Friday, November 11, 2011

What's up with those Duggars and other questions?

E-mails have been coming in left-and-right over the last few days. I suppose, if this was a website earning some sort of profit, I should thank the Duggars...because every time they add a child to the mix, this blog gets more hits than a baseball at a Little League game. It also restarts an inbox rebellion from different folks wondering about my take on the Duggars. I guess people want an insight from someone who was once in the same sort of dog-and-pony show. So, here we go.

Why do you think the older Duggar girls aren't being courted?
I don't know that they aren't. If they were, we wouldn't know until Jim Bob was certain that the Godly Young Man was ready to "adequately provide" for his daughters. That's the problem, really. There's an unspoken and unwritten "law" in Gothard/ATI/SAHD families that if the father truly loves his daughters, he will wait for a match for her that can provide on the same level. For most fundy, ATI families, this really isn't much of a problem since, as a rule, they're almost all broke and pauperish. The Duggars have vaulted themselves into a different level of "adequate provision". How many undereducated, blue-collar (or less), barely shaving, Godly Young Man (GYM) is going to have the resources to match what those Duggar girls are accustomed to? Not many, if any! Jim Bob, maybe knowingly (but probably by accident) has created a problem for himself. If he's going to marry off a daughter, the pickings are slim! It used to be, in QF/ATI circles, that a girl was looking spinsterish if she hit 22 and didn't have a plan. But these more prominent and sucessful ATI/QF families are finding that they need those girls at home and they need the income that they often provide through at-home-business (or ratings). So they do what any fledgling religion does when the current standards no longer work so well - they change the rules and expectations. The Duggar Girls are now being shown as the model of SAH Daughterhood. These girls that are so willing to give their hearts to God and their choices to their father that they redefine purity into a marathon. Okay so that was a long answer to an easy question. The answer is that Jim Bob has created a problem for himself that's not easily solved.

Additionally, the Duggars have started to, from what I'm told, see themselves as a seperate ministry from ATI. They see themselves as a light on a hill and other fundy families are questioning how "involved" to get with one limelight when the "head limelight" (insert Bill Gothard or other fundamental leader here) is still watching. Anna Keller's family was really on the out-skirts of the ATI movement. They weren't ATI royalty, but look at all the attention that came their way all of the sudden. Alot of ATI families would rather avoid the spotlight because the lifestyle doesn't lend itself to the most flattering of portraits.

Do you think the older Duggar girls aren't pushing marriage because, like you, they may not want to leave the younger ones behind?
Possibly. We wouldn't know unless one of them left. I guess we could all hope that's the case. I will say that abuse on the scale of my youth is pretty hard to hide from the light of a reality crew camera. People saw Kate Gosselin's questionable behavior and cried foul. People are seeing Michelle Duggar's wacky responses to illess and injury and calling foul. I would imagine that if the older Duggars were concerned about the physical safety of their younger siblings, that we would've seen some signs of abuse on television by now. On the other hand, maybe they stay because they know how little care the smaller kids would receive from Michelle? The JOY principle can become pretty ingrained.

If Michelle dies, what do you think would happen?
I hope Michelle and her baby are safe and healthy. There's no way I would wish the loss of a mother on anyone.
Hypothetically speaking, the family would run just as smoothly. I don't think Jim Bob would run out and find a replacement wife (although other ATI dads have). I think Jim Bob is limited by the same fame that limits his daughters' marriage prospects. I do think, and would expect, that one of the daughters would become defacto mom in Michelle's place, in much the way they are now. But they wouldn't marry and would sacrifice themselves for the good of the family. I guess you could relate it to becoming a nun for the Catholic faith. One of the girls would become a Duggar Nun.

They really don't know who the Beatles are?
They really don't know who the Beatles are! People think I'm stretching the truth when I tell them how little I knew of pop culture past and present. ATI is worse than being Amish. The Amish at least circulate within society to a certain degree. Growing up ATI is like growing up on an island without television or radio. I know my dad took at of the radios out of our family cars so we wouldn't be influenced or tempted to listen to ANY music outside of what he allowed. The TV in the house isn't hooked up to cable and it's usually not even plugged in until there's some sort of ATI promo material to watch. The strangest part of that sort of childhood was that, when I did get out, I would hear a song on the radio and realize I already knew the melody. The machine had simply taken pop music melodies and inserted "inspiring" lyrics. But, no. They don't know about the Beatles or Michael Jackson or even Johnny Cash. Unless you're Jesus (or now the Duggars) there's no "celebrity status" in that world. I mean, come on, what other faith would Dolly Parton know who you were but you wouldn't know who she was?

How do you feel about #20?
I think it's potentially the most dangerous, most possibly tragic decision the Duggars have ever made. And I think they have already shown that bad outcomes don't phase them because they see the trial as a blessing from God. It's like martyrdom! The worst would only happen, in their head, because God would know they could handle it- so bring on the worst. And, if all goes well, then "Hey! Aren't we blessed? God loves us!" There's no possible loss in their twisted way of thinking. I am, truthfully, unaffected by #20. It's not my family. At the same time, as a human being who was raised with that same twisted way of thinking, I'm rendered speechless by the hypocrisy. It is hypocritical to say you value life so much when your precious miracle baby will no be relegated to "sister mommies" and when you can't appreciate the actual moments of life because there's so much around you. Ever notice how musuems that collect fine art rarely put 20 Van Goghs in one room? Or, how a wealthy art lover rarely hangs 20 Monet pieces in the living room? It's because the true art lover likely understands that individual beauty can get overwhelmed by more beauty to the point where it's just another painting.

