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Sundries
...a sweatshop of moxie

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Now That's A Family

When one of my oldest friends, whom I have known since I was sent to school in the US, for 11th grade, and my exact contemporary, told me she was expecting her 7th child, I did what many people would do upon hearing this: congratulate her warmly, at the same time wince in mini-horror.

Already the mother of 6, with one on the way! Her sister with 7 of her own, to boot!

This unusual, modern state-of-affairs is probably why I was intrigued enough to watch Monday's TLC channel programme, 16 Kids and Moving, about Arkansas' Duggar family.

Here they are, in their Sunday finery and fruitful glory.



As pretty, healthy, preternaturally wholesome family as you'll ever see, I'm sure you'll concur.

And every last child with a name starting with the letter "J" too! An hommage to realtor dad, "Jim Bob" Duggar, perhaps (who looks like he could be one of President Carter's sons).

For foreigners such as me, the name Jim Bob is instantly evocative of the Waltons. The smirk factor, especially for us Brits, just keeps piling up.

Looking at this picture-perfect, devoutly Christian, and doubtlessly conservative family with their gingham dresses, and high-and-tight haircuts, is almost scary.

It's the American Myth come to life, for foreigners.

The myth of the American Superman, who does everything at a scale which dwarves other nations, even those who in the recent past, were all that and a bucket of buffalo wings themselves.

In the Old World, having 16 kids today is almost like declaring yourself a Martian come to take over the world.

Or something infinitely worse -- being a peasant.

And you know what?

The truth of the matter is, most people in Europe couldn't fathom having sixteen kids because it takes work, organisation, dedication, and self-abnegation which perhaps today, is only possible by virtue of a good dose of religiosity.

The kind of person that pups out 16 children, isn't exactly a coward, or afraid of back-breaking work. And we won't even talk of being optimistic!

And then of course, we Europeans know one thing, and we know it well.

Having loads of kids is expensive. VERY expensive.

Why the French have kept to a strict 2 children average cap since before the time of Napoleon. You think they'd sacrifice their lifestyles NOW, when Club Med at Cap d'Antibes is beckoning??

But it's also true that having sixteen children is not any the less astonishing in the past, as it is now.

Even in my generously-sized family on BOTH sides, the top procreators only ever reached 14 children back in the 1850s (astonishingly, only one died before reaching his 20th year).

I recall hearing that the village vicar would mention their names, immediately after the Royal Family's, in prayerful intercession for bearing up so well for such a large-sized family!

So, this is it.

In Western Europe, having multiple children is either a sign of craziness, or of religious fervour or of being incredibly low-class -- both of which might as well amount to the same thing, according to the intelligentsia.

But in the US...well, I rather thought things would be a little different.

Of course, my friend has told me the stares she and her sister, and parents get, when the whole family goes out to dinner at say, the Outback.

13 kids, two sets of grandparents, and one Italian great-grandmother ain't easy to navigate in and out of two mini-vans. And sitting down to eat takes the military expertise of Field Marshall Montgomery.

More than one person, says my friend, looks at the family and mouths insults under their breaths.

"God, look at them. Bringing all these kids into the world. Almost obscene! Get contraceptives, fer chrissakes!"

...one lady said, not under her breath, as the family traipsed by.

That hurts them more than I can say, because though my friend attended my toney Catholic all-girl's school, she was a blue-collar scholarship girl -- and the family struggled, then and now, to make end's meet.

But they do. And without a lick of help from the government.

We won't even mention that both she and her sister have only had one husband each, who are the fathers of all their children, and are the only bread-winners of their families -- one, a handyman, the other, a graphic artist.

Similar, in fact, to the Duggars (and the Heppners, the family TLC portrayed just before this programme. They also had 16 kids).

I suppose to people who have made different life choices, and accept help from many quarters (in and of itself, not a matter of shame -- though it highlights the sacrifice of others, who don't), find this resentful.

It's the compare-and-contrast that hurts. If one set of parents can, why can't they?

Well, there are no easy answers to that. Some can, and some can't.

It's about character, and circumstance meeting each other, I suppose. And that hurts too.

In researching the Duggars, I found myself reading an Op-Ed piece about them, from an unlikely source -- a contributor to the San Franscisco Gate.

From the title, to the opening lines, to the closing lines, it's a piece of writing that drips with venom, biliously corrosive venom that eats from within, and perhaps, astonishingly, something infinitely worse.

It reeks of envy.

I read it, and I felt so very sorry not only for the Duggars, who must be the targets of such constant put-downs for being nothing more than themselves, but for the person who wrote it -- because he sounds like the poorest human being alive.

It's entitled:

God Does Not Want 16 Kids

Arkansas mom gives birth to a whole freakin' baseball team. How deeply should you cringe?


And goes downhill from there.

"Who are you to suggest that her equally troubling husband -- whose name is, of course, Jim Bob and he's hankerin' to be a Republican senator and try not to wince in sociopolitical pain when you say that -- isn't more than a little numb to the real world, and that bringing 16 hungry mewling attention-deprived kids (and she wants more! Yay!) into this exhausted world zips right by "touching" and races right past "disturbing" and lurches its way, heaving and gasping and sweating from the karmic armpits, straight into "Oh my God, what the hell is wrong with you people?"

The writer, Mark Moford, continues.

Perhaps the point is this: Why does this sort of bizarre hyperbreeding only seem to afflict antiseptic megareligious families from the Midwest? In other words -- assuming Michelle and Jim Bob and their massive brood of cookie-cutter Christian kidbots will all be, as the charming photo suggests, never allowed near a decent pair of designer jeans or a tolerable haircut from a recent decade, and assuming that they will all be tragically encoded with the values of the homophobic asexual Christian right -- where are the forces that shall help neutralize their effect on the culture? Where is the counterbalance, to offset the damage?


His screed ends with this pea-green nugget.

Ah, but this is America, yes? People should be allowed to do whatever the hell they want with their families if they can afford it and if it's within the law and so long as they aren't gay or deviant or happily flouting Good Christian Values, right? Shouldn't they? Hell, gay couples still can't openly adopt a baby in most states (they either lie, or one adopts and the other must apply as "co-parent"), but Michelle Duggar can pop out 16 kids and no one says, oh my freaking God, stop it, stop it now, you thoughtless, selfish, baby-drunk people.

