On Growing Up Duggar

On Growing Up Duggar May 28, 2015

lanawideopengroundby Lana Hope cross posted from her blog Wide Open Ground

For months, and for years, I have pleaded with the American public to stop glorifying the Duggar family and to get the Duggars off TV. It has pained me, indeed hurt me, to see a family who grew up in the same subculture as I did, make headlines.

I have called 19 kids and Counting, the Duggar’s reality TV show, the Truman Show. Births are filmed and aired on TV. Girls’s virginity are sold to TV advertisers. And the Duggar children never get a taste of the real outside world. In a cult, there is no outside world. Because, in a cult, you are told that everything is more real, more tasteful, and more glorious here, in Christ.

On reality TV, sexism and abuse are glorified, but people are entertained.

The media makes the already-absurd reality show only more absurd and intense, preferring to poke fun at the Duggar kids, without any understanding of what they are going through. Just last week, I wrote an unpublished blog post on Jessa Duggar and Evolution. In this unpublished post, I basically was telling the media to get off her back, that they have no clue what it is like to grow up believing that the Bible is the foundation of all truth and that nonbelievers cannot be trust. Jessa Duggar may be wrong, but she is just that, wrong. Not evil, and not an object for the Americans to mock, just because her dad decided to parade their family on TV.

Everywhere I turn on the internet, the media and viewers never considers what it is really like to grow up Duggar.  The last few days, even as people have begun to connect the dots that the Duggars aren’t all as they appear to be, people have blamed Anna and pointed fingers at Anna, never considering the lack of choices that Anna really had. I wrote a post last year about a girl I use to babysit whose parents married her off, right before she was finally going to break free and attend college. I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this before or not, but I had two homeschool friends married off as minors, and one of my guy friends had a father approach him to marry his 16 year old because he couldn’t afford to feed her anymore (he thankfully said ew and declined). Yet none of these girls felt forced or under privileged to marry because they have been trained that marriage is their God-given duty.

Even Josh’s crime did not happen in a vacuum. The ATI cult grooms young men to devalue women, teaches that all sex is sin, has no concept of consent, and teaches young teens to suppress their sexuality. There is no excuse for Josh’s crime, but Mr. and Mrs. Duggar’s crime is not just overlooking that he molested children. The purity culture/modest doctrine/ATI environment fueled the crime. I recommend this post at Diary of an Autodidact.

Meanwhile, the American people watch the Duggar kids smile and pretend that it is all okay. It has to be okay, for the Duggar kids, because the TV is how they feed their siblings.

As you can imagine, I’m tired and pissed. I’m tired of the show. I’m tired of thinking about it. I want it off the air. I want the American people to shut up their mouths, for once, and stop talking about what the Duggars think about evolution and guns and courtship and hell and evangelism, and even sex.

It’s cruel, it needs to stop.

Two nights ago I started having these flashbacks of my days in ATI. I remember walking the halls of the ALERT academy, a good little girl. I remember the jumpers. I remember the men pushing my freakin chair in at the dinning hall. I still remember the day in the early 90s when I talked to the Duggars, never knowing they would be famous.

That world was both empowering and frightening. It was empowering because we felt empowered to be the light on the hill that would never die; it was empowering because we had community. It was empowering because we were not like everyone else, those poor worldly souls. But it was frightening because I would never be good enough.

Browse Our Archives

Follow Us!

What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Mel

    I don’t have a problem with people criticizing or laughing at the adult Duggar offspring.

    I know that they’ve been exposed to an extremely closed-worldview for years. They’ve also reaped the benefits of being exposed to a far larger group of people – camera men, makeup artists – and far broader geographic areas than the average cult member.

    Jill and Jessa are married and over the age of 18 which in the eyes of ATI and the world respectively make them adults. I agree that they are completely clueless when it comes to entire areas of science due to their upbringing – but that doesn’t mean the rest of the universe needs to give them a free pass when they decide to publicly share their mistaken ideas.

    Being sheltered/indoctrinated as children caused their current academic problems; continuing to shelter them from public criticism as adults implies that they are still children unable to cope with the real world.

