4 Reasons I React When the Duggars Get Slammed

To start- true confession:
I have never, even once, seen that Duggar TV show.  In fact, I am not even sure what it is called.

Now that that is on the table, moving on. 

Yet- when I hear a lot of hate spewed at this ginormous family, I get this visceral reaction that I don't quite expect.  I think that The Deranged Housewife nailed it on the head in her post.  But....back to me!

I also admit to thinking a few less than kind thoughts about them.  In fact, at playgroup recently we all chatted about this huge family, how it was an abnormal amount of children to have, how they possibly afford it and of course, if it is even safe to have that many children.  But guess what- it still ticks me off when people slam them.

Here are a few reasons why:

1)  I have a bigger than average family too.  

Totally not even within the range of what they have, but my four kids and I get a lot of stares when we go out.  People actually count heads and ask if we are shooting for a basketball team.  Are they trying to be rude?  Probably not, and it doesn't deeply offend me or anything.  But- I think there is some serious anti-big family sentiment out there.  From negative thoughts about the environmental impact to the idea that women are better off "working" than staying home; having more than two kids isn't exactly popular.

So I probably do take offense a little when people slam on them because they have a big family.  I feel, just a little bit, what they have aimed at them constantly.

2)  It is not actually fine to be cruel to people just because they are in the public.

Yeah- I know I am not famous.  And yet- just because I have a stinking blog people think it is open season on being mean.  Same goes for celebrities and of course for those sick punks who have reality TV shows.

Well, news flash folks- mean is mean.  Yeah, that even applies to people who dare share part of their lives on  the Internet, television, or in the movies.  Do they realize that opens them up for criticism?  Umm, yeah.  Does cruelty get a free pass, a "What do they expect, they put themselves out there?" just because somebody puts part of their life up for others to stare at?  I think not.

If you think somebody sharing their life with the public means you can through eggs at them, what are you teaching YOUR kids?  Pretty sure this message is coming through loud and clear,
"We should be nice to people, unless we disagree with them.  Then- go for the throat."

3)  I go to church- like A LOT.

Yes, I am very religious.  Yes, some people view my religion as being sexist.

Moving on past the fact that it is somewhat ridiculous for another to believe that they understand the basic beliefs of a religion better than those who ACTUALLY live it, why is it cool beans to kick people if they go to church?

Some of the hate this family gets seems more anti-religion in disguise than anything else.  Do I think quiver full is a bit much.  Well, yes, in fact I do.  If I did that I would have twenty kids too.  But I do love my religion.  I do try to teach it to my children because I deeply believe it will make their lives better.  People are allowed to disagree.  I let them raise their kids any which way they please, even teaching them things that I whole-heartedly believe are wrong.

Let me do the same thing, and let the Duggars too.   

4)  I am screwing up my kids too.

I admit it.  I am jacking up my kids.  I find comfort in the fact that you are too.  Yeah you.

I have a deeply held belief that all people do things that are wrong to their children, yes, even those who really try.  I don't force feed them hot sauce and I don't hit them with hoses, but I will admit that there are certainly things that I am doing that are not the best.  They are most likely the things I am least aware of, and the same goes for everybody.

So when people start throwing their feces at the Duggars because they are doing X,Y and Z wrong, I wonder what the world would say about them if their parenting (not all of it, just the interesting parts) was on a million screens a day.  Think about that one for a minute....

Bathroom breakdowns.....dinnertime crazies........poop on the wall.....and your every reaction to it, preserved forever.  I bet most of us would be appalled by what we saw of ourselves. 
So- even though I have never met them or seen their show, I think the way we react to them has more to do with US and our biases than THEM and the things they are doing wrong.  They are just an easy excuse to think other people are doing things wrong that we are doing right.  Which, though entertaining and cathartic, is not necessarily kind. 


Anonymous said…
It's amazing in that I get the "are you trying to keep up with that family from Arkansas?" Nope, I cannot possibly. At the same time, I cannot say they are wrong. They are taking care of their kids, they are married and all the kids are related to each of them and each other. It's a family, even if it is large. They may be unconventional, but they are NOT wrong.

