Monday, November 22, 2010

Design Like A Duggar: House Plans With Teens and Beyond

This one is dedicated to Heather again...thanks for the idea. Ok so we were talking about the Duggar house and the two large bedrooms--1 for boys and 1 for girls. Interestingly, there are no other bedrooms in the house, other than the parent's room, except for a guest suite off the laundry room that Jim Bob's mom lives in. To me that seems like a lack of forward thinking.

If you watch the 1 hour specials that began their show, you see them repeat over and over that the kids REALLY wanted to have 2 big rooms. Ok that's fine with me. I suppose what bothers me is that the boy's room is so much larger than the girl's room. Ok at the time there were only 6 girls and 10 boys, but knowing that they were likely to have more children, you'd think they would have planned that they might have more girls--and they've since had 3 more girls. There are now 9 boys and 9 girls living in the house and the boy's room is still incredibly large.

Part of the problem is the decorator's fault. She bought the girl's huge pieces of furniture that filled up their entire room. Even when they first moved in and there were only 5 girls living in it, there wasn't a lot of space to move around--there was furniture everywhere. I also never understood why some girls got double beds and some got twin beds. I understand that at the time there were older girls and younger girls, but still, those younger girls were going to grow up in a few years and then what? Also, there is no room to add any new beds.

There was a big argument going on one of the discussion boards about Johanna and Jordyn still being in Graco play cribs. I will point out that you can buy regular mattresses for the Graco play cribs--I have no idea if the Duggars did, but they are available. That being said, where are those two girls supposed to go from their cribs? Will they be sharing beds with the girls that have doubles? Are they going to have to abandon the nice beds and go with bunk beds?

I wonder if it ever occurred to them that at some point they'd have 20 year olds in the same room as 2 year olds. I wonder if the older girls and boys sometimes want some space of their own. I wonder if they are rethinking their house plans. And it wasn't like they didn't rethink them over and over as it was. Remember the special when Clark Wilson, their builder friend, commented how every day they were working on the previous day's revisions. It's also joked about in their book.

One of my biggest arguments to the "but the kids really wanted 2 big rooms" is...yes but you're the parents and you have the final say in things. It's possible to give kids input while still thinking ahead to what the future may bring.

So what do you think they'll do about the bedroom situation? What suggestions do you have? What would you have done if it had been your house?

Sunday, November 14, 2010

To Pork, or Not To Pork: Part II

I did think of another reason--I had a brief exchange with Jim Bob's sister Deanna on Facebook a few months ago and she mentioned that they have Jewish ancestors--she didn't indicate which side of the family or how far back, but was clear that there were Jews in their family. It may be possible that the Duggars are incorporating those practices in their lifestyle as a homage to those ancestors. I have no idea if it's a reason, but it's again, another possible theory.

As for "picking and choosing" ...well I think pretty much everyone does that, whether they want to admit it or not, or whether they consciously mean to or not. Jews do it--no two Jews are exactly alike (ok Chassidic Jews certainly try harder) but there are different movements within Judaism--Reform, Conservative, Orthodox, Chassidic....and different beliefs within those movements. There are even more different subsections of Christianity and all have different methods of practice--who's more Christian than the other?--there's an argument for you...

I think the whole point of faith is that you practice what makes you comfortable--that's what faith is--it's what gets you safely through the day without fear or panic--knowing G-d is taking care of you--believing G-d is taking care of you. So you go about that in whatever way brings you peace. Some practices may not bring peace to OTHERS, but that's really OTHERS concern. Some may see other's practicing as incomprehensible, but you need to practice in a way that makes you comfortable. For example--the Christian church run by Fred what'shisname that condemns homosexuals and pickets funerals--i find that offensive, but that's what Christianity is to them and what makes them feel like Christians. I worship at a Chassidic temple, but I'm quite sure that Chassidic life is not the Judaism I was personally meant to practice--it's not quite where my personal beliefs lay--but I certainly support my Chassidic friends in their quest for faith, as they support me in my quest for mine.

I think the Duggars call themselves Independant Baptists for a reason. They are trying to forge their own path with G-d's guidance. A lot of what they do doesn't mesh with mainstream Christianity, but that doesn't make them any more or less Christian. It makes them faithful and makes them pioneers in a sense. All branches of Christianity started out with pioneers.

And one more thing, it's my understanding that Christians aren't supposed to judge others. I think calling them out for their methods of religous practice is a bit judgemental and unfair.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

To Pork or Not to Pork, That is The Question

I received and anonymous request to discuss this, and it's also been a popular topic on Facebook since the past show, so here we go. Apparently, and I didn't see the show, there was a 'pop-up' when the Duggars were eating turkey bacon that said they don't eat pork due to religious reasons. And the request was why?

The Duggars do follow some of the Old Testament laws. Why? They feel compelled to, apparently. For instance, they do not have marital relations for seven days following her cycle or for 80 days following the birth of a girl or 40 days following the birth of a boy. However, in Judaic law, she would also have to bathe in a mikva--a ritual cleansing bath--before she could have intercourse again. Also Jews who follow these laws also don't touch each other physically as long as the wife is "unclean"--until she's bathed in a mikva. They don't hug, kiss, hold hands, or sleep in the same bed. No casual or accidental touching is allowed either. Clearly, the Duggars don't follow the law that strictly.

As to the pork--well pork is considered traif (not kosher.) There are many other foods that aren't allowed either--shellfish, scavenger fish, etc. The animal has to have cloven hooves AND chew a cud to be allowed, and fish has to have fins AND scales. There are some birds that are allowed and some that aren't. You also aren't allowed to mix meat and dairy. Clearly the Duggars mix meat and dairy together in the same meals.

The Duggars apparently aren't following all the laws of kashrut, but they've decided that pork doesn't fit into their Biblical lifestyle. I'm not sure how strict they are about it, because I can remember them eating pepperoni pizza and while you can get beef pepperoni, it's not something you find easily at a corner pizza parlour, especially in the south where pig is really popular. This could be a recent choice they've made, not one that they've followed for years. I also question the non-porkness of the hot dogs they've eaten on the show.

Now some kosher Jews aren't kosher away from home. That is, they will eat in restaurants that aren't certified kosher, will eat at friends/family's homes who don't keep kosher. They still likely won't eat the foods that aren't allowed, but it's possible the Duggars will eat pork away from home if it's given to them by friends/family or at a ball park where there's no other choice. At this point, without them clarifying those choices, we only have conjecture.

It's also possible that their health led to the choice. Jim Bob has been trying to lose weight and Michelle is, as she says, a lifelong Weight Watchers member. So it's highly likely that they saw the reasoning behind pork being banned in the Torah (Old Testament) and decided it would be healthier all around if they eliminated it from their diet. Again, it's just a possible theory.

If you have any more questions, you can search "kashrut" or "kosher laws" and will likely find better information. I hope this answers your question, anonymous. Thank you for writing in!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Courting vs. Dating: Just What Does It All Mean?

There was a discussion the other day on the Facebook page about courting vs. dating and why each was the better option. A lot of people who were pro-dating and anti-courting seemed to have a few misguided ideas of what, exactly, courting is, and that could be why there were so against it. So let's first define our terms:

Courting is the idea that you meet someone that you're interested in a future with--marriage being the end goal. You pray about it, discuss it with your parents and/or pastor, and then discuss it with the parents of the person you want to court--asking permission. The Duggars show made it a bit confusing, they showed the beginning of the relationship between Josh and Anna as their engagement. This clearly was not their first meeting or their first time together. During the courting process you don't spend time alone, but with chaperones. However, you do get to talk on the phone privately and email.

Dating can be looked at many different ways. You can date many different people at once casually, you can date one person at a time more seriously, or both at the same time and marriage doesn't have to be the end goal--it can be just to have fun.

Michelle and Jim Bob describe their pre-marriage time together as dating. They weren't chaperoned. They did save themselves for marriage in a sexual way, but they do admit that things "went further than they should have" and that they did kiss before they married. We can only guess what they're referring to.

I think it's important to point out that the Duggar children are not required to go through the courtship process--it's a choice each child gets to make. In fact, when you watch the episode where Josh proposes, he goes out of his way to insist repeatedly that it was his choice to court rather than date. The older girls are also interviewed and express interest in courtship. However this was 3 seasons ago--or maybe 4 depending on how you count--it was season one. They are older and they've witnessed cousin Amy's different boyfriends and multitude of break-ups since then.

The pro-daters seem to see dating as a way to gain experience and learn what you want. I am not going to pretend that I didn't date--I did--a lot. I've been married three times and engaged even more. So I know the ins and outs of the dating ritual in many different forms. I will say this--if you're dating to learn what you want, you shouldn't be dating. Why? Because you clearly don't know yourself yet, if you don't know yourself, you shouldn't be dating other people--you aren't ready. Why would you want to be in a serious relationship with someone if you weren't headed towards marriage or a lifetime together? What's the point? Fun? You can have fun with friends, even friends of the opposite sex, without having to be in a serious relationship.

Not all experiences are good. In fact, I've had many unpleasant ones from dating and the baggage I brought into my marriage wasn't fair for my husband to have to carry. I dated an alcoholic who couldn't tell the truth to save his life. All those lies took their toll and it was very hard to trust when a good guy came along. That was not fair at all--and the only reason I was in that relationship was because I was letting my hormones do the thinking for me. And if you get a guy (or girl) who's verbally or physically abusive (G-d forbid) that takes years and lots of self-help and/or therapy to get over, if you ever do really get over it. That will also make it hard to trust when you move into a relationship with someone healthy and they end up paying the price for something someone else did you to.

