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Do People Focus On the Wrong Things When They Think About the Duggar Family?

November 8, 2011 · 112 comments

in Commentary, Personal Finance

So Michelle Duggar is pregnant again, with her 20th child.

Many people are angry with this news.  They feel that the older kids are stuck raising their younger siblings instead of getting to live typical, teenage lives.

Personally, it doesn’t bother me that the older kids are helping out with the younger ones.  That is how it worked for hundreds of years out on the farms, and people seemed to survive just fine.

What bothers me is how I can’t even come close to measuring up!

Ways Michelle Duggar Is Better Than Me

  1. Michelle is 45 and having her 20th baby.  I am 44 and have 3 teenagers and can barely stay awake during the day.  I don’t care how much help the older kids provide, it would be exhausting to be pregnant at 45 and still manage a household of 20. Regardless of what detractors say, there is no way she is not fully invested in raising those kids.
  2. Michelle (and Jim Bob) are debt free.  The Duggars have a wonderfully large home with lots of property and they are entirely debt free, even though they have 19+ kids.  Jim-Bob Duggar works in real estate and is able to work from home, which in itself is a great thing for the family.  (Obviously they also receive income from the television show “(Fill in the blank) and Counting.  However, they were debt free long before they ever had a television show.)
  3. The family does a lot of charity work.  I say our lives are busy, but yet we don’t accomplish nearly the amount of charity work that the Duggars manage to.
  4. Michelle always seem happy.  Obviously, cameras aren’t going to be rolling when Michelle is throwing mismatched socks up in the air in frustration.  However, that whole family does truly seem to be happy and nice.  (I am a pretty happy person myself.  However, if I had that many kids, my happiness would probably come in the form of a pill.  I adore my kids, but I would be so overwrought with that many children.)
  5. Michelle is resourceful.  She cuts hair, she sews, she can spot a deal a mile away (ok, I am good at that too), and I bet she is a great gardener too.   Not to mention her planning skills must be amazing.  Meanwhile, I often shake my head wondering what to make for dinner, and I have been known to be late on dentist appointments and other things too.

Just Because It Isn’t How I Chose To Live Doesn’t Mean It Is Wrong

Obviously, I don’t have 20 kids running underfoot and I do not home-school my kids either.  However, that doesn’t mean that I don’t see value in how the Duggars live their lives.  Sure those kids spend a lot of time taking care of each other, but I think there are worse ways out there for teens to spend their time.

I know having 20 kids is extreme in today’s culture.  However, maybe people should spend more time focusing on the fact that this family is financial independent instead, which is also becoming an anomaly in today’s world.

What do you think?



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{ 37 comments… read them below or add one }

MoneyCone November 8, 2011 at 4:02 pm

You make a great point Kris – with 20 kids this family is financially independent. That is very rare indeed!


Kris November 8, 2011 at 11:39 pm

I haven’t even managed it with 3 kids!


First Gen American November 8, 2011 at 4:33 pm

Well 20 kids certainly makes for good TV. I’m most impressed that they live debt free despite having HUGE food bills every month. I mean that’s a lot of tater tot casserole.


Kris November 8, 2011 at 11:40 pm

Oh, and you know they love that tater tot casserole!


Jacq November 8, 2011 at 4:37 pm

Hmm, I don’t know about their impact on personal finance Kris – although it’s great that they’re financially secure, are they leading others in the Quiverfull movement to think that they too can or should have more kids and maybe those people aren’t as financially solvent as the Duggars? I just have a friend that’s an advocate of the movement and she’s told me that lots of people with that ideology are having babies they can’t support financially OR emotionally.


Kris November 8, 2011 at 11:46 pm

Jacq, I am just talking about their own personal finances. I will say though that they do try to encourage others to be financially responsible from what I know about them.

I really don’t know much about how much they try to convince others that the Quiverfull philosophy is the ‘right way to go’ or not, I don’t know much about their evangelism.

I think people are having babies in every faith that they can’t support financially or emotionally. To me, it seems like people that believe in any movement will follow the philosophy regardless of if every piece of the puzzle fits perfectly or not. However, I really can’t speak from the perspective of anyone in the Quiverfull movement because I don’t know anyone.


Jacq November 9, 2011 at 10:09 pm

Too true, too true – and I only know the one lady. But she keeps telling me about these people who are totally broke in her church and are having more kids because they’re divine gifts and whatnot. How can I judge though? I wasn’t exactly solvent when I got pregnant with both of mine – and thanks mostly to having them, I got my stuff together. What I wouldn’t do for me, I would do for them I guess. (Eek though! I’m 46 – and am so hoping the factory is shutting down soon! Imagine having a baby at my age – I’m not even ready to be a grandma yet!) LOL


Linda November 9, 2011 at 10:41 pm

Well, Jacq, if you’re not a Quiverfull person then you can take control and make *sure* your factory is shut down. I got a tubal ligation when back when I was 36. I’m 44 now and have never regretted it.


