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.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Stay At Home Moms? Says Who?

One thing that amazes me is that there is this weird belief by people that the Duggar girls or anyone that marries a Duggar boy will have this life as a wife and mother at home with the kids. I'd love to know what people are basing this notion on. Is Anna a stay-at-home mom? No. Was Michelle a stay-at-home mom? No, not in the early years.

The examples we've been shown and are being shown are that a wife and husband work together. Michelle raised the kids while working for the car lot and she also had kids with her when she worked at the mini-mart they owned. We see Anna and Josh taking their daughter to work with them and we see both of them working side by side to build the family business.

I have no idea if there is a Biblical background to owning your own business, or if the Duggars lead in that direction so they can have more control over their own lives--after all if you're the boss you can set your schedule and be sure to have time with your family--something the Duggars are very proactive about. However it can also be a financial decision too. If you have the right business at the right time and work it properly, you have the financial control rather than being the employee which gives you none of the financial control.

I would love it if someone could explain to me why anti-Duggars post things like the girls will be trapped in their homes raising kids or that all they have to look forward to is the life of a home-maker when everything we see in their life shows that they will likely be working either alongside or in addition to their husband. Jim Bob worked for five years as a checker and stocker for a grocery store that wasn't theirs--he was an employee--and while he was at work Michelle would work at the car lot and this was before they had children. Josh was born 4 years after they got married.

I have nothing against working moms or stay at home moms--I am a stay at home mom and may work again some day, likely beside my husband at a business we open together. I was raised by a working mother and father--my mom chose to work, she didn't have to, but she was driven and liked to be in the office. I have nothing but great memories of my childhood and have no doubt that if she had been pressured to be at home (her social circle didn't have executive women in it) she probably would have been unhappy--I will say that she did wait until I was in school. My father being a teacher was home close to the time I was, but in our town and our neighbourhood it wasn't a big deal--all the kids played together anyway after school.

I am not out to change minds or convert people to become Duggar fans. What I would love though, is if people would be a little more informed before they make their comments.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Psychology of Duggar Hating Part II: Looking Inward

When it comes to the Duggars there seems to be an "us and them" mentality between the fans of the show and/or family and those who don't care for the Duggars or their show. There is a strange phenomena wherein people who dislike the family and what they stand for watch the show regardless--I've never understood this, but it happens in many cases. For example, there are groups devoted to "hating" Rachel Ray, and the main past time of these people is watching Rachel Ray on television. I am not someone that can spend time watching a show I have disdain for, but apprently there are a lot of people out there who can and do. To be perfectly honest, I have trouble being polite and watching shows I don't care for--sorry Hubby, but you can watch the sci-fi shows on your own, I'd rather read a book. But either way, you have those who think the Duggars are great, or those who think the Duggars are horrible. There doesn't seem to be a middle ground.

In Part I we discussed some reasons why people may or may not like the Duggars. We learned some other reasons from people who are on the "dislike" side. Some of those reasons were: The Duggars make different parenting choices than the person thought was right, The Duggars are making money by being on a TV show (the person thought never said that was wrong, but a reason why it was OK to criticize them,) and one person appeared to not like them because s/he had read blogs from people who had left an upbringing similar to that of the Duggars and decided that all people from that lifestyle must be unhappy--to be honest it was hard to tell why that person disliked the Duggars as his/her argument wasn't very well-written or thought out.

Both people who replied for the "dislike" side did use the argument that "other people who's lives are similar to the Duggars" had lives that were somehow sub-par and therefore made the conclusion that the Duggar's children would be leading the same sub-par lives. Unfortunately, as Duggar fans, we demand some kind of proof that this is occurring with the Duggars themselves, not people who live like the Duggars. As for me, I am ONLY interested in any blogs or information straight from Duggar family members---other families that have no relation to the Duggars aren't proof of how the Duggar children are currently doing.

One kind of anti-Duggar we didn't touch on was the person who did grow up in a large family and now feels slighted by their upbringing. They look at the Duggars and project their own life onto them--usually without any correct or accurate information about the Duggar family--and assume that the Duggar children will wind up just like they have. While this is sad, it's not quite fair to the Duggars. At least know something about the family and the children before making assumptions.