Now where do I stand on this? I am all for parents being involved in the process of their kids dating. I don't think they should have the ultimate choice in who their kids date, but I think they should be present as a support system for their children. I think they should know what's going on and be able to talk to their kids about any problems or concerns raised when dating. I like that the Duggars are there for their kids. I personally couldn't abide by the strictness of courting, at least not when I was in my 30s and 40s. I probably could have handled it when I was a late teen or in my early 20s, but frankly, it never came up. I do wish my parents had said a few things about the men I married before my current husband, but when you aren't raised like that, you tend not to listen even if they do say something. I knew walking down the aisle that my first marriage was going to be a mistake, but I was more afraid of cancelling 5 minutes before the ceremony than I was of making the mistake--that's wrong.

I think both styles have their good points and their bad points. I do think it needs to be the choice of the participants, not their parents. No one should be forced into a way of thinking, taught about it sure, but not forced into it. Informed decisions are always a good idea.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Sorry I've Been Absent

Just a little message to explain why I haven't been around. My family and I have been spending the entire month of October living in Israel. Everyday, almost, we've been out and about visiting various and assorted towns and cities, so I have not only been on-line everyday, but I also haven't had TV. When I do get on-line it's only been long enough to check my email quickly and jump on to Facebook and check messages there.

I'm sorry for those of you who left comments and wondered why they didn't get posted in a timely manner. I apologize and I did get them posted. I'll be back in the states in a few days and by next week should hopefully be back to normal. I am very far behind in the world of the Duggars because as most of you know, I don't have TV service. When I left the US, TLC had stopped posting full episodes on their website, so it remains to be seen if I'll have a chance to catch any new episodes when I get back. So that being said, if anyone has any Duggar topics they would like to discuss, I'm all ears!

Thank you for your patience!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Fulfilling Your Dreams: Small and Large

I'm away from home right now so I'm away from the Duggars right now. That means I'm away from Duggar-direct topics right now, so I'm going to kind of wing it and see what you think. Right now I'm thinking of dream and wish fulfilment. I say that because at the moment a few of my smaller and larger dreams are being fulfilled. And interestingly, at the same time, a friend of mine I met through my Duggar-blogging experience, has managed to fulfill one of hers--meeting some of the Duggar family. So I suppose I've managed to Duggarize this after all.

Think back to when you were a little and you had a wish. It may have seemed out of this world, something that could likely never be realized--like walking the Great Wall of China (back when I was a child that really was a big deal because China was all but closed to tourism.) Maybe it felt unreachable because of where you lived--you grew up in a small town and your dream or goal was so far away, or maybe it was unreachable because only a few people in the world ever achieved it--becoming President or going to space or climbing Everest, or maybe it was just such an obscure thing that you never really thought it would happen because it was so--unnecessary in the grand scheme of things like paying bills, raising children, and making dinner. Well imagine now that one of those long forgotten, but not tossed away wishes actually was realized. It's quite a heady feeling.

I've been thinking about my own little silly wish that came true (I'm sorry I can't share with you what that wish is right now, I will soon, I promise) and some of the things the Duggar parents do for their children and trying to project that into my own child's future. I have seen that the Duggars do tend to the small dreams their children have, especially at birthdays. After all, look around--you see a lot of middle aged men trying to relive the things they think they missed out on as children--I don't see the Duggar kids having that problem in 30 years. Are they fulfilling the larger dreams? I'm not so sure--we don't have any lawyers, doctors, pilots, nurses, chefs, or beauticians. However we do have some missionaries and that was listed as future occupation under more than one Duggar child's profile.

So what's the point of this rambling entry? I'm not sure exactly, as I'm still overly sleep-deprived, but I suppose it's this. Never give up on those little wishes you have. They are attainable. And more importantly, share them with the ones you love, because they are the ones who will most likely help you achieve them. In my case and in my friend's case--the one who just met the Duggars, that's exactly how we achieved ours.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Duggars and TLC: Do You Think They Pay Attention to The Fall Schedule?

TLC offers a wide variety of programming, the Duggars being one small part of their schedule. Several families have appeared on TLC, telling their stories: The Roloffs, the Gosselins, and now the Browns. Of course family reality programming isn't all TLC airs, but they seem to be the shows that get the most attention.

We all know that the Duggars do not watch a lot of TV, in fact they go somewhere else to watch their own TV show, if they watch it at all. I remember when the Gosselin marriage was falling apart someone in the media asked a Duggar (I don't remember which one) what they thought about the whole mess and (again I don't remember well) from what I do remember, they had no clue who the Gosselins were. I'm sure they've heard of other TLC families--although now that I write that, I have to wonder if they actually do. For some reason, in my mind, TLC families are like employees and they should know each other--see each other around the water cooler. But then when I actually think about it, I know that isn't the case at all. Each and every show is a seperate entity being filmed by different people, by different production companies, and in different parts of the country. Being on the same network doesn't mean they know each other or have even heard of each other.

I have no doubt that there are a multitude of shows on TLC that Jim Bob and Michelle would avoid. There are a multitude of shows on TLC that I avoid. When I did have TV service I did watch the Roloffs on "Little People, Big World," but honestly, it was because I'm from the Portland-area and it was fun to see my old hometown on TV. The family itself wasn't that interesting to me. I have never seen a whole episode of the Gosselins. I remember watching a few minutes of their first season and I was appalled--she was a shrew and he was hen-pecked. I changed the channel quickly.

I was visiting my parents last week and as such was able to see the series premiere of "Sister Wives." I admit that this subject fascinates me. I've seen several different documentaries done by A&E, WE, and similar networks. With that tidbit in mind, yes I enjoyed the show very much and am hopeful that TLC will post full episodes, or that someone will kindly upload them secretly on youtube. Of course the majority of people aren't going to approve of this show. They aren't going to approve of this lifestyle. That's what makes me think of the Duggars.

Do you think the Duggars are aware of this program on TLC? Judging from the uproar on the "19 Kids" facebook page, many people have written to TLC complaining about the commercials being show during the Duggar's program. Knowing they are writing to TLC, it wouldn't surprise me at all if some had emailed the Duggars as well, letting them know. So assuming that they've been told, what do you think their reaction is?

I like to think with an open-mind. I would hope that with all of the pleas for acceptance and understanding that Duggar fans make, they could at least extend that same courtesy to this new program. No one is asking them to approve of polygamy, or even watch the show, for that matter. I just hope that the same courtesy can be extended to this new program that Duggar fans request for their favourite show. When you get right down to it, both families are, they believe, living out a biblical principle.


Wednesday, September 22, 2010

WWDD Part III: A Person Can Be Rational, But People Are Morons

So the title isn't anything a Duggar would do, but the point remains valid. This is going out to all the people who feel the need to bash people over the head with rules, tennants, and commandments.

One reason why I respect the Duggars, while disagreeing with them so vehemently on many subjects, is that I never feel like I'm being preached to. I have never felt like they have some need for me to believe what they believe. They just seem to be living their lives in the way they feel compelled and hope that people will see their example, see their successes and be drawn towards G-d. Example vs. Preaching is a big difference to me.

Lately, those of us who frequent the "19 Kids and Counting" facebook page have been witness to an increased amount of preaching instead of example. At one point it was like the crusades all over again, the Salem witch trials, and the Spanish inquisition all rolled into one. I do not understand that mentality. Sure, you may be right and sure you may be having wonderful successes practicing your religion, but beating people over the head with it isn't going to earn you many friends or converts.

I implore you, hardcore Duggar fans, please try to remember how Michelle and Jim Bob act. Act as they would if they were on the facebook fan page (no they aren't, but pretend if you need to.) And please remember that not all Duggar fans are Christian or even religious at all.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Duggar Advice: What Have We Learned From Them?

We've touched on this in several different posts, but life being what it is, this topic has come to the surface so I thought we could talk about it. I've recently gotten Zephyr potty-trained, for the most part. Granted she refuses to pull down/pull up her own pants, but she isn't having accidents and she's sitting on the adult potty, so I'm happy.

This process has been long and hard for me. I tried several different techniques from books and talking to friends. I think it's important to give Michelle Duggar some props too, especially since I read her advice first and then didn't use it. She writes that she waits until the child is able to pull up/pull down their own pants (getting them on backwards is allowable hahaha) and she doesn't like using the small portable potty chairs. Well I didn't do either of these. We went through a long phase where she would go by herself when she needed to go in her potty chair as long as she had nothing on the bottom half of her body. If she had any kind of pants on, she'd wet them. Finally, somehow, we got past that and she wore underpants only. Then we added pants. Then we took her seat and put it on the big potty (the first time was traumatic, but now it's just fine.) And here we are.

I can see her reasoning on both counts. She had 17 kids when she wrote the book (pregnant with #18--she was born as they concluded the final chapters.) With that many children, having to take a child to the bathroom every 30-60 minutes and take their pants down and back up would be next to impossible--even if someone else is helping her (the child's buddy, for example.) And I also understand why some people don't like the potty chairs. They are kind of gross to empty and clean--it never fails how careful you try to be, they always seem to splash...bleah. She also pointed out that the child likes to try to "help." Zephyr tried to help many times and the mess was frightening. But on the plus side, they are the right height, the right size, and less intimidating than the big thing that flushes loudly. We moved to the big potty as soon as she stopped wetting pants because I wanted to be able to leave the house without pull-ups. Now that she's comfortable on the big potty, she will go on one no matter where we are.

So now that I've shared that story with you, let's talk about other advice or examples the Duggars have shared with us and we've used. I have always shopped similarly to them--discount markets and buying in bulk, buying the store brand (the name brand stuff shown in their pantry during the moving in show was donated to make the pantry look "full.")

