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October 13, 2005



"how I wish his name was not that of one of the Walton Boys"

True confession: I had a serious crush on Jim Bob Walton when I was young. He was by far the cutest of the Walton boys.

In any case, if you can weed through all the junk, some very serious and valid concerns about how these children are being raised are posited in the Fark thread I link to. Even if Duggar's money and floor space are unlimited, his time isn't. For instance, the older siblings are doing most of the parenting for the younger ones -- how is that "proper parenting"? And how can high-school aged and pre-school aged children be properly home-schooled together?

They're selling, but I'm not buying.


Right. I'm not buying it either.

I remain convinced it is irresponsible to bring into this world 16 children.

tom faranda


I strongly recommend you not have 16 children.

I know 2 people who have 15 siblings (that's 16 children) and they have all seem to have turned out fine. I also know two people who have 14 siblings (do the math) and they all seem pretty good. And numerous families with 8 or 9 children and another situation with 13.

Once you get over four, the numbers don't matter - the older children start assuming responsibility for the younger ones. And all sorts of interesting dynamics develop in large families.

You didn't actually explain why it's "irresponsible" - is it just supposed to be something that's self-evident to all thinking people?


"the older children start assuming responsibility for the younger ones. And all sorts of interesting dynamics develop in large families"

That's not an "interesting dynamic," that's child abuse. You have a right to raise children. You do not have a right to force your older children to raise your younger children for you, any more than you have a right to send to into a factory 40 hours a week (and keeping their paycheck) while claiming to "home school" them (wink, wink).

And I'd still like some proof that this "can afford it" father has 16 different college funds established and growing for these kids. Or does he also get to decide that college is "no big deal" since they can all work in his real estate business for him after they grow up?

tom faranda

Uh Kip, get over it. I didn't say they raised the children, I said they assumed responsiblity for them. Things like diaper changes, feeding, stuff like that.

Didn't this go on in your house? The owner of this blog is 16 years younger then his oldest brother, who actually changed his diapers and fed him. Was this "child abuse?"

Assuming responsiblity for your siblings is a good thing, Kip. It teaches the older child that the world doesn't revolve around little egocentric moi. this is something that may be missing in today's two children households.

I know you are an open-minded progressive guy. Can't you see this viewpoint? Haven't emotional problems risen in the last 30-40 years? Could there be a tie-in between smaller families and emotional problems? there's an interesting hypothesis. Who knows?

You can't be serious about the father not having 16 college funds. Good heavens.


Granted, this is old news, but I saw some TV show about them tonight on TLC, and my curiosity just wouldn't lay down. I did a Google search and ran across your page. I agree with you here: if they're paying for it themselves, who cares?

I'm all about the government (and other people) staying out of people's affairs if they're footing the bill themselves and generally leaving other people alone. Now, if they had 16 kids and a) couldn't afford them, and were recieving a buttload of "public assistance"; or b) the kids were going hungry, then I'd say it doesn't matter what their views on birth control are, make them use it. But that's not an issue here. They're just raising their kids in a manner they see fit, consistent with their religious views, and leaving everyone else alone about it. I really don't see a problem.

As far as the parenting/responsibility scheme goes, I think it's fair to say that older children stepping up and assuming responsibility is natural and necessary, especially in larger families. When my younger sister was born I started doing a lot more cleaning jobs around the house. It's not cooking for 18 or playing nanny, but it's essentially the same thing. I think the issue that most people are having is that if this guy has 16 kids and a job, it doesn't seem like he has a lot of time to spend with the family aside from meals and sperminating his wife. I'm sure they've found a balance that works for them, but the reason most can't buy it is that it's hard finding a balance with even no children sometimes. It is entirely possible that years later, some of the children may resent the way they were raised; but to me, they strike me as people who will understand how things worked out because they were there in the house, instead of being like the suburbanite kids that whine because Dad didn't go to enough soccer games because he was working in a corporate office.
Personally, my biggest issue with the family is the mom's hairstyle. Sheesh, a cute bob or even shoulder length would be so much easier to care for, not to mention cuter with her face shape.
His being named Jim Bob is really just unfortunate for him. Even down here in Alabama, we know better than to stick a kid with a double name unless it sounds pretentious, like Katherine Frances or something like that. A double name with only two syllables is just asking for someone to be called a dumb redneck.
(Sorry, I am still a college chick. There had to be something sarcastically shallow in there somewhere. :) )


