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.