We don't buy a lot of used things, because we don't buy a lot of things period, but we do hunt down the cheapest price for things we do buy. When I do shop the used market it's often from a favourite used book store in Portland, Oregon (from their website since I don't live there anymore) and eBay (although eBay doesn't have as much used stuff as they did when they started.)

I do go to local thrift shops when I need things for Zephyr and I have found many nice dresses at a particular one for me. I've even found very nice pants for my husband to wear to temple. The only thing I haven't found (and I have gone to 7 local thrift shops looking) are used shoes. I have never found any used shoes in my daughter's size--most of the stores I went to didn't have any selection at all, even for adults. I'm still kind of amazed as to why that is. So I find her discounted shoes at Ross or DD's. When we lived in London I bought and sold (after she outgrew them) designer baby clothes off of ebay, usually selling them for more than I actually bought them for. I tried doing that once we moved back here and most of the name brand designer stuff didn't sell or sold too cheaply, so I gave that up.

I keep telling myself I'm going to do the Proverb-a-day, but so far I haven't made the time to do it. We have, though, become much more observant in our Judaism and that has made our family more cohesive.

Every time I raise my voice I think of Michelle and remind myself to dial it down. I am hoping that calm and quiet will counteract the hysterics of a 3 yr old who doesn't want to eat her chicken.

I have tried a few of their recipes, but I rewrote them and personalized them a bit.

So while I enjoy them and am fascinated with them, I'm not the best follower in their way of life. What advice from the Duggars have you used and found helpful and successful?

Saturday, September 18, 2010

A New Year and New Hope

As you likely know, I'm Jewish. And this month we celebrate the new year and the Day of Atonement (Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.) We say goodbye to the old year and welcome in the new, and we ask G-d's forgiveness for the sins we've committed against him, as well as asking forgiveness from others for the sins we've committed against them. Why am I writing about this? Because I do see a bit of this kind of behaviour in the Duggar family.

Here's what I mean. In Christianity, you are forgiven for your sins by accepting Jesus into your heart and asking to be forgiven--Jesus has paid the price for the sins you've committed. Of course there's a bit more to it, but we're just talking an overview here. The Christianity I'm familiar with hold your sins close to you, you ask forgiveness in private and tend not to share them with others.

What I like about the Duggars is that Jim Bob and Michelle have an "open door" policy with their kids--their kids can come discuss anything with them and their parents will listen with open minds, open hearts, and friendliness. There isn't a fear there, regardless of what their kids are going to discuss. Sure it's probably tense at times and sure it's probably not always the most comfortable, but the fact that their kids know they have a safe place to go truly impresses me. I was always close to my mom and she's still one of my best friends, but there was NO WAY I was going to tell her things...not just because it would have been hard or embarrassing, but because she didn't want to hear it. Denial isn't just a river in Egypt.

The Duggars practice of talking privately with their kids, especially the older ones, reminds me a lot of the Day of Atonement. While Jews save everything up and wait until one day a year to get it all out, the Duggars are always willing to hear what their kids are thinking, what they may have done wrong and feel guilty about, and what they may need to ask forgiveness for.

I hope that I can have this kind of relationship with my daughter, that she'll feel comfortable enough to share her heart and mind with me. I know it's not something that comes naturally, it's something you have to work on, to build. This is one more thing that I'll take from the show and incorporate into my own life.

I also hope this New Year is happy and healthy for you all. Thank you for your continuing support!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Say What?: Duggar Production Values

So apparently at the end of the last show, they have a clip for the coming show that has Michelle saying "Some one is expecting!" Now I haven't seen the show or the clip, so I'm going completely on what's been told to me by several people. However, of course now the whole Duggar-universe is convinced that either Michelle or Anna is pregnant. I have to say that I think the producers came up with a great way to get people talking and get them to come back for the answer.

I am going to go out on a limb and say I don't think either Michelle or Anna is pregnant. First of all, if it was Michelle, she wouldn't have used that wording. She would have phrased it more personally, using words that are closer to her. She is always so passionate about her pregnancies, she'd never hold the announcement at arm's length like that--"some one"--no, she'd say "I." Also, I have doubts that she'd "pre-announce" a pregnancy for Anna. I can't imagine her taking thunder away from Anna--she'd let Josh and Anna announce that on their own. And finally, the show we're watching is on a delay by a few months. If either of the main characters were pregnant, we'd know from other media sources, they couldn't keep that a secret for that long--someone would have leaked it either by accident or on purpose. They live in a small town.

Who is pregnant? I'd guess that it's some friend of the family we haven't met yet or haven't seen for awhile. They have a lot of friends who live the same bountiful life they do--after all Mrs. Bates is currently pregnant and almost due to deliver. How old is the Wilson's youngest--are they still having children? Michelle comes from a relatively large family with siblings old enough to be her parents, technically. I would imagine then that she has nieces and nephews that are likely married and having children--so it could be a family member who is expecting. We don't see much of Michelle's family so we tend to forget about them and immediately look to Deanna and Amy Duggar as their only extended family.

We also need to remember that they homeschool and are always looking for lessons out in the world--remember all those field trips? Has it occurred to anyone that it could be a the neighbour's dog that's always at their house? A cat? A farm animal?

Any other theories? What do you think?

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Duggars Five Years Later: Everything Turn Turn Turn

The Duggars are well into Season five of their show, add that to the 1 hour specials they did before that started, and they've had us in their lives for awhile now. We've seen them give birth to children, travel the country, visit new countries, marry, and evolve. Everyone changes as life moves on, as you gain experience and learn new things. One of the reasons many people enjoy the Duggars so much is because they don't seem to let their fame change who they are. I say "seem" because whether they mean to or not, they have changed. I don't think they've changed for the worse, mind you, but as you watch the early shows progress into the current shows, there are definate and noticeable changes in their lives and lifestyle.

One thing that really stands out if you watch the early 1 hour specials against a current episode is that they no longer seem to dress their family in the same colour when they travel. The recent trip to DC had Michelle commenting about how as a parent you are constantly counting your kids to make sure you haven't lost any. That was when it occurred to me that they haven't dressed in the same coloured shirts for a LONG time. At least not on the air.

In the early years we always saw them all sitting around the table for school with Michelle teaching. Now we see them scattered about and doing most of their work on a computer. Again I'm not saying this is a bad thing, after all there are excellent on-line school programs. I think this is one case where they evolved, rather than changed.

I think their spending has definately changed. While they still shop used and look for deals, I don't think they are as frugal as they used to be. They seem to be collecting a lot of toys: lots of cars and trucks (used is still a toy), several RTVs, and they have definately upgraded their computers for school from the old ones they used to have. They also always seem to have a different cell phone in each new season. Their grocery shopping and diet doesn't seem to be as frugal as it could be, or used to be. I think they are relying on a lot of convenience foods that are more expensive than cooking things from scratch, but then they always have. In the early specials when we saw them shop they were buying frozen pizzas and frozen burritos.

I think their faith has grown by leaps and bounds. They have seen the fruits of their labour in more ways than one. They have seen the glory of G-d right in front of their own eyes. It amazes me that people can watch season four move into season five and not believe in the existence of G-d.

What changes have you seen in the Duggars? Good or bad, please share your thoughts.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

A Pox On Ye: A Duggar Dilemna

Now I have to say this, I haven't actually seen the episode yet, but enough people have commented on it that I thought I'd throw in my two cents. Apparently Jim Bob made a comment during the episode with the kids having chicken pox that since they've now had the chicken pox, they won't ever get shingles. Well, it's time to spread the word that his statement is wrong!


This question came up on the "19 Kids and Counting" facebook page several times and several people, me included, have told their tales. I had chicken pox as a newborn--about 6 months old. My 10 year old (at the time) sister had them with me. I got shingles at age 38 and it was horrifying! I had one open sore on the middle of my forehead and my entire face was swollen like the Pillsbury Dough Boy. My husband was convinced I had a spider bite, but at the ER everyone who came by to look immediately said, "Oh, that's shingles." I slept with ice packs on my face and was never so grateful as when the nurse gave me a shot of Demerol in my behind.

All 12 Duggar kids who had chicken pox in the episode now run the risk of contracting shingles. Of course not everyone who has had the chicken pox WILL get shingles, you just become able to get it. They say that shingles can/is brought on by overly stressful situations. I have no idea if that is entirely true, as I certainly don't remember being overly stressed when I came down with it. We had just arrived back home from 3 weeks abroad, 2 weeks in the UK and 1 week in Israel and the trip was fantastic. But hey, travel is stressful. I just know that I was surprised to find out it wasn't a spider bite.

A lot of people on the facebook page also brought up the chicken pox vaccine. I, like many others on the page, didn't know there was one. My daughter's shots are all current and I do not think she's had a chicken pox vaccine, as I don't believe it's one that's considered "required." I put that in quotes because nowadays it seems that shots are becoming more of a choice than a requirement like they used to be. When I was growing up there were only a couple acceptable reasons not to have shots at school, and those were religious reasons and if you were one of those people for whom the shot would kill you. I don't want to get in a debate over shots vs. no shots, I'm just talking about the chicken pox shot. And continuing with the chicken pox shot, it was also stated by several people that the chicken pox shot is not terribly effective. Apparently having the shot will not guarantee you a chicken pox free life.

It was also brought up that most people seem to think of the chicken pox as not being very dangerous, more of a nusance than a dreaded disease. I remember a few years ago chicken pox parties being in vogue. Parents of young kids would find out a classmate or playmate had it and all of a sudden a chicken pox slumber party would happen so they could make sure their kid had it at a young age when it was "harmless." Having it as an adult is more harmful, apparently. Doctors freaked out over this idea of purposefully giving your kid a disease and pointed out that chicken pox can have dangerous outcomes.

