Wednesday, September 28, 2005

How many is too many?

Meet the Duggar family. (You're looking at the old site, folks. For the properly formatted version of this post -- with more comments -- click here.) Note that (Head Count) - Mom - Dad = 14. This is the Duggar family circa 2004, before #15 arrived. The Duggars were the subject of a Discovery Health channel documentary, "14 Children and Pregnant Again!", which airs again on October 27 and October 29. Here's the blurb: "The Duggars are letting God dictate how many children they have and, with nine boys, five girls, and one on the way, Jim Bob and Michelle feel blessed many times over! Find out how the Duggars coordinate a household that would challenge any manager." Before discussing precisely how the Duggars coordinate that household, let's get some Guinness Book of World Records perspective. According to, the 2001 Guinness Book gives the record to "the first wife of Feodor Vassilyev (1707-1782) of Shuya, Russia": 69 children, many of them multiple births, 67 of whom survived infancy. In recent times, the record belongs to "Leontina Albina from San Antonio, Chile. Now in her mid-sixties, Leontina claims to be the mother of 64 children, of which only 55 of them are documented". Can we at least agree that 55 children is too many? Back to the Duggars. Never mind that Jim Bob and Michelle dress their children like clones and give them names, ALL of them, that start with J (including Jinger -- pronounced Ginger, in case you're wondering). Never mind that the white suprem acist website st0rrmf runt dot org* luuurves the Duggars cuz they're bringin' all them white Christian babies into the world. After all, the Duggars can't help it if they've become the neo-Knotsies' poster family. No. What I wonder is whether Jim Bob and Michelle are doing the job. Not that job -- obviously, they're doing very little else. I mean the job of parenting. Take a look at the Quiverfull FAQ. Here's their response to the question (not really a question, but what the hey), "You won't be able to give as much time or attention to a dozen kids as you could to just two or three": "We trust that God will give us the ability to meet the needs of all the children He gives us -- and that includes their need for love and attention as well as material needs." Read the rest, if you like. They go on to talk about all the great parenting opportunities you get eating and praying together as a family. And don't forget the joys of having ten or more siblings: "[H]ow could we consider robbing our children of the opportunity for a life-time of shared experiences with another brother or sister, in exchange for a theoretical increase in attention from their parents?" I have a brother and a sister. One each. Did I really need to have another ten of 'em to get that wonderful experience? Damn it, I'm going to call my parents and tell them I've been ROBBED.
Karen and I got tweaked over the Duggars, the Prairie Muffins, and the Quiverfull folks thanks to the comments thread for this post at The News Blog. That thread led Karen to discover the Television Without Pity website, which, when it comes to television programming, has to be the snarkiest of the snarky snark. They truly live up to their name. Anyway, for the last four days, Karen has been a slave to TWP's two hundred page thread of comments in response to "14 Children and Pregnant Again!" Since we haven't watched the show, our understanding of its content comes from that comment thread. (Check it out, but prepare to be addicted. Some of the posters are hilarious -- e.g., "I think my tubes just spontaneously tied themselves.") Remember, "Find out how the Duggars coordinate a household that would challenge any manager"? Here are a few highlights of the Duggars' managerial, I mean child-rearing, methods.
  • The kids are home-schooled. Their only outside contact is with other Fundamentalist Christian families; they don't even go to church (they hold services at home).
  • There's a "buddy system" in place to care for newly weaned infants. Eight- to ten-year-old children are charged with care responsibilities for children under two. Where's mom? Giving suck to the next in line.
  • With fourteen (now fifteen) kids on board, economies must be observed. The photo above is the rule, not the exception: the kids all dress in the same clothes. The program also focused on meals in the Duggar household -- they sure like Tater Tot casserole!
  • In a household of this size, the chores are enormous. Each child is given his/her "jurisdiction". A six-year-old is responsible for all of the laundry, and so forth.
Some of you will no doubt point out that in past generations, this, or something close to it, was the norm. But consider: Back then, such folks lived on farms, and the numbers were necessary to provide labor. Back then, infant mortality claimed a sizable share of the family. Back then, birth control was illegal, unavailable, or (if available) next to useless. Back then, a child wasn't expected to do much more than finish grade school and learn a trade (or work on the family farm). With scaled-down expectations, and with the fruits of a family farm (such as a ready supply of chicken eggs and cow's milk), a husband and wife could provide for a large family in what was, at the time, a respectably ample fashion. Back then, what opportunities did a woman have? It was the rare woman who could rise above this fate.
Yes, you can argue that this is a free country. The Duggars are self-sufficient thanks to Jim Bob's real estate investments, so they're not living on the public dole. Why shouldn't they procreate like bunnies, if that's what they want? I worry about the kids. Except for the youngest (the one lucky enough to be born just before Michelle Duggar's uterus commits seppuku), they'll grow up without a childhood, and they'll grow up knowing nothing else but the Duggar Way. I can't help but think the Duggars are carrying their freedom a little too far. Further reading (in case you found this post last): So you want to be a Prairie Muffin? D. *I don't particularly want these guys sniffing around my website, you know what I mean? Hence the misspellings. Google the Duggars and you'll find plenty of Knotsie links.