So what is the point of today's post? By "looking inward" I thought that we could discuss those who are Duggar fans and what we can do when we encounter those who aren't. The first question I want to pose is why do the anti-Duggars get under our skin so much? I am the fan of a lot of different TV shows, but this is the only one I feel compelled to write a blog about or discuss at length. While I'm not sure why I am so pro-Duggar, I do know the main reason why I'm bothered by the anti-Duggar side. For me it's a matter of information. I have an innate annoyance of the spreading of misinformation. I suppose I just need to see the true facts out there for the world to see--I know that people may not change their mind, but if they are at least properly informed, they may see things a little differently--they may understand WHY.

I'm sure there are some people who see attacks on the Duggars as attacks on themselves. There are many MANY Duggar fans who share the same religious beliefs and the same beliefs on birth control. When someone comes onto a blog or message board and attacks those two topics in particular, I've seen many pro-Duggars come out in full force on the defensive side. I know that I fall into the birth-control belief catagory and I do often feel the need to voice a comment or two when someone makes a snide comment on the subject.

There are some Duggar fans who are just that--fans. Who of us wants to see something we care for trampled on? For that reason we will get our hackles raised and feel the need to defend our entertainment choice. I also think we have combinations of all the above--we want people to know who the Duggars are as we see them and why we choose to watch them, and why that's a good thing.

My next question is how should we respond? It depends on the attack, of course. Some people are just down-right nasty and want to raise up the ire of Duggar fans--why? Probably for fun. These people you just have to ignore and preferably block from your view. They will not be reasoned with or placated---they will only get meaner and nastier--that's part of their fun. Some people just don't have the right information and need some correcting, as it were--some even are polite enough to ask for the right news. To be honest, some I've just verbally smacked upside the head. I know it's wrong and not "What a Duggar Would Do," but I admit my weaknesses and being mean to anti-Duggars is one of mine.

How SHOULD we respond? We should probably either ignore them completely--something easier said than done--or kill them with kindness. When people show up hoping for a fight and don't get one, they'll usually go someplace else. However, that shouldn't be the reason we're nice, we should be nice because it's the right thing to do, regardless of the outcome. When sharing updates and correct information about the Duggars we should be polite and sincere, because it's the right way to act around people.

I think one thing we all need to remember as fans, and even as non-fans, is that the Internet isn't real life. As much as we want it to be and hope that it is sometimes, it isn't because a lot of times we don't truly know the other person we're talking to or debating with. Remembering that should make it easier to walk away from conflict---ask yourself if you'd get "this upset" and have this conversation in real life with someone you didn't know? I've received a few rude and hurtful comments as the writer of this blog--does it get to me? No, not really. For one, I can just delete them and they are gone. Two, they never have the nerve to leave their name--anonymous isn't someone that has any power over my self-esteem. And three, they aren't real--I've never had anyone speak to me like that in real life since junior high school, so I am quite confident that these adults wouldn't speak to me like this if they were face to face with me, and if they would, that just says even more about their character. Keep that in mind if you're feeling frustrated on a fan page, blog, or message board.

We all have our own personal reasons for loving or hating the Duggars. For whatever reason, those reasons have brought us together on the Internet and we have to find a way to live together in harmony. I think it can be done if cooler heads prevail.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Duggar Baby Names: The J's Have It!

All the Duggar children have names that start with "J." Josh, Jana, John-David, Jill, Jessa, Jinger, Joseph, Josiah, Joy-Anna, Jedidiah, Jerimiah, Jason, James, Justin, Jackson, Johanna, Jennifer, Jordyn-Grace, and Josie. They have a completely logical explanation as to why they all have "J" names--they named Josh, Jana, and John-David with "J" names, and then after that they never knew if the next baby would be the last baby and if they named the new baby with a name other than "J" that baby would feel "left out." That does make sense, if all of your siblings had "J" names just like your dad and your name started with a P, you might feel a bit left out or slighted.

While I have no problem with their logic or naming with the letter "J," I do question some of their name choices. I did read an article soon after Josie was born that discussed how if you are going to use the same letter for all your baby names, you'd be wise to choose names that had enough of a difference to them to give each child some individuality within the chosen letter. I don't think the Duggars have done this.

