Skip to comments.Life with 19 Kids and Counting: A Conversation with the Duggars
Posted on 01/23/2014 6:02:28 PM PST by Kaslin
Before pro-lifers of all ages marched through Washington, DC, Wednesday for the annual March for Life, college students arrived at the First Baptist Church in Glenarden for the Students for Life conference in Upper Marlboro, Maryland. Michelle and Jim Bob Duggar, the parents of the popular TLC program 19 Kids and Counting, received the Defenders of Life award and I caught up with them before they went on stage. We discussed the benefits of having a full house, the importance of keeping up the heart of their children and the pro-life message they hope theyre sending with the show.
What are some of the benefits or most fun parts about having such a large family?
Michelle: Well, I think if the children were in there, theyd say theres always someone to play with. You never lack for someone to have game time with or just somebody to talk to.
Jim Bob: And were always as a family, were always going places and doing things. And i think in one sense we have one of the funnest families in the world because theres so many of us that its just non stop fun.
Michelle: Never a dull moment.
Jim Bob: Even when we go do a work project. Its fun everyone working together. And we can accomplish a lot in a short amount of time.
Michelle: Many hands make light work. So it is, its teamwork. And we love it, its a lot of fun. I think Jill summed it up one time, she said, You know the whole idea that you know, when you have another child and another child that it would divide your love among those children, she said, People just dont understand how much fun it is to be from a large family. Its just like,
The love multiplies, it doesnt divide. And so I thought, Wow Jill that was profound! So thats why we named our book, A Love that Multiplies.
You mentioned a few things, but what are some of other of your favorite activities as a family?
Michelle: we love to go on bike rides. as far as energy activities we love to play ,go on bike rides, volleyball in the backyard, basketball.
Jim Bob: Yeah, were always playing basketball and volleyball and then in the front yard, the boys a lot of times are playing football. And the other night we went to Arkansas Razorback versus Kentucky game.
Michelle: Oh that was amazing.
Jim Bob: and took most of our kids with us. and Arkansas won in overtime. but, then we travel together quite a bit.
Michelle: the kids love to sing. and they love, theyll just break out singing when were driving down the road. wherever, just in the van at home or in the bus
Jim Bob: and they all love playing instruments together. and its just non stop fun in a large family.
Michelle: And entertainment. Yeah, never lack for entertainment (laughing), especially when youve got little ones around. And Im just so thankful weve got grand babies coming now because I couldnt imagine life without a toddler around. And so just the fun of doing and saying the cutest little things kids do. I keep my notes in my phone now and the out of mouth of babes, you know the sweet little things that are small kinds of fun things to enjoy with kiddos around.
Say you hired a babysitter for a night. What instructions would you give them?
Jim Bob: Good question (laughing)
Michelle: The babysitter or the children?
Michelle: I think I would instruct the children first. (laughing)
Jim Bob: For years, my mom would watch our children when Michelle and I would go on a date each week. And of course now a lot of our older daughters are -
Michelle: She still does sometimes. Shes still willing and available to do it.
Jim Bob: Now, some of our older daughters are in their 20s and so they watch the little ones when we - we still go on a weekly date night, usually Saturday night. I guess, the main thing we try to do as parents is keep up the hearts of our children. and so a lot of times, if theres an outward action thats happening. A lot of times its a sign of an inward struggle or something and so a lot of times we take them aside and say, Hey is there something youre struggling with? and having heart-to-heart talks with children is very important and for them to build, confess things and make things right and for them to know that mom and dad love them no matter what theyve done and for them to be able to confess things to God and their parents.and then make things right with their brothers and sisters.
Michelle: And always purpose to treat each other with respect. No teasing, no calling names, no putting each other down but truly showing respect, just the way youd want to be treated, treat them that way and be each others best friends and enjoy being together. You know, youre gonna have those relationships for life and you really wanna cherish and nurture those even now, when youre young at home so that you really will enjoy getting together later when youre married and have your own families. Like I said, I pray my family gets together just like Jobs kids did.you know they got together and had meals even after they were grown. And I think thats the goal just to love each other and respect.
