Sunday, February 28, 2010

Dinner with Harris

I'm getting ready to go out for dinner with Harris. (!!!!!!!!!!!)
I'm excited.

Abuse comment

This came from the comments section of Part 8.
Anonymous said...
Question to Ruth:

Are you parents still practicing the same child-rearing today?

If so, have you ever reported them to child protective services?

If they haven't changed their ways, they are surely treating your at-home siblings the same way

I don't have much time to go into details, but this deserves a response.

Obviously, I'm not in the home so I couldn't say with certainty either way. I do know a few facts that change the dynamic of life in the house. One is that my dad is getting to be older and less physical. Second, with the exception of Blessing, the kids still at home are all over 13. I'll try to remember to post later, but by that age, the discipline strategies change and become more about self-discipline (thankfully). Third, with regard to the dynamic, that house is way less chaotic than it was when I was five. When I was five, there were seven kids in that house under the age of ten. Four, my dad now has too many eyes on him (between me and one of my older brothers) to try anything too horrific. I think the abuses my sisters face are more likely to be emotional abuses and, while no less scary (perhaps they're scarier), that's harder to prove to child services.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Part 8

Security vs. Anxiety -Structuring my life around that which is eternal and cannot be destroyed or taken away (John 6:27) - Bill Gothard

(Note from Ruth: This chapter is about my experience and my life. This is not intended to represent any family but my own or any childhood but my own. I fully realize that the adults involved made choices that were, even if influenced by ATI discipline strategies, in fact, choices. Not all ATI families utilize the same strategies or would implement them in the same manner. In addition, I am not going to name, even in pseudonym, the brothers who perpetuated the abuses I speak of here. They were children at the time these things happened and just as much victims of the circumstances as was I. I've also had my therapist give me input on writing this portion of the story.)

This chapter of my story will be a little different than the other chapters. Until now, the posts have been chronological in nature rather than addressing a subject matter or topic. In this chapter, I want to talk about abuse.

I've received e-mails and comments from people asking if certain ATI/Gothard teachings led to abuse in my family. The answer is "Absolutely." I'm sure that many belief systems or methods of child rearing can be distorted and twisted into a system of abuse, but Gothardism (as I'll call it) seemed to be particularly adaptable. The patriarchy system is another potentially misused ideal.

Before we were born, my mother followed the unique Gothard admonition to read the Bible to us in utero. This is what he calls "PBT" (pre-birth training). The recommendation stands that the mother read to the unborn for at least thirty minutes a day. Gothard believes that the unborn can hear the scripture in the womb and will absorb the scripture much as they absorb the nutrients passed from the placenta, through the umbilical cord. He also recommends reading scripture to the newborn and having scripture be the first words they hear. In my family, this was taken to the extreme. Most of us were homebirthed. When we were born, my father demanded that his voice be the first we hear and the first thing he said to each of us was from first Peters, 1:14.
"14As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. 15But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do;"

I wasn't blanket trained - that would become commonplace in ATI families later. I was, however, from birth, forced to spend one hour per day listening to a recording of the Bible. In early infancy, this was usually done during my time in the wind-up swing, while mom cleaned or did other things for my brothers. At the age of six months, this changed and I was to spend this bible time in "obedience training". Kay oversaw the institution of this practice. I was put in a play pen and the tape would begin to play. If I cried, I was picked up and swatted on the butt. I don't remember this, of course, but it's been described to me by my older brothers. If I continued to cry, a sheet was placed over the top of my play pen to keep my eyes from wandering. If I continued to object or looked as if I were doing anything but listening to the tape, I was swatted again. This was repeated until the hour was completed or I had stopped crying. As a result of this, I began to associate crying with immediate and swift punishment. When I outgrew the playpen and could sit on my own, I was placed on a chair and the scripture would be read or played. The same rules applied- if I cried or fidgeted, I was swatted. As I (or "we", since this applied to all the children) learned to sit still, my mother or, usually, my father would put toys within my reach during this time. If we made movement to grab the toy, we were punished. I can recall learning to disassociate very early on. I would start day dreaming or "zoning out" during this time. Despite not paying attention to a word that was said, this looked as if I were attentive and worked for a time. Of course, the older we got, the more we would be called upon to recite what we'd been read and woe if you'd been zoning out. Was this abuse? I think it was. We were taught to deny our natural instincts to move, play, explore, or do anything that infants and small children do! Following our instincts meant physical punishment.