Here it is. In all its misshapen, emotionally stunted glory.

A person who lets his frustration for all the things he resents take over his sanity, his charity, his fellowship to others, just to melt away under his furnace blast of hate.

It's the Christian angle. It's the Republican angle. It's the homosexual angle. It's the white angle.

Heck, it's even the Southern angle, and quite a few angles besides, which I didn't get, since I took remedial Geometry.

If this family had been sharecroppers, valiantly raising their kids on 40 acres and a mule's labour, the fangs would have never appeared.

If it had been a gay couple who graduated from the Mia Farrow School of Maternity and adopted 16 kids, they would've been awarded the freedom of the City of San Francisco.

If it had been a desperate Mexican immigrant couple, raising 16 kids in East LA, hosannas would've been said for their predicament.

But for the Duggars, with their 16 "kidbots", there is nothing but contempt.

Instantly I think about my friend, who struggles to feed, clothe and homeschool her 6 kids.

I even think of my great-great-grandfather Tommy, a modest country doctor, often paid in chickens by his humble patients.

And I wonder...

When did being a decent, large, godfearing family, become the equivalent of being freaks?

I can only come to one conclusion, sadly.

I suppose it occured when the real freaks took over.

P.S.: I'm having 2 children, maybe 4. But as a young only child, I dreamt of having 9, non-gimmicky named kids.

Why, if my childhood heroine, Nadia Comaneci, can become a mum at the age of 44 for the first time, maybe I too can be pushing out my future perfect 10s, well into my forties.

And if I hear one wisecrack as I pass by, I swear, I'll flatten them with my Pampers bag.

ADDENDUM: I've received more than my fair share of email about this post, and see that the Duggar's situation, hits close to the knuckle for some people.

Now, if those opposed to the Duggar's enormous fecundity were to stop at "My God, isn't it too much for two people to have 16 kids?" or thoughts to that effect, I think most of us wouldn't blink twice, and some who even appreciate folks like the Duggars, might even agree.

But oh no -- they don't stop at that.

And THIS vitriol that the Duggars engender, is what I find utterly fascinating/repulsive.

I found this blogpiece by one Kelly Garbato, on our Duggar Family. The blogger apparently has written about the topic before.

And this is what she offers on August 17, 2006:

Now, don’t get me wrong; I don’t have anything new to say on the subject. I still feel the same way now as I did last October. The godbaggers are just getting on the nerves as of late. Add to the mix the recent blog brawls between parents and non-parents, Xian mommies and heathen mommies, and mommies who think even their kids’ poo is special and those who simply loathe their little toeheads, and, well, I’m sick of hearing, talking, and even thinking about the Christian (mini-) Country that is the Duggar Family. Babies, religion, fundamentalism, blecht. It’s enough to make one half of a sterilized atheist couple puke.


And remember the photo above? Here's another version.



Dear God.

These people are so full of hate. And there but for the grace of God, indolence, and too much credit card debt, go I.

I was raised to think by my liberal-70s parents that life choices are not to be denigrated, because who are you, to do so?

It's been one of my DEEPEST sorrows to find out that those who share my parents' generation's ideals, and those they have influenced after them, have such nastiness, such bigotry, and such fanaticism inside their hearts, that whatever noble impulses they started out with, has long been overridden by the singularity, the zero-sum game of their world view.

To be sure, they're not the only ones, and you can find hypocrites on the dexter side as well.

But Conservatives are not the ones who pride themselves on being the ALTERNATIVE to the status quo. You know -- the ones with the humane ideals?

Meh.

Labels: , ,

43 Comments:

  • Amazing observation by Duggar which proves my adage that there are no more intolerant people than the tolerant. Rather than argue that it takes all kinds to make a family and, thus, gay adoption is a good thing, he takes the low road and says that because gay adoption is prohibited somewhere, having a lot of kids is an awful thing. Oh, and being conservative is awful, too.

    Ought to win a lot of people over to his dark view with that kind logic.

    As one-half of an infertile couple, we were blessed to be able to adopt our beautiful daughters and, like most in our situation, we're a bit late to the parenting game. But it's almost never too late, Victoria, so I say good for you and your plans to have children at a later time, like Nadia and Bart.

    (And how's this for serendipity? Our oldest once took tumbling lessons at the Bart Connor School of Gymnastics? And my wife did her physical therapy after some knee surgery at the same place Nadia did hers?)

    It's our experience that waiting until you're a little older and a little more financially secure makes raising a family a little easier but it's always a challenge. Like anything worth having, it takes work.

    Great post. As always.

    By Blogger Pete, at Tue Jan 23, 06:00:00 am GMT-5  

  • Nice post, Vic.

    Does this mean you've been reading America Alone?

    By Blogger JSU, at Tue Jan 23, 09:24:00 am GMT-5  

  • A friend of mine took some abuse just because she decided to have her children earlier in life, rather than engage in a lot of hedonism and then have them as an afterthought much later. She deliberately wanted to go through their childhood years while she was still in her twenties, and be a kind of 'older sibling' when they moved on themselves in life...which I was impressed by.

    By Blogger Ron, at Tue Jan 23, 10:11:00 am GMT-5  

  • Ought to win a lot of people over to his dark view with that kind logic.

    The op-ed screed wasn't intended to win people over. It was intended for the echo chamber that is greater San Francisco. I have reasonable confidence that most of the dead paper holders who read the op-ed clucked in agreement.

    And I'm certain that most of the author's circles of friends gave him positive feedback, and also clucked in agreement.

    By Blogger I R A Darth Aggie, at Tue Jan 23, 10:17:00 am GMT-5  

  • I suppose it occured when the real freaks took over.

    Priceless. Thanks!

    By Blogger Paul, just this guy, you know?, at Tue Jan 23, 01:28:00 pm GMT-5  

  • You and I share the same girlhood heroine.

    And she bagged Bart Connor to top it all off!

    By Blogger Ruth Anne Adams, at Tue Jan 23, 03:28:00 pm GMT-5  

  • Amazing observation by Duggar which proves my adage that there are no more intolerant people than the tolerant.

