Tuesday, October 15, 2013

The Duggars - Extreme Parenting?

My bloggy pal Nickie told me about the latest Duggar headline doing the rounds. Are you familiar with the Duggars? The slightly strange family from Arkansas, USA? You know, the one where all the kids have names beginning with J? Oh, and Mr and Mrs. Duggar have 19 children? Yes, those Duggars.

Well, despite the fact that their youngest child Josie, (now 3) was born three and half months premature, weighing 1 pound, 6 ounces, and has faced numerous health problems in her short life, and the last Duggar baby (Jubilee) was miscarried at 5 months, mommy Michele (age 47) has announced that they want God to bless them with another child.

The reason the Duggars have procreated like no others is that, after the birth of their first child, Michele went on the Pill. She then got pregnant and miscarried which they feel was God's punishment for having ever thought of using birth control. So now they don't, and as members of the Quiver Full religious movement, they see children as God's gift. This part of the situation I have no problem with; people can believe whatever the heck they like as long as a) I'm not forced to live by their religious rules, and b) it hurts no one.

And see, it's the second point that gives me pause. If your youngest child was severely premature and will forever live with the physical consequences, and your last pregnancy ended in miscarriage, how can you, a woman in her late 40's with a recent history of reproductive/pregnancy problems, suddenly  overcome them? There is a very high likelihood that a future pregnancy might result in another ailing child, a miscarriage, or god forbid, the death of the mother.

I hate being judgmental over parenting issues, but how is this "pro life", as they claim to be? The couple is not only risking another miscarried baby, but also could make the rest of the brood motherless. They're not just "seeing what happens", they're actively "trying". What part of "Woman can't have babies forever" is she not hearing? Yes, a woman may be able to get pregnant at 47, but her eggs are now old and most probably won't be able to sustain the pregnancy.

And I know this may sound extreme but - Why aren't Child Protection Services people getting involved?


  1. I actually quite disagree with you. Why should CPS get involved? Many women have repeated miscarriages at every age and continue trying to get pregnant, many women have a premie or a disabled child and also still have more children, many women (including quite a few celebrities) try to conceive at advanced age. Unless these women should also have CPS called, why should the Duggars? There is no law stating a maximum number of children you can have. The Duggars take very good care of all their children, don't claim welfare, and clearly raise them to be productive members of society. If other women are entitled to continue trying to conceive at advance age or after miscarriage or a premie (which can happen to anybody at any age), why can't Michelle Duggar? It's not even like she is using medical help like IVF (which again, many older women do).

  2. The CPS comment was slightly tongue in cheek, but reading your comment, I actually agree with myself even more now. No, of course there is no law against having an extraordinary number of children and I recognize that they don't claim welfare etc. although their income has been greatly enhanced by the very fact that they have a larger than average family.
    I don't agree with the way they parent because i don't agree that siblings should have to raise each other to the extent they do; this has been one of the main criticisms of their family life, but again that's really not my point not is it my business. (I can't comment on the "productiveness" of the children as most of them are still at home and as any parent knows, you can never sit back and claim success on your own parenting.)
    I do however, find it hypocritical to say you're pro life, as they do, and then deliberately put so many lives at risk. They are extreme in their views, currently campaigning out of their own state for more restrictive abortion access, and asking for greater restrictions that even the US Constitution requires. They are very clear on their own rights (to live as they do -which is very different from how most Americans live) and yet they are seeking to strip people in Tennessee (for now) of their legal abortion rights.
    And you're right, in a way she's no different from other women who try to get pregnant when medical advice is against them, although most of them haven't already had 21 pregnancies to add to the risk. Even her 1st obstretrician/Gynocologist resigned after failing to convince her of the dangers of so many pregnancies.
    Perhaps I just get fed up with people living "God's will" and then turning round and interfering in other people's legally sanctioned lives.

  3. A lot of what the Duggars promote is positive parenting (on the surface) - family business, all mucking in together, home educated children, family providing for themselves, accepting money for tv crews to come and film their slightly unusual family circumstances. Everyone seems happy and well cared for.

    However, there's always something I can't put my finger on that feels uncomfortable about this family (and I'm not suggesting anything suspicious - far from it).

    I sometimes feel that Michele is having another baby so the cameras can keep rolling. I sometimes feel that they say/do something that's left of centre so the cameras can keep rolling. I sometimes feel that their daughter in law is feeling pressured to keep up the tradition of having babies so that the cameras can keep rolling.

    I think we love reading and watching real life stories that are so far removed from what we consider "normal" but their story always seems a little "forced".

    21+ pregnancies is extreme, even in this modern world, though.

  4. Nikie - it's even extreme for the Medieval world.

  5. Just found your blog from 'Mind the Gap'.

    I can't help wondering if they would still be squeezing out babies like a Ford production line if they weren't on a reality show or things like Good Morning America all the time.

    There are other ways to not have babies other than the pill of course. Maybe Mr. Duggar needs to wear a raincoat now and then...

  6. I agree with many of your thoughts on a personal level and think its extreme. However, coming from a former social worker, there is absolutely nothing to warrant a call to CPS.

  7. Welcome Andrew!

    Deanna - As I said, that was kinda tongue in cheek, but I do wish the silly woman would stop and think about the very real dangers to herself, her living and her unborn children.

  8. @ Nickie, I'm with you on this one. Mama Duggar strikes me as a bit desperate and attention-seeking, defining herself only by her reproductive record. Never mind the monetary side of it.

    And to reveal my regional prejudices, it must be noted that they ARE from Arkansas, after all.


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