My father was a "spare the rod, spoil the child" enthusiast. There was no infraction too inconsequential as far as he was concerned. The fifth commandment was taken to heart. If we dishonored him in any way, we were punished. In truth, after being physically punished on an almost daily basis, it starts to become less damaging and painful. I got so used to being hurt, it didn't hurt (I know that makes very little sense). I would much rather have experienced his physical punishments than endure what emerged as I got older: emotional punishment.

When I was five, I got into a fight with one of my older brothers over a book. He yanked it out of my hands and I instinctively went to grab it back. In doing so, I knocked one of his loose teeth out. He ran to my father, who flew at me in a fit of rage. I was put into the prayer closet and told to beg the Lord's forgiveness. I was told that, until my father heard from the Lord through his own prayers, I was not to leave the closet. An hour went by and I was still in the closet. There was a small light with a pull chain and about two hours in to my "punishment" it burnt out. I called out to my father or mother that the light had burned out. My father came to the door and told me that I would have to "Pray for God's light to illuminate my spirit". All my mother could say, with dad standing behind her, was to practice self-control and close my eyes in prayer. I freaked out and, to this day, have a fear of the dark. I was left in the closet for four hours. At the end of that time, my father ordered my mom to put me to bed with no supper and, in the morning, it was back into the closet. All together, I spent fourteen hours in the p/c. When my father had "heard from the Lord", I had to kneel before him and ask his forgiveness for hitting my brother.

This didn't happen often. We weren't stupid children. We figured out that dad's punishments weren't something we wanted often. What we didn't anticipate was how minor an infraction would get to be to earn us a punishment. As we grew, we were also charged with the "sins" of those in our charge. For me, that meant if a younger sibling erred, I was punished because we were our "brother's keeper". If we saw something and didn't tell, we could be punished. If we saw something and told, we could be punished. There was no logic to it. If we forgot to hang a towel right or swore, the punishment was the same because, according to Gothard and my father, there is no difference between the two sins in God's eyes. As a child in that sort of environment, you get a point where the parent doesn't need to raise a hand to you - by nature, you feel guilty and scared. That IS abuse. To make a child feel so guilty and doubtful of their nature is wrong.

Mail Call

E-mail questions answered and then a brief update on life. If I'm posting the question, it's because I've received the same question multiple times. Wow! I guess that means I have an FAQ. :)

I don't have a paypal account, but I want to send you gift cards I got from swagbucks/gifts I won't use/stores. Do you have an address where you would be comfortable with me sending things to?
Your friendship and understanding is all my heart needs from you. My goal in starting this blog was to help me process my childhood and move on with my life. It's helping me do that. My goal was never to profit monetarily. I am overwhelmed with the offers to help. I truly am! With full disclosure as the goal, the tip jar has taken care of paying off a $120 bill from the hospital and purchased me two books I needed for class, plus one book I wanted for leisure reading. Any more funds that come in will be put towards finding a good laptop at a reduced rate and that will take a while to save up for. All of you who have donated: THANK YOU FOR YOUR HELP. It is humbling and generous and I will get individual thank yous out to all of you as time permits.

As of right now, I don't know how I could receive gift cards without exposing my address and name. I'm open to options if anyone has a suggestion. But let me repeat, I did not start the blog with the intention of getting help and it's not something that I expect. I'm only addressing this because this is a constant question on the comments and in e-mail. It's a difficult decision because I never want this blog to get sucked into the problem where people start doubting my story because I am accepting your generosity. Your friendship is gift enough for me!

Did your parents do blanket training? Were you physically abused?
I did a post about blanket training. QF/ATI familes are like normal, non-fundamentalist familes in the sense that there were fads and trends were tried. From what I understand, blanket training has fallen out of favor and been replaced with something new. Remarkably, I credit the Duggar's show with the decline of blanket training within ATI families. There was such a public backlash to it that I think ATI parents started to listen to some of the criticism.

Was I physically abused? I struggle with this question and it's a frequent therapy topic. I think I'll make this question "Part 8" of my story and give it the full answer it deserves.