Anonymous fiveandfour said...

I'll poke around the Duggars info later, but for now I'll just say I come from one of those large families. My dad was one of those farm folk you mentioned who had several siblings, then between my parents' two marriages (each) there were a total of 10 kids with my dad's last name burdening the tax payers in the public school system.

There are definitely plusses and minuses to a family of that size, which would be a hijacking of your blog for me to talk about here. Beyond the religion thing, my gripe with that family would be that it seems to me they are doing their children a disservice (at best) by keeping them so sheltered from the world. They don't go outside for school or church? At least with the Shakers and Mormons and Amish the people live in communities with day-to-day exposure to other people. Knowing how to manage and work within the household is all very well, but what about out in the world?

9/28/2005 10:18:00 AM  
Blogger Lilith Saintcrow said...

It's amazing these people have time to blog (the Muffins) or have a TV crew running around (the Duggars) with all dem kids. And where on earth do they find the time to copulate? While the kids are cleaning the house like demented Merry Maids?

makes me glad I stopped at two.

9/28/2005 10:46:00 AM  
Blogger Douglas Hoffman said...

5&4: feel free to hijack my blog. I don't mind.

Not only do the Duggars (and other Quiverfulls) shelter their kids, this is a tenet of their philosophy. From the Prairie Muffin Manifesto,

7) Prairie Muffins protect the innocence of their children, until such a time their children are mature enough to be exposed to potentially-harmful cultural influences.

In the Duggars case, 'such a time' is, um, never.

Lilith: they have lots of time for procreation, owing to the fact that they have delegated all childcare responsibilities to their children.

By the way, the household duties are not equally apportioned. One of the younger girls gets all the laundry, while the oldest boy (who likes show tunes, btw) feeds the family dog. Guess Ma and Pa didn't like the way he whistled show tunes whilst ironing Ma's fat-collared jumpers.

The three older girls get ALL the cooking responsibilities. Guess that's where the tater tot casserole came from. (In the co-ops at Berkeley, the college students concocted wonders like 'tuna jello'. Just thought I'd throw that in.)

Hmm. Not enough science fiction in this post. I'll close with this cute quote from the Television Without Pity thread:

"The Duggars are like the Borg, except that the Borg dress better and have more privacy."

9/28/2005 11:11:00 AM  
Anonymous Candy said...

See, the thing that creeps me out about that family is how assiduous they are about keeping their kids within the boundaries of their very narrow lives. They have no contact with people who think or act differently from them, and I can't help but think that's a BAD thing. All this "protect the children's fragile little minds!" crap bothers the shit out of me.

It's not about protection.

It's about wielding absolute control.

It's about ensuring that your kids think and do ONLY what you think and do instead of allowing them room to be individuals--individuals who might *gasp* disagree with you.

I have a theory about people who veer to such extremes, whether it be religion or non-religion (I've met a couple of atheists who were pretty fruity-loops about their non-belief, too). They're control freaks. They need everything to be JUST SO, and they need answers to be definite. Uncertainty just kills them.

I'm being a bitch by saying this, but GOD, I hope one of the kids grows up, starts thinking for him- or herself and rebels in a big way, like, s/he turns out to be a bisexual vegan punk rocker who volunteers at Planned Parenthood.

