The Duggar Family of Arkansas Has 17 Children – Good Idea or Not?

I admit it; I’m a Duggar-a-holic. I am fascinated with this Arkansas family with 17 children. I first learned about Jim and Michelle Duggar through the TV specials about their family on the Discovery Channel, and I have read eagerly about them ever since. I have been impressed with their wholesomeness and the way they raise so many well-behaved children without government assistance.

But I was recently thinking that however much I admire the Duggars in many ways, I would not want to be one of their children. Why? I cannot imagine that any of the individual children are getting much of Michelle and Jim Bob’s attention. I have a downright puny family of just three children, who are now 10, 8 and 6. However, even these three have challenged me at times. There are many occasions where I feel that I am short-changing one or another of them because I need to give attention to another. When I taught school, I often had about 17 children in my entire classroom. While I tried to give the children somewhat individualized attention, there is no way I was giving the amount of attention a child would need from a parent.

From watching programs about the Duggars, I know that they use a “buddy system” where an older child is paired with a baby, usually when the baby is around 8 months old. The older child is then responsible for much of the baby’s caretaking and raising. I feel sad about this both from the baby’s perspective and also from the caretaker’s. Caring for a baby or a toddler is a lot of responsibility for a child of 10 or so.

Speaking of responsibility, I have been really impressed by the Duggar children’s maturity and behavior, at least as it appears on TV. Perhaps because there are so many of them and because there is an atmosphere of respect in the family, there seem to be no real troublemakers in the bunch. Again though, this makes me sad in a way because I wonder if the kids all have the opportunity to express themselves fully. I am a big believer in responsibility and maturity, but I think kids also need time to just be a kid and make childish mistakes that serve as great learning opportunities. I hope the Duggar children have that.

When I think of having 17 children, one of my first nightmare thoughts is the amount of work: cooking, cleaning, laundry, etc. However, I know that the Duggars solve this dilemma by designating various children to tasks (known in the Duggar family as “jurisdictions”). For instance, one girl’s jurisdiction is laundry. As a mom, I love the thought that someone else in the family is doing the laundry. But again, it makes me a little sad to think of a girl, even if she is a teenager, being responsible for the laundry of 17 people.

For the Duggars and other large families, I believe “the proof will be in the pudding” so to speak. I’ll be interested to see how the children turn out in the years to come. Will they want large families themselves, or will they be so tired of children and work that they seek a totally different life? Will some of the Duggar children opt for the single life?

I would be interested in comments, especially from those who either grew up in a large family or who have a large family now. Do you see large families as an overall plus or minus?