Kris November 10, 2011 at 9:29 am

My factory is probably all defunct and broken down anyway…

How many kids fit in a quiver anyway?? I would think none, unless you have a big quiver, and a strong back…


Linda November 8, 2011 at 5:53 pm

Oh, boy. Now I’m going to get my crazy on.

First: I have never heard of this couple. It makes me glad that I don’t have pay channels when I read that people are tuning into a show about raising 19+ kids. I can’t imagine what is intriguing about it.

I really don’t care that the family is financially independent. My issue is that they are contributing to the overpopulation of this planet. Some of us have chosen to be child free for personal ideals such as there are too many freakin’ people on this planet eating through finite resources. When couples have 20 kids that really works against the zero or negative population growth ideal that’s important to me.

I know personal choice is important, but I doubt that’s really what is going on here. I really doubt that anyone truly *wants* to go through so many pregnancies and deliveries.

This is more about cultural values and norms. It used to be that people produced so many children because of high mortality rates; “surplus” population was rare since natural forces like disease and famine kept population in check to a certain extent. As we got better technology, we got better at keeping our offspring alive. Having lots of hands to share in the heavy manual labor required to keep a community and family in food/shelter/etc. used to be much more important than now, too. Again, technology made it easier to get by with less people plowing fields, cutting lumber and stone, etc.

I wish the old-timey value of “be fruitful and multiply” would get an update for the 21st century. I like birds, flowers, butterflies, trees, animals, etc. The more people we keep making the less room there is for those things on this planet and the lower our true quality of life. Very sad.


Kris November 8, 2011 at 11:51 pm

Linda, I do think that this family is intriguing. They are a huge family, built their own house, etc. It is just interesting to me how they manage it all. I have only seen the show a hand full of times, but it is benign enough.

We all have different things that are important to us. To me, I feel just as strongly as you do that kids are a good thing. I don’t need 20 kids, but I think kids are great, and I can say that when I planned my kids, population growth was the last thing I was concerned about. Doesn’t make either one of us right or wrong, it just makes us different.

I actually don’t doubt that the mom wants to have all those babies. It may be hard to understand when you have never had children, but I loved being pregnant, and I loved having the kids. It is such a unique experience. My body probably would have fallen apart well before 20, but I loved the whole process myself.


Crystal November 8, 2011 at 7:16 pm

If they can cover the expenses and aren’t asking society for help, yay for whatever makes them happy! I’m from the live and let live group…


Kris November 8, 2011 at 11:58 pm

Live and let live is a good group to exist in. Keeps your blood pressure down!


Carol@inthetrenches November 8, 2011 at 9:59 pm

Good post. I had never heard of them either. @Linda if you want children go for it. Not so sure that the world is as over populated as some would lead us to believe. The issue is more that people have them and do not have the means or intent to feed them and are all crowded into big cities. Yes, I agree that the prosperity we have in America is not experienced throughout the world and much help is needed but that should not cause you to not have children if you want and to allow others to make that decision as well. Personally, I would not want to raise 20 children but I shall be eternally grateful of my 3 and the grandchildren.

If the money you are able to save by not having children is being used to help the poor than it is highly commendable and they will appreciate it even if they never know your name. I recently saw an organization that would put a well in a village for $500 that would supply water to drink and grow crops. It sounded like a very worthwhile project and I’m sure there are many out there. Most of the resources of the world are renewable if managed wisely.


Linda November 8, 2011 at 11:33 pm

No thanks. I don’t want children. Nothing will convince me that having children is a good thing for me.

I’m not saying I don’t want to “allow others to make [the] decision [to have children.]” I’m pro-choice: that means I think think people should be allowed to make choices about their fertility, no matter what. Maybe they choose to get pregnant and have a child; maybe they choose to terminate a pregnancy and not have a child. What I object to is the people that are stuck in a time warp that encourages folks to pump out as many offspring as is physically capable for them.

And resources are limited. Yes, natural cycles allow for renewal, but renewal often doesn’t happen within a typical human generation (a generation that doubles, triples or x20 reproduces itself rather than replacing itself is even more taxing). It’s taken millions of years for petroleum deposits to form, for example, and roughly 100 years to severely deplete them. Another limited resource: water. There is only so much potable water on the planet that must be shared with other living creatures that need H2O to survive. The water cycle of moving it from non-potable to potable doesn’t naturally happen fast enough for our wasteful consumption, though.


Kris November 8, 2011 at 11:56 pm

Linda, I really don’t think it is a time warp from what I understand. I really think it is a religious belief- that the kids are gifts directly from God.

With the depletion of resources will come innovation. It will be interesting to see what will replace oil…


Kris November 8, 2011 at 11:52 pm

I am really surprised that people haven’t heard of the Duggar family, I better put a link in the article so people can read about them directly!

I too will eternally be grateful for my 3 kiddos!


101 Centavos November 8, 2011 at 10:47 pm

Interesting…I hadn’t heart of this family, or their show, or the quiverfull movement, for that matter. Seems more suited to an earlier time when child mortality and the need for child labor on the homestead necessitated a large family. If they’re self-sufficient on their own homestead, their choice then…..


