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 sexualrecords.com, 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.
***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.