In terms of parenting methods, I like the way my sister does it the best: every time her son comes up with a hard question, she buys/borrows a crapload of books on the topic, reads them together with him, discusses them with him and makes it clear that she wants him to make up his own mind. She did that with just about all the awkward topics kids typically throw at their parents: does God exist, and if God exists, which version is the right one? What's death like? Where do babies come from? Why do some people have darker skin than other people? Etc.

Result: one scarily smart, well-adjusted kid. Not too bad for a single mother who doesn't believe in God.

9/28/2005 11:19:00 AM  
Blogger Douglas Hoffman said...

Candy, we're raising a little heathen of our own. I tried to get him to be at least a little Jewish, but he became convinced (even at four or five) that God had to be in the same camp as Santa Claus et al. The only thing that really bothered me about this? Thanks to Harry Potter, he thought ghosts, witches, and magic were all real. This didn't bug me for the usual reason ("lordie, he'll grow up to sacrifice goats and listen to Metallica!") -- I simply didn't like the inconsistency.

So I went to my rabbi, a VERY liberal sort, and told him my son didn't believe in God. His response: "And this is a problem?"

His point: you can teach Jewish morality and ethics without requiring a belief in God. Pretty radical, huh?

9/28/2005 11:59:00 AM  
Blogger Lilith Saintcrow said...

Your rabbi sounds fantastic.

9/28/2005 12:21:00 PM  
Anonymous lisboncaine said...

I'm going to assume that no one is suggesting that those that engage in the most traditional of family values are in any way to be considered fascists....please tell me that that is not the inference.

Further, I'm also going to assume that no one is suggesting that those who choose to raise their children largely within the confines of their own family unit are to be considered knuckle dragging idiots...or perhaps, God forbid, child abusers...or at best child neglectors.

Yes, these folks have chosen a rather old-fashioned way to go about raising their family. However allow me to point out, that it is THEIR family...and unlike most of "Middle America" that I witness on a daily basis, they seem unusually devoted to their family. Their children learn to work and support the household and each other. Please tell me that the inference is not that this is foolish....or dangerous.

It's particularly interesting and sad to note that intelligent people such as those who produce and comment on this blog would find issue with these concepts, considering them outmoded at best....and inferring that they may be dangerous at worst.

No, really I think the inference that this is in any way considered fascism is the worst. It speaks volumes about the state of mind of average Americans...and it doesn't speak well in my opinion.

My wife and I are childless, by choice, we are not traditional fundamentalist Christians and we maintain no political affiliation and certainly abhor fascism, nazis, or those claiming to be "supreme" over any other group of people, and still the saddest part of this commentary is from those who can't see the wholesome aspect of a group of people that shun materialism and the whims of instant gratification and information overload....for the honest pleasure of a simple, happy and unfied family...however large or small.

What a shame.

9/28/2005 01:36:00 PM  
Anonymous Candy said...

"I'm going to assume that no one is suggesting that those that engage in the most traditional of family values are in any way to be considered fascists...."

Since when was doing the following in any way indicative of traditional family values?

1. Home-schooling

2. Allowing the children to associate ONLY with children with the exact same religious backgrounds and similar upbringing

3. Dressing the children identically

4. Covering the girls from head to toe while the boys get to dress more-or-less normally

5. Popping out that many children in rapid succession when the infant mortality rate is incredibly low and the need for labor to help with family concerns like, say, running a farm, are low or non-existent

I also hope you're not inferring that people who DON'T do any of the above are anti-family or don't have family values. Because that'd be as silly as inferring that we're engaging in Fascist activity merely by our expressions of amazed (and amused) horror at the Duggar lifestyle.

I agree that people are free to live the lives they choose. It just doesn't seem like the Duggars are offering much choice to THEIR kids at all--or aren't their kids people, too?

And the corrollary to people being free to lead their lives, is that other people are free to have opinions about those lifestyles, too. It's when people act on those opinions in an attempt to force other people in line with their lifestyles that the Fascist leanings start to show up. I'm snarking on the Duggars now, and I do heartily wish Jim Bob would quit jizzing in his wife already because the thought of another Duggar unit pushing its way into the world makes me feel faint, but I'm not pushing for legislation to limit the number of children a family can have, nor am I in favor of legislation that would affect their lives in any material way. I doubt any of the people who've commented here would.

