November 10, 2011

Baby Hoarders

I opened a can of worms on Facebook so I figured I'd open one here as well. What am I talking about? The article I stumbled on earlier this week which read, in part:

"Every child deserves to be excited they are a part of life," Michelle tells PEOPLE after just revealing that she is pregnant with her 20th child. "Even when we were having our 5th and 6th [kid] … we would celebrate each pregnancy."

The reality stars have faced mounting criticism over the size of their family and the risks of Michelle's new pregnancy following the premature birth of their daughter, Josie, in Dec. 2009. But the couple insists that Josie's frightening premature birth and Michelle's life-threatening preeclampsia were not enough to convince them that 19 kids were enough.

Look, I'm an only child. I don't get the whole sibling thing. I don't know what it's like to have brothers and sisters. From that perspective I don't understand the whole life as a Duggar kid any more than I understand the dynamic that Mia and Owen have beyond my own observations.

But I am a parent.

Two kids is enough for us. Parenting is rewarding like no other responsibility can possible be. But it's also tough. We drew the line at two. Two kids seemed like the maximum number that we, as parents, could give our full attention to and rase the way we wanted to raise. Also, Beth's second pregnancy was wonderful but harder on her than the first. The delivery and immediate aftermath were scary. The recovery took longer. And I didn't want Beth to go through that again and hav an even harder time.

So when you roll all of these factors into a giant burrito of truth, I just can't understand how having 20 children is a good idea.

I have a theoretical understanding of how fantastic large families can be. I understand the passion for kids and the allure of more. But I don't undertand how parents could possible spread their attention across so many kids and end up, at the end of the day, with healthy relationships with each and every one of them. I certainly don't understand a parents willing to put her life in jeopardy to the detriment of her entire and very large family that needs a mother.

I've never walked in the Duggars' shoes so far be it from me to pass judgment. But my hunch is that this isn't normal.

Posted by Chris at November 10, 2011 7:25 AM

Absolutely it isn't normal. Big families were necessary once upon a time, but only because half the kids would die before reaching adolescence and you needed all those hands to run the farm. But now? It's obscene.

Posted by: Elizabeth at November 10, 2011 8:22 AM

Isn't it all religion with the Duggars? They believe each baby is a personal gift from their god, therefore they have no business doing anything to prevent pregnancy. When god wants them to stop having babies he'll let them know. I just hope that message isn't in the form of death during childbirth.

Posted by: COD at November 10, 2011 8:50 AM

Chris, I totally agree with you, and believe that the Duggars should find something else to do when there's nothing good on TV.

Posted by: Dawn at November 10, 2011 8:52 AM

First, I will admit that I don't understand the whole 20 kids thing. Then again, not long after my third came along, I completely forgot what a two kid family was like. And I still can't quite imagine four. You love what you have because it's what YOU have.

The other thing to keep in mind is that every pregnancy is different, and just because there was a downward trend from #1 to #2 doesn't mean that it would continue that way for #3. And lots of people have traumatic births and go on to have easy and normal pregnancies afterward. In my own case, my third pregnancy and birth was the easiest of the three. That certainly would make me optimistic for a fourth, coming off a "success", but in no way guarantees that it wouldn't end traumatically.

In her case, I don't think #19 being scary should necessarily mean she shouldn't have a #20, any more than if her second pregnancy were scary would I think she should absolutely not go for a #3. On the other hand, at her age and with her recent history, I'm glad she has adequate medical care.

Posted by: Becky at November 10, 2011 9:36 AM

I have 9 siblings (4 sisters and 5 brothers) and I have 2 children of my own. My husband is also from a large family (7 children) and that was a big part of our decision to stop at 2 children. While I love my family and wouldn't trade any of them for anything I do not believe that it is possible for 2 parents to That many children the time and attention they deserve. I think my parents did a good job raising us - as good as they could with 10 kids - but I do think that it is difficult to keep up with what is going on with that many kids.

Posted by: beth anne at November 10, 2011 9:47 AM

I will say, first and foremost, I do NOT watch any of the Duggar specials. I only know who they are because of my co-workers.

Now that I have prefaced my comment - COD - I do believe it is all religion. Especially after the miscarriage they had after baby number 1, she decided she wanted to have as many children as possible.

Also.. From what I've heard, she does not know her children. And really, how can she when she spends so much time pregnant? She can tell you about her first 3 or 4 kids, but after that, she doesn't know the rest of her children. The older children raise the younger children.

But, on the other hand, they can afford the kids. Their fortune did not come from the television show. The father worked hard for what they have, and he spent a lot of time building their fortune and his companies, so good for him.