    So very true, Pete...and that came as a shock, within my own extended family of so-called "tolerant" people.

    Rather than argue that it takes all kinds to make a family and, thus, gay adoption is a good thing, he takes the low road and says that because gay adoption is prohibited somewhere, having a lot of kids is an awful thing. Oh, and being conservative is awful, too.

    As ever, intertwined in their minds,.

    Interestingly, sometimes we forget that LARGE black families (the kind that often have 5 or 6 kids, as a matter-of-course) happen also to be very Christian.

    Well, at least in their own way.

    Ought to win a lot of people over to his dark view with that kind logic.

    Today, I posted on Althouse a blood-curdling link about quasi-peace protesters, on the streets, stark barrack naked.

    Not only were they unappetising, to say THE LEAST, but their slogans were nonsensical at best.

    I wonder, as you did about these anti-Duggar defamers, WHO do they think they're convincing, when they do this?

    Average, every day folk look at this and think these people are utterly nuts.

    ...or am I missing an important motivating factor, in their impulses?

    As one-half of an infertile couple, we were blessed to be able to adopt our beautiful daughters and, like most in our situation, we're a bit late to the parenting game.

    You have wisdom, probably a little money saved up, and a heck of a lot of love in reserve.

    Can there be better parent candidates than you and your wife, Pete?

    But it's almost never too late, Victoria, so I say good for you and your plans to have children at a later time, like Nadia and Bart.

    Well, hopefully I won't wait until I'm 44, though! :)

    (And how's this for serendipity? Our oldest once took tumbling lessons at the Bart Connor School of Gymnastics? And my wife did her physical therapy after some knee surgery at the same place Nadia did hers?)

    WHOA! Autographs? Anecdotes? Inside dope? :)

    It's our experience that waiting until you're a little older and a little more financially secure makes raising a family a little easier but it's always a challenge. Like anything worth having, it takes work.

    There you go.

    Great post. As always.

    Thanks babe! As ever. :)

    Cheers,
    Victoria

    By Blogger vbspurs, at Wed Jan 24, 02:02:00 am GMT-5  

  • Nice post, Vic.

    Thanks, JSU. I love your compliments, since I know you only compliment the best. ;)

    Does this mean you've been reading America Alone?

    Is that that book on Europe v. America that you told me about, some months ago?

    What did it say about this?

    Cheers,
    Victoria

    By Blogger vbspurs, at Wed Jan 24, 02:03:00 am GMT-5  

  • A friend of mine took some abuse just because she decided to have her children earlier in life, rather than engage in a lot of hedonism and then have them as an afterthought much later. She deliberately wanted to go through their childhood years while she was still in her twenties, and be a kind of 'older sibling' when they moved on themselves in life...which I was impressed by.

    I happen to like young YOUNG mums.

    My own mother is almost like a sister to me, because she was a young mum (my dad is much older than she) -- but then, she had a good head.

    Kids having kids, is another story.

    Glad to know you appreciate your friend's decision, though, Ron. You're so level-headed!

    Cheers,
    Victoria

    By Blogger vbspurs, at Wed Jan 24, 02:05:00 am GMT-5  

  • The op-ed screed wasn't intended to win people over. It was intended for the echo chamber that is greater San Francisco. I have reasonable confidence that most of the dead paper holders who read the op-ed clucked in agreement.

    That too is my only conclusion since I started paying attention to such people, IRA Darth Aggie.

    They say things, on the record, as if history were recorded by their friends.

    I have no doubt that they have these convictions, and aren't posing.

    But also, I don't doubt they say what they do, and HOW they say it, for effect.

    And I'm certain that most of the author's circles of friends gave him positive feedback, and also clucked in agreement.

    Pauline Kaelitis. Definitely.

    Cheers,
    Victoria

    By Blogger vbspurs, at Wed Jan 24, 02:09:00 am GMT-5  

  • Priceless. Thanks!

    Hey, Paul! Thanks for the link and welcome to the blog. :)

    For a moment, I thought you were a dear friend of Sundries, who has left blogosphere.

    But I'm happy to see you just the same.

    Cheers,
    Victoria

    By Blogger vbspurs, at Wed Jan 24, 02:10:00 am GMT-5  

  • You and I share the same girlhood heroine.

    Seriously? That's fantastic.

    I used to have the Nadia dolls, which were on sale in various European countries.

    She is one of those people that could've had an AWFUL life, but for the grace of communism falling at last, in Romania.

    She was awfully used and abused by the monstrous Ceaucescus, but I think Nadia has a good fairy that saved the best of life, for last.

    And she bagged Bart Connor to top it all off!

    I love Bart, too.

    It's hard to describe this to an American, but he LOOKS so American. He's a poster boy for every imagined advantage Americans are reputed to have.

    P.S.: The comedienne, Kathleen Madigan, had a funny line about Nadia.

    "Oh my freaking God, I hate Nadia Comaneci. THE MOMENT she ended her floor routine in the Montreal Olympics, thousands of girls broke their toes trying to imitate her frikkin tumbles."

    Hehe. True!

    Only I almost broke mine watching her in the Moscow Olympics when I was 5 (yeah, it was televised in the UK. We didn't block it, like you guys. Stupid Carter).

    Cheers,
    Victoria

    By Blogger vbspurs, at Wed Jan 24, 02:18:00 am GMT-5  

  • Psst, Ruth Anne especially -- I know you must be sick to death of my unintelligible links to Spanish Youtube comic videos, but...

    This is one is too good to pass up.

    Enratona'o (he looked like a rat), LOL!

    Cheers,
    Victoria

    By Blogger vbspurs, at Wed Jan 24, 03:01:00 am GMT-5  

  • He loved her enough to go back to Romania for her fairy tale wedding.

    By Blogger Ruth Anne Adams, at Wed Jan 24, 03:24:00 pm GMT-5  

  • By Blogger Ruth Anne Adams, at Wed Jan 24, 03:39:00 pm GMT-5  

  • He loved her enough to go back to Romania for her fairy tale wedding.

    Yes. :)

    That "Hora Chanante" comic riff on Nadia said something hilarious about that, at the end:

    "Me case segundo el rito Moldova. Tenia un vestido con 4000 perlas, porque los Moldavos somos muy de perlas."

