July 4, 2011

The Duggars

20 and Counting! and A Love That Multiplies

The Duggars: 20 and Counting!: Raising One of America's Largest Families--How they Do It
Next on my summer reading list was the Duggars: 20 and counting! (Book number 2) I have never had much interest in reading up about the Duggars. However, every time we go out as a family, someone inevitably says, "You're like the Duggars, do you know them?" As if every larger family knows every other larger family in the world. Which we don't. That's like saying because we own a football we must know Kurt Warner. (For those who don't know anything about football, he is Allen's all time favorite, now retired, quarterback. Who happened to play for the Rams and the Cardinals and is a man who loves the Lord.) I could never say much to their questions because although I had heard of the Duggars and I understood that they are believers, I have never seen their TV show, I have never read their books, and believe it or not, I have never met them.

When I heard their second book was available, I decided I would read up and see what this family is all about. To be honest, I found it very difficult to read their first book. Not that there weren't a few parts that I found interesting. For the most part, I was really pushing myself through it. My daughters started skimming certain parts and none of them were impressed either. Just to be fair, I even read their second book. A Love That Multiplies. (My third completed book for the summer.)

I think I can now fairly say, "Not only do we not know the Duggars, but really we are very little like them." Not that we don't share some fundamental beliefs such as our trust in the Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, the value of family and the importance of discipling and mentoring your children, homeschooling and debt free living.

But there are also a number of things that I just can't agree with them on. First and foremost, their decision to invade their family by allowing them to appear on television, a media they don't even agree with themselves. (For the record, we agree on that no TV point.) Then there is the way the spurn the importance of the local church as laid out and commanded in scripture.

Don't get me wrong. It's not that these are issues that would keep us from fellowship if we were to encounter an afternoon with the Duggar family. Because, regardless of what else we do or don’t agree on, we still share our brother and sister hood in the Lord. However, they are definitely distinguishing characteristics.

After reading parts of the two books, my daughters said, "It seems like they are running an orphanage. " And that was it. The girls put into words the thing I couldn't quite put my finger on. It is not the number of children they have by any means. If you haven’t noticed, I share they belief in allowing the Lord to control your family size as well as their love for children and large families. It is something else entirely. From the family closet to the paper plates and buffet line for meals, it just seems like the gentle graces and individuality of family are missing.

When I was discussing it with my girl friend over lunch one day she hit another nail on the head. They make it come across as if you need a 7000 square foot house, $100,000 worth of industrial kitchen appliances as well as two kitchens in order to raise a large family. But the fact of the matter is, you don't. Granted, they are many more than us. However, we have happily raised our family with a traditional four burner stove and one dishwasher in an 1800 square foot house.

After lunch that day, I got to thinking about my grandparents. All of my grandparents on both sides came from very large families. In fact my grandmother used to talk about how there were 16 of them and they had just two bedrooms-one for the kids and one for the parents. They baked their bread in a brick oven in the back yard and made all their food by hand. My great grandmother did not have a lady come to wash her laundry twice a week nor did she have 4 industrial size washers. And yet, they were all neat, tidy, well loved, well fed (as much as the depression allowed) and grew up well adjusted, well married, well employed productive members of society.

With all that said though, let me also say this. Even though I don't think it would work for my family, for all appearances the Duggars are a family who love the Lord. Their children, at least according to what I've heard and read, appear to be healthy, well dressed, well educated, well loved and well adjusted.

So even though, as I said, it wouldn't work for me, whatever they are doing, seems to work for them. So who I am to say anything else?


  1. At a homeschool convention back in March, I had the opportunity to see the Duggar family in person. I met a couple of their children. Very kind children. What impresses me about them is that they are not fake. What you see, or read, is how they really are, as far as I could tell.

    Many people judge them for having so many children. I do not. I wouldn't have that many, but what they do is their business. Wouldn't the world be so boring if we were all alike?

    The fact that they place themselves on TV when they, themselves, do not allow TV in their own home seems ironic, maybe even hypicritical. That's one thing they addressed at the convention, because so many people ask them about it. They said that they realize that TV absorbs families and their hope is that they will be able to reach out to many families through TV to share their love of Christ. They asked for prayer over and over, for God to protect them and guide them. I believe they are following His will for their lives. It certainly isn't mine. No way would I want cameras rolling around my house, waiting to catch every moment, good, bad, or ugly. But God didn't call me to that. He called them.

    I've not read their books but I've gone on their website. Like you, I found that many of the things that work for them would not work for us. First of all, we have only 2 children! But, 2 or 20, kids are kids. Homeschooling is homeschooling. Chores are chores. At the end of the day, we all take our pants off one leg at time. And praise God, we are brothers and sisters in Christ.

    I enjoyed reading your post but have to ask. Do you recommend reading the Duggar's two books? Or, in your opinion, do you suppose my time could be better spent?

  2. Hi, Lisa.

    I have heard their position on reaching others through their television program. And that could be a point. And it is their business. As a person who often makes decisions others don't agree with, I do not feel it is my right to judge their choices. The only reason I address it at all, is because peole often suggest we should do something similar or involve our children in modeling and other media related endeavors. Which is not what we want for our family. However, I think that if it was me, I would perhaps do a special, maybe even two... but not allow the constant interruption into our life with a regular television program.

    I do not judge them for the number of children they have, although I have heard many negative comments about it. For one, I commend their decision to allow the Lord to control their lives completely. Secondly, this is an area where we agree. And yes, the world would be oh, so boring if we all did the same and thought the same! Thank the Lord for the gift of variety and diversion. Amen!

    As for whether or not I recommend their books? That's a good question. I would say, it depends on what you are hoping to gain. If, you are wanting to get to know this family, as I was, then I would say read their books. Also, Jim Bob has some interesting business ideas and an amazing knack for finding a great deal. If you are looking for some suggestions in those areas, perhaps it is worth the read. But for me, I feel I would have rather spent my limited reading time elsewhere. They do include a lot of parenting advice, but I feel there are better books (where she probably got most of what she mentions) which I would recommend if it is parenting advice you are looking for.

    Thanks for writing. I hope this answers your question.