    I will continue to give them the respect I give all adults by speaking out forcefully when they are spreading a false set of science ideas. If Jill or Jessa or anyone is not strong enough emotionally to deal with criticism, they should not be engaged in public propaganda.

  • SAO

    The Soviets (atheists) liberated the first concentration camp (Majdanek in Poland, July 23, 1944) and the biggest (Auschwitz) as well as Gross-Rosen (February 1945), Sachsenhausen (April 1945), Ravensbrueck (April 1945), and Stutthof (May 1945).

  • SAO

    From what I’ve seen, the media makes fun of ignorance and arrogance, particularly when it is combined. The Duggar kids do get used as examples of the CPM, including when as examples of how awful the cult is.

  • Cat Cat

    It’s so hard, though, and it can take a really long time! I’m 36 now, and it wasn’t until the last few years that I’ve finally been able to see clearly on some matters. I figured out fairly quickly that it was wrong to vilify others for being gay, for example, or having an abortion, or any of a hundred things that I’d been taught were evil. Only in the last couple of years, however, have I finally realized that I’m a radical feminist socialist panromantic gray-ace etc etc etc… I’m just “an infidel, in for hell,” as the disgusting old saying goes– even though I love Jesus and trust in Him as my Savior. None of that matters, because I’m not going to follow their sick rules anymore.
    I don’t defend the Duggar girls. I just kind of understand how hard it can be to shake of that depth of indoctrination and brainwashing. I hope one day they get to taste the freedom of mind that I have found. 🙂

  • dagobarbz, fine Italian shoes

    When you say ‘atheists’ I would remind you that those people weren’t given a choice by their government. Religion isn’t a switch you can turn off or criminalize. People still gonna sneak a talk with god if they’re so inclined.

  • dagobarbz, fine Italian shoes

    I don’t reckon the Duggar girls are gonna be reading anything snarky someone writes on the internets, so there’s that.

  • RockyMissouri

    That was courageous. Thank you.

  • tmselden

    My gosh, what a dramatic diatribe! You seem to have taken your experience and applied it to all others. Sorry, it doesn’t work. Anymore than I can say all fathers are bad because mine beat me. There are weird parents in the secular culture as well as in the homeschool structure. While I sympathize that yours didn’t appeal to you, don’t suggest that all feel as you do on their lives as homeschooled students.
    The Duggars seem to be an obsession with you. Any time anyone is that over the top with their time, thinking and efforts on the sins of others, it is because they aren’t dealing with theirs.

  • Nea

    Congratulations on your argumentum ad hominem ergo decedo parody.

    … oh, wait, you were serious?

  • tmselden

    My, what big words. You must have been been one of those oppressed homeschool kids who got a decent education. I am so proud of you.

    Oh, and by the way. Yes, I am serious. Deadly serious.

  • Suzanne Harper Titkemeyer

    sadly enough I think he/she is being serious.
    tmselden – please read our comment rules before you post again. You are borderline personal insulting one of our authors, which is not allowed here. We need to keep this a safe environment for recovery.

  • lorasinger

    And that is the very problem. They are being held up as a role model and all they are is irresponsible breeders with a backward, narrow minded, destructive lifestyle. I’m very glad this has erupted, bringing that realization out into the light.

  • Nea

    Oh, I’m sure the commenter was being serious. I, on the other hand…

  • Sensiblycentered

    Wold someone please tell me what ATI stands for? Thanks.

  • Suzanne Harper Titkemeyer

    Advanced Training Institute

  • Tete Rouge

    Your ay want to change your petition format to accept postcodes from outside the USA!!

  • Dori Anne Abbott

    What exactly is so wrong about a gentleman pushing in a chair for a lady?

  • Baby_Raptor

    I can push my own chair around. I’m not a frail little thing that needs help doing basic life things. Pretending I am isn’t “respect” or “courtesy,” it’s sexist.

  • Baby_Raptor

    Sin is an imaginary construct thought up to make people think they need a god.

    Keep your religion and it’s bullshit in your life unless you know for a fact you’re talking to someone who shares it. Projecting your beliefs on everyone else is beyond rude.

