Thursday, May 20, 2010

Duggar Fan or Duggar Maniac?

Someone on a message board brought up the point that none of us personally know the Duggars, so why are we posting that they are "such great parents." How do we really know this from what we see on TV? Frankly, I've been accused as a blog-writer of being too one-sided and not seeing the Duggars for what they really are--whatever that person seems to think they really are. I supposed since it's been awhile and people are now only reading the new blog posts, I'm getting the idea that no one reads the "what this blog is all about" post at the beginning, so it's time to reiterate my stance on the Duggars and my own personal beliefs--and what lays between.

There is a lot that I don't agree with when it comes to Duggar Dogma. The first one is obvious and that is I'm not Christian, I'm Jewish. I also happen to be pro-choice and I also happen to be pro-gay marriage, not only that, but I'm very vocal and vote those two opinions. I was also raised by conservative Old Testament parents (Presbyterians) so they weren't strict about fundamentalism or evangelism, but with a mother who taught chemistry and biology I was also taught that evolution and the Bible weren't contradictory--they could walk hand in hand and make sense with each other. Before you ask, I was adopted and my birth mother was Jewish.

I am also smart, sorry if that sounds egotistical, but get over it. I went to college, I have degrees, and frankly and IQ off the charts. Yeah yeah, I'm trying to be honest here. I know how to read between the lines, and with a TV show like the Duggars, you have to read between the lines a lot to see the deeper meaning, and see what's really going on. I also watch the episodes more than once. I've also read their book and read the magazine articles that pop up here and there, so I have a general knowledge of what's known publicly about the Duggar family. I've admitted that I'm lazy and unwilling to a lot of research to go back and fact-check as well as having a "mommy" memory, so when I get it wrong, I admit it after someone around here corrects me.

Now let's go back a step and talk about reading between the lines. It seems to me that a lot of anti-Duggars seem to take a lot of Duggar activities on face value and I think that's wrong. I think you have to look deeper, especially when there are that many children in the frame, that much action going on, and truly analyze the situation. My other point here is that you also need to watch the show from Season One and know the family from the beginning--watching one or two episodes from Season Four and deciding the family is this way or that way, isn't making an educated observation. You also have to understand circumstances, their past, their history, their beliefs (seriously understand and know their beliefs, not just think you know their beliefs), and base your statements on some facts.

I've also said you need to understand what this family is currently going through emotionally, and that's something the anti-Duggar faction seems to be refusing to do. Instead of acknowledging that a premie can happen via pre-eclampsia at any time to any one (it happened to me to my first and only baby) they are blaming Michelle for Josie's premature birth because Michelle chose to have 19 kids.

Now here is where I do have something in common with the Duggars. I've been to a NICU to visit my baby. I've walked those halls and been through those doors and I've dreaded every minute of it. I HATED going every single time I had to go and I had to force myself to do it. I hated having the nurses watch over me, I hated having them stand over me as I fed her, changed her nappy, and put on her new clothes, and most of all I hated that I couldn't just check her out and take her home. I hated that in the NICU, I wasn't her mommy. I had to wait for 2 weeks to be the mommy to my newborn. Now that sounds like nothing to a lot of people, but to my husband and me, it was a lifetime, especially when you waited a lifetime to have a child.

So do I understand why Jim Bob and Michelle took an offer to go to Wisconsin to speak at a conference why Josie was in the NICU? Yes, I do. Did I get flack for it from an anti-Duggar? Yes I did. Do I care? No, I don't. Why? Because I've been where Jim Bob and Michelle are and it sucks...sorry, but that's what it sucks the life right out of you...and if that's what it takes, a weekend away, what if it's a conference where you're the speakers. Who cares? Their daughter was in the best possible hands she could have been in, what could Jim Bob and Michelle done for her if they had still been in Little Rock? Frankly I think it's just another think for anti-Duggars to complain about.

I respect the Duggar family for their ability to hang together when the times get tough and when the times are good. I respect their ability to raise a family the way they want to and have it work. The fact that they can put together a plan and have it come together amazes me since I can barely get my day together, let alone a life plan. Yes, I respect them. I enjoy watching the show for their financial advice and as a romantic hope to see some weddings coming up, but as far as manical fan? I wouldn't go there.

Now back to what this blog was going to be about.....the rest of the fans....we've covered about everyone else? Are they over the top in their glorification of Jim Bob and Michelle? Are they right to post things about how inspirational the Duggars are? Frankly I don't have a problem with that, after all, that was the point of the show from the Duggar's standpoint in the beginning. They wanted a show that inspired others to be better people, not necessarily better Christians, just better people.

Do I think people sometimes think the Duggars are perfect? I think some fans get over-zealous in their defense of the Duggars on fan pages and that's a little sad. The Duggars themselves will admit QUICKLY that they are not perfect. The Duggars have many flaws and we all, as fans, can list our own things about the Duggars that bother us (no need to) but that doesn't mean we still don't admire them and have aspirations to be more like them in some small ways. I didn't say everyway, I said some small ways.

I do think it's important as fans to remember that the Duggars are real people, just like the rest of us. They make mistakes, they stumble, they sin, they fail, and they fall. Do we see this on their TV show? Not very often if at all. Why? It's not entertainment. Seeing Josie in the NICU is drama enough, the rest of the episode is play time.