It honestly shocked me for a moment that someone would suggest that someone is behaving "irresponsibly" by not having college trust funds for all 16 kids. Then I thought back to the many conversations I had at Yale with people who were shocked that my 16-year-old cousin actually had her baby when she got pregnant, or that my other cousins didn't abort their child that they knew would have Down's. One of the most amazing things I've discovered among my "enlightened" "progressive" friends is the degree to which they fail to appreciate that a less-than-perfect life might be worth living. So the Duggar children might not go to Yale or Vanderbilt. They might be headed to community college. So frickin' what? One thing I've learned in life -- and that my supposedly non-materialistic, non-greedy friends on the Left fail to grasp -- is that one's happiness in life doesn't depend on where you go to college or how many zeroes are in your bank book. It depends on the love you've given and shared in life, and these children have plenty of it. As long as the parents put clothes on their back, a roof over their head, and food on the table (and it appears the Duggars have done well at this), they're fulfilling their duties as parents.

I too saw the TLC show on the Duggar children yesterday. All of them seemed articulate, kind, and well-behaved. Those qualities will serve them better in life than the opposite traits I saw in my egocentric classmates who had attended only the "best" schools. The only consolation I take out of this is that people who think a large family is an inherently bad thing are in the process of breeding themselves into extinction. Keep it up with the single children guys!


I am not sure of the actualy "rules" but I have an aunt and three cousins that live in Arkansas. If a student scores well enough on the ACT some of their college expenses are defrayed - NO MATTER what their financeial situation - at state supported universities.

I don't know the details but I do remember that my aunt told me my kids' scores were high enough for a "full ride". My point is, if the state offers this what does it matter whether it is a child from a family of 16 or a family of two that takes advantage.

Btw, my aunt is number 11 in a family of 12. My mom is number 4. They are a fantastic family and very close. Because there was such a gap in ages my aunt is cloer to me (6 years her junior) than my mother (14 years her senior).

I see nothing wrong w/ older children helping w/ younger children. It happens in most families whether you have two or twelve. That's part of being a family and teaching children responsibility.

I'm one of three but my mother remarried a man w/ more children. I can't remember not being able to cook, do laundry, sew, change a diaper, etc...

I am a middle aged, college graduate with a good job. But, what I am most proud of is that my family can and still does depend on me. I think the Duggar children for the most part will be more successful than your average "yupppie" child.

I, personally, wanted at least 4 kids. We stopped at three but I am not sure we made the right choice. I wouldn't mind another three or four still.

Live and let live. If they aren't living off the government nor abusing their children what right do we have to interfere?


I knew a family with 12 children, 11 boys and 1 girl. Financially, physically, and mentally they were able to take care of the children. They were one of the most well behaved groups of children I have ever known. The Duggars, who now have 17 children, have what seems to be a wonderful group of children. They are well behaved, well taken care of, and intelligent. Are we as a society low enough to insult women's hair and a man's name as an argument towards not being apt enough to take care of children? This couple has enough money, love, and time to go around. If they didn't have all these things they would be like the hundreds of families I have seen with druggie sons, slutty daughters, adulterous fathers, and unconcerned mothers. Why is it a crime to father 17 children that are well taken care of in every manner possible, but not a crime to have children borne into lives of violence, drugs, and free sex? It is unfathomable that such a capable couple and family is being persecuted for having 17 children, when in fact the ones persecuting them should look at their own lives. When was the last time you sat at the dinner table with your kids? When was the last time your family played outside together? Just because the Duggars know the answers to these questions, and you do not, doesn't mean you should blame them.

Overall, the Duggars can take care of 17 children better than I have seen most parents take care of one.


