Friday, April 20, 2012

My Love-Hate Relationship with The Duggars

Don't tell anyone: I own the Duggar book. I got it for free. Jim Bob would be proud.
I have a total love-hate relationship with The Duggars. I've been watching them on TV forever, and I DVR their current program, but they often totally annoy me. For starters, I do think it's kind of irresponsible and narcissistic that they have all those children and seem to pursue having more. Why? Because it seems to me as if the older daughters are essentially raising the younger ones, basically, and there is no way the parents can seriously spend enough time shaping each little mind individually or enjoy their children. It seems that they are not receiving the best education they deserve, homeschooled or not.  And it seems that they are very sheltered in many ways -- too many!

That said, I don't really have a huge problem with their Christian views, or how they dress, or how they eat. And frankly I think it's fantastic that they basically seem to be taking care of themselves, financially, without relying on government assistance -- the "Buy used, save the difference" motto is one from which we could learn a lesson in this economy. And their life story is pretty interesting. I did read the family's first book, The Duggars: 20 and Counting!, which was released in 2008 and features the family's early story, including the financial struggles they faced, how they organize and run their large family, recipes and shopping strategies, among other interesting facts. Who knew Jim Bob was robbed and tied up and left? Fascinating.

As a busy mom with two toddlers and a tween, I am always looking for tips and tricks to teach my children how to behave, how they can help out, etc., and the Duggar book definitely has several tidbits here and there. The whole "blanket training" thing is definately a tempting tool for my busy twins -- Mama Duggar basically has taught the kids to sit quietly on a blanket for 20 minutes or so and NOT MOVE. While I don't want to be a control freak, I do need to teach the twins this for social gatherings. Seriously. I started trying this but it is a lot of work, but I think if the Duggars don't give up, neither should I. (It's kind of the whole "if Supernanny can do it, so can I" mantra I sometimes get with my kids. It's all about reinforcement, right? Schedules and rules and consistency do work!)

Big Girl has seen their show, and I sometimes secretly hope that the Duggar children's work ethic will inspire her, and sometimes it does. She is definitely a helpful girl despite her more-modern-than-the-Duggars tendencies. She is one who wants to and strives to be a good girl. But do I want her to take care of my twins all day? No. Do I want her to wear long skirts and not know who The Beatles are?

H-E-double-hockey-sticks NO!!!

But basically the Duggar kids are respectful, help their parents out, love their family, and aren't talking back like all those tweens on the Disney channel, so I don't mind if she watches their show every now and then.

Big Girl and I watched the old "16 Kids and Counting" hourlong special recently. Sometimes the TLC network will re-run those old specials and they are fun to watch, especially considering how much the Duggar family has changed (and grown) since they were on TV. And on this particular night, Big Girl asked me to make Tatertot Casserole -- a famous Duggar recipe. I had to laugh at this because Big Girl is, well, extremely PICKY about what she eats. But if she'll eat Tatertot Casserole, and help cook that night, then I'm making it. (She also wants me to make the ice cream cake out of ice cream sandwiches. I'll consider it if she eats the Tatertot Casserole.)

My love-hate relationship requires that I read everything I come across about the family, including the Television Without Pity message boards about the show, which can get overly snarky. Too snarky, in some parts -- this poor family can't breathe without TWoP forums criticizing them. And despite my penchant for Duggar info, I don't think I'll read the second book the family published, because the description doesn't appeal to me. But I continue to watch the show. I'll wait to see if the only-married child Josh and his wife Anna -- for whom I really have a soft-spot in my heart! -- will follow his parents' lead and have a zillion children with names starting with the same letter, or if some of the Duggar girls will marry and leave parenting duties to their parents.

Because when it comes to the Duggars, it's like a lovable train wreck. I need to watch and see what happens. I know some day that 20th child will come, don't you? And what will the next chapter be after that? It will be fun to find out.

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