I think everyone needs to read their book and that will ground a lot of their fans. It might also educate a lot of their detractors. Their fans will realize that they can still be inspired by Jim Bob and Michelle, but see them as real people, not the perfect family we're shown on television, and their detractors can learn the facts instead of spewing out rumour and inuendo on fan pages just to incite unnecessary drama.


  1. Hi, Mary Beth:

    I've been reading and thoroughly enjoying your blog for a couple of days now, and I have to say that I think I've found a kindred spirit. The way you describe yourself is exactly the way I feel: I consider myself a fan (I think "obsessed" might fit nicely here, if I'm honest), but I don't consider them saints by any stretch of the imagination, and I am diametrically opposed to almost everything they stand for, which has me a bit confused as to why I find them so darned interesting.

    Your blog is well-written and insightful, and I agree wholeheartedly with your idea that the Duggars' detractors need to stop spouting off about them when they so obviously no absolutely nothing about them beyond the fact that they have 19 children.


  2. I totally agree with you. I am sometimes quick to defend the Duggars. I have found some of the people they just have questions. I think it is great as a person who watches the show I can help them out. Now you have the people who cuss, spit and whatever at you for saying you like the show or praying for them. I have found most of those people are lacking something in their life so they need fan pages like the TLC page to prey on people who usually never have to deal with that type of stuff. I am not a freak for the Duggars I just fine them fun. They get along. They love each other and they have fun doing it. I think it is kind of sad to kick somebody when they are down to get your voice heard. I find when people post nasty stuff all I see is the words and have a hard time looking past that.

  3. I am a Duggar fan and won't allow anything to cause me to miss an episode. That said, I don't watch and rewatch those episodes and pick them apart. I defend the Duggars because I think some on the forums treat them unfairly and I always have a soft spot for someone that's being picked on. I hate it when people make statements as if they were fact and have nothing to back up their claims. Then they get nasty to those offering facts that disprove their point!

    As I said in another recent post, I have a chronic illness, rheumatoid arthritis which requires me to take very frequent rests from activity. One way I can spend that down time is on the computer. I try to avoid the more negative forums because I find they pull me down.

    The Duggars are a 'fun" group of people with a lot of energy. I get an uplift from watching them and hope their show continues for a long time. Like I said to my husband, the season finale is on next week, what am I going to do with myself on Tues evenings? Millie

  4. Jeri--thanks :) always appreciated!!

  5. I find myself sticking up for the underdog too, but it's also about "being right" when people post wrong facts...i really need to learn to take the high road and not take things so personally :)

  6. Marybeth: I noticed you were really "getting it in the neck" on facebook yesterday. I did flag some of her posts as being inappropriate as they were very racially aimed. The site has attracted a lot more troublemakers in recent days.

  7. MaryBeth taking the high road is a hard thing for all of us.:0)

  8. I consider myself a fan but that being said, like you MaryBeth, there are things I do not agree with about their lifestyle. I have been accused of defending them but I tend to err on the side of defending a position. As reiterated many times, one cannot "know" a family by what is seen on TV. One can see quirks and try to figure out what is going on but unless you are there and see them daily you truly have no clue because, as we have read on the DWOP site the BIL gave a whole new rendition of how the film crew manipulates the goings-on.

    I am inspired by the fact that they have Faith and are not willing to compromise it despite getting a huge amount of criticism. Do I agree with a lot of things portrayed on the show about their religion? No, but that is not my place to judge them. People will realize over time that as those kids get out of the house they will see new things and may or may not change their lifestyle according to their desires. Just as their parents did long ago. And with the inclusion of the Bates we see different facets of Faith as the Bates do things differently than ther Duggars.

    I have spent a lot of time studying many religions and trying to see them from the inside perspective. When people ask me what my religion is I cannot answer them because I do not have one. I am not Christian because I do not believe the Christian rhetoric about Jesus. But I respect anyone's religion and have had many great conversations/debates over the years. And that is why the Duggars are watched by me -because I am learning and growing as I see their life being played out in front of the cameras.

  9. Celtic Morla--you bring up great points...I think it's always important to seperate religion from Faith--religion is what we practice and Faith is what we have--you can have Faith without practicing a particular religion or aligning yourself with one....I've always regarded Faith as "what gets you through the day" and seeing a family use their Faith to get through the day....

  10. As much as I am different from Michelle Duggar, I respect her right to be herself and she does a good job of that. Since I am pro Choice, that means to me that I respect the Duggar's choices, too. Even more odd, to me anyway, is the fact that although I am a pro Choice, Liberal Democrat, and not especially religious, I like the Bates family, perhaps even better than the Duggar and heaven only knows they are even more conservative than the Duggars. I'm sure I'll be watching Josie Duggar getting married, no Bates boys her age, so that match is out, from my wheelchair in a nursing home, but for sure I will still be watching!!! You have the most balanced blog I have seen and I appreciate that. Perhaps you do defend the Duggars unnecessarily, since Michelle herself doesn't seem called upon to do that, but so what? Your blog, your choice!