Would we want people to say, "I'm sorry, you only have two kids, you are rich enough to have more. Come on, you should have more"? Or, do we want people telling us to stop at three? Why is other people's reproduction any of our business? I just don't get people's hatred for this family? This woman IS being very much a woman and suddenly, because people don't think it's okay, they say her uterus is a clown car or she's a gerbil. Automatically, being a normal human and reproducing makes Jim Bob someone to poke fun at and call stupid. This is a myth, people with a large brood are not necessarily stupid. Women who give birth to a lot of kids are not somehow sub human. I find it to be very insulting, sexist, and yes, probably religious discrimination. This family is not neglecting their kids. They are taking responsibility for them. I see many people who criticize them do not value children as much as they think they do. They need to recognize one thing, this family has 20 human beings they have brought into the world. It's not that they excessively bought a bunch of cats they are not taking care of. They are raising responsible adults. I've seen quite a few moms with only one child or just a few that are not taking the time to raise responsible adults.

This topic gets me fired up. The hateful comments are horrible!
mama said…
Actually, and I say this as a college graduate with a degree in religious studies, many times outsiders DO in fact know more than believers about religion. http://blog.beliefnet.com/omeoflittlefaith/2010/09/atheists-know-more-about-the-bible-than-christians.html So it's NOT "ridiculous for another to believe that they understand the basic beliefs of a religion better than those who ACTUALLY live it." Also see http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2010/09/28/130191248/atheists-and-agnostics-know-more-about-bible-than-religious and http://articles.latimes.com/2010/sep/28/nation/la-na-religion-survey-20100928
Gombojav Tribe said…
Absolutely love it. I feel the same way! I have seven children and boy! do we get the comments and stares! It's as if having more than 1.6 kids gives people permission to give me birth control advice or to criticize me in public!

I'm certainly not competing with the Duggars, but God bless them! They are living their convictions and doing it in a very loving and respectful way. I'm happy for them!
Maria said…
"I admit it. I am jacking up my kids. I find comfort in the fact that you are too. Yeah you."

I love it!! Isn't it amazing how we are all soooo perfect on our little glass couches? ;-)
It's sad that with *only* four kids you get stared at. It wasn't all that long ago that four families was about the average family size.

People always talk about her physical health with that many pregnancies - really, our nutrition and diets are so much better than they were probably even 40 years ago. Back then women routinely drank alcohol and smoked throughout pregnancy, and restricted their dietary intake in order to prevent a "big baby." I think people understand so little about the overall big picture when it comes to pregnancy and birth in general that it makes it all that much harder for them to wrap their heads around this.

I've noticed at our church (hey, we go to church too!) that there are some Christians who are like, "No WAY are we having more kids!" as if it's a death sentence. Maybe if they really don't want more, fine; but I think it's kind of sad. They are just buying into more of the worldly philosophy that kids are a burden and not a blessing. For a bunch of Baptists, we have one family with six and that's it. And I think people look down on them for it, too, which is even more sad. (especially since mom is a homebirthing long-term nursing mama - boy does that ever get attention! *eyeroll*)

I really hate how people justify their rude and hateful comments by saying "They're in the public eye - they are asking for it." No, they are not. That doesn't give anyone the right to be hateful.

Great post! Thanks for the link. :)
Stacy said…
At least the Duggers don't live on welfare - they are debt free (I wish I was). They never buy anything they can't pay for right then. They seem to love all their children. Just because they are on tv doesn't mean they should be treated rudely. If people don't like how they live their lives then they shouldn't watch the show. I think it's amazing to see parents still in love with each other & raising that many kids. Their homeschooling lets them do many things publics schools don't (with all the field/learning trips). I don't want to have that many kids but to each their own.
Katie said…
At our Moms group a couple weeks ago the speaker talked about Insecurity as Moms, and she said (along with some other great stuff) "You don't have to be perfect to get great results". As an admittedly imperfect Mom, praying every day to just be a little better, I appreciate this so much. My Mama always taught me that when you point your finger at someone else, there are three pointing right back at yourself so why don't you change that person instead, you'll have better results :)
Diana said…
Great article - agree absolutely on each point!!!
Lorelei said…
I've actually seen their tv show and though i don't agree with all of their views, they are a very "this is right for us, not everyone" kind of people. There is much to be admired about them, they view every child as a blessing, and it is obvious that the parents love each other and their children immensely. One of the reasons they don't believe in birth control is that Michelle miscarried a baby while she was on it. I think they are pretty awesome parents, and while their lifestyle isn't what i would choose for myself, they should have the right to life the way that works for them without people being so hateful.
Mama Birth said…
@ Mama-
I think your comment is particularly telling-
Here is why- you prove that one can have as much as a degree in religion and still not "get" what religion is.
Religion is more than book knowledge- it is spirit, love, faith, and many other things that can simply not be calculated or added up or tested. At least real religion is.
I have faith in a religion, a way of life and God- so I "get" why people can be deeply committed to a religious viewpoint, even if I totally disagree with it.