I agree, though. Completely unnatural. My grandfather was one of eight children. Because they lived on a farm in Texas, and needed the help. But he also had the highest education of all his sibbling, and dropped out after 8th grade. It was a completely different ball park back then.

Posted by: Kim at November 10, 2011 9:56 AM

I am not against large families at all. This is something else. It seems like those two prefer to stay in the phase of life where you create your family. The stage of having kids, no matter what your biological age, has a special feel and experience, and I can see wanting to keep that feeling, but life is about moving forward and going thru the other stages of kid life. I loved that time, but if I kept having kids, I think being focused on that all the time would keep me from really being there in the other stages of their lives. I would'nt go back to that time for nuttin now. I loved each stage as it happened and I look forward to the next.

I also think that without the TV show, this family would be struggling mightily to make ends meet. Ask how it's working out for Kate Gosselin

Posted by: greenie at November 10, 2011 10:39 AM

what is normal? You are simply judging their lifestyle, shame on you.

Posted by: linda at November 10, 2011 11:22 AM

These people are sick. I don't care if it's the way they interpret their religion. It's nonsensical to think this is a good idea. The pregnancies, the child-rearing, none of it is being done with the welfare of those children in mind. And yes, I am totally passing judgment. I'm passing judgment on child abuse, which is exactly what's going on here. It's in bad taste (and an obvious sign of the times) that these people are being rewarded for their piss-poor decisions with attention and money.

At this point, it's like a game for them: let's see if we can get into the double digits! Ooh, let's see if we can make it to 18! How about 19? How about 20?! You're absolutely right to call it baby hoarding; I don't remember what comedian it was that said if there was a show called "19 Cats and Counting," that household would be getting a goddamn intervention.

Posted by: Fraulein N at November 10, 2011 11:56 AM

I'm the youngest of six, so I grew up in a fairly large family. Not Duggar large, but large enough. I'm sure it wasn't always easy on my parents, but we all received plenty of love and attention.

As for the Duggars, I really could care less how many children they have, because from the photos I've seen, the children all look clean and well cared for. (I'm going to hope that if they're not being cared for, someone would have stepped in by now.) But the fact that I've seen photos of these kids at all is weird do me. Because unless one of them cured cancer or walked on the moon, why are they newsworthy?

I often feel judged for the fact that I don't have kids, which makes it harder for me to judge someone else for having too many. As long as they stay out of my family planning, I'll stay out of theirs.

Posted by: Susan at November 10, 2011 2:18 PM

i didn't comment on your fb post because i unwittingly jumped into a similar fb post that same day and was saddened by how judge-y and evil other women (mothers!) were being.
first off, let me say that the whole quiverfull thing is downright cult-y and weird, and i feel about as warm to it as i do toward fundamental mornomism, etc. ew. plus, there's got to be an element of baby-hoarding going on there. so i'm not defending them, per se!
BUT my stoic and tough as nails great grandmother had eleven children - 10 boys and lastly, finally! a girl. she loved those kids fiercely and they grew up to be amazing, strong, intelligent people. 8 of those brothers went off to fight in WWII and all 8 came home safe, which was unheard of with the casualty count of that war. it is not impossible to have a huge family and have them all grow up to feel loved and be great people!
the duggars seem to be genuinely kind people. not just kind for the cameras, but sincerely kind. compare them to john&kate (shudder) or the octomom (call child services) and they are doing just fine.
lastly, it's one thing to sit around all arrogant and judging, saying "those people need to stop, that's just too many" because, frankly, maybe they should. but it's another thing to not just acknowledge that the child is already on it's way and wish them best wishes! i'm wishing them the best!

Posted by: kati at November 10, 2011 2:21 PM

Well, I don't have an issue with people having big families. My issue is with the Duggars actually PARENTING their children themselves. Older children should not have to be the caretakers of the younger children. I'm not saying that older kids can't watch out for the younger ones, but there is a lot of "this one takes care of this one and this one takes care of this one". That's not right to me. Children deserve a parent that has time for them and parents them...the love and care of a brother or sister can't replace mom and dad.

Posted by: Jean at November 10, 2011 3:15 PM

I don't understand it either. However, I think that their mindset is so different from the mainstream that their approach to life must be different as well. I'm sure they are happy and their children are well cared for, if not by their parents, by each other. Big families are beautiful. They are not for me. I am part of the mainstream. I wish her (and everyone) a healthy pregnancy. I also hope that it is what she wants.

