Have you ever watched the television show “19 Kids and Counting?” Although when it started, they only had 17 kids, but still, I was always so fascinated by this family. To me, they were perfect, and for some reason I made it my personal mission to find out why.
I mean, think about it.
What family on this earth has 19 children? Michelle and Jim Bob Duggar (parents of said biological children) are happily married, all of their children are 100% neuro-typical, healthy, well behaved, and these parents can manage 19 children without a problem.
So I dug deeper.
In watching past episodes, I realized that the older children help take care of the younger children, so mom Michelle, can do whatever it is that she does all day long; homeschooling and church functions mostly. The Duggers are extreme Christian fundamentalists. With their modest dress, intense Christian beliefs, no birth control, chaperoned dates, no television, no internet unless it pertains to homeschooling, and their wholesome Christian values, they could be the world’s most perfect family.
But every family has their secrets. Clearly. And suddenly the Duggers don’t look so perfect to me anymore. They’re starting to unravel, and because of this, their show is now off the air and their sponsors are pulling out left and right. But even before the scandal of their oldest son Josh became public, I always wondered how their well-oiled-machine of a family would do with a wrench thrown in it? What if one of their children had a disability, severe enough that it caused them to change their way of life? Having cameras following you around your home 24/7, capturing your every moment, personal triumph, or personal nightmare… what do you think that would do to this family? How would they react to a full-blown tantrum caught on camera, because their nonverbal child can’t tell them what he/she wanted? How would Michelle Duggar handle one of her children having a home therapist come into her home and working 30+ hours a week with their developmentally delayed child? And how do you think Jim Bob Duggar would react when one of his developmentally disabled children acted out in church or at a public event? Would he handle it personally or would he have one of the older children take care of it for him?
You can’t pray away Autism!
I’m not angry with this family, don’t get me wrong. I mean they have 19 healthy children for heavens sake, and I have one with a triple threat of disabilities. And I’m not jealous either. I’m far from jealous. But for whatever reason, watching this perfect family struggle a little, brings a certain satisfaction to me that is hard to explain.
Having good moral values is very important to me. And bestowing my good moral values onto my son is even more important to me. I was raised by good parents who taught me to write thank you notes, say my pleases and thank you’s, to say “bless you” after someone sneezes, to say “excuse me” when you need to pass by, and so much more. I know that the Duggar children were raised with the same values as I was, but there is one thing that separates them from me. I am a much stronger person for having gone through the life changes that I have in the past three years with my son, then they could possibly understand in a lifetime. I think the most they’ve struggled with, was the youngest Dugger who was born at 26 or 27 weeks gestation, which is hard for anybody to go through.
I know that the Dugger’s family is humbled by their recent turn events, but it doesn’t make them bad people. It just goes to show that everybody needs help. They are human… not superhumans, and their beliefs are being challenged at the moment. Their public statements have been heartfelt and I genuinely feel badly for them, because they were perceived to be “the perfect family.” But now we know that their not so perfect, and to see them struggling just a little makes the rest of us feel normal.
Editors Note: I have been following this family from the very beginning when TLC started airing their show. I’ve always been a big fan of theirs, but I’ve always wondered how they would handle a child with a disability. I don’t wish it on them, it was merely a curiosity.