Well, it's a new tv season and there's a new TLC show--"The United Bates of America."
Gil and Kelley I DO think you put more time and thought into your children's education and I do think you love your children and you seem to do much more parenting than the Duggars, but I have to ask:
Why do you want to be MORE like the Duggars?
First the nice stuff: Thank you for really limiting the p.d.a. on screen. No one can stand watching Jim-Bob Duggar stick his tongue down his wife's throat twice an episode any more. Blech.....Gil thank you for being an almost 50 year old man and controlling your hormones. You make Jim-Bob look like a you-know-what addict. I'm also grateful for you letting Kelly give birth in a hospital. I'm not condemning home birth, but a mother of many and any woman of her age needs to give birth with the best medical staff possible. The Quiverfull movement does not need another martyr.Thanks, too, for occasionally wearing things like hard hats and safety goggles.
When you were first on "19 Kids and Counting" it was remarked that you guys got places on time. Today it's you joke about being "the Late Bates"--i.e. "Duggar Time" with a new name. I liked you better back when you were on time. Today I see a family who has given up trying to stay humble and poor and have sold out to TLC to pay for a family that makes a mockery of Gil's ATI/IBLP/Embassy Institute stump speech on "How to Support a Family of 19 Without a Salary." I wonder if CPS came calling on you guys in that tiny house and that the visit necessitated the acceptance of the "generous" blessing of the new house. Probably not since your kids are fed, physically healthy, clean and clothed (and, I believe, loved). (Thank you, Gil and Kelly, too, for hugging your children like normal people! Those side hugs the Duggars use make me wonder WHY they can only give 1/2 a hug.)
Over and over you say, Gil, that you don't want to be a "burden," yet you don't seem to mind running to the ER any time you have a medical problem. Sorry, buddy, but that hospital doesn't love you all that much. When you don't pay and won't accept government assistance, they dump that loss on me and the rest of their patients. You and yours ARE the reason for the health care mess we have today. I'm hoping the new show is being used to PAY BACK that very real DEBT to the hospital for thos ER visits.
I also hope that the show will pay well enough that the "Bank of Lawson" can "close" as far as your bills are concerned and that poor Lawson can save his hard-earned money towards a debt free home and a future wife of his own. You see, borrowing money--even from your child-- is DEBT. I remember in the late 80s watching a broadcast of "David L.Wolpner Presents." It was his "Really Big Family" documentary--they had 18 kids and one job. But the father proudly let it be know that their kids' money was theirs to keep. One boy WAS show treating younger brothers to bowling, but his big sister was shown babysitting for money and shopping for necessary items for her soon-to-be apartment. An apartment and no husband. She was FREE to do that. With HER money. It was her parents who supported and raised those 18 kids--not the siblings themselves, although they were shown doing "normal" chores.
Since it is really odd that you don't see the ER as a "debt," I'm glad you do acknowledged the fact that an entire 3 story house was provided for you at no cost. A miracle. More like a gift from TLC, the Duggars, Wilsons (and another family) and various merchants. Funny, I remember someone once commenting that in the original Duggar tv special "14 kids and Pregnant Again" apparently there were books on their shelves from the Fundamentalist Church of Later Day Saints (Warren Jeff's group) on their "United Effort Plan," hmmmmmmmmm.
Anyway, the Duggars arranged for you to get a new house, gave you a shuttle bus and maybe even a table. I assume the nice new SUV in a recent episode was rented by the crew--or did the Duggars give THAT too?? But then if they want to give....right?
Like the Duggars, when criticism is fired at you online you CHANGE. First it was what my daughter termed your poor girls' "Clown Dresses" in "17 Kids and Counting." Ouch! But for a group of girls from an ultra-conservative, dirt poor family who rarely even set foot inside a Wal-Mart those were attractive. And, it was a lot of time and effort to sew them. For the rest of America they were a joke. Except as "work clothes" we no longer see those. The folksy overall and calico numbers sported by some of the girls in the shows opening scene are a tad more acceptable. Generally you look like the Duggars now--especially Kelly in those vests.