Jim Bob: And I think really the foundation of a close knit family first off is having a close relationship between husband and wife and then the childrens relationship with the parents and then the childrens relationship with each other. And theres gonna be offences and things that happen but making sure that each one of us humble ourselves and ask for forgiveness.
Michelle: And make it right. And have a servants heart. Were really desiring to teach them to love , putting others before yourself. The acrostic we use is Joy - Jesus first, others second, yourself last, and if you put it in that order then it makes for a very peaceful, harmonious place to live. And so by realizing that, even at Josies age, who is now four, our baby in our family, just encouraging her to realize, you know what you can serve your big brother, you can go and get him his cup and bring it to the table and help serve your brothers and sisters, even though youre the youngest, learning by example, because we all do desire to show that love and that servants spirit, because thats what the Lord Jesus exampled for us.
I read another interview you both did and I think, Jim Bob, it was you that said a writer emailed you and said that your show prevented them from having an abortion. I was wondering if that is something that encourages you both to continue doing the show?
Jim Bob: Yes, from the very beginning when they asked us to do the first show, we prayed about it and we really felt like that maybe by doing the show, wed have an opportunity to say that children are a blessing and a gift from God and maybe thered be a woman out there that was considering having an abortion would hear that and maybe decide not to have an abortion. Over the past ten years weve received several emails and letters from women who have said that after watching our show, theyve decided to keep their baby. Theyve changed their perspective on the child - instead of seeing the child as a burden, they see the child as a blessing. But one mom in particular, back a couple years ago, she sent us a letter that said, I was watching your show, 17 Kids and Counting, and she said, Id already gone in for my first initial appointment to have an abortion and I was going to have an abortion the next day and she said, I flipped through the channels and saw your show and she said, Ya know, if that lady can do it with 17 kids, I can do it with one. And she kept her baby.
Michelle: And she sent a picture.
Jim Bob: Yes, a little two-year-old.
Michelle: Profound - she sent the joy of her life.
Jim Bob: And so that makes it all worth it. And so, our whole family really believes that the TV show is really not about us - its really about a ministry to share with the world that children are a blessing and a gift from God.
I see a lot of this with my 10. “Always someone to play with,” my four youngest boys (12, 10, 7, 4) are like a pack of Rottweilers. They seem to have a group mind: they can play a computer game in their brains when we’re in the van, all perfectly clear on what’s happening.
And older children with younger ones. My 17-year-old son is so close with my 2-year-old daughter. “Tom! Where’s Tom!” He showed her a video of elk on his iPod, and now every time I sit down at the computer, she climbs on my lap and says, “The elks now! Tom!” (It’s 9 minutes. Maybe she’ll be a wildlife biologist.)
The Duggars are amazing people!
May God bless and prosper them and all their progeny, always and in all ways!
You are pretty amazing, too!
This family is amazing, if I could have I would have had 20 kids
The doctor who delivered my Kathleen said we were cooler than the Duggars. I made her laugh through the whole delivery ;-). (Of course, she didn’t know them personally.)
It’s a myth that you have to be different from the common run of humanity in order to have a large family. You just need to have good health, prioritize, and have a sense of humor.
God bless this family!
God bless your family!!!!!
Very nice! My parents were both from families with 9 children. While my Dad has few fond memories of his 5 brothers, my Mom has always been close to her siblings.
I’m impressed that they have no debt. Amazing.
The oldest son of the Bates is running for Anderson County Mayor. He’s been on the County Commission several years now.
Me too. My cousin lives not far from them and just HAD to show me where they live. Arkies are rather proud of them. I didn’t care since I really didn’t know who they were and couldn’t care less about celebrities but they have a really big house on a nice property.
I was the oldest of seven and my parents have adopted more since getting rid of some of us. I wouldn’t have traded the experience, but it’s not always fun and games. My parents were careful to make sure that my sisters and I (they had three girls then a passel of boys) didn’t get roped into being spare mommies, like a lot of my friends were.
It’s nobody’s business but theirs how many kids they have, but the thing I see in a number of large families I’ve known is that Mom concerns herself with the nursing child and leaves the other kids to older siblings. Nothing wrong with helping out your family, but kids raising kids doesn’t work very well. They need adult input and oversight.