “number” in the “Duggar line up” (as Michelle calls it) and for creating a life of his or her own as an independent adult. Michelle also seems terribly insensitive to her little one’s need for love and physical affection—for comfort and security. While this may be due to editing, it seems much more likely that the little ones, who often cry for big sister Jill or another of the older girls, see their sibling as the one most responsive to their needs.

Grade for Family: D+

Sincerity vs. Hypocrisy

Eagerness to do what is right with transparent motives (I Peter 1:22)

Aside from Jim-Bob who seems to have very transparent motives to increase his bank account, the family does seem to be sincere. Many of the children are too young to express such thoughts so that does make it harder to give a grade to them. The older children are well prepared with approved “talking points” and do tend to stay “on message.” In spite of this, the Duggars do seem to be sincere—just misguided.

Grade for the Family: C-

Thoroughness vs. Incompleteness

Knowing what factors will diminish the effectiveness of my work or words if neglected (Proverbs 18:15)

This is a tough one to grade since we aren’t often shown much that illustrates this. Household tasks seem to be done to a “normal” standard. Jim-Bob has certainly not been thorough in checking out his vehicles before leaving on big road trips.

Homeschooling, at least until the children are old enough for the Switched on Schoolhouse online curriculum seems “haphazard” at best, but as Michelle says, “somehow they DO learn.” Again, this could be the victim of creative editing.

Telling the world that you raise your children to be self-controlled and that you carefully explain your expectations so they can behave accordingly and then showing the world “whirling Dervish” children does not seem to be the result of “thorough” training. (Likely, this really does suffer in the editing of the show.)

Joshua’s decision to allow Anna to homebirth after she supposedly prepared for a hospital birth does not show either “wisdom” or “thoroughness” in preparation by him as the father and husband. The older girls are, however, extremely thorough in packing and preparing for trips and know their younger siblings needs, quirks and fears very, very thoroughly—as thoroughly as usually only a mother or full-time live-in nanny would know a child.

Grade for the Family: C-

Thriftiness vs. Extravagance

Not letting myself or others spend that which is not necessary (Luke 16:11)

Jim-Bob is a master deal-maker. He bought the commercial kitchen equipment at about a 90% savings, made a real estate deal that netted about $200,000 in profit. Unquestionably, letting TLC help finish the house and furnishing it was a VERY thrifty deal. As was mentioned in Debt Free Duggars Part I, Jim-Bob also has an eye for buying and re-selling. He bought equipment he needed to build the house and resold it at a profit. No question he CAN support his family when he has to. In a business sense, the TV deal was a savvy, efficient way to support his family and give them experiences that he could not necessarily pay for without a lot of planning and saving.

As the years have gone on, the Duggars do appear to shop more frequently from department store or discount store clearance racks and less at thrift stores, but again, with that many teenagers compromise would have to come into play on clothing in some way. But, while the bus IS very practical for travel and for control over family life and sanity, it is a huge expense to keep it fueled. A skilled negotiator such as Jim-Bob should be able to get better travel deals for his family than that.  Not gardening, paper diapers, paper plates, excessive house, no clothes lines and all that convenience food also seems extravagant.

Most extravagant of all though is expecting their children to be successful without a college education—without even allowing them, apparently, to truly consider careers that require college. While Jim-Bob IS a model of supporting a family without college, it is not realistic to think that ALL his children are similarly talented—after all his own father was described as being able to “sell ice to Eskimos” but could not hang on to money.

Grade for the Family: C-

Tolerance vs. Prejudice

Acceptance of others as unique expressions of specific character qualities in varying degrees of maturity (Philippians 2:2)

The Duggars belong and wholeheartedly endorse a group that is not well integrated racially, has a few single mothers [mostly widows] and does not promote any idea of equality for women. Typical of many rural areas they do not have many African America or Asian friends because the area is largely white.

However, in Little Rock they demonstrated openness and tolerance by attending a well-integrated Church with a different style of worship than that endorsed by Bill Gothard. The African Americans who have been shown on the show were treated respectfully. Jim-Bob’s cultural gaffes in El Salvador are certainly not a-typical of American tourists most of whom do not experience their gaffes and cultural insensitivity being broadcast world-wide.

Since the family chooses to live a fairly isolated life socially, drawing friends mostly from like-minded families and since both parents come from a rural and largely uneducated background this is not necessarily intolerance as much as ignorance. This is an area where the older children stick to the family “talking points” so it’s impossible to gage what they really think.

Grade for the Family: D

Truthfulness vs. Deception

Earning future trust by accurately reporting past facts (Ephesians 4:25)

This one is debatable. Due to the likelihood of confidentiality agreements [possibly with his own adult children] we may never know if there is any hidden “abuse” in the Duggar home. While many feel the deplorable diet, denied access to higher education, lack of freedom to date or even to have friends outside the Church/Family/ATI circle, lack of privacy and an almost total lack of freedom for the older girls who live in a state of virtual indentured servitude would constitute enough to call CPS the reality is this is undesireable, but there is no evidence of abuse.

Certainly we have seen flashes of extreme coldness/anger in Jim-Bob’s eyes when some of the little boys were dancing to the music of a toy in a baby store and (more understandable) when handed a wet camera bag, but that alone does not mean any child has been abused. While Michelle Duggar, until it was repeatedly commented on in online discussion forums, seems oddly distant from her children and rather robotic in her displays of affection in more recent episodes, it is obvious that at least for many years she did cook, do laundry, change diapers and even help earn a living. I think the Duggars WERE scared out of their wits by Josie’s birth and Michelle’s staying behind with Josie was both sincere and “better safe than sorry” if something had happened from taking the baby all the way home too soon [as nearly did] or on the road with the rest of the family.

Grade for Family: C

Virtue vs. Impurity

The moral excellence and purity of spirit that radiate from my life as I obey God’s Word (II Peter 1:3)

The purity rings, endless discussion of “defrauding” and “pieces of your heart,” the strange side hugging, the nonstop discussion of waiting till marriage for sex, the ridiculously awkward and obviously staged “man-to-man talk between Jim-Bob and Josh about the “facts of life” were/are annoying enough. We get it. Don’t date, get married to the one God [for guys] or Daddy [for girls] approves. The utterly IMPURE thing comes from the married Duggars—the seemingly mandatory two on screen kisses per episode by Jim-Bob and Michelle and, if shown, at least one for Josh and Anna [who’s UTTERLY impure hand-hold truly did constitute pre-marital sex for it’s odd intensity].

Grade for the Family: D 

Wisdom vs. Natural Inclinations

Seeing and responding to life’s situations from God’s frame of reference (Proverbs 9:10)

The Duggars talk a lot about “wisdom”—Josh memorably brings this up in the episode with Michelle’s family reunion. How much “wisdom” is to be had in keeping young adults under their parents’ total control is up for debate.  How much “wisdom” is involved in allowing your family to be in a reality show is also up for debate. Ditto no college for almost anyone. To anyone outside ATI/IBLP these do not appear to be “wise” decisions.

Grade for Family: D-

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