Swimming Upstream with the Duggars

Jan 27, 2009

I had just concluded a lecture-ette, warning my children not to believe that anything said or done on the iCarly show (or any TV show for that matter) resembled reality. “Try talking to your boss disrespectfully some day and see if your real life ‘audience’ cheers you on like that! No. You will end up on the street with your little box of office knickknacks.”

Obviously, I am irritated that current kid-programming portrays adult authority figures as dufuses. The boys were spared further impartation of wise motherly counsel they had not requested of me as they hustled off to baseball practice.

Then, alone in the quiet of my house, as if swept up in some mind altering state, I sat watching not one, but 4 consecutive episodes (2 hours!) of “17 Kids And Counting,” a reality show which chronicles the day to day lives of Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar and their 18 children (January marked the arrival of the newest Duggar).

I couldn’t stop watching! I was not flabbergasted that a couple would have 18 kids, ranging in age from newborn to 20 something, whose names begin with “J.” I was not astonished at how they could possibly keep 10 boys and 8 girls all fed and clothed. None of the obvious, mind-blowing realities made my head spin, but the following observations from the show and their website duggarfamily.com really got to me:

• Every night at 9pm all of them gather and enjoy studying the Bible together.
• I never heard one child mouth off to his/her siblings, let alone, parents or other adults.
• There seems to be great peace and joy in their home, not chaos and strife.
• Everyone helps run the house and care for each other.
• They don’t have a TV.
• They seem to really enjoy each other and have a lot of fun.
• Mom and Dad are very loving toward each other.
• Michelle home-schools all of her children.
• The older children study law and medicine as part of home-schooling
• As a family project they built a 7000 sq. ft. home debt-free

As if these Duggar virtues weren’t enough to make me wish I was one, the aim of these four particular episodes dealt with the eldest Duggar’s engagement which culminated in the sweetest wedding I’ve ever witnessed.

Josh and Anna never “dated,” but spent time getting to know each other as friends. They didn’t hold hands until after he popped the question. They didn’t kiss until they heard “You may kiss the bride!” They didn’t have sex until their wedding night.

Against the back drop of popular culture, their character was inspiring. Their comprehension of truly valuable things was heart-stirring. Their ability to intelligently articulate their convictions was refreshing. Their innocence was romantic.

I was totally captivated. Why? Because that is exactly what we want for our children. No wonder I cringe watching even the so-called “safest” Disney shows. They still reflect too much of a worldly system whose track record isn’t worth emulating. As if that tide of social behavior is the only current available to flow with!

Call me crazy and naïve but I think the Duggars’ life probably resembles their reality TV show. I don’t think they’re perfect but they sure have more to offer my family by example than the family life portrayed in Zach and Cody or Hannah Montana. That may be the main stream but I’d rather go against that flow even if it means swimming upstream all the way.

  1. Regina

    Toni, loved the article. I believe, if parents put forth more effort into their childrens lives (like the Duggars) instead of their own, we would live in a diffrent world. You are SUPER!!!!

  2. Angie

    I completely agree. I agree with Holly as well – everything comes from that core – their faith in God. I haven’t gotten to watch the show yet – have just been to the website and checked out articles. I homeschool as well and just wish I did as well with 2 kids as they do with 18!!!

  3. Holly

    Hat’s off to you Toni. I couldn’t agree more. We could all learn a life lesson from the Duggars. There is a deep faith and belief in God that is the core of the family. I believe that everything we see and stand in awe of on the show comes from that core in one way or another:)

  4. Jess

    I watched that 2 hour special as well! It was captivated, I loved it! I hope I can pull off having a family as well as they do. I would like to know more about how they do it and built that magnificent house debt free. Thanks for the post.

  5. Rhonda

    Amen, Toni. We LOVE the show and rarely miss it. One of the biggest inspirations for me is their financial status. WOW. Of couse that and all other aspects of their lives coincides with their faith in God. I received their book, “The Duggars: 20 and Counting” as a Christmas gift. It is well written and shares wonderful recipies and parenting tips as well as so much more. I only wish there were more shows like this one on tv for our children to watch.

  6. Kaye

    Well said. What are the chances that there are others who feel the same way?