  • anon

    I don’t have much to comment about here, having come from a very different home from what you’re describing. However, I wish you wouldn’t lump homeschooling in with that. I understand that being home schooled didn’t help the position you were in. But I also know that I can provide a better educational and social experience for my children than the state system can, and it makes me nervous when my right to teach my own children is put into question. I’m sorry you had such a poor experience with it. 🙁

  • Suzy Hayes

    Reflections of Baker, Swaggart & Falwell. Hmmmm, their names all begin with “J” as well! LOL. I ceased watching TLC aka:” The Breeder’s Channel”, @ the turn of the 21st Century! UGH!

  • Nea

    That Jessa could actually go through the museum without noticing anything that challenged her ATI narrative or made her think twice about the need to show her tribal identity with an abortion statement shows how deeply her indoctrination has held.

  • Nea

    So many people respond to “my homeschool experience was bad” with “Don’t insult homeschooling, my homeschool is different!”

    That’s completely not the point. We aren’t talking about your experience and we’re not talking about all homeschooling, just as talking about police violence isn’t talking about all cops and talking about male violence isn’t talking about all men.

  • SAO

    Children need to be taught religion by their parents. Few will take it up on their own. When the churches are destroyed or turned into grain warehouses, when services are only held in secret, when going to one can get you sentenced to hard labor in Siberia, only the most devout continue to worship God.

    Besides, the Communist Revolution threw out the church as well as the Tsars. Many people thought of the church as part of the system that kept the bulk of the population poor peasants. So, yes, there were Christian Soviets, but most were atheists. If you know nothing about a group of Soviets except their citizenship, it’s a far better bet to assume they were atheists.

  • Suzanne Harper Titkemeyer

    You’re missing the point, it’s not about ‘homeschooling’ per se.

    But since you are making it about homeschooling let’s just say not everyone has a wonderful positive experience with it. Sometimes it is used to cover up abuse instead of being about what is right for the children. Which is why there has to be some standards and oversight into homeschooling.

  • Anonymous

    Yeah, they’re still pretty young. Years of indoctrination don’t magically fall off you the day you turn eighteen. Some folks shed it pretty quickly, hooray, but for some of us it takes years.

  • anon

    I understand that this post is not about homeschooling. While it’s just a detail and not her main point, she did say: “We, homeschool alumni, are angry, pissed, and worn out.” That DOES generalize all homeschooling, not just her homeschooling, even if that was not her intent. It is also not true. Maybe “ATI homeschoolers” or “those of us who were schooled improperly at home” or something like that would be more accurate.

    I’m not trying to pick on anyone, and I know it’s irrelevant to the point of her message. I just don’t think that homeschooling *in general* needs to take any more hits. If ATI homeschooling has serious issues, specifiy that, or people who don’t know any better WILL think that all homeschooling is messed up.

    I’m sorry for bringing up something so far off topic in the first place, though.

  • Snooterpoot

    It’s not the act, it’s the intent of the act. If a gentleman pushes in a chair for me out of politeness, that’s fine. If he does to to me to show me how dependent I am on men, that’s not fine.

  • anon

    Pretending you’re a frail little thing who needs help IS sexist, but that’s quite a lot to read into a simple customary gesture. 😛 If you don’t want people doing that for you and think it’s symbolism is sexist instead of respectful, that’s fine. But I also hope that if you see someone pushing in a chair you’ll be able to be open minded enough to admit to yourself that you really don’t know what he’s thinking or why he’s doing it. Everyone sees the world a little differently than each other.

  • Baby_Raptor

    It’s a “customary gesture” left over from the days when females were treated like shit. Continuing it perpetuates that, well-meaning or not.

  • Dori Anne Abbott

    I have never in 54 years known a man who pushed or pulled a chair for a woman to show dominance. Where did YOU grow up?

  • Astrin Ymris

    When it’s a bunch of middle-aged men condescendingly doing this to make a point about “proper” gender roles, it could be very unnerving. All the more so when there are a lot of sex offenders in the organization who might be making opportunities to get handsy while pushing in the chair– or at least sneaking a little grooming in to lull their prospective victim.

  • Snooterpoot

    I’ll turn that right around and ask you where did you grow up? Because apparently being rude is perfectly fine there.

  • Dori Anne Abbott

    Washington, DC