Posted by: Heather at November 10, 2011 5:50 PM

Nothing about the Duggars is normal. I, too, got in trouble on Facebook for suggesting there's a degree of mental illness going on in Michelle Duggar's head. I realize they're Quakers, but I really wish she'd get her tubes tied or he'd get cut. They cannot possibly be able to spend quality one-on-one time with each of their children each day. And having a sibling care for their baby is not nearly the same as a mother's care.

Michelle Duggar is clearly suffering from some type of mental illness. It just isn't normal.

Posted by: Amy at November 10, 2011 9:07 PM

Of course they're not normal! We all make choices in our lives that differentiate us from the norm in some way.

Their choices aren't the choices that I would make. But I am pro-choice, and I believe that women--not society--have a right to make decisions about their own body. That cuts both ways.

It wouldn't be their right to judge or dictate how I would choose to raise my family, and it's not my right to judge or dictate how they raise theirs.

Posted by: Melody at November 10, 2011 9:58 PM

I commented on your facebook page. Do I think it's out of the norm of today's "family" absolutely, but I do not think there is anything wrong with what is right for their family. All their children are clean, respectful, have what I can see are decent values, they pay their taxes and financially support all their children all the children play musical instruments, from the one "documentary" I saw on them, so I'd have to say, what works for their family, despite being outside the "norm" is okay by me.

Posted by: Dee at November 10, 2011 10:16 PM

I come from a small family, as does my hubby, so I can't claim to understand the dynamics of a large family other than those things I observe from friends of ours that have 3 kids. The biggest family I personally know of is an ex-colleague who had 5 kids. Is it right to have 20 kids in a world that is already over-populated? Probably not. It certainly seems a bit excessive to most people where 2 or maybe 3 kids is the norm, and some might say irresponsible too. However I do think it is a very personal choice - especially in this case considering she is high risk. have nothing against large families, BUT, I don't think that you should have more kids than you can adequately provide for in terms of love, attention, opportunities etc.

We had our first child in May. It is very important to us that he has access to good education and opportunities that we missed out on, and so, the decision as to whether or not we will have more children will be based in part on whether we can also provide those opportunities to them as well. If not, it wouldn't be fair. In addition, I find that my son takes up a large chunk of my attention as it is (don't get me wrong, I wouldn't have it any other way), and I could see how I can maybe balance it out with a 2nd, and maybe even a 3rd at a stretch, but beyond that I can't see how I could devote my full attention to each child equally. And a child deserves to have your full love and attention, not to feel like they need to wait in line. What's the point of having 20 kids if you don't fully 'know' them because there are just too many of them needing your attention?

I don't know the Duggers, and I don't know what their lives are like or how they live (never seen the show, or read much about them) so I can't speak to their circumstances. If they can give each child the attention they deserve, then great. If not, then maybe they should re-consider their ongoing family expansion, and rather focus on quality of time spent vs. quantity of children.

Posted by: Delia at November 11, 2011 4:55 AM

Surely it can't be healthy for the mother? I also am concerned about over-population and the amount of resources it takes to look after all these children. Or maybe I'm just jealous because I'm having a difficult first pregnancy and seriously doubt I will have any more. It's nice to know that you turned out just fine without any siblings!

Posted by: Katherine at November 11, 2011 11:12 AM

Wow, people sure do get fired up about this. My take? My two children overwhelm me. I am tired of Elmo, and I'm so thankful that in about six months both children should be completely over him. And a vasectomy guarantees that his furry, red ass will never again grace my TV. I adore my children. I adored both of my very difficult labor and deliveries. I would love to do it again, but I can't do it. Because of Elmo.

If the Duggars can, eh, whatever. They seem to be good people. They seem to be financially okay. I think it's insane, and it's certainly not "normal." But. . .there's a whole lot of not normal out there. At least theirs seems functional. Odd, but functional.

Posted by: seeking elevation at November 12, 2011 5:00 PM

I too commented on your facebook, mainly because I was overwhelmed at the personal degree people seem to take The Duggars reproduction. You cant define "normal" it is different for everyone, simple but true. Your definition of normal depends on your culture and heritage, it will obviously be different from mine. I think it abnormal that one of ten kids will be medicated for something like ADAH, but most others will tell me I don't understand. The same would apply to the Duggars, we seem to be rather quick to judge, and happily come to the conclusion that they suffer from a mental illness, I just think they are different than the average family. Plenty of kids in small families are devoid of love and proper attention from one or both parents so having a smaller size of family does not equate adequate devotion from parents.

Posted by: Shannon at November 13, 2011 11:50 PM