It would be nice if the Duggars could correct that statement. I am surprised there wasn't a pop-up in post-production that corrected that statement. I hope people don't take Jim Bob on his word, because in this case, he was wrong.

Monday, August 30, 2010

WWDD II - Why We Love The Duggars

A few things have happened in cyberland recently that have prompted me to write this. As I see people posting comments on line, comments that they claim to be in the spirit of The Duggars, I am reminded exactly why I find the Duggars so appealing: They are not at all self-righteous and they do not proselytize.

Yes, the Duggars are a faithful family. They live their faith out loud and proud. They do not, however, smack "non-believers" over the head with their faith and insist that their faith is the only way to live. Saying that I will add that they DO believe it is the only way for THEM to live.

I have never once gotten the impression, after watching the many seasons of episodes, that if I were to meet the Duggars in person and let them know that I am an observant Jew, that they would in any way treat me as someone that needed "saving." I have every confidence that they would respect my faith and honour it.

Leading by example and preaching to the masses are two very different things. The Duggars appear to be quite careful to lead by example and let their actions be a reflection of the scriptures, rather than quote scriptures to those they believe are acting improperly.

There are some things that could lead one to disagree. They do have their "Nike" rule. Apparently when they see someone wearing clothing that is provacative, they whisper "Nike" to the boys and the boys then look away. They also cover up with hands anyone on TV who is wearing provacative clothing. While these are things that could be viewed as them looking down on the wrongly-dressed people, they do these things discreetly and within the family, not directly to those wearing the clothing.

I appreciate the Duggars for their ability to keep their beliefs a priority, but at the same time keeping them personal. Deanna Duggar told me she is descended from Jews. That likely helps with acceptance and tolerance of others.

For those who do feel the need to point out the wrongs of others and continually insist that Christianity is the only path to follow, I urge you to do as the Duggars do: Live your life and your beliefs and tolerate those who choose to live differently.

What do you love about the Duggars? What about them appeals to you?

Thursday, August 26, 2010

The Bates Hotel: Duggars Return

Now this isn't in answer to a request that I criticize the Duggars, but rather it's in response to the episode in Season 5 that I just watched: The Duggars going back to the Bates to visit. I wrote about this back in Season Three when the Duggars went to visit the Bates and surprise them with an addition to their house. Now from watching those episodes, you get the idea that the addition was initially to be a small-ish room added onto their house--a laundry room or maybe another bedroom. A day later Jim Bob has turned the addition into a 3-story house built on the front of the Bates current house. There are repeated comments from Bates and Duggars and Wilsons that "blame" Jim Bob...or Jim Bob...for the size and expansion of the initial gift.

Here's my other question that has been raised repeatedly on the's a gift. What part was a gift? Were the Duggars funding the initial room addition or just offering free labour? They made it sound like the Bates had been planning this project for years (possibly saving up for the project) and just hadn't gotten it done--so it's possible that the labour was the freebie. If that's the case then I do have a problem with Jim Bob's grandiose plans--if the Bates couldn't afford his vision, then that wasn't very friendly. "Here, build this massive extension, we'll see you in a few months when we drive back through..."

Certainly it's quite possible that TLC picked up a portion of the tab. It's also highly likely that a lot of materials were donated for product placement or advertising purposes. Those things we'll probably never know unless someone spills the beans and we find an article about it somewhere. You all know I won't be doing that research hahaha. We did see Jim Bob showing off his skill for finding a bargain. He did take the Bates to places with good deals and places that threw in freebies or discounts. However we didn't ever see any money change hands on any delivery or purchase. We may never know.

But that still brings me back to my original point. So Jim Bob brings his kids back a year later (or whatever) and gets a tour of the house that is STILL not finished. Does he offer to put his kids to work? No they go to a parrot jungle. I have a definate problem with that, but since the Bates don't, I suppose it doesn't matter much. The Bates are seemingly happy with their home even if they don't have all 6 bathrooms functional yet!!!

I would love some insight into this. Am I looking at this from the wrong angle? I suppose the Bates could have always put their feet down and said "no, pull it back, too big" and they didn't. They also still have babies coming, so they obviously need the space.

Am I missing something here?

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Duggars, The Birds, and The Bees: Let's Talk About Sex

One of the more fascinating dichotomies I have found with the Duggar family is that for all of their conservative leanings, you have to believe that almost all of their kids know exactly where babies come from and how they were made. Sure the really young ones probably are in the dark, but with all of the kids going as a group to ultra-sounds and with all of the births the older 10 or so have seen, the subject had to have come up. I for one doubt the Duggars are telling them the stork visited.

What was interesting and rather touching was what we learned when Josh got married--that sex and making love are two quite different things. This is a difference that a lot of us have been desensitized to in the world today. The tangent of sex in advertizing aside, I am quite envious of the Duggar's ability to have their children be aware of the science of childbirth while keeping the more sensual discussions of the subject a special event before marriage.

I actually have the hilarious "sex talk" story from my growing up years in that my mother simply told me that I would never be having sex and therefore there was nothing to talk about. Yes she really said that. Was she serious? No, of course not, but what she was saying is that....Heck no I'm not telling you anything. She was the avoidance type and working in the school system, she knew that I'd learn everything the way most kids do--from talking to their friends. Was this the best option? Of course not. I had a lot of misinformation until the film they showed us in sixth grade. Talk about embarassing. The sad thing is that I've been married three times and she honestly would prefer to believe I was a virgin on all three of my wedding nights. I'm 40 and a mother and she still doesn't want to discuss the issue. Ok maybe a little before SHE remarried but that's a discussion for a future therapist.

Back to the Duggars. I'm certainly not one that can claim such luck when it comes to long marriages--I have been married 4 1/2 years and I plan to be married to this man until death parts us--and before you can snark, no I actually didn't see that happening with the first two. But anyway, BECAUSE of my past experiences, I can clearly see why they teach their kids about courtship.

When Jim Bob and Michelle talk about how she had dated previously to him and brought in baggage from those relationships, I knew exactly what they were talking about. Anyone who's gone through a horrifying break-up or been cheated on, for example, will undoubtedly have trust issues when they move on to the next person. I certainly did, regardless of how fabulous, wonderful, and trustworthy the next person is. Unfortunately, that wonderful new person has to pay for the damage the previous person caused. On the flipside, the downside to courtship is that you're waiting until after you've married to find out if you're truly romantically compatible. While that isn't the core of a marriage, it is a big enough part of it.

What do you think is best for kids? Do you tell them from the beginning where babies come from or wait until it comes up--like if YOU are pregnant? Have any fun stories to share?

Saturday, August 21, 2010

You Can Disagree Without Being Hurtful: A Ridiculous Duggar Criticism

So I'm reading through the comments and I get one from "anonymous" (of course) posted under the "Rules" section, that says my blog would be better if I would stop worshipping the Duggars--and admit that I worship them--and write about all the criticisms I have about them. Fascinating.

I had thought I'd made my views about the Duggars quite clear in the opening entry. I disagree with quite a bit of the Duggar's core beliefs. I make no mystery of that and list them openly. However, just because I don't agree with someone's beliefs or their lifestyle doesn't mean I'm going to publicly attack them and criticize them. Why is it necesary to criticize? What purpose does that serve? What does that teach others about my character? What does that inspire others to see in themselves?

Do I worship the Duggars? No, I don't. I'm entertained by them. I'm fascinated by them. I have a healthy dose of respect for them. But I certainly don't want to live their life or believe what they believe. I have a healthy dose of respect for ANYONE who has the courage and ability to live their faith openly, honestly, and completely. I certainly haven't reached that point in my own faith--I still don't eat completely Kosher, I drive and use electricity on the Sabbath, and I have only begun my journey into the Torah. The Duggars are truly living their faith--they don't just speak of them, they live them. While I don't care for some of their beliefs--while I disagree with many of them and vote accordingly--I respect them, because...they walk the walk, not just talk the talk. Are they perfect in that? Of course not, no one is.

It's much the same respect I have for my Rabbi and his family. Do I agree with all of his beliefs politically? No, I don't. Is he still my Rabbi? Yes. Because at least when he quotes Torah portions to back up his beliefs, he isn't just quoting the ones he needs. He is living his Torah completely. He does keep kosher, he does follow the laws, and he believes in what he lives. While I still don't agree with his interpretation of the Torah, I respect it. Because there are always more than one way to view a situation, to read a scripture, and to believe.

Yes, there are things the Duggars do that bother me. Yes there are things they do that I'd love to "help" them with. While most of these things have to do with the running of their household and have nothing to do with their core religious and political beliefs, I still will not write about how wrong they are for not doing what I think they should do.

If you read through all of the blog entries I've written, you undoubtedly will find me disagreeing with the Duggars. I would hope that I had kept friendly and upbeat, but I'm sure there are times when I was snarky. The bottom line is that this blog is written as a way for me to discuss the Duggars, not rip them apart. They get plenty of that elsewhere.

It is possible to disagree with someone without being rude or hurtful. To the anonymous who's post began this whole entry, you may want to think of that if you reread what you sent me.

Friday, August 20, 2010

The Elephant in The Room: Duggar #20

People...and people...just won't let it go, so let's get it out there in the open and talk about it some more. I wrote about this long ago, when Josie was a newborn, but let's revisit the topic since it seems to be a magazine hot ticket...