Then there's the whole "guy with green hair" and college thing. I'm proud of you for defying Mr. Gothard and letting Erin go to a very, very conservative college. That's huge and I'm sure you've taken flack for it. Ignore the flack and support your daughter's education. Thank you for not limiting her to Gothard-approved "skills" and CLEP tests. But I clearly recall Michal/Michela /Michella (what is that young woman's NAME??) saying "As a rule there's always two of us." So MORE CHANGE! Is what we were shown true? Erin now goes to college ALONE and Lawson now shops ALONE?? I've often wondered if Zach, an elected County Commissioner, had to bring Warden or Ellie with him for "accountability" at Council meetings? Call me cynical but I bet these "alone" times only happen on camera. Any family with an in-house tv monitoring system isn't very trusting.
I was so sad to watch the pathetic wresting episode. We were shown State Champion Gil in wresting gear, then shown a brand new wresting mat being unrolled in the living room. Gil then "taught" his sons to wrestle. I almost cried. How pathetic that those boys will never, ever experience the excitement of "going to state." How sad that they can never, ever see how they measure up to other guys their size. Just like Michelle and her cheerleading and roller skating careers, which clearly meant a lot to her, none of the kids we see on either show will ever have that same opportunity to even TRY, let alone succeed, in any form of competition other than memorizing Bible verse (I'm not picking on memorizing Bible verses--it's important). Which brings me to big question #1:
Big Question # 1: Duggars and Bates--what was so WRONG with your own childhood that you feel you must cut your own children off from nearly all of the rest of the world??
None of your children are free to make friends, pursue a personal interest, or just chill and be alone for a while. Oh yes, we know! We know! All your children are "individuals." Yes, but I'm not talking about who does or does not like pickles. How much better would Erin be as a musician if she'd prepared for annual solo contests or played with a school orchestra or even played in a mega church orchestra or youth symphony from time-to-time? How much more successful could Josh or Zak be as politicians if they could relate to people and speak the same language rather than having to fall back on Bible verses. (Again, I'm not at all opposed to the Bible--I read it almost daily.) What if Justin Duggar or Warden Bates were MLB quality pitchers? We'll never know.
And, I know! I know! Your children all have "career" goals. Funny though how those all line up perfectly with what's allowed in ATI/IBLP. What if Michal/Michaela/Michaella wanted to be a CPA? Or suppose Carlin would like to be a mechanical engineer or Nathan "purposes" to be a florist? That won't happen in this lifetime unless Michal's future husband NEEDS her to become a CPA and gives her "permission" to study that! Or ditto Carlin. Nathan (or any of the boys) could have a shot at the flora industry if they started a flower farm or small floral business so long as all their future children worked with them in that business. Yet all 4 of you parents had CHOICES. Real choices. These are totally absent from your children's lives. Your children each have one basic choice in life: conform or be disowned.
Oh but your kids are "happy" you say? And THEY say it too?? Well, of course they are! "Happy" is the only allowable emotion in Gothard/ATI/IBLP! They must respond to a parent or other authority figure, willingly (no attitude) and immediately. When this is ingrained from birth you don't make a fuss, do you? Disagree and you are punished. This was sadly and beautifully illustrated by poor little Mackynzie Duggar (daughter of Josh and Anna) not being able to cope with making a "mess" dropping her flower petals in her aunt's wedding. When you've been admonished any time you've made a mess and have come to think that Mommy and Daddy only love you when you obey (even if that's not strictly true--I do believe these kids are all loved), it's simply "too much" to change and accept that you can do it "this once" and not be in trouble. I'm sure other toddlers from non ATI homes have cried over dropping petals too. She may just have been upset by being off her daily schedule. But I DID stop to think about it with her and that should worry you.
