Sunday, September 26, 2010

Find a Conviction an Go With It

I have known about the Duggars and their nineteen (the oldest is married with a child of his own) children for a while--well, since they had only fourteen children!  Their family interested me, but I always wrote them off as a bit of a circus side-show.  I don't think I ever judged them ill for having many children because I think there are a lot worse things you can do with your life.  (And, incidentally, why is it that people think they can criticize those with big families--often so cruelly?)  But the other day, I actually visited their website and read their story.  When I mentioned this to my friend (who home schools, home-births, eats whole foods, doesn't vaccinate and treats her family illnesses at home with essential oils and onion poultices for as long as possible), she asked, "Are they kooks?"

No, they really aren't.  I mean, sure, they are a little odd, but who isn't?  We all have our little odd parts.  The girls all wear dresses and the boys tuck in their shirts.  They read the Bible and aren't ashamed to tell us what they've learned.  They take music lessons and their family car is a bus.  I have to say, I am inspired by their conviction.  In this country of one or two kids max, they have to be of strong character to keep doing what they believe is right.

This is briefly what happened (you can read their longer version on their website if you are interested).  When they were first married, they didn't think they wanted a large family.  They thought they would have children, but some day, not right away.  She was on birth control for four years and then they had their first, a son.  They figured they would have another, but wanted to space them responsibly; she went back on the pill.  When she conceived on the pill* and miscarried, they (like all of us who experience miscarriage) were heavyhearted.  But when the read the fine print of the pill's packaging and discussed with their doctor the fact that the use of the pill may have contributed to the death of their baby, they were devastated.  They went to the Lord.  They studied the Bible and prayed for direction.  The only things they could find in scripture about children were words like treasure, gift, blessing, loved, and delight.  They prayed that Father would help them love children the way He loves them.  And they promised to welcome as many children into their home as He saw fit to send.

What, of that, is worthy of criticism?  Having the courage to obey divine direction?  Being willing to turn their backs on the world's definition of a "normal" family?  Giving up other aspirations to unselfishly submit to the plan of the Father?  How many of us can say we live our lives with as much dedication to our convictions?  Few, I'd wager.

I will never be like the Duggars.  For one thing, my body doesn't work that way.  Though I was on birth control for only the first two months of marriage, my children have come two or more years apart.  There are things I would certainly do differently in my own family.  I do believe, however, that everyone has a genius and if we learn from those to whom it comes more naturally, we don't have to learn things the hard way.  I think this family has a few genius ideas from which we could all benefit.

Today's pearls of wisdom from the Duggar Family:  In the running of a family or a life, it is a good idea to think in the following order.  God, others, yourself.

And there is your Sabbath Day sermon from Preacher MotherShip.  I will now step down from the pulpit.

*This is not a rant about the evils of birth control.  The decision to use birth control is a personal and private decision between a woman, her husband, and their god.  I am not blanketly against the use of it.  


  1. Loved your thoughts on them. I've met the Duggars and they are one of the nicest families and by far the nicest family on TV...they are real (unlike many other tv reality families). They really stand up for what they believe in and I admire that!

    great people!

  2. My one and only issue with the Duggars is their "buddy system." I'm all for kids having jobs and responsibilities and helping and learning how to run a home. HOWEVER, I don't think it's fair to burden an older child with raising a younger sibling completely. I mean, the older in the "buddy system" has to dress, bathe and feed the younger, AND do the majority of their homeschooling, AND help them with their chores in addition to their own chores. That's a lot to force on a kid. THEY didn't choose for you to have 19 kids.

    Did you look at their daily schedule posted on their site? Perhaps it has changed since I last looked at it last year, but at that time, they had 30 minutes a day for play/free time. Thirty minutes! And for the older kids, they only got that 30 minutes IF their own homework and their "buddy's" homework was completed.

    My personal feeling about it is, if you cannot take care of your children without having your older children raise the younger ones, then it's time to stop. (Again--having them help is fine. But the older child should NOT be doing the majority of the child rearing!)

    If Michelle and Jim Bob were doing the majority of the parenting in their home, I'd have no issue with them whatsoever.

  3. I am so amazed by two of my best friends who have big families (7 & 10 kids). They were both prayerful in making the decision to have each child. (I have known them since they have had two kids each.) I am impressed by the Duggars too.

  4. Emily, thank you for sharing your thoughts today. I'm guessing that those older children are very happy to be helping with younger siblings. I bet they would not want to be in a family where they had no responsibility and their parents did everything for them.

  5. While I do not agree with everything they do (or, rather, I would not do everything the way they do it), I am a bit torn about the buddy scenario.

    Yes, I totally agree that the parents should be the parents. I never make my kids change poopy diapers or perform other nasty tasks because I think that is Mom's job. I also don't want to raise a large family that doesn't want to have children of their own because they felt they already did so much of the rearing of their siblings.

    However, I do believe that there is absolutely no harm in teaching your older children selflessness by helping the younger children. Maybe the micro-families are part of the reason our country is having some of the problems we are having right now. If a person was raised knowing there were two parents whose sole interest was them, they come to expect everyone to dote, to think they are the Best in the West, and to think of themselves first (because they never had to think of another). This situation is unavoidable in many families, but I'm not sure it is a healthy way to raise a nation.

    We have so many conveniences in our lives that I think we forget that it is okay to not play all of the time. It is okay to work hard. It is okay to not have hours upon hours of free time. (By the way, in a good home school, much of what a publicly schooled child might do in their free time is what a home schooled child does as part of their curriculum. If a youth loves clothing design or photography or computer programming, it can easily become part of their school day. I don't think the Duggar teens neglect their interests so they can teach phonics.) It is okay to partner with your parents in doing the most important thing one can do--love. I'd bet that the older and younger buddies have a bond most of us will never know. And I think that is a treasure.

  6. about a month ago I discovered this family- we don't have TV right now so I am out of the loop-

    but my overall impression was "wow" and I really have no opinion of how she raises her gajillion children...honestly, I think she is doing awesom- I watched Octomom on Oprah once and oh Dear....oh dear- poor kids.

    so I love order and I'm obsessed with it- mainly because I suck at it and so wish to have that quality- so I was so delighted and interested in how she ran that house- the best part- is that 8000 sf house is paid for!!!!

    But in all honesty I kept wondering about her poor boobs and uterus more than anything- I mean seriously...

  7. Women are God's final, and in my opinion most complex & amazing creation! (Men are much more straight-forward, simple creations....but still pretty dang-awesome).

    I have seen Betsy carry and birth seven babies now.....and dang-it-all if she isn't stronger now than when we first had our first.

    I'm not saying I think we all should try to be like the Duggars....for us, I have no idea if we are done or not, only God knows.....I'm just saying people today (men & women) greatly underestimate the Godliness of a women's gift of life, the World-changing Power of a mother in her home, and the sheer Majesty & Glory of true womanhood.

    I'm impressed....what can I say!!