The Duggars: 20 and Counting by Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar
The Duggar family is a much praised and also debated family in the media’s eye. Some of us love them and their ideals, while some of us criticize them for having so many children. Some people claim the problem with the Duggars is that they use up federal and state resources having a family so large, but in reality, the family is very self-sufficient having no debt at all. Of course, haters are always going to hate.
This book is about how the family came into being. We meet Jim Bob. We meet Michelle. We learn how they met. We learn how they dated. We learn how they got married. They worked their butts off. They started a car lot. They had a towing business. They had a convenience store. They did it all. At one point they had five children in a 900 square foot house, which they also ran their car lot out of. Tough cookies, people, they’re tough cookies.
The interesting thing about the Duggars is not the fact that they have so many kids, it’s why. Why do they have so many kids? They Duggars have many children based upon a religious principle called “quiverful,” but that wasn’t always their motivation. At one point Michelle did take birth control pills. They started their family out normally enough, but after having their first child, Michelle had a miscarriage. This miscarriage was attributed to the fact that Michelle had conceived the child while on birth control. While this may or may not be entirely true, it led the Duggars to where they are today.
The couple goes on to have nineteen children total, although it’s not listed in this book. The book chronicles their life. Jim Bob was in government for a while. They bought a large piece of commercial property. They’ve been very blessed to be able to live their lives without debt. That huge house they have is something they built themselves. They’re not work shy at all.
After explaining how they got to where they are, the Duggars give some helpful hints. They explain their chore system, which they call “jurisdictions.” Every family member has chores to do each morning. They explain their home school system. They explain their organization system. They explain their buddy system. Yes, the Duggars have a system for everything. What makes their large family work so well is that they are very organized, if you can imagine a family so large being organized. They dot all the “i’s” and cross all the “t’s.” They don’t simply leave their good life to chance.
The family is very religious. Their home-school education is based largely on religious principles, which isn’t a bad thing, but I don’t necessarily think it’s a great thing either. They attend church in their home. They look at each opportunity they come across as an opportunity to further God’s work. For what it’s worth, they seem to be doing really well.
What I liked
I liked looking into the lives of the Duggars and learning more about them. They’re interesting people.
I do like how Michelle takes the time to lay out her organization. It goes to show people who read the book that she does this all herself and she’s not frazzled all the time. She manages it quite well.
I have known families with similar systems in place in their homes. They don’t have anywhere near as many children as Jim Bob and Michelle, but they have their systems. They have the chore system and the organizing system that keeps all of their stuff in place. They home-school. Life isn’t always easy, but to the outside it looks like they’re full of happiness, but great suspicion is never far away. People always believe that there is some deep, dark secret lurking behind the happy family who constantly praises Jesus and doesn’t play video games.
Look, there are people who make it work. They don’t need TV. They don’t need video games. They don’t need public school. They don’t need the newest Transformers movie. They don’t need the newest fashion trends. They don’t need a ton of personal space. They make their lives work. People think they’re lacking, but they’re not. They have everything they want and need, more so, than many of us do. Could I live their lifestyle? No way. It’s not for everyone. It takes a certain type of person to make life styles like Jim Bob’s and Michelle’s work.
For the matter, I don’t think there is a deep, dark secret. I don’t think the family is secretly drinking special “kool-aid.” I don’t think there is a gambling addiction. I don’t think there is a secret illegitimate baby somewhere. This is just their life. Sure, it’s different, and, sure, they have their troubles, but their troubles pale in comparison to the type of troubles we face in our lives. They live good and they get good back. It’s pretty simple.
What I didn’t like
While I was finishing up this book, my husband was pulled over by North Carolina state trooper for speeding. Don’t worry, he didn’t get a ticket, but I think that’s what I’m going to remember about reading this book, “Husband gets pulled over,” maybe I should write it in the book somewhere.
I have defended Jim Bob and Michelle. I think they’re pretty awesome, but the cynic in me wonders where all the dirt is. I don’t think there is dirt, but there is still this little inclination that wants me to think there is.
These kids are raised a certain way. It’s a way in which a lot of people I know would love to raise their children. These kids don’t turn out bad. The oldest boy of the Duggars already has his own business and is married with two or three kids of his own. He’s become this model citizen and child. There isn’t anything wrong with that, but it does make me a little sad. I’m kind of sad that he never really got to screw up. It’s not that I wish him to screw up, I don’t, it’s that he’d be more realistic if he did screw up. He’s too perfect. There is also a lot that can be said about the effect screwing up has on your life. Sometimes you screw up and it makes your life suck, but sometimes you screw up and it makes you this awesome person because you learned from your mistakes. I don’t know that these kids get to experience the world enough in their lifestyle. I don’t know how much they know about the world. I don’t know how naive they are. Obviously, at least the oldest one has sex figured out because he’s got a couple of kids, but how naive are the rest of them about it?
This is a minor concern though. The kids are all raised very well. They are successful and well-mannered. They can deal with some things in life that others could never deal with. They may be a little naive as to the ways of the world, but since they’re all religious that fits in perfectly with their beliefs. Jesus said to come unto him like a little child. This family is definitely child-like in their mannerisms and lack of some of the more disappointing ways to live your life.
If you’re one of those people who just love to stick your nose into other people’s lives, you’ll love this book, but sadly, much of this information is relayed via the television show, so if you’ve watched it at all, you already know all of this.
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