Will the Duggars have #20? I suppose most people read that article and assumed the Duggars were trying for #20. That's not what it said, it said that they would be open to more children if G-d gave them more. There is an inherant difference in those two statements but most people who aren't really Duggar-philes won't see it. There will always be those who assume and believe that Michelle is very methodical about her childbearing--planning each child and having them all on purpose--not of her pregnancies being surprises. Most of us know that isn't the case. Sure she is probably more aware of her cycle and body than a lot of us, simply because she's been through it so many times, but call me naive, I will always be of the belief that they have that many kids because they are head over heels puppy dog in love with each other and that means they have marital relations quite often. Just look at the two of them on screen--after 25 years they are still IN LOVE. We should all be that lucky.

One other belief I will never subscribe to is that Michelle should live in fear now, simply because 1 in 19 had a difficult birth. My one and only had a premie birth and I had pre-eclampsia but I will graciously accept and frankly continue to try for another pregnancy. I WILL NOT LIVE IN FEAR simply because some people think the odds don't look good enough. By that logic, since all pregnancies in all women are potentially fatal to both baby and mother, no one should ever have children again.

The Duggars aren't stupid. Michelle has spoken to her doctors. She's had her check-ups following Josie's birth. She knows what her body is capable of and what her doctors think. Since no one has heard from any of HER doctors, I think it's ridiculous to speculate on what, if anything, is potentially wrong with her body after Josie's birth. Again, ANY pregnancy for ANY woman is potentially dangerous. The Duggars are living their faith and far it's working quite well for them. Josie survived and is thriving. Move on to the next complaint please.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Duggar Engagement on The Horizon?

We've had a lot of comments from people hoping for a Duggar/Bates engagement sometime soon. I will be the first to admit that I having been hoping for that for a season or two. Here is why I don't think that's going to happen any time soon.

The more I rewatch episodes from Season 4 and as I just watched the first two episodes of Season 5, I realize that there probably isn't anything serious going on between Jana or John-David and any of the Bates. Think back to when you were 20. Now compound that with the upbringing the Duggar and Bates kids have had. If you finally found the one person you were sure you were meant to be with for the rest of your life, would you be able to stand being away from them for such periods of time? Maybe you would, maybe you've learned a life of self-sacrifice in service for others. But you're also human. You feel.

I can't stop thinking about how Josh acted after he'd realized that Anna was his true love. He was basically useless in Arkansas. He visited Florida every chance he could. The Kellars came to Arkansas any chance they could. It was all about Josh and Anna and courtship. While the Duggars and the Bates have gotten together more often in the past 3-4 years than they have in the previous 15, the Duggar's move to Little Rock and the reason behind it all but stopped those visits. I believe in Season 4 (and I could be wrong, so please correct me) the families only got together once, maybe twice. Once that I can remember--when the Bates came to visit and see Josie in the hospital. Yes Jana looked a little, overcome, as she blushed everytime Zack (isn't that the oldest Bates?) was nearby, but that doesn't mean much.

Would going to Asia for 2 months be something you would actively seek out if you were head over heels the way Josh and Anna were? Again, yes you might, after all high school sweethearts go to different colleges all the time, but I really have to wonder.

I seriously believe that Jana, at least, since the trip was her idea, is taking things slow. I think she's seriously deciding what she wants to do with her life and actively seeking out experiences that will expand her horizons.

John-David, while not as vocal, seems to be leading quite a fulfilling life as well. I'd heard before that he was a volunteer fireman, but this was the first time in my memory that they've shown him in that role. That experience will definately teach him a lot and "grow him up." I do remember that a few of the Bates kids are also volunteer firemen--isn't one of the girls? Michaela?

While Josh was running his own business before he became engaged to Anna, I think that Jana and John-David are going a bit above and beyond the example that Josh set for them. I think that's good for them. I think that it's quite likely that we might see Jana in some kind of school atmosphere before we see her engaged. John-David? Perhaps he will head down the matrimony path first.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Duggars on TV

We discussed, briefly, the Duggars and their TV house rules or policies. Now let's discuss the fact that the Duggars are ON television and that they make quite a nice living being on television. Many people see the fact that they limit the TV their kids watch and their kids being on a TV show as being hypocrytical. I think that's a valid belief to have, you can think that all you like. I'm really on the fence about it, however I have to say that it doesn't BOTHER me enough to choose a side. I guess I'm saying that either way, I really don't care, because I enjoy seeing their show so much that I'd rather them stay on the air.

I do think that if you understand WHY they are on a TV show, you may be a bit more accepting--at least that's why I am. I understand that they are not in this for the almighty dollar, but rather the Almighty himself. They view their opportunity to be on TV as a direct way to show the world how it's possible to a) live debt free no matter how large or family is b) successfully raise your children to be polite, productive, and helpful no matter how large your family is and c) live your beliefs openly and honestly and fully.

We aren't turning this thread into a "cash cow" discussion. Yes they make money from being on the show, and probably even more importantly, they get a lot of perks from being on the show. We know. They know. That isn't the point here. Their reasons for doing a show go much deeper than that and no matter how many times it's been said, I'll say it again: They were debt free before TLC even knocked on the door; they had the house kits bought and paid for before TLC knocked on the door. TLC is not the reason they are debt-free. Yes, they are in a better version of debt-free now, but this is America and they are free to be as capitalistic as they choose to be. That's all there is to that. Please make your comments on this in the posts about this specifically, thank you.

So...Are the Dugar's hypocrites. Tell me why they are or why they aren't.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Duggars and TV

I've written a little bit about this topic before, but it was a long time ago, and now it seems appropriate to revisit the topic. I say that because I was finally able to watch the first 2 episodes of the new season last night and I caught something that some may not.

When most people write of the Duggars, and I'm sorry to say this but it's usually the anti-Duggars--but not always, they write of the Duggars not watching any TV. This just isn't true, and the Michelle even said it in the into during the first and maybe second season. "We watch VERY LITTLE TV..." Not no TV, but very little TV. I believe what she is referring to here is BROADCAST television--shows currently on the air. Many many times we've heard them talk about videos and DVDs they allow their kids to watch. Frankly I believe they do what we do...they have no cable or satellite service and only watch things through a VCR/DVD player. My husband and I take it to the next level wherein we both catch up on our favourite shows on-line (19 Kids and Counting, for example--thank you for posting them TLC.)

I will be the first to admit that as parents we are not as restrictive as the Duggars. My daughter watches kid DVDs of the standards--Blue, Dora, Little Einsteins, Ruby and Max, Builder Bob, etc. I'm sure most of those aren't seen at the Duggar's. She's also been exposed to the TV and movies that my husband and I enjoy. Funny or sad, she does start singing "men men men men" when she sees any picture of Charlie Sheen.

So why am I bringing this up now? Like I said, something I noticed when I watched John-David and Jana staying up all night to avoid jet lag--never works for me by the way. John-David mentioned that they watched a few westerns. This reminded me that the Duggars do watch some TV that isn't necessarily Christian based. I have no doubt that John Wayne movies are allowed. They are also rumoured to have the entire run of "Andy Griffith" on dvd. So there is some that's definately allowed. I'd say it's allowed but not encouraged. Of course it's far more healthy for the kids to be running and playing and using their minds rather than sitting in front of a TV screen. And yes, my child should be too. Honestly, I think having so many kids makes limiting TV much easier--if my child had siblings to play with she probably wouldn't watch as much as she watches.

We'll discuss the Duggars BEING on TV tomorrow :)

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

You Gotta Have Faith

I haven't seen the premiere episode of Season 5, but I did read the interview the Duggars gave and saw the clip from the "Today" show. Is anyone at all surprised that they are more than willing to receive more children? Of course we aren't--those of us who have faith.

Now I'll be the first to admit that my faith is nothing like the Duggar's faith, but I will say that I have the utmost respect for them. I have respect for them the same way I have respect for my Rabbi and his family--and I don't agree with everything they teach either--but I always have respect for anyone who lives their faith so completely and wholly. They certainly do a better job than I do, than a lot of us do, and that deserves some recognition as far as I'm concerned.

Faith is a constant, yet every evolving entity. While it's true that I can only speak for myself, in watching others live theirs, I honestly believe that faith really is what gets you through the day. Faith is that extra hand helping you through the hard times and applauding you through the good times. My faith has always been like an appendage, something I only rarely have to consciously think about, because it's always there, always with me. I believe because I don't know how not to believe.

The Duggars aren't as subtle with their faith. For them it's always in the foreground. Yet while that's apparent, it doesn't appear to be something they have to work hard at. Of course we all have times of stress and weakness, but by watching them it all seems to come so naturally to them--it never appears to be something they have to work hard to reconcile. I find that admirable.

How do you feel about the Duggars expressions of faith? What does "faith" mean to you?

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Duggar Season Five: What Do You Hope to See?

It's that time again, the time we've all been waiting for: a new season of the Duggars is about to begin! I admit that season four ended, for me, a bit anti-climatically. A lot of us had hoped for some kind of announcement, some revelation, and that never came. It was nice, though, that things ended calmly. Season four was hard for me to watch--the constant reminder that something wasn't right--that something could go horribly wrong at any moment--was difficult to endure.

Now that things appear to be on an even keel with the Duggars, Josie is home in Springdale and we're told she is happy and healthy, it's time to move on to a more cheerful time in their lives. We hope.

The Duggars are not a family that sits idly by, watching the world pass in front of them. They are clearly the type of family that is out in the world experiencing everything they can. That's one of the things I love about them. They are the type of family you can live vicariously through, and they don't mind it if you do.

So now that a new season is about to begin, what are you hoping to see? Some are hoping for a new pregnancy for Anna. I myself am more excited for a wedding announcement--or two. I would love to see a Duggar/Bates wedding with Jana. And maybe John-David. Something that occurred to me, that I haven't heard mentioned yet, is another Duggar/Keller wedding. Anna's sister spent a LOT of time visiting--is it possible a romance brewed between her and a Duggar? I've mentioned this before, but no one has commented--what about the Wilsons?? They have a son, or maybe two, that seem to be...older...Josh's age or maybe John-David's age. Is there a possibility that a Wilson and a Duggar could match up?

