Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar, and their brood of children, the stars of TLC and Discovery’s hit show “19 Kids & Counting” are dear to the heart of many conservative American families, underserved by the current media climate.
While common TV themes center around selfishness, reckless behavior, self-promotion, poor decisions, hostility, irresponsibility, and unaccountability, the Duggar family is a breath of fresh air for conservative parents with old-fashioned values who often don’t see their lifestyles promoted on television… at least, in a positive way.
Too often, Christians are portrayed in the media as less-than-intelligent, back-woods, judgmental, condescending or radical; however, that small population being portrayed on TV are the super-exceptions, with the mainstream Christian audience not being represented accurately… if at all.
However, this lack of a strong, family-oriented identity on TV changed in 2004 when the Duggar family first appeared on the Discovery Channel / TLC about their growing brood. Since the inception of their first hourly specials, chronicling their expanding family, followed by the building and completion of their super-sized house (which is paid for in full, and was hand built by the family themselves), there was finally a place that Christian parents could turn, to see themselves and their own values portrayed on screen. Here are 10 reasons why conservative families love the Duggars:
1. The Duggar family is proud and unashamed of their faith. – It’s refreshing for Christian parents to ‘finally’ see a family with real, biblical beliefs onscreen (let’s not even talk about ‘Seventh Heaven’ here), that are outspoken about what they believe, in a positive, peaceful way. The exposure of the Duggar’s has helped other Christian families “come out of the closet”, so to say.
2.The Duggars promote shared responsibility in household responsibilities. – Each family member, babies aside, is encouraged to help out around the house, whether it’s with laundry, cooking, cleaning, or helping with the younger children. Many conservative parents with traditional values also feel that children should learn to take a role in helping at home.
3. The Duggars encourage modesty in clothing. – It is famously known that all the female Duggar family members wear skirts and dresses, with nothing tight-fitting or revealing. Similarly, the boys wear simple t-shirts, sweaters, polo shirts, jeans and khakis. For conservative parents everywhere disgusted by the promotion and availability of too-mature, overly explicit clothing for little girls, it is wonderful to see that girls can dress modestly, and still look beautiful.
4. Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar call each of their children a blessing, and honor the idea of ‘family.’ – Too often, TV sitcoms mock the idea of family; with children badmouthing their parents, and parents ridiculing their children. The Duggar parents, however, have repeatedly – in numerous interviews – called each one of their children a blessing from God, echoing the sentiments of many conservative parents who look upon ‘parenthood’ as a gift.
5. The Duggars are extremely organized, work hard, set goals and strive to meet them. – The family has been able to build their own home, by themselves, learning the tools and processes along the way. They have set up procedures and routines at home that any family can be envious of. Even rarer, the Duggar family lives completely debt-free, having managed to pay off all their bills (long before they ever appeared on TV).
6. They promote accountability and a biblical view on dating and marriage. – With the courtship and marriage of Josh (the eldest Duggar son) and Anna, his now-wife, we saw how a family on TV could live life (even a love-life) while serving God. Watching the traditional ‘dating’ of Anna and Josh was refreshing to conservative parents who were tired of shows featuring pre-marital sex and frivolous romantic relationships rampant on television.
7. The Duggar family sets a good example and does not swear, cheat, lie, steal, etc. – Children could watch “19 Kids & Counting” without parents having to worry about show personalities throwing around the B-word, A-word, or other undesirable phrases and behaviors.
8. They don’t speak badly about each other, and enjoy one another’s company. – Most noticeably, you will be hard-pressed to find a Duggar speaking negatively about another. Unlike the infamous downward spiral of the nightmare that was “Jon & Kate Plus 8” where the mud-slinging was notorious, Jim Bob and Michelle do not take jabs at each other’s expense, or humiliate each other on camera. Kids don’t bad-mouth their parents or have bad attitudes in interviews. The love between the family is shown, even with intimate jokes between the parents.
9. The Duggars have raised polite, well-spoken, responsible, talented children. – The stigma of ill-adjusted homeschooled children is blown away by the 19 kids in this brood. The kids all play instruments, enjoy being active outdoors, are intelligent, talented, pursue their own interests, are socially-mature, respectful and good examples to others.
10. The Duggars show that you can be conservative, modest, a Christian, and still enjoy life and have fun. – While being traditional Christians, the Duggar family does not sit at home and read the Bible sixteen hours a day. The audience is treated to watching the Duggar’s go on multiple ‘field trips’, museums, camping, to movies, play games, and participate in many fun activities. Even when at home, the family is able to play together and have a sense of humor, despite the circumstances.
As a conservative Christian parent, I hope that the Duggar’s stay in the media limelight for as long as possible, as a positive example and representative of my (and other conservative’s) family and chosen lifestyle. Kudos to them, their decisions, and how they decide to raise their family.
TLC’s / Discovery Health’s “19 Kids & Counting”
Jim & Michelle Duggar’s family webpage – http://www.duggarfamily.com/