    "I married according to the Moldovan rites, wearing a dress sewn up with 4000 pearls -- 'cause us Moldovans are totally about the pearls."

    Hehehe.

    Cheers,
    Victoria

    By Blogger vbspurs, at Wed Jan 24, 07:22:00 pm GMT-5  

  • Now that's an All-American couple.

    NICE! So athletic, so youthful, so WHOLESOME.

    They're like the Duggars, only with shorts and a tan.

    Much more at this way-cool, unofficial site.

    Woo! High-five, Ruth Anne. I love it, thanks.

    I hadn't realised the Conners had been in one of the Tournament of the Roses parade this past December, though I do know they were at the Macy's Day parade one earlier in Thanksgiving. Those three sure get around!

    Check this out.

    Dylan Conner is sooo cute. He's got Nadia's features, and Bart's colouring, and well, that's a good thing.

    Cheers,
    Victoria

    By Blogger vbspurs, at Wed Jan 24, 07:26:00 pm GMT-5  

  • Well done.
    I can admit here -and don't tell anyone- I was one of thirteen children. Imagine my horror when I discovered how children came to be. For years I convinced myself that my parents did it but once and the effect simply lasted a really long time. A neighbor girl set me straight and told me that my parents probably even liked it. Eeesh.

    It reminded me of the apocryphal ad-lib by Groucho Marx in response to a woman with 12 children. She said she had so many children because "I love my husband." Groucho responded, "Lady, I love my cigar, too, but I take it out once in a while."

    People think you're some damned hillbilly when ther's more than three. "America Alone" describes in part how the demographic decline in Europe is fueled by the rise of large Islamic families and the disappearence of Western progeny.

    By Blogger Pogo, at Wed Jan 24, 11:18:00 pm GMT-5  

  • It is hate that gets those commenters going, Vicks. They don't understand self-denial, in any form, unless it will ultimately allow them to 'get over' on somebody else. Sad, but ... good for the Duggars and all the rest. They're living their lives as they see fit, and not as some know-nothing do-gooder wishes them to.

    "Even in my generously-sized family on BOTH sides, the top procreators only ever reached 14 children back in the 1850s (astonishingly, only one died before reaching his 20th year)." ~ The fact that only one died before reaching adulthood is astonishing! Very healthy family!

    By Blogger benning, at Thu Jan 25, 08:06:00 am GMT-5  

  • Not sure if my last post made it as I didn't realize I wasn't logged in. So here I go again saying Kudos to you Duggar. What a great read. Momma used to say "Remember, when you are pointing at others you have three fingers pointing right back at you." How nice that we are different and that some of us can still embrace those differences, and how easy it is to forget to be tolerant of those different than we are. We all make decisions for our own reasons and it can be truly frustrating to have others condemn us for these decisions. I guess if God had wanted us to be alike, She would've made us all nippleless Barbie dolls. Thanks again and I will continue reading your insights.

    By Blogger Lost but not alone, at Thu Jan 25, 01:00:00 pm GMT-5  

  • Priceless. The people who scoff at families like the Duggars are the same ones who will leap to defend a Welfare Queen's (thank you Ronald Reagan) right to have that tenth, eleventh, or, twelfth baby.

    Yeah, IMO having that many kids is strange but as long as they're supporting themselves, WTH would anyone else care?

    By Blogger Ploorian, at Thu Jan 25, 06:43:00 pm GMT-5  

  • "Is that that book on Europe v. America that you told me about, some months ago?

    What did it say about this?"


    As Pogo noted, the whole book revolves around the fact that Americans -- unlike pretty much everyone else in the developed world besides, oddly, New Zealanders -- are still interested in having children.

    Of course, it tends to be a certain hated subset of Americans who are most into it. This makes another, more prominent subset rather upset -- something that apparently shows up in, for example, Alexandra Pelosi's latest docu. (Mind you, despite her lineage, she's by all accounts a nice and sympathetic person.)

    http://daily.nysun.com/Repository/m2.asp?Issue=NYS/2007/01/23&ID=Ar01100&Mode=HTML

    By Blogger JSU, at Fri Jan 26, 11:04:00 am GMT-5  

  • Ah, blogger eats links. If this doesn't work, please delete this comment:

    review of "Friends of God"

    By Blogger JSU, at Fri Jan 26, 11:05:00 am GMT-5  

  • Okay, in my family there were four kids, including me. My mother originally wanted eight, apparently. My father was a stock broker and we weren't exactly poor. And we weren't exactly religious. All this during the '80s and '90s in the San Francisco Bay Area. Some people thought this was a "large" number of kids to have, but we thought it was medium.

    Out true enemies, of course, were always the mullet-headed family across the street. Damn you, MacGuyver!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at Fri Jan 26, 09:50:00 pm GMT-5  

  • I think their irresponsible breeding is sick and wrong and my opinion has got nothing to do with supposed hatred of traditional values, Christian beliefs or American conservatism. I'd be saying the same if Mrs Duggar was some skanky welfare mother - after all, they're both unconcerned about their children's welfare. My point here is my concern for the children; see, I thought traditional values encouraged a loving, healthy home environment, not the sort of emotional neglect (to the point of abuse) that these so-called Christians inflict upon their poor children. I can only hope those kids are strong enough to overcome their childhood as just another one of the collective and that none of them are ever the victims of a serious handicap - goodness knows their parents would unable to care for them properly.

    Before you ask - I have faith. That's why I can't stand people using His name to excuse their own selfish behaviour. Shame, Mr and Mrs Duggar, shame!

    By Anonymous Kitty, at Mon Jan 29, 02:57:00 pm GMT-5  

  • Wow, guys, I apologise for not having seen the followups to this post, having moved on prematurely.

    I'll try to answer below, even if perhaps, those who replied below have moved on, too.

    Cheers,
    Victoria

    By Blogger vbspurs, at Mon Jan 29, 07:34:00 pm GMT-5  

  • Pogo wrote:

    Well done.

    Thanks. :)

    I can admit here -and don't tell anyone- I was one of thirteen children.

    Amazing, Pogo. And thanks for trusting the readers here, to reveal that.

