I am going to review all 3 major titles in what I call “The Duggar Collection.” They include; The Duggars: 20 and Counting!, A Love That Multiplies, and Growing Up Duggar. The first two in the list were both written by Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar, the last was written by Jill, Jinger, Jessa, and Jana Duggar. If you’ve ever read my review of Do Hard Things, this review will be similar.
First, some background. I do watch the television series about this family on TLC; 19 Kids and Counting so I was already familiar with the Duggars and there were no earth-shattering revelations for long-time watchers of the show contained in the books. If you like the show, you’ll like the books, if you like to mock the show (or the family) you’ll mock the books. While the Duggars’ particular brand of Christianity isn’t my brand, I still respect their morals, commitment to family, financial position, etc… so I did enjoy all three books.
Second, if you want to cut the list down, I can help do that for you. If you want a book about the parenting principles and the life stories of Jim Bob and Michelle, read A Love that Multiplies. It covers very similar ground as the first book, but it is more recent and contains the story of Josie. If you want a book about relationships and courting from the perspective of 4 young ladies, along with stories of the Duggar clan, then read Growing Up Duggar.
The good; the Duggars are a breath of fresh air in this modern world when it comes to parenting. They care about their kids (yes, all of them), and have committed their time and energy to making sure their family is taken care of and brought up within a caring and loving environment. The books give the reader a window into their philosophies, which they obviously ground in scripture the way they interpret it. They include their perspectives on debt, modesty, parenting, homeschooling, morals, business, courting, etc… If you are interested in these topics presented with Christianity mixed in to all of them, then you’d probably enjoy the books even if you disagree.
I think that large families, as long as they are self-supporting, are awesome. I’m amazed that some people hate the Duggars simply because there are so many of them. They don’t take government support, they all seem bright and healthy, intelligent, interesting, etc… Whether a couple has no children, or 19, it is their choice and they can be a strong and happy family.
The girls’ book particularly was interesting to me, because I’m always curious of what the “next generation” thinks about all this. They tackle the area of relationships, and do so in a generally thorough (yet sometimes detail-lacking) manner. Their discussion on courting, parental relationships, and sibling relationships was informative, and again, refreshing.
The not-so-good; although the Duggars deny that they are a part of “The Quiverfull Movement” in Christianity, it is hard not to see the connection. Why such a large family? Because they believe that it is God and God alone Who determines the number of kids that a couple are blessed with, and this means no contraception allowed. So, what’s wrong with that? This particular movement tends to draw Legalists in by the boatload, and to judge others who don’t follow the same philosophy. Happily, I can say that I don’t pick up a lot of judgmentalism from the Duggars, who overtly say that they teach that their way is not the way for everyone when it comes to having kids. They simply stand by their own convictions and cite scriptures that they feel back up their POV.
Another not-so-good aspect to the family is that they “follow” or “read” materials and philosophies of some individuals in Christendom that are questionable in their theology, and perhaps even in their private lives. Bill Gothard is one such example. Anytime there is a strong teaching of different gender roles, one must be extraordinarily careful and be on the look out for sexual misconduct. I’m one that believes in different roles for the genders in certain areas, and I’m also one of the biggest skeptics when it comes to a philosophy that uses words like “sweet;” think sweet, be sweet, keep sweet, as applied to females. Ugh. FLDS anyone? Sex abuse anyone? Bill Gothard has had sexual misconduct allegations following him around for awhile now, and we have to be sure we look on someone as being innocent until proven guilty. However when talking of certain philosophies there is a great chance in some of them for women and girls to be abused.
Thankfully, I see no sign of that from the Duggar clan. I don’t believe in condemning someone because of the people they read, but I include this type of information in my review because I want to make it clear that it is is a red flag for my readers if they decide to delve into the Duggars’ books. Know that many of the ways they interpret certain scriptures are not the way that I, or even a majority, of Christians interpret them, and many of their resources listed are impacted heavily by those like Gothard and those in the Quiverfull movement.
In short, I liked all 3 books, though there was repeating information in each. I have learned a lot about large families and also how certain scripture are interpreted by those from this perspective. I truly appreciate the information they presented on raising kids, morality, and their faith. While everything seems to be going well right now for this family and the kids, there is always a chance that things could change, such as if we see one or more of the kids joining more mainstream Christian churches and “rebelling,” then we could see a different side to all of this. In fact, statistically, we’d expect to see some Duggar descendent choose their own path, as God guides the individual.
The danger in some of the teachings they push are just that, which is the danger of demanding everyone be a foot, or all be an arm in the Body of Christ; “Cookie-cutter Chrisitians” in other words. We also must be sure that we are not relying on good works or conformity to save us, but rather on Christ for it by grace we are saved through faith. It is a good thing to rely on God to guide us and convict us, and at the same time to make sure we are truly understanding scripture as it is meant to be understood. So, just make sure you are firmly grounded in scripture and in faith when reading books on other beliefs within Christianity (such as the Duggars have); test all things and hold to that which is good and true.