How is Blessing? Do you get to talk to your mom?
Blessing seems to be doing well. I get reports from certain family members and acquaintances. I have spoken to my mom twice since the birth and both times my dad was listening in.

Did you have a prayer closet like the Duggars?
Yes. Our prayer "closet" was a little nook off our garage/laundry room that was supposed to house the water heater and shelving. It was only 40" by 60". I know because I had to measure it once as a geometry lesson and it's stuck in my head ever since. My father re-located the water heater to the garage before my family moved into the house and before it was prayer closet (when "Kay" arrived), it was where we kept the cleaning supplies, the diaper pail, and extra dirty laundry. When it was converted to the p/c, they built a little wall desk that could fold up on hinges, flush against the wall. There was also a stool to sit on, but we usually put the stool in the hall and sat on the floor. I'll never forget that the walls were painted sky blue and my parents actually let us write on the walls with markers - but you were only allowed to write scripture or encouraging thoughts. Every year or so, the boys would be put in charge of re-painting the whole thing. In hindsight, I guess that was cool.

How big was the house?
We lived in four house as I was growing up. The first that I remember, being the one where the boys were bunked and I had my own room, was under 1100 square feet. The next house was bigger by one bedroom and a small basement (it could've been as much as 1500sf). The next house was smaller than the others, but it had an unfinished attic and basement that we fixed up to use as dorms. The house I left and my parents are still in is 2400 square feet, plus a basement.

How many of your siblings are still at home?
I'll see if I can do this without giving away too much. This is a basic breakdown on my siblings. I don't want to say which of those still at home are thinking about breaking out, if any.
Eli - Not at home (NH). Married with seven kids. ATI family.
Sam - NH. Engaged. Left ATI/QF behind.
Joseph - NH. Married with two kids. Conservative, fundamentalist.
Caleb - NH. Married. No children. ATI
Matt - Home. Engaged.
Luke - Home.
Becca - Home. Courting/Engaged.
Rachel - Home
Rani - Home
Blessing - Home

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Part 7 - Boys Room

Resourcefulness vs. Wastefulness – Wise use of that which others would normally overlook or discard (Luke 16:10) – Bill Gothard

by RazingRuth

Six boys in one room and me, sitting like a princess, in my canopy bed. If that’s not a recipe for jealousy, then I don’t know what is.

My parents would often go to little “retreats” put on by the QF/ATI crowd wherein they’d discuss the practical issues of living QF. How do you fit seven children in a house built for five people max? How do you feed your quiver? How do you clothe your brood? In the beginning, the answer usually involved the patriarch finding a way to make more money or the matriarch finding a way to start a home-based craft business.

For my mom, it was sewing up respectable and “delicately modest” nightgowns for “delicately modest” women. This was before the internet days, so it was all word of mouth and internal referrals. This was before the Jim Sammons seminars, so while we lived frugal by necessity, it hadn’t become the mantra that would keep us all in worn out hand-me-downs and ratty shoes,…yet. So, mother also made our clothes. This income provided the reconstruction of the boys room.

Until this point, the five “older” (non-infant) boys shared two double beds that were shoved into the room. They barely fit, which meant that there was essentially one, room-sized bed. Mom appealed to my father to change it because, as it was, she and the boys couldn’t ‘use’ the bedroom to move around in or store anything (like clothes).

To enhance her chances of getting him to do something about the boys’ room, mom offered to fund the endeavor by dedicating one month of her earnings to it. She made $135 (this was back in the day when $135 would go pretty far). Father prayed about it and sought advice from his council of fathers and agreed.

A few of my father’s friends came by and they got to work. They built triple bunks out of pine. The lowest bunk was just low enough to fit a milk crate under. Then the question arose: how can we afford mattresses for these boys? Someone suggested my mother buy egg crate foam rolls and cut them to size. The only egg crate foam mom could find was smaller in width than a twin bed, so the men cut the bunks to fit the egg crate. The result was, really, a series of stacked stretchers on either wall of the room, with a window in the middle.

Mom did her best to make that room look cheery, but it always reminded me of an army barracks. She consulted my father on colors and he chose khaki and green – so that didn’t help. Mom made removable covers for the egg crate and pillow cases to match. The boys didn’t use sheets, just sleeping bags or blankets.