Readers of the Bates's blog know that the Zach Bates proposal of courtship which aired on "19 Kids and Counting") failed. That really didn't surprise many viewers. The proposal itself was excruciating. The poor bride-to-be was ambushed and looked it. So, now you don't do "Courtship," any more, preferring instead something you now call "Dating with a Purpose." Gil and Kelly, I notice Jim-Bob and Michelle have not authorized any more on- screen courtships. Probably with good reason for once it's filmed it lives on forever (which is why I did not offer Zach's former intended's name). This brings me to my second big question:
Big Question # 2: What was so wrong with the way you met your spouse, or what is so wrong with your marriage, that you have to inflict arranged marriages (or what looks suspiciously one) on your children?
Michelle, we've heard your husband speak of you as something like "damaged goods" while pridefully boasting of his own purity before marriage. You've given that speech yourself as well. Gil and Kelley, you met in college like many, many Americans. You seem to have a good marriage. Why do you think your kids couldn't manage to do the same??
Now that Zak HAS given away some of those infamous "pieces of his heart" (which you seem to think he hasn't because it was "courtship" and that somehow protected him) is he now free to actually have coffee (with a sister a couple of table over taking notes, of course) with some girl he simply thinks he'd like?? He's what 23? 24? Your county thinks him mature enough to be elected to the County Council. Isn't that good enough for YOU????
If Erin meets a "preacher boy" at College can she bring him home to dinner or does he have to endure the Tennessee Inquisition of Faith first?? [Must insert that I did really love the "home movie" in the season premier of "19 kids" on this topic.] I really don't get it. A boy who is hot for a girl, whether she acknowledges he even exists, can go to her father, pass the test of Faith and marry her. You know as well as I do this is a lot of what goes on in the guise of "courtship." Long engagements or long courtships are not the norm. Why? Having never had to use self-control, but having always been CONTROLLED, these young people can quickly "loose control" right? This leads me to big question # 3.
Big Question # 3: When do you "walk your talk" and let God protect your kids and let your kids lean on HIM and turn to HIM when they are tempted? When do they "solo" without you, or a sibling, to correct them?
A family trusts Michal/Michaela/Michaella to take care of their baby. People trust Lawson to mow their yards and do other yard work, women are trusting the two Duggar sisters to do their prenatal checkups. Folks trust John David Duggar to tow their car safely. Why can't they be trusted to live according the to way they were raised?? You all spend half your life in the book of Proverbs. Isn't it time they call on that "wisdom" (another over used word in your lexicon) and navigate the pitfalls of life with only the Lord to chaperone them? If not--why?? Are you such bad parents they've not had the right examples? Are you hiding something "bad" in your marriages that might influence their "ways?"
I totally understand censoring what young children hear and see, but there comes a point at which they grow up and must make their own choices. The world isn't full of like minded people, but we all have to share the Earth peacefully. How will your children defend their beliefs, defend the Faith, defend THEMSELVES, if they never meet people who don't believe and live as they do. Home church (or for the Bates nearly homechurch), homeschool, family business, only "family" friends--when is it not "the whole family (and not ATI/IBLP)?" And Daddy and Mama are so "WISE!" When do your "children" become ADULTS and think for themselves??? Daddy knows nothing compared to our Father in heaven. Trust HIS wisdom. And why all the worship of Daddy? The adoring gaze by Kelly to Gil (I notice Michelle is long over this) is one of worship--like nuns of old gazing at the statue of the Virgin or of a Saint. We are called to worship our Father in Heaven. Not Daddy in the Living Room.
And now the Duggars.....
Jim-Bob I have noticed that TLC has set the Bates family up. They are NEVER shown being super wild, never shown picking their nose, etc. Why? Simple! All those stories you've told about how many people stop to say how well behaved your kids are. We've been shown everything awful your kids have ever done while a camera was running. The Bates never look like they want to kill each other--like you did when you set the kids up for a "family picture" then told them Michelle was expecting #20 and Josiah fled. You grabbed his arm and looked like you could kill him. That "right response training" didn't work that time. Why? He's a young man and not a child.