So, please be a lot more careful about tossing around the F-word.

Jim Bob, on the other hand, has been a representative of his state with ambitions to run for higher office, and he's unabashed about his goals for enacting legislation that WOULD impact other people's choices and lifestyles. Hey, how's that for having Fascist leanings?

There's wholesome shunning of materialism and dedication to the family, and then there are parents who run their families a certain way because they have control issues. The latter is by no means limited to fundamentalist evangelical Christians--I've seen it happen to all sorts of families of all sorts of faiths--and the Duggars seem to be a pretty clear example of that phenomenon.

9/28/2005 02:06:00 PM  
Blogger Douglas Hoffman said...

Um. Yeah. What Candy said.

9/28/2005 02:39:00 PM  
Anonymous Beth said...

Okay, I'm at work and will likely comment more later, but can everybody PLEASE stop using phrases like "popping out kids"? Kids don't just pop out. Women don't just pump them out, or crank them out, or churn them out. It's a pet peeve of mine when people state it like that, as though it's equivalent to doubling a batch of cookies. Sheesh.

9/28/2005 02:41:00 PM  
Anonymous lisboncaine said...


adj 1: consisting of or derived from tradition; "traditional history"; "traditional morality" [ant: nontraditional] 2: pertaining to time-honored orthodox doctrines; "the simple security of traditional assumptions has vanished"


I don't mean to be all technical about it....

Home schooling is a throwback to the traditional founders approach to schooling their children. I believe that you will find its first application in this county represented at the founding of the Jamestown colony in Virginia.

Traditionally....religions of all sorts encourage a gathering with like-minded people...traditionally and by nature this IS religion. You will find this cutting across all religions in one form or another.

Traditionally in families of this size, money and the sheer business of clothing people on a daily basis requires a more...or shall I say less materially stylistic approach. If your suggesting that one cannont be an individual based on their wardrobe....boy, I don't know how to respond to that. Explain to me how the Buddhist monks manage to be so beneficial to mankind....dressed identically as they are.

Traditionally in religious upbringing the piety of the spirit, considered a benefit to the character of the child...then the adult, is based in the modesty of the female. While I agree that this is a strict interpretation of the tradition, it is not outside of the norm for the tradition that this family has engendered.

...and traditionally it is one's choice to have children or not, in the amount that soothes and gratifies one's soul and to the extent that they can be provided for. Again this family is self-sufficient. This is a non argument. Your opinion that they have too many children is based purely in your subjective approach to this subject. These people are consuming NONE of the public resource to care for what they have chosen to do.

As far as the "F" word is concerned, I believe you will find the initial inference to this in Dr Hoffman's original post. Indicating that those that found the most favor with this family seemed to be "white supremacists", in fact, he went to some degree to dissuade those "white supremacists" by misspelling their web-site address and commenting about why he did it.

Like it or, not....there are still traditionally religious people in this country...and THEY also have a right to their opinion and their lifestyle. I'm simply taking issue with some of the rather loose, and in my OPINION, irresponsible associations that have been made around this subject.

You also are entitled to an opinion and it seems you have a very strong one....great. I'm still living in a country where the Duggars can have 15 them at home....dress them alike....teach them to be pious....associate with whom they choose...and not associate with those they don't choose....teach them the religion of their choice....while all at the same time you can have YOUR opinion....and YOUR lifestyle.

I merely was suggesting that this family in its superlative (that which supercedes the norm) circumstance presented an opportunity to comment on things.
They are hurting no one....most of all their children. Children grow up to be adults...and make their own decisions. The worst thing that can happen here, is that these children grow up with strong moral attachment to their blood family...and some fairly strong moral what a disease these people truly are.

Like it or not...what you see as controlling....others can reasonably see as guidance. And given the condition of our public schools and ill-mannered, ill-tempered, under-disciplined, and ignorant children society is pumping out daily....maybe, maybe reasonable people might use this superlative circumstance to reflect on things as a whole and to see the contrasts that this lifestyle presents....instead of imaginary dangers....and wild, ridiculous associations with morally bereft cultures, like white supremacists. I can't even understand how that comment pertains to this family's existence.