Too many poppies in a field can make it so that you only see the field of orange and not the individual flower. If you don't take time to nurture each flower in your garden, the flowers die.


  1. I am sooooo glad you are exposing this for what you know it to be. It frustrates me to no end to read the simple-minded, benighted praises of young, idealistic mothers for Michelle Duggar.

    Her syrupy sweetness draws them like flies to honey and thus, they buy the whole package willfully oblivious of the agenda behind it all.

    Yours is a vital voice of experience, reality, reason and just good ol' common sense in this age where giddy glamorization and idolization of public figures completely trumps any concern for the truth.

    I am one who needs this validation that my reluctance to incorporate the Gothard-derived principles was actually an accurate intuition even when the Gothard families I have known seemed to be enjoying the fruits of their beliefs and labors via their children while mine are still struggling to overcome the damage resulting from the amount and brand of kool-aid' we drank.

    While the preachers we followed were not 'ATI/Gothard' promoters (too jealous of his success) they still extracted the same ideologies from the Bible and imposed them on us. The ultimate damage is immeasurable. But enough families, like the Duggars, seem to pull it off that they will never accept the fallacies. Those of us who bailed are judged disgruntled failures. This is why I still need the validation from the children of those beliefs.

    I deeply appreciate and admire your courage and sacrifice.

    Cindy@ Baptist Taliban Memoirs

  2. Hi Ruth!

    I just started reading a couple of days ago - first: Congrats on your engagement! I'm so glad you've found a loving man in Harris to be your partner in life's adventures. I've been married to my best friend for 3 years and it has brought me immeasurable happiness. I wish the same for you!

    I was home schooled in a loving conservative environment - and your blog has served as a reminder of how blessed I was to have a loving and compassionate Daddy. I am sorry your relationship with your Dad is so strained. I hope your relationship with Harris continues the healing process and I pray that you will continue to experience the love of God as your heavenly father - not as the overbearing, controlling, judge you experienced during your childhood, but the Father of lights who guides, provides and delights in you as his cherished princess.

    -Muddled Muse

  3. I think the Duggars have made their own brand to make it more appealing. I also believe Jim Bob is a wanna be cult leader but he is too loud and public. Many think the Duggars would have the same amount of kids if there were no show. I agree somewhat they might not have them for money but they sure like the attention it gets them. DUggar fans remind me of Abner Kravitz from bewitched. They never see anything going on or want to see it .

  4. I am totally creeped out by Jim Bob's hair.

  5. I love your blog Ruth. The way I see it, the Duggars are painting the entire Gothard/ATI lifestyle with a pretty brush and never revealing the abusive truth behind it. To me they are nothing to be celebrated or emulated. I really wish that they would get off of TV and stop trying to "encourage" others.


  7. Interesting post. On their show the Duggars have paraded a lot of successful ATI folks, as well as the Bates, I figured it was a sort of cattle call for those needing to court but live a decent lifestyle.....

  8. There...just completed reading every post and comment on the blog from the beginning. Such a journey these two years have been for you, Ruth. As you begin this new chapter of your life, I don't doubt that there will be fewer if any posts now that you have a best friend and partner to discuss and dissect the wounds of the past. I used to do a lot of blogging (merely of emotional states without context since I didn't yet have the perspective to realize that the reason I was in such pain was because I had been victimized) in my college days when I was relatively alone and isolated after walking away from my twisted upbringing. Now that I have close friends and a partner who understands my past, and I have healed so many of the wounds that were inflicted by that past, the need to write about it has been far less. However, reading your story has planted a seed in my mind that perhaps I would like to write down my own story too. Thankfully it will be from a place of peace, rather than the dark anger and pain of where I once was when I walked away--or should I say "ran screaming"--from my childhood abuse. Reading your story and how you have processed these last several years has been very healing and validating for me. Perhaps my story can help others too.

    Thank you so much. I wish you great joy.

  9. Cindy,

    I feel your confusion.

    On one hand, I am so proud of my kids. On the other, the religious ideas I have believed all my life still shame me. My daughter may be about to graduate college with an A average in a difficult major; she indeed is guaranteed a career as an officer with the USAF- there is no reason to be ashamed of her. And yet it troubles me more than just intellectually that she smokes. And I know she is not a virgin, which is none of my business. But my inner moral police keep calling me a failure.

    I wish that after walking away from fundamentalism she was a shining example of moral perfection without them- but then I realize my whole idea of moral standards is STILL fundamentalist! Aaargh!

    I long to b completely free, but don't know if I ever will be. Incidentally I am so proud of my son's moral character- defender of the rights of the oppressed, wanting to serve the good of humanity as a doctor- yet I am freaking out that he wants to get his ears pierced.

    I am such a mess. Fundamentalism dies hard.

  10. I just have to say that you are very insightful.


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