Unless it was done to help two penniless missionary families, why on Earth was it necessary to torture us with David and Priscilla's wedding? Your daughter-in-law's sister's wedding is not normally THAT big of a deal. David and Priscilla were even more awkward and Junior-high-ish than Josh and Anna. David seems to totally not connect with his bride-to-be. I loved the way you referred to ATI/IBLP as "large international ministry" or as a "Christian ministry in Chicago." And, Jana was "mature" enough to mother 12 kids, get them to Florida on her own, but isn't mature enough to pick her own boy friend? Or live on her own? Or choose her own career?? Wow. Just wow.
|source: Duggar family?|
Why do you keep exploiting your miscarried children? While the first has never been named (except Michelle once mentioned you had considered Caleb) but he/she is trotted out regularly, along with the predictable tears, as you use this event as your justification for not using birth control. And, your second miscarried child, the one you all but sold to the Right to Life movement--when will that poor baby be allowed to rest in peace? You are free to grieve privately for as long as you need--even all the rest of your life, but pardon me if I find it fake and think it a guilty conscience that causes it. You reached a low of exploitive marketing that even Honey Boo Boo's parents can't top. I KNOW you are sad about the child--I do give you credit for that. But mostly I think you, Jim-Bob, are sad over the lost revenue of being the parents of "20 kids and Counting." And Michelle, grieving or not, you went along with doing those voice-overs and short interviews for the footage already filmed. Maybe they WERE filmed as you went along, but that doesn't make senses given that the film has to be edited and it takes months for the finished product to air.
Jim-Bob you sound like the oldest horny teenager in the world when you drool and talk about how "fun" it is "trying" for another baby. I thought it was up to God if Michelle's womb was opened or closed? I also thought you wanted all the blessings God wanted to give--not all the mistakes you could make in lust. Stop. Be an honorable man like too-many-a-Catholic husband in the past. Stay away from your wife. Sleep apart and stay apart. Give her a break on the childbearing before she dies. No one, not even her worst enemies, want her to die. The backlash for you would overwhelming. Michelle find a doctor who will read the test wrong and say you MUST have a hysterectomy due to cancer. Anything, just stop having children.
And now TLC: It's Time To Pull The Plug
Please--do we NOT have to see more stopped toilets, boogers, open-mouthed chewing, and uncontrollable mayhem from the younger kids, do we? Just say "No" to all that. Isn't it time to pull the plug on "19 Kids and Counting?" We're seeing Kirk Cameron (again!), discussing marriage with the girls (again!) seeing Josh eat (again!) seeing packing (again!), hearing how "wise" Michelle is (again!) seeing food procurement (again!!). Enough! And, if that isn't bad enough, we get to watch the Bates family PACK! Wow! Go the DENTIST! Wow! Do laundry! Wow! Have a family closet! Wow! Oh PLEASE!!!!! Done to death and back again. Show us something totally new that is not an umpteen thousand dollar road trip.
Try some of my ideas fast or this season will be as bad as "Designing Women" without Suzanne or "Monarch of the Glen" without Archie.
My Episode Suggestions for "19 Kids and Counting," if it must continue:
- Jinger moves to the city with Alyssa Bates! But wait, there's more! They will work at ATI HQ!!!!! [Of course this will euphemistically be known as an "international Christian ministry in Chicago" since we all accept they won't be allowed to get a REAL job.] David and Priscilla will be nearby to offer them the "wisdom" that only comes once you've had physical marital relations (I don't want SPAM,ok?). And they can be so "encouraging" to Priscilla as she goes thru her first "precious" pregnancy. We'll see her in tears phoning "wise" Anna when the nausea won't abate. The girls will come over and "surprise" David with a real meal of tater tot casserole since Priscilla will be too sick to cook and he'll be so "thankful." Then we'll see Jana and Jill come for a visit and do her prenatal check ups. Then they can all be "wild" and get balloons and Wal-Mart cheese cake and make up baby names--with David's permission, of course!
