Dear Jim-Bob and Michelle,
First, I want to tell you that little Josie is in my prayers. Such a sad little baby, struggling so much. It's hard to watch, but I'm hoping for the best and praying for God's Will in her life.
I've watched this season when I can find the episodes free. You truly have inspired me to try to keep my finances under control [I'm still failing at that, but I am working much harder on it thanks to you--I mean that.] I also want to thank you again for the conversations you've started between me and my two teens. Both have spent a good deal of time in public school and out of the house, so it's been really good that they have heard your message on modesty in dress and on waiting for "the one". [I truly am being sincere.] It is interesting to discuss what God really wants for them and this has all come out of watching your show together.
I am happy your kids now have the experience of going to an integrated Church now [and here I mean racially, socio-economically integrated not the so-called "family integrated church" the Vision Forum folks so idolize.] How are you dealing with the contradictions of how this Church worships with dance-like movement, contemporary praise music and the like? I've also noticed ELECTRIC guitars in your home--has Mr. Gothard decided there can be appropriate uses for them now? I wonder, Jim-Bob, as the Head of the Family, if you could kindly explain how these are used in your home?
You do very well with modest dressing. I like the fact that your girls try to look "current" but hold to their/your standards of modesty. It's nice and, although we are not skirt-only gals, my daughter and I do admire this. Michelle, this question is for you: elsewhere on my blog I debated, using your example, of whether cheerleading is an ok thing for a Godly young lady to do. Recently I have allowed my daughter to join her public school cheerleading squad. This is not my choice at all, but I felt she needed the experience to see just why I do not think it's worth while. Other than just plain forbidding it and forcing the point of obedience to parental authority, how would YOU explain it to her? Since you were allowed to freely choose to be a cheerleader, what would you say to my daughter from your own experience that could change her mind? So you can be assured that not all public school parents are that different from you, another Mom voiced my concern about the immodesty of the uniform.
My son turns 16 this fall. He has been impressed to see John David starting a business. My son struggles with the authority structure at school so much so that I've returned him to homeschool. I think a small business would be an excellent idea for him. I am curious to learn if John David had to save up money from odd jobs or if he used money from appearances on the show to pay for his tow truck, insurance and other equipment. He really IS a good role model for my son and I'm grateful to him for his quiet decency. I understand Mr. Gothard believes adult children should live at home until marriage. I honestly have no problem with that if the adult child agrees and saves nearly every buck he earns for the future. I assume John is saving for a house for his future wife and family. I was happy to see he is going on a mission trip. It's awesome your kids have had these opportunities to see the world and to see how the other half live. It would be nice if he could have gone with a different organization, just to hear a different point of view, but it's still more travel and experience than most Americans will ever have.
I return now to the question of modesty. Jim-Bob, as Head of the Family, this is a question for you. How is it modest to engage in all the kissing [and from Josh and Anna it's often R rated kissing] on national tv? Yes, I understand you are married and can do this. Still, it defrauds me every time you do. Defrauds because I'm a divorced Christian who has chosen not to remarry since that would be un-Biblical [that and I can't find a decent man]. This is just getting really gross and old. Did you really put in your contract 2 kisses on screen per show? It seems that way. I'm happy for the example of lasting love in marriage, but a less tactile way of expressing it would be appreciated. Enough talk about sex--in whatever euphemistic terms you choose. Most of us don't think about it nearly as much as you seem to. We have figured out that there's a time and a place and national tv is neither.
Michelle, this question is for you. I'm also an out-numbered Mom, albeit not nearly as much as you are. How can you stand in front of the cameras and say the girls are merely taking up the slack while you man the milk bar and hang out in the NICU? Come on lady--Queen Elizabeth did more for her children than you do for yours. Stop pretending. Your home would be a shambles if those four big girls, and now poor Joy-Anna, weren't at the helm doing all the illegal immigrant work. I find it interesting that Bill Gothard promotes the Sue Gregg cookbooks of very nourishing food, yet your family lives on crap you can buy at any gas station mini-mart. I'm sure there are some decent meals in your home and that the editors make it look like you live on tater tots and canned peas, but really, how is that little Josie going to get strong on the MSG and sodium filled skim milk you pump for her? Maybe eating whole grains, real red meat and even liver as well as salads full of fresh veggies and a fruit smoothie, might give her a tad more nutrients? I say this with apologies to Jana, Jessa, Jill and Jinger [sorry, but I always think her names rhymes with "finger"] who will have to cook it all. Perhaps little Jamesy-bug could calm down a little with more protein, no soda pop, and more vitamins and minerals? Just a thought.