I was really surprised when Johanna was born and we learned her name. Am I the only one that thinks Joy-Anna and Johanna are practically the same name? I understand that their practice is to let the entire family voice their name choices and then they vote, but I'd think they'd also have some veto power as the parents, and maybe point out that the chosen name sounds too much like a sibling's name. One of the suggested names was "Jesse" and that just floored me--you have a sister named Jessa! Joseph and Josiah and Josie are all very close, wherein they all shorten to Joe/Jo. You could also add Jana in to the Joy-Anna/Johanna debacle.

It would be one thing if they had truly exhausted all their name choices in the "J" realm, but we all know they haven't come close yet. Jim Bob keeps voting for and campaigning for Julie--a name that sounds nothing like any of the names. I was very surprised that Josie wasn't a Julie, but I have a theory that she's named after the Josie in the Bates family. The Bates' have a Jackson as well. Josh's middle name is James and young brother James got it as a hand me down. That's too bad when you consider that John-David has been campaigning for "Jefferson." Maybe he didn't think of that until it was too late. Even Judah or Jonah would have been something new and different.

It will be interesting to see how many of the Duggar kids follow in the naming footsteps of their parents. Josh and Anna have used "M" for their first child, we assume in homage to Michelle, the only non-J name in the family. But they haven't confirmed they will continue in the pattern of using "M" for any future children. There are 18 more kids behind him and I will be very curious to see if they choose to go as the Bates did and just use names they seem to like that don't use a pattern.

You have to wonder if they enjoy their names--if you ask people randomly a lot of people will tell you they don't like their name. You have to wonder if you can win as a parent? I never cared much for mine; I never felt that it fit my personality. I always said I'd name my children names that no other kids would have--so they would be the only one in school with that name. I did that with our first child and plan to with any future blessings. I do wonder if I will one day be confronted by a snarling 15 year old who all of a sudden wants to go by her middle name.

What do you think of the Duggar naming practice? How did you name your children?

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Josiah Duggar: World Missionary or Sit-Com Star?

Michelle describes Josiah as the family cut-up and comedian. It's easy to see because he seems so at ease in front of the camera and he's always joking and making one-liners. He says he wants to be a missionary, but I'm sorry, I can totally see him on Broadway or as a stand-up comedian--even a sit-com star.

With that many people in your family, of course everyone is going to be distinguishable by their personality, likes, and dislikes, however, there will be those that stand out and those you forget when trying to name all 19--Josiah is one you will never forget. When you watch several episodes in a row, either when TLC shows a mini-marathon or if you have them on youtube or on DVD, you begin to see which kids they interview on a regular basis and which kids you never see. Josiah, again, always interviewed. He is so comfortable on camera, but not just because he grew up that way, it's more than that. He knows, even at that young of an age, what's funny, what's appropriate to the situation, and what will make people laugh. His sense of humour is beyond his years.

He's not just a funny kid though, he's gone on the last few El Salvador trips as well--being in the "older kid" group part of the family. He has said he wants to be a missionary and these trips are likely part of that, although if I remember correctly, he has said that from the time of the 1 hour specials, before he ever went. He seems like a very open, giving, and loving child. We don't see him doing much school work, other than having a camera in his face while trying to read a book--I don't know how productive I'd be at reading with that kind of pressure, but if you're used to it?

Josiah will be a very very VERY fun young man to watch as he continues to grow up. As Michelle says, he's the family comedian, and who knows, he could wind up an actor in some Kirk Cameron movies.

Friday, June 4, 2010

From Premie to Toddler and Beyond: Share Your Birth Stories

Josie is home and according to reports is doing very well. A lot of us have bonded over the shared experience of having a premie and how that experience affected us. I invite you to share your stories as Michelle as shared hers. Even if you didn't have pre-eclampsia, a c-section, or a premature birth, you're welcome to share your miracles with us. Today we're celebrating our baby stories!

I had my daughter when I was 7 1/2 months pregnant. The nurses and I argued all through my pregnancy on my actual due date, but I knew which day I got pregnant, not them--you have to have sex on the conception date and they wouldn't listen when I said "That's not the day!" So while I knew it was 34 1/2 weeks, they kept saying 34. It's not much, but mothers know.