A truly open mind...interested in understanding how their approach may be improved could possibly look at this and find benefit, since these children aren't shooting each other in public schools...or being exposed to being shot...they're not on a laundry list of drugs to control behaviour their parents don't care enough to teach them, they're not dealing crack on the street corners...they're not vandalizing private property.

No....they're just working hard to maintain a home they've been taught to love....they're loving their brothers and sisters to the extent that they teach each other...and they're reading the Bible. Wow...what crimes against humanity.

Those rotten control freaks....and their mutant spawn. What a pox on society.

That's all I meant to say.

9/28/2005 03:15:00 PM  
Blogger THIS! Christine said...

okie dokie... I've seen the documentary.

The Duggars come across as really nice people. No it's not my way. (The fashion alone.. shudder.).

Frankly the only thing that disturbed me was the lack of individuality expressed by the children. No tantrums, no whining, no balking of authority at all. Everything had a 'Waltons' feel to it. Actually some of the Waltons were downright rebels comparitively. That may be because of the presence of the cameras and that universal parental admonishment, 'Behave!', before company arrives. Still, it seemed... perfect.


9/28/2005 03:22:00 PM  
Blogger THIS! Christine said...

Doug, (and Karen),
I can't believe you hadn't previously discovered TWoP. (Shaking head at the missed years of snark)... btw the TWoP team have a political website as well called, This Is Not Over.

Some of the rants of Miss Allie, Sars, Wing Chun and the rest of the team are wonderful.

9/28/2005 03:29:00 PM  
Blogger Lilith Saintcrow said...

Okay. *takes deep breath*

How is teaching young girls to be "submissive" and damage their bodies by having child after child loving behavior? How is keeping your children from having a normal relationship with the outside world loving; especially when cutting off communication with the outside world is one of the prime weapons cults use to keep people infantilized and cooperative? How is it "traditional" to be a Dominionist protestant evangelical, all things that are relatively recent inventions? How is it "loving" to have such a double standard of freedom based on the gender of your children? How is it loving to have a six-year-old girl in charge of all the laundry while a boy only has to feed the dog?

You will notice, ma'am, that nobody in here had even implied that the Duggans should be stopped from engaging in this behavior/lifestyle. We have expressed our disagreement, in very rational and far more charitable terms than your own accusations of fascism. As a matter of fact, your comment was the first evidence of fascism in what was otherwise a humorous and reasonable discussion.

As for your charge that at least these kids aren't out shooting up other people and being crack hos... well, neither are mine, or Doug's. Your straw man simply doesn't apply because it presupposes nobody raised in one of these "good Christian" homes will never commit a crime or simply become a raving jerk; and conversely presupposes that anyone raised in a secular home will be predisposed to shootin' and crack ho'in'. This is simplistic and highly incorrect, especially in light of this recent study.

One last question, ma'am. Neither Christ nor Paul were great proponents of marriage. As a matter of fact, it could be said that especially Paul made the case for lifelong chastity, a thought carried to its logical extension by the Perfect Cathars. If sex is so sinful and marriage is as bad as Christ and Paul evidently thought it was, how can the heads of this large family say they are following Christ's will?

Just askin'.

9/28/2005 03:46:00 PM  
Blogger Lilith Saintcrow said...

Did I say ma'am? I meant, sir.

9/28/2005 04:03:00 PM  
Anonymous fiveandfour said...

The worst thing that can happen here, is that these children grow up with strong moral attachment to their blood family...and some fairly strong moral fibre...

See, here's where I disagree with you. I don't believe that the worst that can happen with children who have what seems to be extraordinarily limited exposure to the world outside their door is that they'll grow up with these traits. What you stated is certainly the goal, and what I'd call the best that could happen.

But I say "extraordinarily limited exposure" purposefully because it seems to me that if these children don't go outside the home for any instruction whatsoever - for either their basic education or their religious indoctrination - the implication is that their entire world comes to them through the filter of their parents. The overwhelming majority of their life experience until puberty (presumably) will be interaction only with their family unit.