As to your point that Atheists know more than Christians about their religion- well, I will give you that. There are far more Christians than full blown Atheists, and many a "Christian" hasn't cracked a Bible or walked into a church for 20 years. Among those who attend, millions probably neglect personal study of their own religion and instead rely on the knowledge of their preacher or church leaders.

I don't feel I am one of those, but, maybe you would know better than me.
just sayin' said…
Take religion out of it.... If you had to deliver your 19th child almost 4 months prematurely, and that child had serious complications, as well as you...the mom. And your doctors said the next time you could die, or your child...don't you think you should stop? Be grateful for the 19!!!! Children you have? And not put your life at risk to have another? What are those 19 children going to do without a mom? I think it is careless and selfish.
Ashley said…
My problem with the Duggars is not that they're having 40 bajillion children (notice I'm using plural, Jim Bob is just as much involved, though people like to forget that) but that they are promoting their lifestyle. They are fundamentally evangelical about this (and evangelical fundamentalists) and are the most vocal spokespeople for a movement that wants ALL people to have 40 bajillion children. I don't care what they choose to do with their life (much..I suspect there's serious neglect going on that the cameras refuse to show) but I loathe that they've been given such a spotlight.

And the question of "how they do it" is perfectly clear. THEY don't. Their older daughters do. I've read enough about Quiverfullers to know that they promote early marriage and courtship under the patriarch's guidance. Josh is 23, married for 2ish years and has 2 kids. I highly doubt that there aren't Quiverfull boys interested in the older Duggar girls, yet there's never been word about them courting or getting married. Why? Probably because Michelle and Jim Bob still rely heavily on the 3 girls who are of marriageable age (that whole "buddy system" they tout). So even going with their reported values, they're holding their 3 oldest girls back from starting their own family.
Lucy said…
Ashley I totally agree with your comment. Supporting the Duggars is supporting a system that takes rights away from girls and women and puts them into the hands of their fathers and then their husbands. It's sickening and saddening to see it broadcast as television. Even sicker and sadder to see people lap it up.
Sara said…
I don't talk badly about the Duggars. I do hope that the next pregnancy turns out better, but I do think that it's much more risky at her age and with as many children as she would leave behind. I absolutely do not agree that the Bible supports having a bunch of children, however. Adam and Eve, and then Noah, were told to multiply, not the first-century Christians. They were told to "make disciples" by preaching, not procreation. By saying that God is responsible for their large family, they are also making him responsible for their last baby, a micro-preemie who will have health issues for the rest of her life, despite having survived. The whole belief system doesn't make sense to me, and I understand why some people would talk badly about them- that's what happens when you put yourself on TV in a lifestyle that is impossible for most, and undesirable for many.
Sara said…
Also consider- the only reason why it's possible for a mother to have that many children is because she's not practicing breastfeeding and early parenting in a style that keeps ovulation away. Very few mothers before the 20th century could have had that many children, simply because breastfeeding generally resulted in a 2-3 year gap between children. I realize that she does breastfeed, but certainly not for an optimal length of time, otherwise she would never have 19 children. So that's like saying "God gave me 19 children, but only because I'm not feeding my child in the way that is optimal".
Erin said…
@Sarah- Not all women lose their fertility to breastfeeding. I know women who breastfeed and always get their cycles back right away. My friend always gets hers back at 8 weeks, even when she was breastfeeding TWINS around the clock.

Even if she chose to formula feed exclusively, it doesn't mean she shouldn't have kids.
Amy said…
@Sarah - It is possible to be fertile and breast feed. I EBF my daughter from the get go till she was 6 months old, and good old AF was back after only a 4 week break once the lochia was passed.

As for the Duggars. I have issues with the evangelical nature and their religious beliefs... but I feel bad for their family never the less... miscarriage sucks.
Quantmlife said…
I don't have a large family (expecting our second) and my first is five. I do have strong faith-based convictions but am not a direct part of the movement/church that the Duggars espouse. I, too, am a college graduate with a degree that makes me knowledgeable about medicine, though I am not a doctor. I really enjoy the Duggars show (19 kids and counting) and have probably seen 80% of the episodes.

