Growing Up Duggar: Part 1 – Explanations & Humblebrag

Growing Up Duggar: Part 1 – Explanations & Humblebrag March 31, 2014

by Suzanne Titkemeyer cross posted from her blog True Love Doesn’t Rape

Pages XI to XII

If there’s one thing you can count on, like the swallows returning to Capistrano yearly, it’s that any book written (or ghostwritten) by the Duggar family will contain answers to viewers questions. Growing Up Duggar is no exception. The Foreword/Greetings lays this out quite quickly.

“We’ve written this book as a way to answer some of the questions we receive in emails and letters every day”

For some reason the Duggars (and many other Evangelicals) cannot handle anyone having questions or doubts about their way of life. We’ve seen this clearly in the many Duggar specials on TLC and on their television series “19 Kids & Counting” And the family have two ways only of dealing with the questions, either they drop or hide something like ‘blanket training’ as it appeared in the first special or they change what they are doing on the show, like the time people on Television Without Pity were criticizing the meals the Duggars made as being all processed bad for you foods, and then the next special made a big deal of the kids being seen getting fresh oranges with their processed meat on white bread sandwiches.

Writing their books gives them a third option, answering (defending their choices) the questions in print. Heaven forfend that someone might raise an objection to their lifestyle, which to me speaks of a fundamental insecurity about what they are doing and just another attempt to keep the family in the media so that the money will continue to roll in.

Almost everything about the Duggar band wagon revolves around keeping the money train on the tracks. This book is no exception.

And now for some humble bragging all to common in Fundamentalism too.

“Maybe you’re that girl we met in the locked ward–we still call it the cage–in the orphanage in Central America. Jana sat with you there and shared your hope that someday you would see your mother again.

Maybe you’re the single mom whose baby Jill helped deliver as an apprentice midwife. You smiled and nodded when Jill asked if it would be okay if she said a prayer for your newborn babe.

You might be the mom who approached Jessa after we spoke at a women’s conference somewhere. You asked for ideas about how you could be more helpful and encouraging to your teenage daughter as she struggles with relationships involving boys.

Or perhaps you’re the girl Jinger met while she was ministering at the juvenile detention center. You could hardly bring yourself to believe God could really forgive you. But Jinger assured you He can. And will.”

Fundamental/Evangelical approved occupations for stay-at-home daughters instead of college. Not that these are bad things, not at all, but when these are your only choices for going outside the compound walls it’s a bit limiting. That’s one of my big problems with the Duggar family and this book, the fact that the female members of the family are granted no agency of their own, no freedom, only what Daddy deems to be worthy.

The girls state that the purpose of the book is..

“ continue the conversations we started with you but couldn’t finish”


“We’d like to know how we can impact your life for good”

Being the cynical old coot that I am I read those statements and feel the earnest squeaky-clean-image of the Duggar ladies and wonder how people being raised like veal in a box could possibly have enough life experience, sense of self and lack of cognitive dissonance to do just what they’re proposing. Poor things.

Next up: How the Duggars decided God wanted them to have a television show and making a difference in your relationships.

Comments open below

Read everything by Suzanne!

Suzanne is an empty nester lives near Washington DC with her husband, cats and various rescue birds. She works at a residential treatment center for children and is also the administrator of NLQ. Was raised Catholic in South Louisiana before falling in with a bunch of fallen Catholics whom had formed their own part Fundamentalist, part Evangelical church. After fifteen uncomfortable years drinking that Koolaid she left nearly 7 years ago. Her blogs are True Love Doesn’t Rape and Seeking The Light

NLQ Recommended Reading …

Breaking Their Will: Shedding Light on Religious Child Maltreatment‘ by Janet Heimlich

Quivering Daughters‘ by Hillary McFarland

Quiverfull: Inside the Christian Patriarchy Movement‘ by Kathryn Joyce


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  • Nea

    wonder how people being raised like veal in a box could possibly have enough life experience, sense of self and lack of cognitive dissonance to do just what they’re proposing.

    You are not the only one wondering that. Those naive, miseducated, over sheltered girls have NOTHING to teach anyone. Not outside their culture because they’re ignorant of the outside world. Not inside their culture because all they can do is parrot what every male teacher has said a thousand times.

  • Suzanne Harper Titkemeyer

    Nea, this is one awful book that exposes just how ignorant those poor girls are. I’m afraid for them.

  • But…but…they’re on TV! And see how happy they always are? That’s proof we should listen to them, amiright?

  • Nea

    Ah, but think of the ratings when we find out one’s unhappy in her marriage! Or when one of them can’t handle the cognitive dissonance anymore. Or has an emotional breakdown because she’s never been away from all her siblings, ever, and is now detangled from the brood. Or simply when the cameras turn off for the last time. /sarcasm

    Raised like veal is the perfect description of those girls. And we all know what happens to veal.