Until the infant (at that point, it was Luke) was old enough to use the bunks, he slept in a very small, portable crib (not a pack-and-play) that they used in hotels. The crib was shoved under the window. The men also bolted milk crates to the end slats of the bed, where the boys were to store their socks and underwear, so that there was room in the closet for the clothes and precious few toys they owned.

This is what quiverful is about. Have as many kids as you can and accomodate them in the sparsest means possible! Because, unless you are independently wealthy, or have a television show, you can’t keep up with the exspense of so many children. Creativity is a bonus, but not entirely necessary.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

I'm fine!

I hope this posts. I've been having trouble getting logged in because of a change in the school's server (or something like that) and too many log on attempts for google e-mail. I think I'm on now though.

I'm fine. I'm safe. I've been trying to get well after the tonsillectomy problems and then catching a virus. I'm also trying to get all the labs/work I missed caught up and that's taking most of my blog time.

With regard to my dad's posts, I'm not sure they've all been my dad, as I previously thought. I've had time to reflect on some of the earlier comments left and I think it may have been a family member, but not my dad. I do think my dad is responsible for showing people my blog and getting my family involved in the latest rounds of comments but the older ones might not have been him. I don't know now. Without giving it all away and compromising safety, I have taken numerous steps to protect myself from physical threats but I don't think the comments left on the left post were meant to be a physical threat. It was scripture that was quoted often in my house. If anything, those specific scriptures were his way of letting me know it was really him. Does that make sense?

"Ruth Mary", to answer another question, was a sibling's way of making sure I knew that the comment was from family. It gave it away actually. Mary is my middle name.

I'll try to get part 7 and 8 to Vyckie at NLQ as soon as I get caught up with life. Thank you for your concern and advice, all of you! I hope this posts!

Monday, February 15, 2010


This blog has been a blessing to me. I've made several friends and received advice too precious to put a price on, as well as tangible help in the form of the tip jar. For that, I'm eternally grateful. It's been wonderful hearing from others who have been in my situation and come through it healthy and happy.

With all that, it saddens me to note that there have been a few negatives, too. I've wrestled greatly with posting what I'm going to post now because this blog was supposed to be about me and my journey. Surely, my family and their actions were part of my past and continue to be part of my story but I never wanted the focus of the blog to be them. Yet, I feel the need to explain what my father did very recently so that some of you might understand my hesitancy to e-mail back or entertain the numerous offers I've had to share my story in bigger venues (CNN and other news agencies included).

A while back, before Christmas, a woman started e-mailing me. Like many others, she was polite and supportive. She claimed that she'd been in ATI for a few years but that it really hadn't been what she and her husband hoped it would've been. She claimed to have children my age and then sent me information about her views on depression. In hindsight, the depression information was tinged with questionable "data" regarding the origins of depression and giving it a biblical spin. I still assumed she was just trying to help me and thanked her for the advice. After several e-mails, she began asking me questions about my life and my childhood. I trusted her and responded honestly. Her replies were always full of sympathy and she started "guessing" about my family's location and identity. She suggested that she was a person who attended our homechurch very briefly and I recalled the name. I opened up to her.

Then I received a phone call from my father. Over the course of three days, he called sixteen times and let me experience his verbal wrath. He admitted that he and one of my sisters were my "friend" on e-mail. I had opened up to my father and sister. They're very angry about my sharing my story.

So since I know they're reading, I have this to say to them. If you don't like what you're reading here or what I say to others that's too bad. I'm sorry I can't tow the party line and pretend our lives were picture perfect. The fault isn't mine for sharing it- it's yours for having us live that way. If you're proud of how you raised us then you should be proud for me to share it and if you don't like what I'm saying than here's your opportunity to correct what you see as falsehoods. Father, I'm giving you that opportunity. I swear that your comments will be allowed to be seen and never censored. You say what you need to say here and I'll do the same and we'll let the world judge us. I'm not afraid anymore. You don't have to lurk and leave comments with anonymity. Admit you're my father in your comments. I won't out you publicly if you pick a pseudonym and own what you have to say. If you continue to use my sisters against me or do one thing to them because of my blog, I will not hesitate to name names. In your last message to me, you said that I didn't "fully understand the power you hold". I think you are the one who doesn't understand.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Overdue Part 6

Meekness vs. Anger -Yielding my personal rights and expectations to God (Psalm 62:5) – Bill Gothard

After a year living with our family, Kay checked out…and in many ways, so did my mother. Admittedly, my mom was more organized and seemed to take more control over her wild boys. The housework was being done and Elijah, the oldest, was being homeschooled four days a week. There was a schedule that hung on the kitchen wall and woe to the person who didn’t keep to it.