I agree with Mama birth that "mean is mean." Michelle Duggar and her family, regardless of whether you agree with them or not, just lost a child. A child they had hopes and dreams for... a child even the young children, in the family, were excited to have join their family. The gall, bitterness, and vile hate that is being spewed at them during this trying time is not only unnecessary but it is also just plain hateful.

Based on what I have seen there is no reason to believe there is any abuse or neglect going on behind the scenes (if there were TLC and their employees on the shoots could be held liable for not reporting it). Everyone in their family seems genuinely happy with their life, even the oldest girls. I don't see how the parents are holding them back (though assuredly the cameras don't show everything). The oldest daughter has been shown less and less lately and I suspect there may be a revelation to come there in the future... she also spent time for several weeks as a missionary in another country with only her younger brother present (because he also wanted to go on the trip). She and her sisters don't do everything that typical American late teens/early 20's do but they certainly seem content with what they are doing... including a couple of them who volunteer with the local volunteer fire dept as first responders.

As for Michelle taking a risk becoming pregnant with their 20th child. I don't know what physicians may have said to them privately but the physician who has delivered several of their last few children always seems supportive when her prenatal appointments are aired. What most, who do not watch/follow the show on a regular basis, do not realize about baby Josie (her 19th child and the one she gave birth to at 27 weeks) is that she had both an inflamed gall bladder and pre-eclampsia while pregnant with Josie. Due to Michelle's extremely high blood pressure the doctors felt it was essential to deliver Josie via c-section (only Michelle's second c/s and her first bout with pre-eclampsia, to my knowledge) to prevent further complications. Now I have seen arguments about pre-eclampsia being preventable but not many conclusive scientific studies to support any arguments. The only article that indicated any possible (correlative) cause of pre-eclampsia, that I have seen in recent literature, is low vitamin D levels early in pregnancy. Pre-eclampsia can be complicated/exacerbated by other disease processes going on in the body, such as in Michelle's case where her gall bladder was severely inflamed and subsequently removed. There was never any indication that her mulitparousness (having had many children) had anything to do with the complications she experienced with Josie. I'm not saying that it could not be co-related but it was not causative.
Quantmlife said…
As for the Duggars sharing their religious beliefs/faith. TLC is the one giving them the forum to do this... they aren't pushing it on anyone but it is germane to their life. It is as an essential a part of their life is breathing is to most people from the way they express it. Is there anything wrong with that? NO. You can feel free to disagree with them about their beliefs but in the United States people, many men and women, have laid down their lives so that we can all enjoy the freedom to choose our own religious beliefs among many other freedoms that we enjoy.

Finally, if you don't like or agree with their choices that's fine, even they would be accepting and tolerant of that. So choose not to watch their show or to boycott TLC or something constructive. Simply criticizing or saying things which are wholly negative and hateful during a time when they've lost a child is extremely disrespectful. They, like all families who face the loss of a loved one (including miscarriage), deserve encouragement, sympathy, and our positive thoughts and prayers as they try to heal and recover.
I am the mother of 7 children. I have found people to be very loving and accepting of us. We do get stares. People count us. They ask us questions like "Are they all yours?" But, they have all been very kind and supportive. I have even had older ladies stop and give me encouragement. Store clerks and waitresses give us compliments on our children's behavior frequently. Our experience with people's comments has been very positive.
Jessica said…
I love that you used "cool beans" in your post! :)

The hate mail directed at them is just so base. My Great-Grandma always said people that make fun of you are jealous. I always think about that when I read about haters.
dulce de leche said…
I think it is heartbreaking that their baby was lost. My disagreements with them are over their promotion of the Pearls, Gothard and S M Davis on their website. On the Amazon blitz page, they have a glowing recommendation for No Greater Joy ministries (including the book, To Train Up a Child, which is associated with at least 3 deaths). SM Davis is linked in their family favorites section. Gothard is behind ATI, and they are very, very involved in that.
Chii Sana said…
Did you know that Jim-Bob is the leader of a church comprised of only his nuclear family? Their house is the site of the church which means it is tax-free. That means that a lot of the stuff they need to purchase can also be bought tax-free.

As far as I'm concerned, the Quiverfull movement is one rooted in abuse. The fact that people can defend it at all speaks volumes about how well the kyriarchy continues to be supported by the very people it is oppressing.