  • Allison the Great

    Uh… these girls are the last people that I would want to take “life advice from” I’ve lived and learned more than they ever will, and I’m pretty close to their age. The last thing anyone should ever want to be is a simpering doormat because some old religious book says that your set of genitals are not worth as much as the other set.

  • There is one thing people should want even less: “A simpering doormat because *your wrong understanding of* some old religious book says that your set of genitals are not worth as much as the other set.”
    I could see how people, whether they are theists or not, could get wisdom from old books. Some people of long ago had wisdom. But reading a book out of context to oppress – no.

  • Allison the Great

    You’re right, I should have added that their understanding and interpretation of the book was an incorrect one.

  • Carry

    I remember somewhere on TWP someone said one of the girls was in tears and saying “I don’t wanna do this.” And Jim Bob looking absolutely pissed at her and said “we’ll discus this later.” Things like this make me pray for these girls to get some sort of help, their father’s a self-righteous media-whore who doesn’t give two shits about what his kids think. All he cares about is making money from the show and having more kids for God’s army to take back America.

    I do wish I could reach out to them and let them TRUELY open up and hold nothing back. Their world is slowly but surely falling apart. Gothard has been caught and Doug Phillips has been too for doing awful things to young women, plus they must realized that every political candidate they support loses.

  • Mel

    One thing I find disturbing about the “humblebrag” is the incredibly low bar it sets for action.

    Jana met a girl in a locked orphanage who may never see her mother again. The Duggars responded by using the TV show to raise awareness of conditions in that country….or fundraising….or working in that orphanage for a substantial amount of time….? Nope, she just talked with the girl for a bit, then left.

    Does Jill’s use of a single mom as practice for midwifery mean she sees that Mom as a person? Or just the baby?

    Why would an adult ask Jessa for advice about her teenager? Really?!?!

    Does Jinger care why that girl ended up in juvie? Want to change life for teens in poverty? Nope, just savin’ a soul for Jesus……

  • Astrin Ymris

    Re: “…For some reason the Duggars (and many other Evangelicals) cannot handle anyone having questions or doubts about their way of life…”

    I’ve noticed that! They can rant and rail about how evil secular culture is until the cows come home, but if anyone says any critical about their belief system, they’ll wail that they’ve been “attacked” by godless liberals.

  • texcee

    I’m beginning to see the train going off the rails. Oh, goody. I love a train wreck!

  • texcee

    Going through this at the moment on my Facebook page after I posted a link to a story about Hobby Lobby being “outed” as investing in companies that manufacture the very contraceptives they’re currently saying they won’t pay for in their case before the Supreme Court. One “friend” is wailing about how persecuted poor Hobby Lobby and their Christian values are by us godless athiests.

  • Astrin Ymris

    Yes, I encountered that story, too! What’s more, some of these companies Hobby Lobby is investing in ALSO manufacture the abortion drug RU-486, which the ACA doesn’t require health plans to cover!

  • Anne

    I have long agreed that the Duggars are doing their children harm by keeping them so cloistered, but is this level of mean-ness necessary? Their intentions are good, and even if they are sheltered, who’s to say they couldn’t make a difference just because they truly care?

    Another thing that bothers me too is that you said they can’t make a difference outside or inside their culture because all they do is parrot what every male teacher has said. Do you really think they have no mind of their own? It may be atrophied from lack of use but I can tell you they aren’t stupid. I was sheltered, like them, and while I tried to not think critically it still sneaked through at times and I had intelligence.

    Also do you really think no women are at fault in this? Michelle Duggar grew up a relatively average life I assume. She was a cheerleader, she and Jim Bob kissed before marriage. She and Jim Bob BOTH decided to raise their children this way. She TRULY BELIEVES what she is telling her children. She (a woman) is just as much to blame for any harm that’s been done to the children. It’s very unfair to the girls either way, but it irritates me when people act as though this all a male structure. No. Women did, and still are, jumping on the Quiverfull bandwagon and the mothers that chose to shelter and harm their children need to be held accountable just as much as the men. We need to figure out what’s making women decide to happily throw away their autonomy and never look back, not just say the easy answer that it’s men forcing it on them because it goes deeper than that.

  • Anne

    What is TWP? I’d love to go look for that. I can’t imagine the amount of pressure they must be under, and it’s all I can think of every single TV appearance. If one of them slips up I can only imagine what would happen afterwards.

    Do you happen to remember if it was a younger or older girl who was upset?

  • Carry

    TWP = Television Without Pity but it’s also shortened to TWoP.

    And I think it was one of the older girls if memory serves.

  • I agree. And there are articles on NLQ discussing it – can anyone point Anne to a few good ones?