- Here's another idea: Super Grandma and Josiah and Joy Anna move to a condo in Myrtle Beech.They go to an actual Christian School and Joy Anna makes the softball team and Josiah meets a girl with blue hair and piercings, but she's a Christian. It will only be when Jim-Bob runs out of clean undies that anyone will notice they're gone. (So won't happen--I know.) How about then letting Grandma go on vacation with her own friends? She probably doesn't even notice the cameras anymore and those cute young staffers are fun!
- Or this idea: Michelle goes off on a speaking tour and refuses to return. It's too quiet. We see her flipping channels in her motel room, eating "Chunky Monkey" ice cream and talking to her cheerleader friend.(Won't happen, but how about she goes with friends to a women's retreat where she is NOT the speaker and no one is allowed to ask her any questions about her life. When she introduces herself in her small group she can only say she's a Mom and leave it at that.)
- John David goes to Community College for further firefighting training and decides to become a mechanic so enrolls in classes. He convinces Joseph to try it, too, and Joesph enrolls in manufacturing technology classes. Jessa/Jinger (I never remember which is which) realizes she needs to know about accounting for her wedding photography business and goes to a basic accounting class with her brothers. (This could and should happen)
- Jana opens a small Christian preschool so her little sisters won't be lonely. Other home church kids come and they get to actually have fun 3 days a week. (This could happen--we'd have to endure the Pineapple song again though for it to become reality.)
- The middle boys grow a garden and the County Extension comes to advise. The Franklin Springs Media guy and wife bring those "spunky" West ladies to to teach the big girls to can and freeze everything. The boys also grow a second equally large garden to give to food pantries and the elderly. The little children draw pictures to "encourage" the recipients of the produce.
- TLC, how about asking Gil to explain how a picture of Nathan Bedford Forrest is "patriotic" and how it has nothing to do with the KKK? Tough one, right?
In short, if you can get more creative than what's been offered so far this season (and for "19 Kids" that's ONE episode) then
PULL THE PLUG ON THESE SHOWS.
We're done. We're tired of you not investigating Gothard, not presenting the TRUTH of that little "home school group" they go to each Spring in Big Sandy. We're tired of the baby and courtship watch. Unless the season ends with a Moonie-style group wedding of all marriage-aged Duggars, Bates, Querys, Wilsons, Kellers, etc., tying the knot then this show is going out on a major whimper. Pull the plug, too, or we may see Jim-Bob pre-planning his mother's funeral (or worse!) just to keep the money rolling in. Meanwhile, in Tennessee, the "United Bates of America" ratings are so low it would take real effort for TLC to justify another season--even if it's already been filmed. Let it just plain die. People need to learn the truth: You can't support 19 kids on a single small business--unless you are a real estate investor (Jim-Bob)or a successful financial adviser(as one Duggar friend is) or similar. Jim-Bob managed if for a long time--he's a savvy real estate investor with a knack for small businesses. In spite of what many people say, he WOULD have completed that house with or without TLC.
Gil Bates seems very hard working, but I can't help wondering if his business earns enough to replace the necessary equipment, pay for the necessary gas and insurance as well as put food on the table AND pay his sons an honest wage as real employees. Most people frown on companies using long-term unpaid "help." Clearly the Tree Service income wasn't enough to provide adequate housing. Stop showing us a lie. Stop showing us clearly scripted "reality." Unless there are some positive changes, we're done watching. Bring the crews home and pull the plug.
I hope this is the last time I need to write you all an Open Letter. Gil and Kelly, the show is a bargain with the Devil--throw TLC out before it's too late.