My father came home, when he was in town, to properly prepared and served dinners and a wife who “took time to make herself pretty” for her husband, “lest he should think she didn’t consider his desire to come home to beauty, rather than chaos”. Admittedly, the outside world thought my mother had got over her PPD and was now the picture of domesticity. However, the reality was that her vibrant and dynamic spirit was replaced with submission and guilt.

Between birth and the age of one, I shared a room with two of my brothers. In a three bedroom house, it was: Eli and Sam in one room, Joseph and I in another, and my parents in the third. Not too long after my first birthday, Kay spoke with my father about what she felt was an undue masculine influence on me. She, Kay, had noted and recorded (in my baby book) that I was “rambunctious and rowdy,…she climbs on everything if she can make it”. I was “improper”. That’s right, readers – by age one, I was ‘improper’.I don’t know what I did to warrant that description, especially to the extent that it was deemed reasonable to write in my baby book, but I’m sure it included immodestly twirling my skirts or climbing on top of my brother to pound him with a toy (which was apparently a favorite pasttime). In any case, Kay and my parents decided that it might be best to put me in a more feminine environment. I got my own room. Kay and my mother painted it peach and “mint green”. They hung Victorian prints of women and babies on the walls and placed floral curtains on the window. Above my bed, they placed a framed, 11×17 canvas with the following scripture cross-stitched on it:

“but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious. 1 Peter:3-4″

Heavy reading for a toddler!

I don’t remember the first night I spent in that room. I was too small. I do remember lying in that four poster bed many nights thereafter, wishing to have a friend and sister in the room with me. In this way, I became a willing conspirator in keeping my mother pregnant through prayer. When Caleb and then Matthew and then Luke were born, in that order and over the next seven years, I wondered what I had done to jinx myself with God. As you might imagine, with every boy that was born between Rebekkah and myself, the boys room got pretty crowded. In a room that was 10×12, my parents had two, three tiered bunks. The boys were stacked like cord wood. Something would have to give…

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Tonsil Complications

Cynthia e-mailed me to tell me there were some worries about me. I'm doing better. I had a scare a few days ago when my throat started to bleed very badly and I couldn't seem to keep food down. I'll spare you the details because they're not appetizing. I ended up back in the hospital for cauterizing my throat and fluids. I'm nervous about that bill more than anything. I have to stay in a certain position to help heal and that's not easy to do on a desktop so until my dorm friend gets back from her trip, this is all I can do. But don't worry! I'm going to be fine and I really feel bad for worrying you all.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

49 Character Qualities of Ruth- Part 5

Originally posted on NLQ
Gentleness vs. Harshness – Showing personal care and concern in meeting the need of others (I Thessalonians 2:7) – Bill Gothard

by RazingRuth

From my earliest memories, my mother was a study in contrasts. Our home was chaotic (three boys and a new baby, all under the age of five). After my birth, my parents purposed to begin homeschooling. I say “my parents”, but that just means that dad decided mom would be doing her Christian duty best if she homeschooled. Not to mention the fact that dad’s employer and spiritual advisor had an up-and-coming curriculum that he was constantly retooling for use by homeschoolers. Mom could homeschool the children and dad could use the experience as a testimony and leg-up at work. It was a win-win – for dad.

My mom, on the other hand, was struggling and we all knew it. The boys took advantage of her disorganization and frustrations, as most preschoolers would. Many times a day, she would gather me from my blanket or playpen, sit down to nurse me and cry. She would sit in the rocking chair, in the midst of the noise and activity generated by the boys, and stroke my back while tears poured from her eyes. When I was done eating, she’d try to create the illusion of control and happy domesticity before company or my father returned home.

I think my mother suffered from post partum depression when I was born. When my brothers told my father how mom cried and sat in the chair most days, my father finally realized she needed help. He turned to his spiritual advisor for advice. This man told my father that my mom’s problems were from a lack of faith in the Lord and that the only way to get her over her depression was to get her to submit to God’s will. He asked my father to allow him to send “help” into our home. My father readily agreed and “Kay” was sent to stay with us for a month.