    Imagine my horror when I discovered how children came to be. For years I convinced myself that my parents did it but once and the effect simply lasted a really long time. A neighbor girl set me straight and told me that my parents probably even liked it. Eeesh.

    A lot!

    Sorry. ;)

    It reminded me of the apocryphal ad-lib by Groucho Marx in response to a woman with 12 children. She said she had so many children because "I love my husband." Groucho responded, "Lady, I love my cigar, too, but I take it out once in a while."

    If the worst thing that you can say about your parents is, they loved loving each other, then you're in fine straits, Pogo.

    People think you're some damned hillbilly when ther's more than three.

    Yes. That's true of almost any developed country, but moreso there.

    "America Alone" describes in part how the demographic decline in Europe is fueled by the rise of large Islamic families and the disappearence of Western progeny.

    There's nothing wrong with large Islamic families -- the problem arises when separatism and alienation are not situational to their immigrant status, but endemic due to some belief that their religion will have a triumphant march over native cultures.

    Cheers,
    Victoria

    By Blogger vbspurs, at Mon Jan 29, 07:39:00 pm GMT-5  

  • Benning wrote:

    It is hate that gets those commenters going, Vicks. They don't understand self-denial, in any form, unless it will ultimately allow them to 'get over' on somebody else. Sad, but ... good for the Duggars and all the rest. They're living their lives as they see fit, and not as some know-nothing do-gooder wishes them to.

    This is it, Benning! "As they see fit".

    If these people were in any way truly "neutral" about the conservative/Christian aspect of the Duggars, they wouldn't mention that angle AT ALL.

    And certainly they wouldn't mention the angle, if it were a homosexual couple with 16 children.

    Then it would be spun as a kind of thumbing of nose to the traditional cultural structure of the family in the US, and seen as an heroic rebuke to the status quo.

    This is what I cannot stand -- the hypocrisy and bigotry of the criticism.

    Very healthy family!

    Having a doctor dad, helped. ;)

    Cheers,
    Victoria

    By Blogger vbspurs, at Mon Jan 29, 07:42:00 pm GMT-5  

  • Lost but not alone wrote:

    Not sure if my last post made it as I didn't realize I wasn't logged in. So here I go again saying Kudos to you Duggar. What a great read.

    Thanks for taking the time to comment, Lost but not Alone. :)

    Momma used to say "Remember, when you are pointing at others you have three fingers pointing right back at you."

    LOL! I've never heard that before. Excellent.

    How nice that we are different and that some of us can still embrace those differences, and how easy it is to forget to be tolerant of those different than we are. We all make decisions for our own reasons and it can be truly frustrating to have others condemn us for these decisions.

    Especially if these reasons are undertaken not by caprice, but by careful, introspective decion-making based on time-honoured ideals.

    I guess if God had wanted us to be alike, She would've made us all nippleless Barbie dolls. Thanks again and I will continue reading your insights.

    She! Love it. ;)

    I hope I give you reason to return, Lost. Thanks again!

    Cheers,
    Victoria

    By Blogger vbspurs, at Mon Jan 29, 07:45:00 pm GMT-5  

  • Ploorian wrote:

    Hey Ploorian!

    Priceless. The people who scoff at families like the Duggars are the same ones who will leap to defend a Welfare Queen's (thank you Ronald Reagan) right to have that tenth, eleventh, or, twelfth baby.

    Yes. This is undeniable, proven time and time again, by how they respond to one's situation, and not the other.

    Yeah, IMO having that many kids is strange but as long as they're supporting themselves, WTH would anyone else care?

    *nods violently, ouch my neck*

    Cheers,
    Victoria

    By Blogger vbspurs, at Mon Jan 29, 07:48:00 pm GMT-5  

  • JSU wrote:

    Thanks for the link, darling. You know I always read what you suggest, even if it's later. ;)

    This makes another, more prominent subset rather upset -- something that apparently shows up in, for example, Alexandra Pelosi's latest docu.

    Oh yes? I will check that out on IMDB.

    (Mind you, despite her lineage, she's by all accounts a nice and sympathetic person.)

    Did you see her documentary on GWB during his presidential campaign?

    She was great! And I may blog about it one day, but I rather thought that I saw Dubya flirting with her.

    Or maybe, he always has that twinkle in his eye.

    Cheers,
    Victoria

    By Blogger vbspurs, at Mon Jan 29, 07:50:00 pm GMT-5  

  • Anonymous wrote:

    Okay, in my family there were four kids, including me.

    A cornucopia, compared to my family of me. ;)

    My mother originally wanted eight, apparently. My father was a stock broker and we weren't exactly poor. And we weren't exactly religious. All this during the '80s and '90s in the San Francisco Bay Area. Some people thought this was a "large" number of kids to have, but we thought it was medium.

    Perhaps for Frisco, which of course, is deadly expensive for real estate.

    Also, in the 70s, the birth rate in the US was at an all-time low, no? You came shortly after the mini-boom in the 80s.

    Out true enemies, of course, were always the mullet-headed family across the street. Damn you, MacGuyver!

    LOL!!

    Cheers,
    Victoria

    By Blogger vbspurs, at Mon Jan 29, 07:53:00 pm GMT-5  

  • Kitty (the blogger whose post I quoted in the Addendum) wrote:

    I think their irresponsible breeding is sick and wrong and my opinion has got nothing to do with supposed hatred of traditional values, Christian beliefs or American conservatism. I'd be saying the same if Mrs Duggar was some skanky welfare mother - after all, they're both unconcerned about their children's welfare. My point here is my concern for the children; see, I thought traditional values encouraged a loving, healthy home environment, not the sort of emotional neglect (to the point of abuse) that these so-called Christians inflict upon their poor children. I can only hope those kids are strong enough to overcome their childhood as just another one of the collective and that none of them are ever the victims of a serious handicap - goodness knows their parents would unable to care for them properly.

    Before you ask - I have faith. That's why I can't stand people using His name to excuse their own selfish behaviour. Shame, Mr and Mrs Duggar, shame!


    Kitty, I didn't want to parse your statement, as I usually do in my replies (usually to present a more coherent visual).

    I just have to say that I don't believe what you wrote in reply -- at least not about the bit regarding the equal ferocity of your statements, if it had been anything other than a Christian, conservative, traditional couple.