My concern is neither for Michelle's hairstyle, or Jim Bob's name. Mine is for the health of the mother. I've read somewhere that she was told after baby number 10 to not have any more kids cause she'd be jeopardizing her health as well as that of her baby.

I can't personally say I know what it's like to have 16 kids, or one kid for that matter. Turning 18 in two weeks, I've yet to have sex, when I believe the average age of lost virginity is somewhere around 15 now. I think the Duggar kids are well behaved, smart, kind and have a brighter future ahead; much more then most cousins of mine.

I can't say that I know what it's like to live with 15 siblings cause I have only one. But I do know what it's like to live with the extended family who are actually a lot like my siblings or mothers or fathers.

The Duggar children have an attentive mother, older siblings who look out for them (with the exception of the oldest children) and a father who is doing what he can to support his family.

I think the Duggars should've taken a crack at raising a certain cousin of mine, who for so long was an only child and grew now into a spoiled, self-centered drug addicted loser who has no goals or job or potential prospects for a job or a clue as to how to behave and dress at a job and no high school diploma to help her find a clue and she's 20.

Or maybe they should've taken my other two cousins who were mothers to crack babies at the age of 15 and now 10 years and a combination of 8 babies later (each have 4 kids), they still have no job or job prospects leaving their kids with their mother (my aunt) who lives in a 3 bedroom trailor in the middle of a neighborhood that would make the brothers Grimm themselves scared stupid.

Thats just alittle insight into my family who probably should've sat back and taken the day off rather then pro-create.


I totally agree with Sean. Tons of people don't go to college and lead happy, fullfilling lives. Tons of people go to college and university and lead empty, unfulfilling lives. Education doesn't guarantee success in life, it's what you make with what you have. And believe me, I know a lot of educated people who are plenty ignorant. I have a feeling, however, that the Duggar children are going to be just fine, regardless. They are growing up with strong values, which is more than I can say about a lot of children from families of only one or two children. Yes, they have to do a few chores. So what. A lot of kids would gain by doing a few more chores instead of sitting on their steak and watching the boob tube or playing computer games. Builds character!

The beauty of it is that the Duggar have the courage of their convictions and are probably not bothered with what the rest of us think. I myself admire their determination.


I think that the Duggar family are doing so much better, and are much better off, then the rest of todays parents and children. Who cares about what they wear and their hair styles. How superficial.

Kudos Irene. I hear ya!

People should spend more time improving their own lives instead of judging others.

As far as university goes, they have a good work ethic let them earn it if they choose to go that route.


I just learned tonight,by watching TLC,that the Duggar family exists. At a time when being a parent is more challenging than I ever thought it would be, I was jaw-dropping, riveted to the TV. My knowledge of this family is sketchy at best and I'm very curious about their religious beliefs and the kids' dress (the prarie girl look and the preppie boys') and how they do manage to support themselves so nicely. But if these parents could sell (and I'm sure that they could through seminars!) their secrets to successfully managing NOT ONLY to continue to raise, one at a time, children who learn to simply step into the harmony (in general) that runs their family AND live as well as they obviously do DEBT FREE, they could afford to have 16 more AND adopt dozens on top of that! A loving,happy,supportive family life and financial security/success and, AND what seems to be a marriage glued together by maple syrup, honey, powdered sugar and cotton candy (and faith)?? Their critics are simply envious. They have managed a level of success in literally every aspect of their lives that way too many of the rest of us have accepted isn't possible for ourselves.

I'm 39 years old. I never thought that I would so long for "more innocent times." I'm sick of the sex, violence, foul language, immorality, rudeness and all the other infuriating behaviors and circumstances that bombard us all on a daily basis. I bet NOT ONE of the Duggard kids is on medication, having sex, doing drugs (even if it's "only" weed), vandalizing, cutting themselves or playing the latest terrifying "teen thrill" game like choking or that Michelle has joined the millions of Mothers out there on anti-depressants.