We were living in London and on weekends had a habit of going for drives either to my mother-in-law's at the beach or somewhere else I'd never been so my husband could show me more of the country a little at a time. This particular sunday in March we drove to Hastings on the coast. The drive was a typical English drive through the country--winding! I arrived in Hastings a little bit queasy and head-achey. That was unusual as I'd managed to make it through the entire pregnancy without getting sick to my stomach. I was queasy in the beginning, but never did get sick. I figured it was the winding road and not enough of a breakfast. We walked on the beach, cheered for some runners in a 10k, and went to a pub for lunch. Strangely I wasn't that hungry and just had some chips with melted cheese--and a lot of cola.

I had my scheduled appointment with the midwife on the coming Thursday and still had the headache. I let her know when she asked and she immediately did tests and took my blood pressure. My pressure was incredibly high and the protein level she checked was also very high. It was around 3pm and she told me to go directly to the Day Clinic at the hospital. I went outside, got on the bus, and rode down there. I checked in, explained the problems she'd found, and they drew blood and tried to hook me up to a fetal monitor. Unfortunately my little one kept swimming away as soon as they'd find her so the fetal monitor didn't work. Since it was so late in the afternoon by then, the doctor on call decided to admit me "overnight" to continue tests.

I have to say I really wasn't worried. She told me that they wanted to give me a shot to help develop the baby's lungs in case I had to deliver early, but even then I wasn't worried. They never seemed worried so I never worried. I just somehow knew that everything was ok. When I finally got settled in bed and talked to someone, I learned that it wasn't the baby they were worried about--she was fine--it was me. My pregnancy was killing me, literally. For the next 2 days they tried to get rid of my headache (it just got worse) and keep my blood pressure under control (it would be for awhile then go haywire again.) They told me, finally, that I had an ultrasound on Monday morning and if that was fine, I'd be going home--every day it was "one more test and you can probably go home tomorrow."

Sunday morning March 18 was Mothering Sunday in the UK--Mother's Day. We were supposed to take Mum to lunch with my sister-in-law and niece, but since I was in the hospital, hubby would have to do that without me. And then I woke up with the worst headache ever. All of a sudden I had 3 doctors in my room and was told we were moving to a private room with more space. I was so tired and so dizzy from the morphine for my headache that I wasn't aware of most of what was happening. I did tell a nurse to call my husband--it was about 8am. There were so many people in that room doing so many things. I was getting lines put in both arms and my neck. Ten minutes later I asked again for someone to call my husband--no one had told me what was going on, but something was going on. I was told that they called him again and he was in the lift on his way up. Then he was at the foot of my bed--in scrubs--something was definately up. I finally spoke and found out that, yes, we were delivering. I'd asked a few days previous if having pre-eclampsia meant I'd have to have a c-section and was told they always tried to do it naturally first. This time I asked if we were doing a c-section and was told we were. "Good," I said, "I don't think I could push."

The whole experience was pretty interesting. For a Sunday there were about 12 doctors in my operating room. Apparently, because it was a teaching hospital, I had the lead doctors, their residents, and their interns--for everything--anesthisia, surgery, and neonatal. The only sad part is the only time I got to see my new baby was as they wheeled her by my head and out the door. They assured me she was fine and just under 5 lbs (they told me in grams and hubby converted it for me!)

I spent the next few days in the hospital recovering. I didn't get to go see her until Tuesday--I was still on spinal blocks and numb from the waist down. So when I finally got to go down and see her it was amazing. They let me hold her and cuddle her and even though hubby had taken pictures for me, he refused to hold her until I held her first. She stayed for 2 weeks and then we got to take her home. They said the only reason they were keeping her was to wait until she fed on demand. We had no problems afterwards and she's 3 now.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Duggar Life Lesson: Setting an Example

On the drive up to my parents I had the chance to watch a couple episodes from Season 2 of "18 Kids and Counting" and one thing really struck me as I rewatched the "ice storm" experience: Jim Bob saying that his children were going to be watching his response to this calamity. That spoke to me in volumes--and made me look at and question my own parenting. Everything we do as parents is an example to our children and WOW is he aware of it and on top of it.