As a parent, I certainly understand the impulse to keep the children close. But my parenting philosophy includes the idea that it's a disservice to my child to not allow her to develop her own instincts, ask questions and obtain opinions from people outside the bounds of my household (not to mention develop her own thoughts and opinions once in awhile), and understand as only firsthand life experience can make you understand how to get along with others in the outside world.

How are these parents expecting their children to cope with the outside world? The assumption I'm making is that at heart the parents are hoping they will just find spouses with the very same ideals and start raising the next generation to be just like them. Is this realistic? Idealistic, certainly, but realistic? Are their children ever truly going to be free to choose to either continue the life they were brought up in or go another way?

These are the issues that concern me with families such as the Duggars - not the size of the family (as I said, I come from a large one myself so it would be hypocritical in the least for me to say all large families are a bad thing when in fact there are some positive things to be said for them) but what seems to be extreme measures to ensure that their children are exposed as minutely as possible to the world outside their familial walls and the wondrous variety of people that live in it.

Finally, I'm leaving the religion issue alone because there is no winning on that subject, is there? In the whole history of mankind it seems to me that religion is the one thing that's caused the most war and bitterness and general anguish - so I'm doing my part to abstain from the mine is better than yours pissing contest. So long as we can agree that you can keep your beliefs if I can keep mine (and never the twain shall meet, I imagine), I think we can all get along fine.

9/28/2005 04:17:00 PM  
Blogger Douglas Hoffman said...

By the way: according to the Television Without Pity comment thread, number sixteen is on the way. They're having fun over there trying to outdo one another with outlandish J names.

9/28/2005 04:53:00 PM  
Blogger Lilith Saintcrow said...

Must bite bullet and ask: what justification is there for the J names? Is it because of Jimbob?

9/28/2005 05:10:00 PM  
Anonymous Candy said...

"Home schooling is a throwback to the traditional founders approach to schooling their children."

It's as traditional to NOT home-school as it is to home-school. Think of the long tradition of state-sponsored and privately-organized educational institutions, from universities to student-tutor relationships, stretching from the time of Socrates, and hell, even before Socrates.

As for invoking the founders: Were James Madison, Thomas Jefferson, Ben Franklin, George Washington et al home-schooled in the same way the Duggar children are, i.e. everything received through the filter of their parents, or were they more auto-didactic?

Again, I wouldn't disagree as much with the Duggar method of child-rearing if I saw more openness and less concern about so-called protection of children's minds.

"Traditionally....religions of all sorts encourage a gathering with like-minded people..."

And traditionally, religions do not forbid people from interacting with people of other religions. Hey, if nothing else, the books tell you to go to war with the infidels and kill them, which is interaction in and of itself.

There's a difference between choosing to hang out with people who are like-minded, and making your kids hang out only with other kids who have been brought up with exactly the same worldview you have.

Do you see the difference?

"Traditionally in families of this size, money and the sheer business of clothing people on a daily basis requires a more...or shall I say less materially stylistic approach."

Then explain to me why the girls have to dress as they do, and why the boys are allowed to dress like normal kids.

"Explain to me how the Buddhist monks manage to be so beneficial to mankind....dressed identically as they are."

This point puzzles me, I admit. It's totally out of left field. Did I try to make a point that bad fashion sense or dressing in uniforms = bad moral fiber? I was trying to make a point about the parenting styles, about the way I see the Duggars exerting their control.

Also, most Buddhist monks make an informed choice to wear that garb. Apples and oranges. There are still cases of children entering monkhood, and God knows the way the Dalai Lama is chosen freaks me out even though I was born and raised Buddhist, but as far as I know, most monks make a conscious choice as adults to join the order. Correct me if I'm wrong, however.

"As far as the "F" word is concerned, I believe you will find the initial inference to this in Dr Hoffman's original post."

Again, you've lost me. Doug mentions that WP nutballs love the Duggars because they're white, Christian and prolific breeders. This is easily-confirmed fact. How this translates into your assumption about Fascism kind of baffles me.

"The worst thing that can happen here, is that these children grow up with strong moral attachment to their blood family...and some fairly strong moral what a disease these people truly are."