    That's a part of their lifestyle which clearly affects you on some intrinsic level, and which you use to qualify your outrage at them.

    I think most people can agree that having many children tries the attention of the parents, towards each child.

    On some level, you're right about that -- but in making sweeping declarations (and very bigotted, immensely unfeeling ones at that), you ignore the fact that the Duggar kids seem to be unusually well-developed emotionally, to the point of being precocious, and yet (and this is what hurts people who share your opinions) not socially awkward or dysfunctional.

    Mr. and Mrs. Duggar seem to be INCREDIBLE parents, with such organisational skills, and love and dedication to their family, that it beggars the mind.

    Perhaps this is what gets people's goats -- that such a HUMOUNGOUS family can appear so peaceful, with none of the shouting, disharmony, and rebellious acrimony, usually signifies for their critics.

    My childhood friend, she of the 6 going on 7 kids, is exactly like Mrs. Duggar -- only her house has a more "lived-in" look, and her kids are boisterous.

    But they're not wild heathens, running unsupervised in the streets, with no parental supervision or interest in their daily welfare -- as is the case with many mothers on public assistance, who have but one child, and do not work.

    By casting your net of derision about this state of affairs, very wide, you have caught the Duggars by mistake.

    Worse, in your dismissive, crippingly unfeeling statements about the Duggars in your post, you seem to reflect a knee-jerk reactionary attitude, that usually progressive people say is not to their taste.

    If you are truly a person of faith (and how you are, and yet claim to be "one half of a sterilized atheist couple puke" is beyond my powers of comprehension)...

    ...how about sparing a bit of human kindness for this hard-working, devoted, and involved couple -- the Duggars?

    Cheers,
    Victoria

    By Blogger vbspurs, at Mon Jan 29, 08:16:00 pm GMT-5  

  • Sterilised what? Where the heck did I say that? So far as I know, I'm perfectly fertile and have not married yet. It seems you've mistaken me for someone called KELLY. Perhaps you should figure out what you're on about before trying to reply to people who actually are - it seems - more coherant than you, not to mention who pay attention to basic details. Want to try again, so that I can make sure I'm replying to properly intended arguments?

    However, I shall say this (whilst I await a response which is given greater thought): people do not deserve "human kindness" unless they give us a reason to offer it; particularly when "human kindness", by your definition, is biting our tongues instead of presenting the facts.

    Devoted? Involved? Not on this planet. The kids are forced to live in dorm rooms according to gender, like soldiers. With 40 acres, methinks they could afford at least a couple more bedrooms. The children are dressed identically and given names that all start with J, as if they're not individuals. The older kids are pretty much left to raise the younger kids with their "buddy system", while the girls do most of the cooking and cleaning. Furthermore, they have little opportunity to socialise with anyone outside of their family.

    The children are given no chance to be kids, no chance to be individuals and no chance to have any of the individual attention that they need and deserve from their "loving" parents. In one of the docos, Mr Duggar even managed called his kid by the wrong name until he was corrected by the child (not just in some absent-minded way, either)!

    That sort of behaviour is blatantly unhealthy; a person can have a million siblings and relatives and still feel unloved, unimportant and lonely.

    Given that I am Kitty, not Kelly, I would indeed say the very same things if the Duggars were a bunch of ghetto-dwellers on welfare - so would you, I suspect.

    Last I checked, neglectful parenting isn't okay just because the parents call themselves Christian. Stop taking our objections personally, as if it is an attack against your friend (who you ought to remember has less than half the number of children the Duggars have produced). She - unlike these two - apparently genuinely loves her kids. On the other hand, Mr and Mrs Duggar only seem to love their kids because God (or so they claim) says they HAVE to - whether they want to have them all or not.

    By Anonymous Kitty, at Tue Jan 30, 11:31:00 am GMT-5  

  • Sterilised what? Where the heck did I say that? So far as I know, I'm perfectly fertile and have not married yet. It seems you've mistaken me for someone called KELLY. Perhaps you should figure out what you're on about before trying to reply to people who actually are - it seems - more coherant than you, not to mention who pay attention to basic details. Want to try again, so that I can make sure I'm replying to properly intended arguments?

    I wish I could make some raffish comment which excused my confusion in cheeky tones, but I cannot.

    I apologise completely for my stupid mistake, without any qualification.

    Those were not your words, but I would to point out that they were SOMEONE'S words, and my original objections to them, stand.

    However, I shall say this (whilst I await a response which is given greater thought): people do not deserve "human kindness" unless they give us a reason to offer it; particularly when "human kindness", by your definition, is biting our tongues instead of presenting the facts.

    You have an existential difference to me, in terms of extending human kindness. I don't that will change any time soon, so on this matter, we cannot ever agree.

    I do not, and have NEVER, qualified my human kindness by the choices people make, whether or not I agree with them.

    Once, when a friend asked me to because I was the only person who owned a car at Oxford (which is not encouraged for undergraduates), I took her to an abortion clinic, I waited for her to come out, and I saw her home, safely in her bed, after first making she she had clothes, food, and medicine to hand.

    Yep. You guessed it -- I'm ferally anti-abortion.

    By your standards of "not if you don't give me reason to [extend human kindness]", had you shared my views, you would've left her alone, to undergo her ordeal bleeding on a bus.

    I know you will reply that I am personalising my anecdote about the general matter, again, but I simply cannot provide you with explanations as to how I act in life, without giving you concrete examples as I have.

    I'm not sure what you want me to do, save to speak in miasmic terms.

    If this attitude of mine grates on your nerves, please move on.

    Devoted? Involved? Not on this planet. The kids are forced to live in dorm rooms according to gender, like soldiers.

    So were the Tsar's daughters, all 4 of them. So were their grandfather's siblings, all 10 of them.

    Tsarskoye Selo has over ENDLESS amount of rooms, with presumably many more bedrooms than just the one they shared.

    What is your point exactly? Have you no sense of history, that you don't know that this is a common-enough occurence with large families?

    That putting children together in a room, which you find distasteful due to some military-barracks idea being unimaginably constrictive?

    Forgive me, I don't know if you're American or not, but I once read that Americans are the only people on earth, who find one room per person, almost a birthright. I found it funny then, since it was in relation to a Mick Jagger/David Bowie anecdote.

