The Duggar Disaster and What Their Real Tragedy Is

 and why reality t.v. is evilFail

Jim Bob and Michelle, why the hell did you allow your children to become national celebrities when you knew this skeleton was in your family’s closet?  That’s what I can’t wrap my mind around.

A victim of sexual abuse should never have his or her identity as such made public except by her own choice to make it public.  Those girls had no choice in whether they were on that show (I mean, maybe they had a family discussion about it, but does anyone really think they had any real choice?), and now they have no choice about the fact that millions of people know about that terrible, painful, embarrassing** experience in their past.

And Joshua Duggar, if he’s repented and reformed and come clean the way he says he has–he really should be able to move on with his life.  He shouldn’t have his name dragged through the mud now.  But, because of a choice his parents made for him, everyone will know about this shameful sin of his past, no matter where he goes.  And his wife and children will suffer terribly too.

I’ve read a lot of opinions (as much as I try not to) about–oh, is he so bad?  Has he repented?  Should everyone forgive and forget?  “He was young and we all sin and he’s repented.”   Or, “sexual abuse is different from other sin, and he didn’t really have any counseling, and he hasn’t really had to repent.”  My sense is it’s somewhere in the middle–a fourteen-year-old doing incestuous stuff is messed up and needs serious, serious therapy and punishment.  But he’s not necessarily the same as adult pedophiles, who are basically non rehabilitatable.  But confused boys growing up in repressed environments and/or who are perhaps too close with “family friends” who turn out to be child pornographers . . . those boys can turn into non rehabilitatable adult pedophiles.

I don’t know.  It’s none of my business to know what’s really gone on with him.

But what we all do know is that the Duggars’ show started in 2008, and they knew all this had gone down in 2002.  Maybe the media is hypocritical and anti-Christian and the media’s really the party at fault here (I don’t think so) but no one should be surprised that the tabloid press tried to dig up some dirt on the poor, pious Duggars.  They should have seen it coming.  And they shouldn’t have done the show.

Whenever you get more than two moms together, soon enough somebody’s going to throw around the phrase “parenting fail.”  I cringe a bit when I hear my friends say it because whatever little mistake (if that) they’re referring to is never, ever, anything close to failure.

But this: this was a parenting fail by Jim Bob and Michelle.  I can’t imagine what would cause parents to subject their children to this risk other than incredibly stupid naiveté or severe greed, or both.

And another thing: even if a family doesn’t have a skeleton this bad in their closet, there’s no guarantee that they won’t.  There’s no insurance against your children doing terrible things.

That’s the thing with reality t.v.: it seeks out people who are messed up and need a whole lot of outside affirmation.   And even if the people on reality t.v. aren’t messed up to begin with, the fame messes them up, the way fame seems to do, and then they’re already in the public eye for everyone to scrutinize their failings.

I’m not giving up my HGTV any time soon, but for the most part, reality t.v. is evil.  And other ways people make celebrities of themselves are dangerous too.  I feel kind of uncomfortable about this blog.  Not many people read it, but I make it available to everyone.  I even make certain attempts to get more people to read this.

I think, if we make certain parts of our lives public, we need to be sure to keep our private lives private, especially the personal lives of our children, who have no choice in the matter.   I’m pretty sure I’m on the safe side of the line, but . . . it’s something I need to reevaluate often.

If TLC ever comes knocking at my door wanting to make a show about my life, please remind me I wrote this.

(Just don’t hold your breath.  😉

** A victim doesn’t have anything to be ashamed of but I’m sure it’s embarrassing nonetheless.

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17 thoughts on “The Duggar Disaster and What Their Real Tragedy Is

  1. Well said! I think initially what it came down to was, as you put it, incredibly stupid naiveté on their part. The whole thing started off as a few documentaries on TLC, and it slowly snowballed into a show, but it all started back in the early days of reality tv so they had no idea (especially since these people were incredibly sheltered) how big it would get. And I think once they started getting more famous, had a few People magazine covers under their belts, etc., they justified keeping at it because of the “good” they were doing, spreading their mission. Now, of course, whatever good they did is completely canceled out by this whole deal. At a certain point, they should have seen how crazy big they were getting and gracefully bowed out, for everyone’s sake. But they rode that crazy train too long and this is what happens to EVERY reality celebrity, but especially the “wholesome” ones. It’s sad, sad, sad.

    • If I’m remembering correctly, one of their first specials involved them building their house which was either given to them as part of that deal or maybe just furnished for them? I agree that it was a slow slide into fame and they couldn’t have known then what we know now about the dangers of exposing your family to the television cameras. Clearly now they’ve done more harm than good. One of my husband’s coworkers just asked me about our homeschooling methods after reading that this sort of abuse was encouraged by the Dugger’s curriculum. Great.

