The Duggar Problem

22 Feb

I have been trying to decide if I should blog about the Duggar family for quite some time now.  I have been watching their show off and on for more than a year now and when Jon & Kate Plus 8 went off the air I started watching it more seriously.  In case you live under a rock, they are a highly religious, Christmas family that lives in Arkansas.  They have nineteen (19!) children.

When Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar first got married, she was on the pill.  Their first attempt at pregnancy ended due to a miscarriage, which they blame on the pill.  After that incident they decided to leave the number of children they have up to God and have rejected any kind of birth control.

Before I continue I should state that I enjoy watching the Duggar family.  They keep their values sacred and seem to all be well-adjusted, happy people.  The only problem I have with them is the prospect of more children in their lives.

How a couple decides to get pregnant or not get pregnant is a personal decision and I won’t criticize anyone for their decisions in that area.  I have a religion that I’m proud to practice, though not nearly as devoutly as the Duggars.  I have no problem with anyone leaving the number of children up to God… to a point.

If a couple has intercourse every day for an entire month, they still only have a twenty percent chance of getting pregnant under normal circumstances.  (I get this fact from my husband’s medical school; it’s legit.) “Normal circumstances” mean that the woman has normal, regular periods and neither partner has any kind of fertility issue.  Thus, there is only a small chance of getting pregnant when “leaving it up to God.”

But Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar have beaten the odds… multiple, multiple times.  And as a result, they have 19 children and according to the cover story about them in one of the latest issues of People Magazine, they don’t have definitive plans to stop having children until Michelle goes through menopause.

They might say it’s God’s will that they have so many children, but I think there are also some things God believes that would argue against them having so many children.

  • You shouldn’t put yourself at risk for serious health complications just to have another child. Michelle Duggar has had preeclampsia in at least two pregnancies prior to her last pregnancy.  During her last pregnancy Michelle experience severe gall bladder pain and stones and then also developed preeclampsia again.  Her nineteenth child was born extremely premature, right on the border to viability outside of the womb.  While it’s a blessing that Josie will make it, both mother and daughter were at risk.  The risk of preeclampsia only increases with each additional pregnancy.  The only “cure” for preeclampsia is to end the pregnancy.
  • Having more children increases the population of an already over-crowded Earth. The world is overpopulated with people and not enough resources to take care of them.  Not to sound like your mother when you didn’t want to eat your vegetables, but there are people starving in this world who would love to have some food.  What the Duggars eat on a daily basis would probably feed more than the 21 people they might replace in India.  It used to be recommended that a couple have two children, just to replace themselves.  But I’ve seen is suggested more recently that a couple have only one child so as to help reduce the population of the Earth.  Pretty soon the carrying capacity of the Earth will be reached and a mass extinction will have to occur.  The Duggars are helping us get there faster by having way more children than they needed to have to replace themselves.
  • You’re setting a bad example for your children. Children often grow up believing that their family is an example of the norm.  The Duggar’s children are home schooled and, from what I can tell, do not have playmates with children from families unlike their own.  They are friends with the Bate’s family, who is also large.  I wouldn’t be surprised if some of the children grew up, married one of the Bate’s children, and believed that very large families are the norm.  They may feel pressured to have several children of their own.  I could see it becoming a competition amongst siblings as to how many children each has.  This will only exponentially rocket us towards our carrying capacity.  If nineteen children have six children each (that seems a conservative estimate to me), that’s 114 extra people when, if each person has only two to begin with, would be four children (two children for each of the two children Jim Bob and Michelle had).
  • The more children you have, the more you’re not really raising them yourself. The more children you have, the more the older children will end up taking care of the younger children.  I have definitely seen this while watching the Duggar’s show on TLC.  When Michelle and Jim Bob go on speaking tours or out of town for other reasons, the older children are in charge of the younger children.  How can a mother find the time to spend one-on-one with nineteen children in one day?  One-on-one time between mother and child is extremely important to the development of the child.  I can only wonder how much of that time has been given to the youngest of the clan.
  • Having more children because they will be happy to be alive is not a viable excuse to have more children. The People article states that each of their children is happy to be alive.  But if they weren’t born, they wouldn’t be unhappy to not be alive.  Having children because they will be happy to be alive is not a viable excuse to have more children.  It is not the same as believing using a condom kills future children.

Though what’s done is done, the Duggars need to actively stop having children.  They might be against artificial birth control, so Natural Family Planning might be an option for them.  While Natural Family Planning is not an effective form of birth control because a woman can get pregnant no matter where she is during her cycle, it might help them decrease the number of children they have in the future.

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