As fiveandfour has noted, what you're looking at is the BEST case scenario. I've known some so-sheltered-they-were-smothered kids who freaked out and self-destructed once they started venturing out into the world.

Some of the fucked-up people I've known were people who were raised in really strict households--religion optional; control freakishness on the part of the parents was the constant.

Some of the most well-adjusted, morally centered people I've known were those who were raised by permissive, laidback parents.

"And given the condition of our public schools and ill-mannered, ill-tempered, under-disciplined, and ignorant children society is pumping out daily...."

This is so funny. One thing remains constant: every generation is convinced that the next generation is full of degenerate, troublemaking, lazy, disrespectful, uneducated youths. I remember reading a quote from some dead Greek guy (Aristotle? Plato? Aristophanes?) and he was whinging about the EXACT SAME THING. Man, you think they would've blown up the world by now, those young 'uns.

Last time I checked, though, all the truly catastrophic events the world has suffered through were initiated by middle-aged (or older) men.

Youth: we fear them, we envy them, we idolize (and idealize) them, we want to recapture the energy and beauty they have. America, in particular, has always had a very interesting and very conflicted relationship with its youth and the portrayals of youth.

"A truly open mind...interested in understanding how their approach may be improved could possibly look at this and find benefit, since these children aren't shooting each other in public schools...or being exposed to being shot...they're not on a laundry list of drugs to control behaviour their parents don't care enough to teach them, they're not dealing crack on the street corners...they're not vandalizing private property."

Hey, here's a thought: The vast--and I mean VAST--majority of kids aren't fucked up on drugs, shooting each other up, or being thugs.

People are raising good, smart, well-balanced kids without resorting to what the Duggars are doing.

That's all *I'm* trying to say.

9/28/2005 05:20:00 PM  
Blogger Douglas Hoffman said...

As regards fascism: what I said was, "After all, the Duggars can't help it if they've become the neo-Knotsies' poster family."

I feel sorry for this aspect of the Duggars' lives. I really do. I'd hate to get fan mail from the Knotsies. Then again, when they find out that Karen and I, a 'mixed blood' couple, only have one child and can't have any others, the Knotsies probably WILL start sending us fan mail.

Candy raised an interesting point about the Duggars being a best case scenario. I chose them because (A) they're in the limelight, so a lot is know about them, (B) they've already chosen to make their private lives public, and (C) it would be a cheap shot to focus on the worst case scenario.

The worst case scenario would be the Andrea Yates case, which you can read about here.

For me, the children are the tragic angle here, especially the daughters, who are being raised to see no other option than Michelle Duggar.

Oh, the J business: they named the first kid a J name in honor of Dad*, then they had another J name picked out for #2, then they were afraid the rest of the kids would feel "left out."

*Incidentally, one of the husband-and-wife photos you'll find on the web has a file name 'jimbobandwife' -- not 'jimbobandmichelle' -- nuff said.

9/28/2005 05:42:00 PM  
Blogger Tarantula Lady said...

Lilith, yes, all the kids have "J" names because of ol' Jim Bob. Papa Duggar didn't admit that he's a narcissist but that's my impression.

Hell, he even gave the family dog a "J" name which makes me wonder what he's been doing with the local dogs. ;)

9/28/2005 07:22:00 PM  
Anonymous fiveandfour said...

While suffering from an allergic reaction to a couple of medicines ::scratch scratch scratch:: I've been taking my mind off my misery by reading some of the TWoP comments re: the Duggars. It's so mesmerizing, I have a bad feeling I'm going to be clicking and scratching and mouth breathing and scratching some more for many hours to come.

