Thursday, October 22, 2009

The Duggars: 20 and Counting:

Raising One of America's Largest Families- How They do It

by Michelle and Jim Bob Duggar

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A very quick read, this book tells how the Duggar family, profiled by TLC and Discovery Health Channel, live their lives as a family with 18 children (when this book was written- they now are expecting number 19).  Having seen their show a handful of times, I was very curious about not only how they day-to-day handle their large crew, but also how their personal faith shapes their values and behavior.

The writing is very down-to-earth, written in first person from either Michelle or Jim Bob's point of view.  It begins more as a history of the couple and how they started their family and businesses.  It chronicles their many moves and describes their parenting methods and homeschooling curriculum and techniques.  There are little boxes every few pages which have a frequently asked question (via e-mail), with a member of the family answering it.  But mostly, it is sharing their philosphy of servant-leadership and aiming to inspire others to find peace and meaning in their families through that same faith.

What interested me the most was their explanation of their particular branch of Christianity.  I accept many of their choices: homeschooling, no televisions, modest clothing, lack of family planning techniques, delegation of duties including chores for even young children, daily family devotions and scripture memory work.  However, the scripture-based explanations they provide for many of these things confound me.  They choose to follow many Old Testament rituals, even though they describe themselves as New Testament Christians.  In addition to homeschooling, they also have home church.  Their lack of television and the fact that their internet is limited to 70 or so educational or faith-based websites leaves the impression that these children have little outside-family influence.  They do attend a homeschooling conference once (sometimes twice) a year, and their social circle seems to be comprised of friends met at those conferences or family members.

The discussions on their views on letting God choose the size of your family and their commitment to never borrow money but allow God to meet their needs with the resources and opportunities He gives them in His timing are very different from anything you will hear in the secular world, and are worth consideration.  They quote many resources that they have used over the years that have shaped their views, so it is possible to further study the background of their beliefs.

The book is worthwhile to those who would like to have further insight into the specifics of what devout faith-based parenting can be.  For me, it was an eye-opener as to how law-oriented families operate compared to Gospel-oriented ones.  These little ones are taught at an early age how to serve, be kind, be thrifty, be generous, be humble, etc.  They read a chapter of Proverbs each day and try to live out the teachings of that Proverb.   It was hard to read this book without constantly and consciously separating the difference in theologies between my family and the Duggars.  It left me praying that each and every one of these children grow up not only knowing how God expects US to act toward Himself and others, but also how HE has acted on our behalf, and through His grace saves us from sin and loves us whatever our shortcomings.  

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