      • Ah, okay, I didn’t know that the show started as a few specials before it became a regular series. . . . I still think it was irresponsible of them not to realize, at some point a few years back, that so much fame would be dangerous. . . . Anyway, the thought of your family being compared to the Duggars strikes me as absurd. I guess: more than 3 kids + homeschooled = Duggars. Yeah. Great!

  2. I totally agree. I have no idea why anyone would ever want to be on reality TV and I do think it is a major parenting fail and just wrong to subject your children to such fame. And they KNEW about this skeleton and that it might come out someday. I mean, I would say that most other celebrities (like the President or a lot of actors) seem to do a good job of shielding their children from the public eye. Heck..to be honest, I don’t even know the name of Obama’s daughters (I know he has 2 of them that are teenagers, but I honestly don’t know their names without googling). But, I know the names of several Duggar children (did before this scandal came out) or at least the older ones and I don’t even watch the show. However, the Duggars seem to have thrown their kids into the spotlight….especially the teens/young adults with their courting/love/marriage/reproductive lives. Granted they are adults, but do/did they REALLY have a choice in the manner of having their weddings or courtships or reproductive lives made a matter of national news? That everytime a Duggar starts courting or gets married or announces a pregnancy, EVERYONE knows about it.

    And if they hadn’t been famous, this scandal would have never come out and the privacy of the victims and Josh’s wife and everyone else involved would have been protected.

    I’m glad their show has been pulled and I’m hoping the younger kids will at least be abe to grow up in more privacy.

    And I think you’re safe with this blog. Even big bloggers don’t have their kids show up on the cover of People magazine. A blogger will never be as famous as a TV star. I mean, the Duggars were REALLY famous. Not just famous in certain circles, but REALLY famous.

      • Also, just to add to my thoughts. A blogger or writer is 100% in control of what gets published and put out there into public. So, blogging is totally different from TV. While with TV, it’s up to the producers, etc. Plus, TV will always garner a higher level of fame than a blogger or a writer. Even BIG bloggers, I doubt anyone is trying to dig up dirt on them. But, the Duggars practically set themselves up for a scandal by marketing themselves as paragons of sexual purity/virtue/courtship. It’s not like their show is just about having a big family and their adventures. A huge theme was about their ideas on courtship and dating and sex and no kissing or hugging before marriage and all that.

        Also, most bloggers who post about their children, tend to post more about babies/toddlers/young kids and as their kids get older, they post about them less and protect their privacy a lot more. However, in direct contrast, the Duggars seemed to put the focus mostly on their older kids and their courting/love lives and the younger kids are more “invisible.” The younger ones got their moment of fame when they were born, but it’s the older ones that got most of the mention and spotlight in the public eye. and most of that revolved around their courting and love life which is really just a recipe for disaster and scandal.

        Sorry, for the long comments. Maybe I should just blog about this myself LOL.

      • Kind of reminds me, in an odd way, of the Jessica Simpson/Nick Lache show “newlyweds.” Remember that bit of ancient history? It’s just suuuuuch a good idea to publicize your tender, nascent relationship to the world. Right.

  3. I am so with you. I think the thing that broke my heart the most is that in crucifying Josh, the media is also broadcasting the pain of the victims without any thought towards them. I can’t imagine how awful that would be.

  4. I’ve been praying really hard for their family. I think that because they got famous so quickly the idea of “who” they were has made the media condemn them. Great thoughts.

  5. Spot on. We have read a handful of their parenting books and feel particularly yucky/betrayed because we really did enjoy the show, even with plenty of ideological and theological differences between us and them. It was borderline criminally negligent to subject their family to this, though perhaps the parents are themselves so sheltered as to not fully grasp the nature of modern media? At any rate, the harm has outstripped the good by far, and I pray God can and will redeem this situation for the victims in particular. This must feel something akin to another episode of abuse for them, but this time with the whole world watching.

  6. I know practically nothing about the Duggers except a whoooooole lotta kids, uber conservative Christians, and then I saw something about a sex scandal involving one of the Duggers. I don’t think I’d like to know anything else about them or their situation, but with that being the case I think so much of what you just said rings true about publicity and keeping family-first. Anywya agree with everything you said even without knowing a thing about these Duggers.

  7. What??!!! (Gasp!) reality TV is just wrong. And then this….. We should respect our children’s private lives as parents. This is just awful in multiple angles.

  8. My best friend from childhood grew up in the same cult that the Dugger kids did – ATI, or Advanced Training Institute run by Bill Gothard. I never guessed that this particular skeleton was there of course, but I knew that families in this cult practice all kinds of things that the cameras couldn’t show. (Whipping babies for crying, among other things). These parents may have just been greedy or unwise, but I doubt it. They likely saw it as a way to “be a witness” for their lifestyle. And since this cult teaches children to act like everything’s OK even if it’s not, the parents thought that their son’s actions would stay hidden.

  9. Pingback: 7QT: Terrorists, Dentists and Better Homes and Gardens | McSisters

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