    But I can see shades of this attitude, in your reply.

    With 40 acres, methinks they could afford at least a couple more bedrooms.

    And so could the Tsar. (And come to that, my grandfather who had a gigantic home. My father slept in what was the usually study, being the youngest boy, but his 4 brothers slept together in one room.).

    Your point, again?

    The children are dressed identically and given names that all start with J, as if they're not individuals.

    Fine, but you notice that I too found that rather quirky, in my "non-gimmicky sounding names" allusion.

    But your point seems to hinge on kids being dressed alike in a formal photo, and having all the same first initial.

    That happens in MANY family photo ops, and with many children whose names begin with the same initial.

    Do you smirk at them too, or just at the Duggars for their continued nonsensical ways, according to your selective standards?

    The older kids are pretty much left to raise the younger kids with their "buddy system", while the girls do most of the cooking and cleaning.

    That is what large families do, my dear. I don't see any problem with that -- especially since they do it so effortlessly, so organisedly, and so well.

    Furthermore, they have little opportunity to socialise with anyone outside of their family.

    Oh of course, because there are so many generous-minded people like you around, who would just greet these kids with open arms, and not a HINT of criticism about their lifestyle.

    Do you even listen to yourself?

    The children are given no chance to be kids, no chance to be individuals and no chance to have any of the individual attention that they need and deserve from their "loving" parents.

    That's not the impression I got from the two segments I saw, but then I can't form an informed opinion based on two hours-worth of film.

    But then, neither can you.

    In one of the docos, Mr Duggar even managed called his kid by the wrong name until he was corrected by the child (not just in some absent-minded way, either)!

    Right, it's hard to keep up with 16 kids -- as the Heppner Family dad also mentioned in the "doco" just before this one aired.

    That's not a matter of crime-against-humanity proportions reaction like what you're having.

    That sort of behaviour is blatantly unhealthy; a person can have a million siblings and relatives and still feel unloved, unimportant and lonely.

    Yes. And they can feel that way being an only child.

    I was extraordinarily loved, petted, and spoilt as an only child, I completely understand now.

    But I was left alone a lot, by my two physician parents, hence bringing on precisely the same feelings you point out, in this massive family.

    Given that I am Kitty, not Kelly, I would indeed say the very same things if the Duggars were a bunch of ghetto-dwellers on welfare - so would you, I suspect.

    No. See above.

    I would only do so, if their BEHAVIOUR in some way grated on my nerves, like leaving a child to run around with crack dealers, etc., but even then, I doubt I could conjure up the outrage Kelly had, in her remarks (and may I say, yours here).

    Last I checked, neglectful parenting isn't okay just because the parents call themselves Christian.

    Your middlingly presented points do not add up to damning the Duggars as "neglectful".

    I can see a dad and mum who have had one target in mind for the past 3 years -- them ALL building a home together for all that time. That is a LOT of time, in their company, and not with friends, discoing the nights away.

    (No doubt, given your attitude towards them above, you'd call child welfare services on them, for child work abuses)

    Stop taking our objections personally, as if it is an attack against your friend (who you ought to remember has less than half the number of children the Duggars have produced).

    The point is, you completely obtuse person, is that she gets the SAME stick the Duggars get from certain quarters with just 6 kids to her credit.

    By noting that my friend is only 31 (soon 32), and already on her 7th, I was trying to impress on others that she isn't DONE at 7. She has told me as much.

    Who knows how many she will have at the end of her fertile cycle. Maybe 16.

    And I am imagining already her being victimised as a child abuser, because she had the temerity to have that many kids, with the same lack of human charity expressed towards this family.

    She - unlike these two - apparently genuinely loves her kids.

    HOW do you know that? You are just projecting. Ugh.

    On the other hand, Mr and Mrs Duggar only seem to love their kids because God (or so they claim) says they HAVE to - whether they want to have them all or not.

    My Catholic friend also is having lots of kids in part because of her Christian faith (and my ancestor did too).

    She doesn't believe in contraception, and though she and her husband are fantastic human beings, sometimes I worry about her physically.

    When my time comes to be a mother, I will not go on the pill, but that's just a techinicality as I will do everything else, short of wire-hangers.

    I am the hypocrite, not my friend, who is living a fruitful, wonderful, and blessed Christine life.

    Like Mrs. Duggar. Like Mr. Duggar.

    And what's more, they are by all standards, succesful at it.

    That's what kills people.

    If their kids were in juvie, giving their old man back talk, and enrolled in public schools where they could meet all and sundry, they'd have more sympathy than anything they have had from these people, until now.

    Please, you've said your peace, and I have said mine.

    If you want to reply, please do. I will read them, but I think on this topic, our opinions are as a chasm between us. We're done.

    Cheers,
    Victoria

    By Blogger vbspurs, at Tue Jan 30, 02:29:00 pm GMT-5  

  • Heh, "Christine" life. "Succesful" with one s in the middle. And such tortured syntax, which isn't my wont.

    Man, you could tell I was steamed writing this reply.

    Well, for my rather icy standards.

    Cheers,
    Victoria

    By Blogger vbspurs, at Tue Jan 30, 02:54:00 pm GMT-5  

  • Kitty,

    My mother is one of seven kids. My grandparents also took in about 8 foster kids, most of them after my mom had left home (my mom is the 2nd oldest). She grew up on a farm in northern Wisconsin where they didn't have indoor plumbing or a phone until she was 12. The girls slept in one room, the boys in another. They all did chores, including getting up before dawn to milk the cows. When her younger brothers (twins) were born, she and her older sister were each put in charge of a baby. My grandfather used to mix the girls up and would just get frustrated and yell, "Ritalindamary!" They didn't have many store-bought things because they were kind of poor, but they certainly never had any government aid, although my mother had a full scholarship to the U of Wisconsin, what with being valedictorian. Neither of my grandparents went past 8th grade.

    Despite this horrible, cruel, abnormal upbringing, my aunts and uncles have managed to stay out of prison. Indeed, among them are a French teacher, a captain for Delta Airlines, and an optometrist. One uncle is retired from the railroad administration. He took physics when he was in college to raise his GPA (he was a math major). Another uncle manages a big lumberyard and building supply business. Another aunt has a small business with her husband.