It reminded me of when I was about 23, newly married and looking forward to having kids one day. We were at my family's summer home located in a resort and down at the pool during "adult only" hour. We let the kids in the pool know it was "adult" hour and they had to get our for awhile and they all did. After a few minutes a man and his 2 tween daughters showed up and he told them to swim now before they left. We reminded him that it was adult hour and kids weren't allowed in the pool right now. He told us that he said it was ok, he was an adult. We pointed to the kids around the pool who had just gotten out and were following the rules, was it fair to them that his kids got to break them? Remember I'm 23 and think I know everything in the world about everything--newly graduated from college after all--and made the logical comment "so what you're really teaching your children is that when they don't like the rules in life they can decide they don't apply to them?" While what I was saying was true, it didn't help the situation, although he did get his kids out of the pool, but made things miserable for us by getting in and swimming around kicking as much water as he could. hahaha

Annoying 23 year old or not, my point was valid. The examples you set for your children do have a broader scope and the one he was setting was wrong and he didn't see it. I am constantly amazed that the Duggars are so focused on "being an example." As I watched through that DVD I kept hearing the kids repeat that phrase, "trying to be an example," or "reminding her to be an example," etc. I think that is why people comment on the kid's behaviour. Notice Jim Bob and Michelle aren't the ones saying how well behaved the kids are, it's the fans who comment on it. But it's true, the older girls were saying that during the black out when there was no power, it was important that they watch how they respond because the little kids were looking to them to see what to expect. I'm twice Jana's age and not nearly as aware of myself as those older girls are aware of themselves.

Remembering the "What Would a Duggar Do?" mantra, I do find myself asking that more as a parent now. My three year old isn't going to be three forever and I need to be much more aware of what examples I'm setting for her, both spoken and shown. This really was one of those times when I had to say "wow, I am actually being 'encouraged' and not merely entertained, by the Duggars."

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

John-David Duggar: The Shy, Silent Type

John-David is clearly one of those strong, silent types you hear about in the movies. I've never actually met one in person, but he seems to be the epitome of that description. He clearly doesn't seek out the camera, yet is willing to speak when spoken to, although there's an obvious shyness there, even after all these years--his eyes will cast downward, or he'll glance to the side--maybe a nervous smile. Regardless of that, he clearly knows who he is and what he enjoys doing.

Building the family home was obviously a turning point for John-David. While Josh realized that construction wasn't his cup of tea, John-David clearly took to the big machinery and to this day, as his siblings will tell us on camera, will sit up on the seat of a front-end loader until the gas runs out. To hear John-David tell it, he's been operating the big machines since for a long time--well he was 12 or 13 when they began building the house--and he's 20 now, so yes, he probably has--whenever there is a project around the house that involves one of those "Bob the Builder" machines, he's the one driving it. Even the huge lawn mower, and laughing, he says he's allergic to grass.

So why the towing business? People keep writing on blogs that his dad gave him that business. I guess they assume that because years ago Jim Bob had a towing business he must be "giving it" to John-David as a graduation gift? Well no, since Jim Bob sold the towing business when John-David was still a small child. He may enjoy driving and operating the big machines, but from a start-up capitol stand point, a 16 year old doesn't open up a construction business of his own, does he? From a start-up capitol stand point the towing business consists of the tow truck and some permits, I'm assuming. It also partners perfectly with brother Josh's car lot--I'm just guessing here but it appears that he works out of the car lot's office? Does he have his own business space seperate from that? I've only seen him there at Josh's car lot. It makes sense that they partner up.

I did notice that he was driving a new truck this season--bright red. In Season 2 Josh was driving and older white tow truck--neither has any business name printed on the side or phone number. I'm not sure why, but seeing the new truck and no business name stuck me as odd, maybe it was BRAND new.

He may move back to construction as he gets older and gains more experience--adding projects to his resume--like the Bates remodel. I get the feeling that it's more important to own your own business than work for someone else. But Jim Bob wasn't a tow truck driver forever and John-David likely won't be one forever either. That's the downside of the strong silent types, you have a lot of speculation and you never really know until they actually tell you. I, for one, look forward to seeing more of what John-David has planned for his life--it could be that he'll show us instead of tell us.