Some of the behaviors I've just described are those of my own children, their friends, and my friends' children. They range in age from 6-17 and there aren't 16 of them total. These are children of upper-middle class to very affluent parents. We talk, we worry, exchange advise, read books, attend seminars and are lucky to be able to spend a good deal of time with our kids and, believe it or not, have good relationships with them. So why do we spend much too much time being terrified that we can't swim upstream much longer? That trying to protect our kids from all of the horrible influences and peer pressure out there and yet give them the ability to navigate life on their own successfully seems impossible?

Don't judge and don't assume these are spoiled rich kids. Millions of good parents out there are struggling in today's world. Each of us are praying that in the end, we'll be sending a good person out into the world. I don't think that the Duggards spend one split second worrying that they won't. They're probably counting on, at least, 16 of them.


I have watched a couple of specials on the Duggars and I am nothing but impressed. Their children are happy, healthy, bright, articulate and very well behaved. My son is only two and it took medical science to get him. I would love more, but I think I'm only going to get the one miracle. However, we have hosted exchange students for the last 5 years. These kids come here to live for a year with an american family and go to an american high school. After some of the things that I have seen in our high schools for the last few years, homeschooling is starting to sound a lot better. I have seen kids from much smaller families than the Duggars who can't string a sentence together properly. Their grammer is atrocious and their basic manners non-existent. As far as I am concerned the Duggars are an inspiration and should consider giving parenting lessons. Their religious convictions may not be mine but their commitment to family and decency are something I aspire too. Some idiots claim that their hair styles and clothing mean that they couldn't possible be good parents. That is the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard. Maybe we should be taking a fashion lesson from them. Have any of you SEEN what teenage girls are wearing these days?? The skirts can't get shorter, the waists can't get lower and the tops can't get smaller. While I admit I personally think that the girls should get to wear slacks too, their outfits are certainly preferable to some of the outfits I've seen "normal" teens wearing. I'd rather my daughter look a little more like Laura Ingalls than Britney Spears!
The plain truth is most of us know that we could never handle 16 children and certainly not as well as JimBob and Michelle have. So instead of admiring them for suceeding at a difficult task, narrow minded, mean spriited people have to put them down.


I saw two shows on the Duggars the other night for the first time and was amazed at their family. I have six kids of my own, which nowadays is considered a very large family. Sixteen kids is a huge family in any generation! I admire the Duggars' love for their kids, the parents' love for each other, and the kids' love for their siblings and parents. When given the choice of having separate bedrooms in their new house, the children wanted to all share the space. They enjoy being together!
People who denigrate the Duggars are convicted by the pure and wholesome lives of this family. They are doing with 18 people what many families cannot do with three or four--providing for their physical and emotional wellbeing, as well as for the spiritual, which is most important. They are living for Someone Who is greater than they, and they understand that the world does not revolve around them. Those who easily criticize the Duggars are jealous of the peaceful existence they are living.
As for college, it is ludicrous not to have a child because you do not know where the money will come from 18 years in the future. Five of my six children have attended/will be attending college, and five of them have gotten scholarships. My youngest will be entering a state university in the fall with a full ride, as well as $7500 in additional scholarship money. My oldest attended a military academy, which also is basically a full ride. God has graciously provided for each of them. Our kids have been brought up to work hard as well. I'm sure that the Duggars will continue to look to God for the financial help they need to provide schooling for their children in the future, if they so choose to go.
If the Duggars want to have 20 kids, that is no one's business but their own. As long as they are taking care of them, loving them and raising them well, I will congratulate them for being such a good example to the world. There are far too few of those anymore.