    So strange that they would all turn out, huh?

    By Anonymous Class factotum, at Sun Feb 04, 11:09:00 am GMT-5  

  • I saw Kelly Garbato's original post on the Duggars. She asked why did they not adopt children. I actually left a message on Garbato's site asking her if she (Garbato) had adopted any kids herself. Well, she hadn't, but she had some excuse as to why Mrs. Duggar should but she (Garbato) did not have the same obligation.

    I said she sounded like an ex-boyfriend of mine who chided me for having three cats when I could have been spending the money (very little, actually) on a child in the Third World. I told him to get back to me when he used the money he spent on cigarettes and marijuana to help someone else.

    Anyway, just be glad Ms. Garbato is not reproducing her genes.

    Emilia Liz (emilia_e_murphy@yahoo.ca)

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at Wed Feb 14, 08:06:00 pm GMT-5  

  • Thanks for such a thoughtful post. I just watched the show on the Heppners on a rerun and was interested enough about them to look them up online. I was horrified to see such bile being thrown at them from so many sides. I never saw the Dugger show, but it amazed me how much of the self-righteous "how dare they" speech centered the on most trivial aspects of their lives such as their hair, their clothes and their naming choices, and that those aspects were used to abuse the faith and their convictions. I find the objections against children not getting individual attention absurd, the child/adult ratio on the family I saw is not particularly different from a daycare facility, the difference being that having the spectrum in age, and the close family ties makes an enormous positive difference. Don't get me wrong, i am not slamming on daycare,i am simply saying you cannot both support daycare and denigrate the amount of individual attention a child being homeschooled gets, even if that child is one of 16.

    By Blogger gwyneth, at Tue Mar 13, 11:54:00 am GMT-4  

  • Just wanted to comment that someone mentioned the children are 'forced' to share rooms.

    In the documentary on moving into the new home, Michelle very specifically stated that the CHILDREN requested dormitory style rooms and that they wanted to room together. The oldest son does have a 'media' room upstairs that is off limits to the littlest ones.

    Someone also mentioned them dressing alike: They don't always dress alike or in the same colors. That is for times they go on trips, so they can easily spot their own 'crew', and for photo ops. Don't you coordinate your children's outfits for photos? I do.

    I have five beautiful children, and would be so thankful and incredibly blessed to have the Lord trust me enough to give me 17 children. If He does, He will also provide the money, the patience, and anything else that is necessary.

    Sam

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at Fri Aug 10, 01:19:00 am GMT-4  

  • "If this family had been sharecroppers, valiantly raising their kids on 40 acres and a mule's labour, the fangs would have never appeared."

    The sharecroppers would never get a cable show. There are many large families here in the US, the majority probably being minorities, that would never get recognition like the Duggars have. That's why it's so disgusting. They are so elitist in their lifestyle while others go along humbly and do not seek out attention. The Duggars are exploiting their kids in the very media that they limit the children from. Mrs. Duggar can not attend to all of her children so when a child is born they are "assigned" an older child in the family to "raise" them. That is far from a normal family dynamic and time will tell how warped some of these children will turn out. Even the "Waltons" were raised by parents and grandparents and were not forced to wear odd matching outfits!

    My sister has 9 children ages 26-5 yrs and has a similar mindset as the Duggars. My sister thrives off of the attention she gets when herding her children around in public. If only people knew how chaotic her home is. Crowded and filthy with almost all meals eaten on the run and consisting of junk food. She can no longer have children so they are now obsessed with animals (pets) which are often pregnant. The older children have had problems adjusting to the real world as they were raised in such an isolated "bubble" type atmosphere which is now turning into an almost militia mentality. She is now "home schooling" the younger children to exert even more control over them. The "home schooling" is no where near what "real" school would be and is basically playtime with many field trips and little actual academics. Home schooling, at least on the elementary level, is completely unmonitored in her state. My sister brags that she has never read a book since college and that she does not even know how to turn on a computer. And she is the teacher and sole influence on these children. The children are immature, one has quite a speech impediment that would be addressed if she were in public school, but they are being raised in "La La" land and there is nothing anyone can do about it.

    I used to be very close to my sister and I love all of the children but the novelty of the "Uber" family has worn off and turned into great concern for the family and the kids future.

    When I see the Duggars my stomach turns as I've witnessed the truth behind the façade in my own family and it's troubling, to put it lightly.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at Fri Feb 22, 03:27:00 pm GMT-5  

  • You're projecting.

    And not only is that unfair, it has no bearing on the Duggars' own situation.

    Clearly they don't live in a hovel, they are full-time at home parents and give as much as many latchkey kids could ever hope to have, in attention, as well as being remarkably well-behaved.

    What you deride as weirdness, is nothing more than was done for MILLENIA -- when you have a lot of kids, you dole out responsibility to the older ones.

    My God, the Kennedys (all 9 of them) were even godparents to each succeeding younger child. JFK was Teddy's godfather, and always took care of his baby brother.

    What is your problem?

    Leave these people be. They aren't a burden on the taxpayer, like so many families are.

    They are a superb example of a modern large family.

    Just because we can't show each and every large family, doesn't mean the Duggars should live in obscurity.

    Sheesh.

    Cheers,
    Victoria

    By Blogger vbspurs, at Fri Feb 22, 07:53:00 pm GMT-5  

  • I noticed an unusual spike in traffic to this blogpost today, so I Googled.

    Seems the Duggar Family will expect their 18th child this New Years.

    No doubt, they're already thinking up a suitable J-name, and why not indeed.

    You have a good thing going, don't change it.

    For the record, as of today, the kids are:

    Joshua, 20; Jana, 18; John-David, 18; Jill, 16; Jessa, 15; Jinger, 14; Joseph, 13; Josiah, 11; Joy-Anna, 10; Jeremiah, 9; Jedidiah, 9; Jason, 7; James, 6; Justin, 5; Jackson, 3; and Johannah, 2; Jennifer, 9 months old.

    I wish them great luck and God's blessings.

    Cheers,
    Victoria

    By Blogger vbspurs, at Fri May 09, 05:57:00 pm GMT-4  

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