I would like to see the older ones out pursuing their dreams. Whatever those dreams might be. Although I doubt filming them going to school would be all that exciting to watch. Maybe just a casual reference to it would do. I think it is important to remember that just because we aren't shown it doesn't mean it doesn't happen. They seem to take great care in packaging the show so that we see only specific things. I understand that: it's a theme-driven show and not a blanket reality show, they do want to give the kids some semblance of a life separate from filming, and some things just don't have all that much entertainment value.

As we begin the count down to Season Five, tell us what you hope to see!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Duggars on Hiatus: What Have You Heard?

The Duggars have had a much needed and much deserved break this summer and because of that, the blog hasn't been as active as it is when the show is on the air. I apologize for not writing as much as I have been, but I've been having a bit of a hiatus as well.

So I've been thinking, as many of you have probably been as well, what are the Duggars up to this summer? Contrary to popular belief, I am not a Duggar maniac to the point of searching the internet for Duggar news. If something happens by me and I read it, fine, but no, I don't actually go searching for Duggar updates. I have heard the Facebook rumour that Anna is pregnant again. I did hear that John-David and Jana are back from their mission trip to Asia. And of course I heard about Michelle's "Mother of the Year" award ceremony. Other than those events, I haven't heard much of anything in Duggarland and so I'm asking you: What have you heard about the Duggars this summer?

Please share any Duggar tidbits--along with where you heard it, web addresses to news articles, etc--and what you think about what you heard (do you believe it, do you agree or disagree with it, and/or do you think it will make the show in the coming season).

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Finding Your Calling

One thing I've noticed about the Duggars, when they talk to their kids about careers and future endeavors, they speak of the subject on a much higher level than most people do. Now this feeling could just be a contrast to how I was raised, but I get the distinct impression that the Duggars view the future as a calling and not so much a personal desire. I don't want to diminish the fact that they DO urge their children to follow a career path that is personally fulfilling--they have said that a career is something you'll be spending a lot of time doing so it should be something you enjoy--but it seems they want even MORE than that for their children, something they enjoy so much that they are literally pulled towards doing it.

I'll admit my parents never had the "what do you want to be when you grow up" talk with me. In fact my father actually told me that it's possible I might not want to do anything at all. I'm pretty sure that annoyed my mother, but actions speak louder than words and neither one had goals for me beyond princess. And that's pretty much how my life turned out. So bear in mind that I don't have the career experience or career path planning that the Duggar children are receiving. Does anyone?

People have criticized the Duggars for not having their children in school or out working at early ages, but if you analyze their conversations and interviews it's clear they want their kids to be sure of their choices. Yes again I understand that actions speak louder than words...saying their kids are free to go to school and yet not having any kids in school can be viewed more than one way.

I firmly believe that Jim Bob and Michelle want more than just careers for their kids, they want their kids to find their calling. There is a distinct difference between the two and the second can take more time than the first. That's my opinion on why their kids are slower than some to get out and tackle the world--they are waiting to be called to something vs. jumping into something because it might be fun or might be interesting. The girls ready to examine their career goals have done things I've never done or known anyone to do--they visit and shadow people who have that career. I began my freshman year in college as a nursing major because I thought I wanted to be a nurse--it never occurred to me to tag along behind one before registering for classes. No one even suggested it. Makes sense and saves a lot in wasted tuition money.

Calling--usually a word reserved for those called to the religious services. However I think in the Duggar's case, even their careers have some level of religious service to them, regardless of what that career is. I do believe that they hope their children will be guided by a higher power when moving into a career and I believe that "calling" is an accurate description.

What do you feel "called" to do?

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Mission Trips: A Duggar Dynasty

I will be the first to admit that my mission trip experiences are probably NOTHING like the ones the Duggar children have had. Growing up in my parent's church, I was an active participant in the youth activities; it was a small town and that's where all my friends were anyway. The other reason? BOYS! The random and square-dance like parings and re-parings were comical when looked back on. So that being the case, I have no doubt that the Duggars aren't in it for the gratuitous make out sessions when no one is looking.

Now that's not to say that our mission trips weren't successful and useful. The several years before I was "of age" to attend, our Senior High group would go to Mexico for a week every summer (with a week added on for the drive down and a stop at Disneyland on the way home) to build and help at orphanages and missions there. In all honesty, from talking to kids who went on the last Mexico trip, it was a tent-hopping good time. Undoubtedly that was one of the reasons it was the last trip. When it became my year to start going, we only went as far as Northern California and worked with a group that was set up there--kind of like going to camp, but winterizing homes for the poor. The downside to the project was that we didn't really get a chance to bond a lot with the people we were helping--we'd show up and work at our assigned home (we'd been divided up into groups based on our abilities--boys and girls divided up for grunt work and painting--and so we'd meet other people from the other groups there at the same time we were.) So we met and got to know the people we worked WITH but not so much the people living in the homes. They were usually working. Sometimes they'd be there, but you could tell they were grateful, but on some level also maybe embarassed in needing the help.

I won't say I didn't have a great time on the three trips I took--I was out my junior year because I had surgery instead--they were great times. I made a lot of friends and had pen pals for years afterwards. (Remember this was long before email!)

I must say that I'm way more impressed with the Duggar's trips than the ones I took. I don't want to diminish any of the work we did, we worked hard and were pleased to do it, but I don't think we gave nearly as much of ourselves as the Duggars seem to on their trips to El Salvador. We certainly never gave any of our own money into the project, other than our parents paying our portion for the drive down and the fee to join the group sponsoring our effort. The Duggars use their own money to buy gifts, clothing, food, and supplies for the people they are helping. I hate admitting that at the time, things like that never occurred to me. I was just there because it was what my friends and I did every summer.

I do think that going as a family is nice, and they do appear to meet and enjoy the people they are helping while they are there, but I can't deny that they might get even more out of the experience if they went with a group and got to meet other people who were there for the same reasons. You can never make too many friends.

Now it's time to share your stories--Did you go on Mission Trips when you were growing up? Do you go on them now?

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Duggar Politics: Communal Capitalists

The Duggar political machine has always fascinated me. I will admit that I don't agree with any of their political ideals, but at the same time I have great respect for the fact that they so actively participate in our political process. In this day and age people take their right to vote for granted and I find that sad--especially when there's so much work to be done and so many people complaining.

I will also admit that the fact that Jim Bob became a state rep surprises and annoys me on a few levels. I don't have a problem with him running, but it goes against the grain that he was elected. While he may have the experience and point of view of the common working man/small business owner to bring to the table, I sincerely doubt he brought much else. Okay maybe that is my own personal belief that an elected official should have some kind of education beyond the high school diploma, but I can't deny my feelings.

We all know the Duggars views on abortion. From reading their book and hearing them in interviews, it's clear that anti-abortion legislation was Jim Bob's key platform when running. What little research my husband did (he's not a fan AT ALL of this family) shows that abortion is the main issue he showed up to vote for. His appearance record wasn't stellar, but then few reps show up for every vote, so we have to be fair. It just shows what his priorities were as a rep.

We also know that the Duggars have made their money by being successful capitalists. Jim Bob hasn't worked for anyone (TLC notwithstanding) since early in their marriage when he worked for a grocery store. Since then he's owned his own small businesses, some two or three at a time. We can't ignore the Duggars willingness to work hard and accumulate wealth. The last debt they had (hospital bills not included) was the first home Jim Bob bought before they were married. To say that TLC "saved" them financially is a mistake--they were debt free and living happily before TLC came to the door and undoubtedly would have continued to live debt free.

Clearly they have conservative values and beliefs. And when you add all this up you aren't surprised that this family is Republican in their voting. They still have McCain/Palin bumper stickers on their car and the election was over a long time ago. Now why none of this is at all surprising, what is interesting is that they way they live, worship, and share with those similar to them could also be viewed as quite communal. The Duggars are very kind and considerate of others--not to be viewed as a trait contrary to Republicans, I'm one myself, but is interesting that a lifestyle usually equated with "free spirits" or even hippies, is one that the Duggars have inadvertently embraced without probably realizing it.

Michelle has said that each child has their own space and the ability to lock away their personal possessions from their siblings. However we also read in their book and hear in interviews with the kids that they basically share and share alike when it comes to toys, books, and even goodies. The Duggars go beyond sharing within their family. They are virtually selfless when it comes to giving to their friends and members of their church family. When someone needs something the Duggars are the first to give what they have--they also pay for all the food/clothing/gifts that they take with them to El Salvador and buy while they are there for the families they are there to help. Helping others in this way is also not necessarily a non-Republican trait, but when you look at legislation the argument could be made.

I do see a lot of their lifestyle as being near communal. They might not view it that way, but the case could be made. They are also quite clearly living a lifestyle that was made possible by a pure capitalist view. It fascinates me to try to wrap my head around those two seemingly polar opposite stances.

What do you think? Does this give validation to the cult theories? Or are they a simple family who is trying to be a good example?

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

H-E-Double Hockey Sticks: The Duggars Keep Smiling

It's been pointed out on more than one occassion by more than one person that the Duggars raise their children not to show any emotion and to "always" put on a happy face. I think that is a little bit extreme and not entirely true.

We've seen various Duggar children in different stages of unpleasantness, but I think we can point to Jill as our lead example. Jill has bawled and blubbered on the TV screen more than once for more than one reason and instead of being "taken to task" for it, she was not only allowed to show her feelings, but she was comforted and encouraged by her father. In fact, it was one of the more moving Duggar parent moments--watching your child face dental surgery known for it's pain and seeing the fear and anxiety in that child, and doing your best to comfort and assure that child while still making them go through with it. If the Duggar children were really taught to surpress their emotions, that display would have never been tolerated, much less supported.