Kay was the wife of another organization employee. She was older than my mother by a few generations, but still advised the organization head on childrearing and pregnancy. For a few days, she adopted what I call the Super Nanny approach – following my mother around, observing the chaos. At the end of each day, Kay “gave report” to my father and prayed with my mother. At the time, my mother wrote a secret letter to an old friend, saying how much she hated Kay and resented my father for entering them into this lifestyle. The letter, which I saw after I left, is one of the saddest things I’ve ever laid eyes on. It’s full of self-doubt and regret. Since reading it, there hasn’t been a day that goes by when I haven’t wondered why my mother didn’t leave.

Seeing the situation for what it was, through adult eyes, I now know exactly what Kay and my father did to my mother. Over the month that Kay was in our home, they broke whatever spirit remained in her. They subjected her to daily “prayer wars” during which she was put in a small, prayer closet for hours on end to pray about her “sinful, prideful choices” (my mom’s words from a subsequent letter to her parents).

My mother was told that all her depression was the result of not fully accepting God’s plan and purpose for her. Of course she was relieved of some of the blame. Some of the blame, they said, was her parents’ fault for giving her gender confusing messages and “feminist ideals” (like an independent career and higher education). My mother was made to write a letter to her parents, asking why they didn’t protect her from the evils of pre-marital dating and unchaperoned exposures to men and women. Finally, my mother’s problems were blamed on a lack of spiritual maturity.

My mother later claimed that it was through Kay, and this experience, that she realized she’d never been “saved” or asked the Lord to take over her life. My mother decided that, in order to be happy, she had to commit herself, body, soul, 110% to God’s will —and my father’s dominion over our home.

Note from Ruth: This isn’t the end of mom’s story. But, in some ways, it’s the beginning of mine because her choice to give herself fully to patriarchy sets up my life. How she got there and why she got there shaped who I am and how I see her. I also wrote these first five parts to show how a vital, dynamic and independent woman becomes a shell of her old self. My mother is not alone. This is what fundamentalist patriarchy can do to women. It doesn’t matter if it happens in all cases – it’s possible!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Ice Cream and Answers

I feel like crap but I've had such a wonderful day it barely registers. Guys. I think I'm "crushing". Harris brought over ice cream last night and we sat around and watched Third Rock from the Sun. I mentioned to him that I was trying to stay down (to let my throat and body heal) by watching DVDs in the common room, so he left his television in my room and then stopped by with ice cream and his collection of 3rd Rock From the Sun DVDs. They're very funny. I also had my first helping of this ice cream called dacquari ice from 31 Flavors. It was delicious. Now I want to know if real dacquaris taste like that (I've never drank alcohol). In any case, I really like Harris. He's sweet. I do have to watch myself though. We were watching something in between changing DVDs and it was a current events show. I found myself deferring to his opinion out of an old habit of letting any male in the room be "right". Luckily, I stopped myself from feeling that way and voiced my disagreement with his opinion. He's coming over again in a little bit.
A reader asked-
what if Josie had been 18 weeks or ealier when Michelle had pre-e, would they have allowed the c-section? Would that have been considered an abortion?
Standard disclaimer: I can't speak for the Duggars. I can only give my perspective as a former QF/ATI member
I'm not sure they would've done a c-section that early. At all costs, they would've tried to prolong the pregnancy until viability UNLESS, and only unless, Jim Bob and Michelle received divine revelation through prayer (and Jim Bob fasting) to allow the c-section. In reality, it would've been an extremely difficult decision for them because of their principles on elective abortion. If it had been my parents, for example, they would've waiting until the fetus started showing signs of distress and the doctors could've predicted an inevitable death or until the mother was in distress herself. Then they would've taken the distress as a sign that God was moving the body towards self-abortion and they may have allowed a procedure or delivery. It has to be the last resort for most QF/ATI families.

@Krite - I'll try that remedy. Thanks!

Anonymous said...
She is posting about it on her very public blog giving them free publicity. Just saying if she hates them so much, why watch them? Why pick everything apart about the show?