I just had to add one more comment after readings Vicki's. I completely agree that it is ludicrous not to have a child because you are worried about money 18 years in the future. At any rate who says that a parent HAS to provide a college education? We have one son and we have no intention of paying his whole way through college. Not that we won't help him, but we also want him to go for scholarships or get a part time job to help pay for his education. My husband put himself through college. No one helped him. He did it all on his own. The only government assistance that he got was the Pell Grant. There is nothing wrong with a kid working to help provide for his or her own future. It builds character and they are more likely to appreciate it more and work harder for the grades if they are helping to foot the bill.
As for the kids having to help out around the house - when did that become a bad thing?? Personally, I think that is something that we should get back too. By the time I was 14, I was cooking dinner almost every night. Both my mom and dad worked and if we had to wait for them to get home we wouldn't be eating until 8pm. I was responsible for my 2 younger brothers and for the house being picked up by the time my parents came home. Were there days that I resented it? Certainly, I was a teenager. But looking back I appreciate that my parents instilled a sense of responsibility in me. It has served me better over the years than some of my friends who never had to help their moms. Three out of my five exchange daughters never had to wash their own clothes or make their own beds until they came to live with us. I told them right off, I don't like doing MY OWN laundry, no way am I doing yours!! After a year of helping around the house and washing their own clothes they went home to their own countries with a new appreciation for their moms and everything they did for them. And their mom's appreciate the fact that these girls now help them around the house!! Not having chores around the house and responsibilites produces spoiled, self centered teenagers and arrogant adults. The Duggars are doing a fantastic job with their children and I am willing to bet that all 16 of them will be productive, responsible citizens. Which is a lot more than I can say about some other children I havc seen.


I, myself, am friends with another large family. IN the 80's they were a pop group called "The Jets". When they first came out with their number one song, they were a family of about 12 at the time. Now they are a family of 17 (also with a set of faternal twins). I know Religion and Culture had a lot to do with the number of children in the family. They are of Tongan decent and Mormons. These days most of those children are married and having children of there own. As of today the parents have roughly 25+ grandchildren. I have spent a lot of time with them over the years and appriciated the fact they had a large family. I often found myslef defending them in the same sense The Duggars I am sure have beend defended. No one should have an say in how many children afamily should have except that family. Just because someone may not "understand" something does not make it immoral or even irresponible. The largest family ever recorded , anyway, was a Brazillian woman who gave birth to 75 children. The next closest was 69 here in the states. Does having 16 compare much to that!!


All you have to do is watch the shows on them, and you'd see HOW they do what they do. They DO have their own car dealership, that was discussed in the very first show. They worked their butts off before deciding to have kids, both in real estate, saving every penny possible so that they could relax now, and I believe those were Michelle's exact words. They live and breathe by the bible,and when you look at how many kids they had in bible days, 17 is nothing! They choose to let the Lord decide how many is the right amount, not themselves, not society. They only answer to God, as it should be. If you watch how they shop, they don't buy fast food, processed garbage, they buy wholesome foods that nourish the bodies, but economically. If you watched them stock the pantry, those kids are not going hungry, for sure! Buying this way saves SO MUCH money, compared to the way most americans shop and eat. Historically, families were big, and they DID take care of each other, and that goes on even in small families. Child abuse? I think not, that's just being stupid and argumentative. They don't look like they're being FORCED to raise their siblings. When children are being raised in a loving, faith-based home, away from public school, they actually LOVE their siblings, and enjoy helping each other out. I know, that's a hard concept in our society. Homeschooling? If you don't do it, you don't know. It is VERY easy to homeschool that many kids with different grade levels. You might remember, that's historical, too. When school's first started, it was more like homeschooling in the respect that it was typically less then 35 students, and they were all in one room, all different ages. You'd be surprised what's possible when you get away from the attitude that it's the govnt.'s job to school our kids, and think in terms of our responsibility as parents. Their dad not having time with them? Again, watch the documentaries, listen to what they say, and look at the kids. They don't look like they resent Dad not being around. They only job he has right now is the dealership. As stated, he and Michelle had money saved for years, and they are debt-free. They don't have to pay a ridiculous amount of money every month on mortgages and brand new cars getting themselves in debt, so that helps them to relax. Look around you. How many Dad's do you see that CHOOSE to work extra jobs so their kids can be spoiled rotten instead of just providing the needs, that rarely see their kids? Or, Mom's that do the same thing? I'm not talking about those that work because they have to, but I know a lot who do it, almost as an excuse to not be home. But regardless of the reason, there are a lot of kids who are growing up without one parent because of work issues, that aren't in big families. Welfare? I don't even have an issue with families who are on assistance that ARE TAKING CARE OF THEIR FAMILIES. I'm not talking about those who are on it because they're lazy, that's a different story. But I don't believe economy should get to dictate whether someone has a child or not. There are a lot out there that can't afford insurance, or who's jobs don't provide it, who want kids and are hard workers. So what if they take Medicaid to get to do that? You don't have to be rich to be loving, caring parents. My husband grew up in a VERY poor family,but his family is wonderful. They never sat around worrying about how poor they are. Not that this applies to the Duggars, just something that was mentioned that I didn't agree with. The comment about the college is to ridiculous to comment on. Again, money should not be the decider in a parent's God-given right to have children.