I think there is a difference from being taught to surpress your emotions and taught not to react emotionally. Letting your emotions rule your every response can have negative effects not only for you, but for those around you forced to witness your every display. Who wants 19 kids throwing a fit everytime they don't get the colour popsicle they want? No one wants even ONE child who continually has that response. I see no reason to coddle that kind of emotional outburst on a daily basis. It is entirely a different animal to be allowed to express your fear, grief and anxiety in legitimate situations. We've seen the kids have this freedom in more than one instance and that is quite healthy.

They were allowed to grieve and feel however they needed to feel when their Grandfather passed away. Men of Jim Bob's generation and most likely in Jim Bob's part of the country, were raised not to cry. Most men pre-70s were taught that crying wasn't manly. I think I saw my father cry once and that was at his Mother's funeral--but I honestly don't remember so I could be guessing. He never cried in front of me--even when I saw him in the hospital after 3 of his strokes and when he knew he was never coming home, but going to a nursing home. He may have, but if he did he did it privately or in front of my mother. Jim Bob even pointed out that he was willing to show his emotion over his father's death in front of his children so they'd understand it was all right to grieve publicly for a man they loved and would miss. To have that foresight while dealing with grief yourself is staggering to me.

After saying this, I'd love to know where the idea that "you're going to hell if you don't do as we tell you--show no emotions" hypothesis comes from. I have never EVER heard the Duggars use the word "hell" or any euphamism for it in a Biblical sense. There are many forms of Christianity and many ways to approach your beliefs--some denominations do seem to subscribe to the "fire and brimstone" version of G-d, however most seem to subscribe to the loving and kind G-d who isn't waiting to punish. I've never seen any evidence that the Duggars are of the "fire and brimstone" belief. For a family so open and honest about their religious beliefs, I'd think after 4 seasons we'd have heard something about it by now.

Do you think the Duggar kids are taught they'll go to hell if they don't follow the Duggar belief system? Do you think the Duggar kids are forced to put on a happy face? What are your supporting facts? Please share your ideas.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Happy Duggar Children: Why is That so Hard to Believe?

Comments have been fast and furious lately and many of them insinuate that the Duggar girls are somehow unhappy and/or being held against their will. I've written on this in some other forms before, but now we may as well just put it out there on the table point blank. Why is it so hard to imagine that the Duggar children could really be happy and content with their lot in life?

I have a few theories, but the one that makes the most sense to me is that they simply go against the average American norm, therefore it just isn't possible. Because they aren't like "my" children, or children I see on a regular basis, they can't be happy.

People use the words "parents won't allow" a lot. I would love to know WHY people think that Jim Bob and Michelle rule and control their adult children's every move--because they still live at home? I was 35 when I married and moved out of my mother's house. I wasn't held prisoner there, far from it. I lived there because it was free, comfortable, and full of perks. When I lived there she PAID FOR EVERYTHING. Now this could be the princess in me talking, but why would anyone want to give up that kind of life if they didn't have to? Yes they have responsibilities, so did I. The perks far out-weighed the responsibilities and in the Duggar's case I think the perks out-weigh them a hundred-fold.

The Duggars also teach free will. Their whole foundation revolves around all people having free will. When you believe that you don't supress other's free will. Now I personally DON'T believe in free will and never have. While I do believe we all make choices, I believe G-d already knows what choice you're making, therefore it's not really free. I believe your entire life has been mapped out before you were born and you're just following where you're supposed to go. Within that, yes you make choices, but again, if Hashem knows the choice you're making, how is that truly free will? Not many people subscribe to that or go along with me, but it's my faith and what gets me through the day, therefore it is what it is. But when you DO believe in free will, you don't make it a habit to squash it in others.

I believe the Duggar children are very lucky. The life that the Duggars have built for their family allows that their children can take time to decide who they are and what they want without a rush. There's no great hurry to move out at 18 and take the world by the tail--something a lot of 18 year olds fail at massively. And again I ask, why should they want to? Life from this side of the screen looks pretty good: free trips, nice house, everything they could ask for (computers, phones, cars, toys, and musical instruments for those who want them), clothing, food, and a family that loves them unconditionally. The love and support of a family is not something to take lightly--and also something that everyone is given. That could be another reason some people are resentful. Just a theory.

Tell me why you think the Duggar kids are unhappy. Show me proof not assumptions. Afterall, just because Jim Bob and Michelle have 19 kids doesn't mean they expect all their kids to follow suit--free will. Josh and Anna have said repeatedly that 2 or 3 kids would be fine. What are your theories?

Monday, June 21, 2010

Free Jinger: From What?

Jinger seems to have a huge cult following and that just makes me smile. It's curious to wonder why, out of all of them, Jinger is the one the following wants to "save." Just what do they want to save her from?

It's been reported from the family that Jinger wants to take photography classes and do something with her apparent talent. She also has be featured in the orchestra at Big Sandy camp so we know that she enjoys playing her violin. I suppose of all the Duggar children, she seems to be the one with the most attitude. It isn't a bad attitude or a grim attitude, it's just the one you notice. Could it be teenage hormones? Only those living with her have the answer to that.

I would love to know why people seem to see her as a "weak link" in the Duggar belief system. I think this past season was a turning point, but not necessarily for the reasons the "Free Jinger" people may think. Yes we saw Jinger a bit more scowly and subdued, however I don't think people are putting that in its proper perspective. I don't think anyone took seriously the situation the Duggars were in last season. Yes they continued to film even though their lives were being ripped apart with the unknown that was a child in the NICU, but no one really seemed to focus on the pain that family was in. Just because the cameras were rolling and the family was obviously trying their best to put on brave faces doesn't mean that each one of them had a heart that was absolutely breaking. Add to that Jinger's age and the liklihood that hormones and teen angst coupled with a family in crisis and you have the recipe for a cranky teenager.

I think what baffles me the most is: WHY JINGER? If people think that one needs to be freed, why not all of them? Jinger is obviously one of the favourite "out front" Duggar kids who we see a lot of, but is that the reason, or is there more to it? Someone please enlighten me.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

If Michelle Duggar Went On "Wife Swap"....

This is a request by a reader...if Michelle went on "Wife Swap" what would you want to see, or what would you expect to see? This is a huge 'if' for most of us, because just making that leap to where she'd even CONSIDER doing the show is so out of place it's hard to imagine, but we've put them in 'what if' situations before, so let's try it again!

I have only seen 1 episode of the show "Wife Swap" at least I think that's what it was called. Interestingly enough, one of the mothers who was swapping was a very hard-core Christian from a very hard-core family. The daughter and mother did all the work and the son and father sat around like royalty waiting to be served. In fact, you wanted to reach through the screen and beat the father with a hose. Ok maybe it was just me, but it was very hard to watch. She swapped with a tattooed/pierced mother who home-schooled her children with a laid back style. The kids weren't doing all that well in school. Both mothers learned a lot about "the other side" and both families did a lot of growing and changing--although royal dad was still a royal pain. People don't like to admit their frailties.

Somehow I don't see Michelle as the hard-core Christian woman. She is far too kind and polite and reserved. In all the TV shows I've never seen her preach to anyone. Even to the kids it's not like they hold up their religion in a "my way or the highway" kind of way. One of the reasons I'm so easily able to watch their show is that they don't preach, they lead by example--diamond hunting episode not included--hahaha. I have a feeling that she would rise above whatever situation she was put in and lead by example. I can almost see martyr from her.

For those who know more about "Wife Swap" than I do...what do YOU think would happen if Michelle went on the show?

Friday, June 18, 2010

WWDD Part II: WHY Would Duggars Do.....

I had an interesting email conversation with a friend the other day that had to do with the Duggars and things they don't do, but things we do. There are things a lot of us do in our daily lives that seem perfectly acceptable and normal to us that the Duggars do not do. I personally have no problem with that, but it is interesting to think about: books we read, TV we watch, movies we see--all of these have Duggar conflicts.

I've been pretty upfront about the things I do differently than the Duggars and things that I don't agree with the Duggars on, but it's always the big things--religion, politics, etc. We haven't discussed the small things--and these small things are what make the Duggars stand out from the rest of the world. They are on a TV show, but don't watch TV. A lot of people have trouble reconciling that--on it's face it does seem pretty hypocritical, but you have to ask the big question "why?" and then be wise enough to wait for an answer. The Duggars have had TV in their home twice--a year after they married and then a few years after that when he traded some things for a satellite dish. Both times they enjoyed the TV, but enjoyed it too much. Jim Bob found that it turned him into a couch potato and he wasn't spending the time with his family that he knew he should be spending. The second time, with all those additional channels, they found that they had to wade through a lot of "unacceptable" programming to get to the few things that were "acceptable." They realized that they were letting these "unacceptable" things into their home and even though they weren't watching them, they had to see them to make them go away. It just wasn't worth it. There's the answer to "why."

We don't have TV service or even the ability to get the local channels, but it's not a religious decision, it's a financial one. We do watch plenty of TV either on-line or by getting DVDs from the library, or watching the ones we already own (I'm a sit-com junkie.) Chassidic Jews don't watch TV either because they believe it takes away valuable time from Torah study and prayer--TV and movies a like are just not worth the time when there are more important things to do. My Rabbi's family does watch videos/DVDs but they are all educational and all religious based. The Duggars are the same way. They've said on numerous occassions that they have a lot of videos the kids watch--all religious based and/or educational. I'm not that picky. I do put my desires ahead of my needs in that respect. I've never questioned it. I watch what I want to watch when I want to watch it. It does have it's drawbacks. When my daughter sees a picture of Charlie Sheen in a magazine she starts singing "Men Men Men" and she will ask to watch "Big Bang"--for "Big Bang Theory" (can you imagine the Duggars watching THAT?) But for the most part she asks for her own DVDs that are kid-related and usually educational.