I don't hate the Duggars. I have many feelings about them but hate isn't part of it. I watch them because, and this may be tough to understand, it's like being home again. When you go home for the holidays, do you always agree with your parents and family? Do you ever fight with you siblings or do you always agree with what they're doing? Have you ever got in the car after being with family and been a little relieved to drive away? I thought I was pretty clear that my issue was with the way TLC presented what happened to the Duggars and how they try to sugar coat the big issues involved with having so many children, so close together. I apologize if I wasn't clear on that.

PS- If you don't already do swagbucks, I would appreciate you using me as a referral. Thanks to the four people who already did this.
Search & Win

Monday, February 1, 2010

19 Kids and Counting...

I'll take the bad with the good.
First the good -
I was laying here last night feeling sorry for myself. My throat feels like mince meat and I have a little fever. My "joyful countenance" is sort of ravaged after this recovery. There was a knock on my door at 7:30. It was "Harris", my neighbor from down the hall. Like me, he's older than the average Freshman and kind of quiet. In any case, he was standing in my doorway holding a television and a cable hook-up. I had mentioned to him, in a passing conversation, that I grew up QF and watched the Duggars, and he'd seen me down in the common area watching it on the big screen, and he guessed that I'd want to stay in my room tonight. Then he stayed to watch with me - he sat on the floor, no funny business. (grin) The best part was when he said he would bring me ice cream tonight. Isn't he sweet?

Now the bad -
Watching 19 Kids and Counting last night made me very angry. TLC glosses over some very important points when depicting the drama and trauma of Josie's premature birth. Some will argue that it's good that TLC didn't show some of what I'm about to highlight but I see it as false marketing. TLC is marketing the Duggars as a brand- as something that you or I might want and emulate. They're selling this life as something sweet and pure and admirable. But I ask you, TLC - what is admirable about placing your life, and the life of your child, in danger to recklessly procreate? Michelle knew, with each and every pregnancy, that pre-eclampsia could rear it's head again and take her down. She had it with Jana and John-David. They talk about it in the book and Michelle has acknowledged it in episodes of the show. Any woman who's had it once is warned about it again and with Michelle wishing for twins each time she gets pregnant, it seems she didn't quite get how serious it was. Until now. Yet, she's still "trusting her womb" to God. Will you film 20 Kids and Counting, when Michelle is delivering a still born and possibly putting herself into an early grave? Will you even discuss that eventuality in your show? Or will you show how America's Favorite Family soldiers on with faux dignity and manufactured grace through the worst time in their lives? Think you won't do it? You did it tonight.

There's nothing dignified about having a premature baby. I don't say that with malice toward the mother or the baby but with malice toward those who film the spectacle or profit from it. Having a premature infant, especially one as tiny as Josie, is intense enough without the dour violin concertos and solos telling us to feel worried. We don't need a soundtrack or Jim Bob pontificating on how this will change their lives forever because we knew that this was going to happen. Why didn't you know? Why didn't you care enough to see that this wasn't a possibility, but an eventuality. They fired the gun too many times and this time there was a bullet in the chamber. If you're going to show the sunny side, show the rain!

You call yourself The Learning Channel? Then educate. You say it's reality tv, then show the reality. Show the world how Josie had to have a tube threaded down her throat at birth just so she could maintain an airway to breathe. Show how much pain she was in. Show how Michelle's doctors, educated male AND FEMALES, saved her life and are keeping Josie alive through science and the art of medicine. You want to advocate this lifestyle, then show the abject terror and tears of parents who've just watched their premature infant have a bowel obstruction. As much as I don't want to see it, you're advocating this lifestle and you owe it to the world to show the truth. Show the exhaustion on Anna's face and explain how those babies at home didn't see their mother for weeks because of their parents' choice to consider them "not enough". Show the reality when their home, should Josie come home (and I hope she does), becomes a regimine of handwashing and therapy and sterilizing every surface to keep baby Josie from catching RSV.

I realize I'm contradicting myself. My heart wishes this family were never put on television as an example. In that respect, I don't hope that any of this would see the light of day. However, what infuriates me is that, knowing it's going to be televised and what-not, that all this REAL DRAMA and HEARTACHE will be manipulated into a completely fabricated version of life. Life through Duggar glasses. Take off the glasses, TLC. Start looking at this family and it's choices through the glasses of reality because you're encouraging this spectacle and it's not right!