Kris November 8, 2011 at 11:54 pm

101, I believe the Quiverfull people truly believe children are simply a gift, and that gift should never be turned away. I agree that having a house full of kids is more reminiscent of the era of The Waltons. But, to each his own I suppose, as long as I don’t have to pay for them. (Think Octomom…)


Roshawn @ Watson Inc November 9, 2011 at 8:42 am

I so agree Kris. People are say too judgmental when their own lives are wrecks. The Duggar family, from what I know, have a very stable home environment financially and otherwise, which is a lot more than I can say for many people who throw stones at them.


Kris November 9, 2011 at 10:36 am

I agree. We all have our opinions based on our own life experiences. However, some people take it to the next level and ‘hate on’ these people that are just living life according to their own principals. They aren’t hurting a soul, and financially, they are a great example to many.


Darla November 9, 2011 at 8:52 am

@ Linda “When couples have 20 kids that really works against the zero or negative population growth ideal that’s important to me.” I think you nailed it right on the head when you so clearly stated “IMPORTANT TO ME”.

I commend the Duggars for bringing their children up in a respectful, loving manner. Society has more to worry about than population control among peaceful, self-sufficient families. While the amount of children is a matter of personal choice – I believe we need more families with positive values in the world raising future generations.


Linda November 9, 2011 at 9:37 am

Yes, I was very clear that it is a personal value I am espousing. Just as most of the folks here are espousing personal values around financial responsibility. It’s all about personal and cultural values.

And I did warn I was going to get my crazy on! 😉


Kris November 9, 2011 at 10:39 am

Hey Linda, feel free to get your crazy on at any time, that’s what the comments section is for! We all have very strong beliefs in many areas, which is what drives us to choose the paths we take. It is great to be able to share and discuss these ideas.


Darla November 9, 2011 at 4:30 pm

LOL…You are right – you did preface the post with a warning…LOL


Kris November 9, 2011 at 10:38 am

Darla, I do agree that it is nice to have positive families out there because goodness knows reality tv (and real life) have plenty of dysfunction to watch.


Little House November 9, 2011 at 9:53 am

I guess that family is interesting and doing a great job considering the 20 kids they have (or will have). I just can’t imagine having that many (physically or mentally!) Of course, I don’t even have one yet, so my mind set is very different than the Duggars. I’m curious, though, as to why they keep having more kids? Is it a religious thing? Or do they really like having babies around? I wonder if they have a “limit” set as most people I know with children had a set amount they wanted, like 2 to 4, in mind. It’s definitely an anomoly (I can’t spell today).


Kris November 9, 2011 at 10:41 am

I believe they started out marriage using birth control. Then found their religion, which caused a shift in belief to that children are gifts, and that they should never turn away a gift.

I think the limit they have is only what the human body limits, or so it appears.


Matt Wegner @ Financial Excellence November 9, 2011 at 5:12 pm

I’ve never understood why you would want that many kids – we have our hands full with two. But I have long admired how they manage to stay debt free with that many mouths to feed. Especially when other well-known starts of similar shows reportedly made $250k per episode and now have trouble paying bills since the show isn’t on the air anymore…


Kris November 10, 2011 at 9:34 am

I totally agree Matt. I think the high rate of divorce is hugely contributing to the financial problems of many families. You end up splitting every estate in 3- one third for mom, one third for dad, and one third for the lawyers…


Jenna, Adaptu Community Manager November 9, 2011 at 6:49 pm

To each, his (or her) own. Personally I think two kiddos is enough.


Kris November 10, 2011 at 9:33 am

It is such a personal decision. I love having three and probably would have loved having 5. Financially though, we would have had some real trouble with 5 kids….


YFS November 9, 2011 at 7:44 pm

I think 20 kids is ridiculous to have. But, I’m speaking from my perspective of early retirement, funding college educations and creating generational wealth. The Druggar family is going to have an estate nightmare!


Kris November 10, 2011 at 9:32 am

I think 20 kids is ridiculous for me, and I can’t imagine how frightening my body would look after 20 kids.

I think the Duggars are pretty financially sound, and I bet you can get some pretty great financial aid with all those dependents. Regardless though, they seem to have their financial ducks in a row, and have worked hard to help others do the same. If the family had expensive tastes instead though, they could have ended up in real trouble.


Lindy Mint November 9, 2011 at 7:51 pm

I like this post. The first Duggar show I ever watched, my biggest takeaways were how efficiently they run their family (truly impressive), and how happy they all were. I think we all spend way more time criticizing than focusing on the positives. And since the Duggars are an anomaly, we don’t have to worry about them overpopulating America. 😉


Kris November 10, 2011 at 9:30 am

I think I like the show for the reasons you mentioned. Just a nice family that seems to have their act together. Kind of a modern-day Waltons I suppose.


Financial Samurai November 18, 2011 at 9:53 am

I donno, so long as the children are happy and productive members of society, sounds good. Hope they don’t resent their childhood when they look back.

Doesn’t one’s uterus fall out after a while? Ouch.


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