Now about schooling. With my son the way he is about school I'm the first to say that a GED is not the end of life! And, while parking your kids in front of a computer all day is no worse than any public alternative school or GED program, real homeschooling is about interaction. It's about great literature, about hands-on projects. It's not just computer and field trips that often have no relevance to what is being studied. I find it remarkable that you view each field trip as "one size fits all" and that Jordyn and Joseph should be interested in the same things. I heartily applaud you for getting out and exploring things, but really, do you ever do a trip that goes with what the kids are actually studying? Lets say James is studying "our community" in social studies--pretty typical for his age--couldn't Daddy or big sister or Uncle whoever take JUST HIM to meet the city planner or something? I like to hope the trip to the blood bank coincided with blood-typing in biology for someone or something like that. Do you kids ever READ? I have a very reluctant reader so I know this isn't always worth the fight, but seriously do they read anything not featured in the Vision Forum catalog?
College is another fascinating topic. On your TLC blog, Michelle you hinted that the girls are exploring further music studies and nursing. I applaud Gil and Kelly Bates for letting their very talented daughter Erin go to a local college for a music class. Even though it has to be in the top 2% of most conservative Christian colleges it's still new people and new experiences. I was not surprised to note on Mr. Gothard's IBLP web site that an advanced music program is among the offerings of that organization. How surprising then that you were "ok" with it. About nursing and midwifery, other topics you mention on your blog--gee I was shocked to find IBLP has a program in midwifery and offers preliminary nursing studies--whatever that may be. Too bad that you can't place them in God's protection and trust them to just go to a local college and get their necessary qualifications. God really will protect them. Green hair is so out of style anyway that you need not worry about a courtship developing with such a guy. If you did train them up in the way they should go they will NOT depart from it.
Josh and Anna, while I gag at your kissing and want to scream when Anna says Josh is "babysitting" his own child, you don't seem to be doing too badly. I think it's sad that out of all the choices in the world, Josh, that you picked lying for a living [i.e. selling used cars] as your "way to provide." All those years of Wisdom Booklets really paid off--didn't they? I'd love to hear that now that you are the Umbrella of Authority in your home, that you've decided a business degree from the University of Arkansas might be worth your time. I doubt it though. Anna, you seem to have not lost your own personality and spirit like I thought you would. Good for you!!! I hope you nurse your babies longer than you m-i-l and that you are therefore able to have fewer, more widely spaced births. Remember to encourage Josh to think for himself and not just do what Daddy did. Nobody really wants to run a car lot or mini-mart these days--help him find something else to do, but be a good wife and make him think it's his idea, ok?
Gil and Kelly Bates, I like what I see of your family. It appears your daughters and sons do, in fact, "help" at home rather than run the house and raise the other kids. I think it's tragic that your daughter Erin can't go to a real music school, but she is old enough to know her own mind and no viewer would believe her if she said she really was ok with it. Somehow, from your kids, I would believe them--they seem to be allowed a little more independent thought and may actually have been able to decide for themselves if the life you lead is for them. I could be wrong, they could be very good actors and actresses. Be very wary of being on the show more than you are and remember Mrs. Regan's advice to "Just Say No" if the pay-off for the big house is doing your own show. It's worth life-staggering amounts of debt to pass up this incredible "offer." Although I imagine the "college level" studies your son is supposedly pursuing [or was pursuing] are from IBLP/ATI, I wonder if Erin's time at the local Christian College might not be something you'd allow her younger siblings to try in their time. I also have to say I think your little guy Jackson is the cutest kid ever on tv! What a doll!
Now to Sean and the other staff of "19 Kids and Counting:" We get it. You want to portray the Duggars as uncouthed hillbillies so you keep showing little kids picking their noses, saying stupid things like "teached"for taught and "good" for "well" and running around like the Cornish Pixies in the Harry Potter movies. We, your viewers, are sick and tired of bodily functions, clogged toilets, emptying septic tanks, pooping on Daddy's lap, vomiting, peed beds, and open mouthed chewing. Got it? For all that they are snark-worthy, the Duggar's bodily functions should not be shown.
I am sure you could write an equal letter on my parenting and my failings! Feel free. I look forward to next season.
P.S. You can read my earlier letter to the Duggars here.
To learn more about the Duggars and the Quiverfull movement go to my other blog A Quiver Full of Information