Along the same lines the Duggars don't watch many movies. My daughter has been watching Disney movies lately, but I try to examine them with a "Duggar" eye and I have to wonder if they are allowed to watch them. I watch "Dora" and "Clifford" with a Duggar eye as well and even though the kids know who these characters are (Michelle pointed out a Clifford patch on a dress at the thrift store once and it was a good thing) I wonder if they watch them much, since they don't have a religious theme and sometimes the message is hard to find. I remember 2 years ago when I was driving the Rabbi's girls back to school and they were reading the "Twilight" series in the van. They had gotten them from the library and were totally engrossed in them, so apparently they were allowed to read them, but I have no doubt that they have NOT seen the movies and probably never will. I just read the series myself a few weeks ago and there's NO WAY the Duggar kids would be getting any where near it. Even if the message is "saving yourself for marriage and true love exists" I sincerely doubt the Duggar parents would allow vampires and werewolves into their home willingly.

We do know the Duggars go to movies, when they are acceptable. They never mentioned what movie Josh, Anna, Jana, and John David went to during the engagement episode, just that it was an R-rated movie that you had to be 18 to see and that's why the twins went with them. Was "Fireproof" rated R? I have no desire to see it myself, but they were huge Kirk Cameron fans later on when they met him. They do have a point that there arent' a lot of movies made now adays that fall into the religiously upbeat category. I'm sure they have to hunt high and low to find movies to see. That's likely why they stick to DVDs they can order. My daughter has been to many adult movies in her pram. She seems pretty entertained just by the big screen alone, although she did get a little restless during "Quantum of Solace" and "Defiance"--but she's British and going to develop a love of Daniel Craig because I'm the mom and I said so!

Entertain yourself and go through your day, pausing to ask yourself, "Would the Duggars do this?" You may get a laugh and you may get some insight. I don't plan on changing much, but I do get a kick out of doing it.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Siblings as Best Friends: An Unheard of Concept Today?

One thing I've noticed about people who comment negatively on the Duggars is that they seem to equate the Duggar children getting along well with each other and enjoying other's company as being "isolated" from outside friends. For some reason the idea that children can be friends with each other is some kind of alien concept--it must mean they have no other people to be friends with and they are, somehow settling for being friends with their siblings because they have no other choice. This fascinates me.

I have one sister who is 10 years older than me. She left for college when I was 8--then went straight to graduate school--twice. I never got the chance to really know her until we were both adults and by then, it was too late for real "bonding." We settle for an uncomfortable friendship when we're in the same room together, but otherwise it's doubtful that we remember each other exists. Aside from the obvious age difference--not many 17 year olds actually want to hang out with a 7 year old--I think part of it also comes from how my parents tried to respect her after I was adopted. They went out of their way to remind her that she wouldn't be REQUIRED to babysit or care for me in their place. While at the time this was probably good for her peace of mind, I think at the same time it had it's disadvantages--we aren't at all close and I also think it may have fueled some of her resentment, seeing me being cared for by her parents and she wasn't invited or asked to assist. It's just a theory as I've never been brave enough to ask her why we're both so uncomfortable around each other.

The fact is that the Duggar children have friends outside their home. We've seen a few of them on screen, but it's my honest belief that the Duggars are attempting to give their children some aspect of privacy in a world where they are all well-known. By choosing to keep the show focused on their family, they've allowed their children to have some small pieces of "private" life. There have been random references to different friends by different Duggar kids during the run of the show, but you have to really pay attention to notice--so in that sense people can claim that the Duggar kids don't have friends because we rarely if ever "see" it.

I also think it may go back to the theory that people are annoyed because their kids don't get along with each other as well as the Duggar kids do, therefore it's time to pounce--If I failed, everyone must fail, right? Unfortunately it's very hard to admit as parents when we goof--I myself get very defensive when my parenting is questioned, but I know it comes from a place of fear that they are right, not confidence.

When the Duggars started to see that the children were going to keep on coming, as it were, I have a feeling that the home-schooling idea became not just a way to express their faith, but also a means of self-preservation. Michelle has said more than once that when Josh was small and she began to research home-schooling, one of the things she noticed right away from the home-schooling familes she met was that the kids all seemed to get along well with each other and that they seemed to be becoming friends with each other. I have no doubt that seeing that possibility was a huge comfort for them. Who wants a house full of 19 kids that can't get along with each other? Just 2 kids who never seem to get along will bring an entire house down, emotionally.

I have seen the older kids and the younger kids get along and enjoy being together. It isn't out of duty either. You can tell that they are happy together--there isn't a forced quality there. Not all of them can be that good of actors. I don't think it's brainwashing either. We know the kids cry and express their emotions, even if it's been said they aren't allowed to. My sister and I fake it and anyone with an eye can see it, some things you just can't fake: genuine affection is one of them.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Jackson and Johanna Duggar: You'd Never Know They Weren't Twins

Jackson and Johanna always seem to be together. Maybe it's because TLC interviews them together for the show, but even in the shots around the house, you see them playing together. Johanna also seems to try and emulate him at the school table--or maybe pester him--whenever she can. The two aren't that close in age, when you look at the Duggar children all together, but they are one right after the other and the way they play and act, you'd never know they weren't twins.

The first birth we were privy to with the Duggars was Jackson's. Does anyone remember when they all went to the ultrasound and found out it was a boy? At that time his name was Judah Benjamin. We learned later in the special that they had a "change of heart" about the name, not the baby, and were going to name him Jackson Levi. Maybe it's me, but I think they made the right choice.

The next special was the Duggar family going across the country towards Disneyland. The narrator took special care to let us know that, no, Michelle wasn't pregnant. But then we were "Raising 16 Kids" and learned that a baby girl was on the way--Johanna Faith. They had previously had 6 boys in a row so the girls were extra excited to find out another sister was on the way.

We've only really seen Jackson and Johanna in the past 2 seasons--that is seen them do interviews. It's interesting to me that they are almost always together for the interview portion. They seem to play a lot together too. I don't have a lot of experience in the closeness of siblings department--my sister is 10 years older than I am and was off to college when I was 8--so I don't know if they are close because they are next to each other in birth order or not. Most of the girls stay with the girls and the boys stay with the boys, but they were also born that way--the boys clumped together and the girls together--so Johanna didn't have much of a choice of who to play with, the closest to her age were the boys--Joy-Anna was about 10 years older than she was when she was born--being the closest girl in age.

Johanna definately seems to take the roll of big sister as seriously as her older sisters do. She jumps right in and helps with her 2 younger sisters, Jennifer and Jordyn--even if they don't want the help--think Jordyn being dumped into a wagon. I doubt that the carrying around of Jordyn and accidental dropping of Jordyn are done out of spite or anger--I think she is following the Duggar example of helping. She sees her older sisters doing these things and so she wants to do those things too.

Jackson--I don't have a clear read on him yet. I do think he's very smart and has that little kid sense of humour that makes for good interviews--otherwise they probably wouldn't feature him so often. He and Johanna do have the banter down and are very funny together. They really do strike me as twins--they seem more like twins that Jana and John-David, whom we almost never see spending any time together.

I think we'll have fun watching these two grow up. Being some of the youngest kids in the family they probably do have some fun and do get some attention. I have to wonder if Johanna was a bit spoiled when she was the "brand new girl we waited so long for" before more girls showed up behind her. Sometimes she can come off as a bit bratty, but then we also saw her/see her at ages 3-4 when that's not uncommon. Remember it isn't the Duggars who claim to have "such well-behaved children," it's the fans who say that. The Duggars are more realistic and it's nice to see that the editors are beginning to show us more "real" moments with some kids acting out and not being so perfect.

What are your favourite moments with Jackson and/or Johanna?

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Duggar Life Lesson: The Value of a Kind Deed

The Duggars are definately fans of teaching life lessons, even if they don't call them that, I do. They teach by example and then remind their kids of that example and how they can apply those lessons in their own individual daily lives.

The value of a kind deed is something the Duggars taught the kids by explaining an experience Jim Bob had when he was just a young boy. As they explained in their book, Jim Bob did not grow up in a family that always had enough money to go around. There were times when they didn't have enough food to eat or enough food to eat, let alone money to pay for a haircut for Jim Bob. His mother would attempt home hair cuts and they didn't always turn out with successful results. They show a picture of a small Jim Bob with one such haircut and while not being horrible, it wasn't great either. Apparently the Duggars had a neighbour who was a hair stylist. She offered to cut Jim Bob's hair for him for free. While this was something easy for her to do and give, it made a huge impact on Jim Bob. He describes the change in his self-image and his self-esteem. You do seem to do better when you feel better about yourself, don't you?

Jim Bob and Michelle remind their kids that there are so many small things they can do for other people, that might not seem like anything to them, but could have a lasting effect on the person they do the good deed for. In Judaism we refer to doing good deeds as performing "mitzvahs." There are so many things we do for other people that we don't even consciously see that someone else could see as a good deed--from letting a car go in front of you in traffic or picking up something that someone dropped and handing it to them. These little things may not stick in your mind for any longer than it takes to do them, but who knows how long the person you do it for remembers. And it's quite likely that they may spread the good deed on to others by following your example.

Think of the good deeds others have done for you and the effect it's had on you. Remember to pass it on and share that wisdom with your children or other family and friends. More good deeds can only make the world a happier place.