What scared me the most was this quote, off their website:

"For each month, we also have individual daily checklists... These were designed by Daddy so we could see at a glance how each child is doing. These checklists enable us to keep our children accountable & also reward them accordingly."

That's right. They depend on a checklist to see how each individual child is going. No individual love, care or attention, the kids are punished or rewarded according to a piece of freaking paper!

I can't believe people are actually celebrating their grossy neglectful parenting skills.


Oh, please, Kat. Didn't your grade school teachers ever put stars on your papers, or have something hanging on the wall to mark the progress of each student?

Grossly neglectful parenting skills? Their kids aren't in jail, they're not doing drugs, and they aren't pregnant by age 13. Maybe you're right; they're neglecting the "normal" parenting skills so pervasive in our society today!


Oh, and Kat, from the same page:
"We have heart to heart talks with each of the older children regularly. We try to keep up with their attitudes & actions."
"9:00p.m. is Bible time with Daddy. This is probably our favorite time of day. Daddy reads the Bible & we discuss the passage together. We talk about the day & bring out points of how to apply what we have learned. We enjoy making up skits & acting out examples of right responses & wrong responses."
"Sometimes we have ‘Daddy Days’ when Daddy overrides the schedule and takes the children out for family time, a field trip or a service project."

Yep. True examples of no individual love, care or attention. Leaving all the parenting to a piece of freaking paper. Lots of neglect.

Who was it above who wrote something about "narrow-minded" people?


I do believe that it is not as great, as the Duggars want people to believe. Children are not always nice and pleasent all the time. I have a hard time believing that it is that prim and proper. I also think that there is child abuse within the sibling family. There are many more boys than girls and I would not disbelieve if there was an abuse of some sort with the boys over the girls. This is a christian family and where I live, about 99% of people are Christians and most believe that with abuse (sexual) that it is better to keep quiet and it is the females fault. Now don't start saying that I have a paranoid mind. Do the math people. That many boys in a house there is sure to be some sort of abuse going on. I know that in a family of 16, not everyone behaves no nicely. If there is a magnifying glass on that family, I am sure there are alot of things that they do not want us to see.


Super interesting post and comments. As a mother of 8, including 4 adopted, I was very interested to read all these comments.
Mary, mom to many


There is nothing wrong with people who want to have large families. I am only 22, and my husband and I have 5 children. 3 natural and 2 adopted. We fully intend to more, too. As many as we can afford. I also grew up in a family of 11. 8 boys and 3 girls. There was NO abuse of any kind in our family. Is it so hard for people to believe that siblings can get along without hurting or molesting one another? My family did not have the finest luxuries in life but we had plenty of fun and food and love. 4 of us are lawyers, 1 is a doctor, 1 is a housewife, 1 is a counselor and I am a professional sitar player. And we ALL went to college. We just got jobs like responsible adults and paid for ourselves. But who new 19 year olds could do that?


Mindy, whether their lives are as sunny as the TV specials may paint them or not, that does not mean that there is sexual abuse going on. What you've written borders on being libelous. I see no reason to assume that there is sexual abuse in the Duggar household.

And for the record, I'm a Christian (and based on what you wrote that seems to imply "backward"), but I do not believe that sexual abuse should be hushed up or it's all the woman's fault. One does not equal the other.

God bless,

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