OK, I was saying earlier that there are some plusses in being raised with several siblings. Before going further, I'll say I was actually an only child until I was adopted by the family that raised me - so I've seen both sides on this issue. I think the biggest "plus" is something I've recently observed when comparing my daughter (only child of a dad who was an only child and a mom that started out as one) to one of her friends, the oldest of 6 children in a Catholic family. With multiple children, and parents that are good managers, the oldest children naturally accept that life comes with obligations. What I mean by that is, taking individual personalities out of it and speaking strictly in generalizations based on my own experiences plus those I've observed for others in like situations, is that there's less of a bad attitude about obeying the parents, there's less "my life is sooooo horrible" when being instructed to do a basic household chore, and there's more of an understanding that noone likes working with a slacker. It was just "understood" in my house growing up that when mom or dad said "do this" that you just did it. You didn't ask why, you didn't complain about how it wasn't fair, you didn't whine about how hard it would be. My husband calls it having a good work ethic and I suppose that's as good a description as I can think of what to call the phenomenon. It's been my observation that, generally speaking, the last couple of kids would be exempt (my oldest brother claims this is because the parents just get tired of remembering and enforcing all of the rules and thus the youngest get off the easiest) but all of the older ones have a pretty decent understanding that the world doesn't owe them anything and what they want they have to work for. The reverse phenomenon, the lazy ass kid thing, I've observed almost exclusively in the kids who haven't been given household responsibilities growing up. The parents that can most afford to let the kids off from participating in said household responsibilities are those with the smallest number of kids.

Now, I said there are minuses - and there are - but to me that basic, fundamental, gut level knowledge that life isn't always easy and you have to work and not just work, but take some pride in doing a job well, can't be over-emphasized. I'm not talking about making your kids your slaves (or stand in parents a la the Duggars), just giving them a moderate amount of responsibility and letting them know when they don't take that responsibility seriously it does have repercussions. To me that's an important lesson to learn and one that kids with several siblings seem to grasp early and grasp well; that alone makes up for at least two or three of the minuses in my book.

9/28/2005 10:17:00 PM  
Blogger Tarantula Lady said...

Well, you're leaving out the cultural aspect. In many cultures, boys are pampered while girls are taught to serve. The number of children is not the governing factor.

Obviously, life in the 21st century has helped mitigate this social inequity but the Duggars don't live in the modern era.

9/28/2005 11:28:00 PM  
Anonymous fiveandfour said...

Well, you're leaving out the cultural aspect.

Oh yes, absolutely. I was speaking strictly from my personal experience in white middle class America. My brothers, sisters and I had chores rotated evenly out in the yard, in the kitchen, in the playroom, in the living room, and with the laundry, etc. (and, of course, it was de rigeur that our bedrooms were to be kept tidy without 15 reminders per day). And my parents weren't the sit-on-the-couch while ordering the kids around sorts either, so while we might have noticed some of our friends didn't have quite so many things to do as we did, we also noticed the division of labor was pretty fair.

Man, the more I'm remembering details, the more I'm thinking my daughter is getting off way too easy. Now I've just got to figure out how I can get her to walk uphill both ways to school. In the snow. Without shoes.

9/28/2005 11:50:00 PM  
Blogger Lilith Saintcrow said...

Well, my fam only had three kids, and as the oldest (by 8 years) I was taught to do a helluva lot of housework and babysitting. So it can happen in smaller families too. Oddly enough, my sisters are the ones with the Protestant work ethic, whereas I'm just a lazy-ass stay at home mom and writer... oh, wait a sec. I put in twelve hours a day and run after the kids all the time.

Shoot, I was infected with the work ethic too. ;) Dangit.

9/29/2005 08:30:00 AM  
Anonymous Gerry Peyer said...


12/06/2005 10:00:00 AM  
Anonymous Duggar girl said...

hi i am Jana Duggar.. if you have any questions at all you can email me at!!
I only take emails with no cursing in it!

12/23/2006 12:01:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Did anyone watch all of the show? or actually listen to it? One child is not responsible for all the laundry, I heard 4 of them say laundry. Just like I heard 3 say boy's bath, 3 said girl's bath, 3 said girl's room, etc. And ,yes it is so wrong for kids nowadays to learn responsibility. They should be learning to play video games, watch tv, back talk their elders, and to let government take care of them if they don't feel like working themselves. I wish I had done such a good job on my kids. And for all who think they should have a say on how the Duggars live... let's examine your life first.

7/31/2007 09:04:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was mesmerized while watching the shows about the Duggar family. Although I do not agree with having so many children and isolating their children. We all need to recognize the beauty being able to run our families however we choose to. Remember: Judge not lest you be judged !

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