Saturday, September 29, 2012
A Love that Multiplies by Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar
I mentioned in my pregnancy update post the other day that I just finished reading "A Love that Multiplies" by Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar. I've always been a fan of the Duggar family and love watching their show on TLC. I'm not trying to idolize them or put them up on a pedestal, but rather just share my thoughts about the book and their family in general. I realize they are just people and sinners just like you and me. But I'm thankful they live a life in service to God and in proclamation that they are sinners saved by grace. Psalm 107:2 comes to mind, "Let the redeemed of the Lord say so."
I have always been in awe of how loving, tender, and gracious they seem to be on the show. As with any "reality" show, you wonder what really goes on behind the camera. I've heard many people doubt that the family is really like that, but rather they are just really good putting on a show. I've never bought into that thought and I am even more convinced after reading the book. As I was reading the book, I felt like I was getting a closer look into their family and having a good conversation with Jim Bob and Michelle. I truly believe they strive to show the love of Christ in their home and in their daily life. There's no doubt they fall short and human nature gets the best of them. In fact, Michelle very candidly opens up about some of those experiences in the book. But she didn't just share those moments and move on. She shared deep, life-changing lessons she has learned from those moments. It is truly encouraging to watch a family show such love to one another versus much of the "normal" families depicted on television. I would rather watch a family showing the love to one another and have possible doubts than to watch a family constantly fighting and know that it's probably reality.
One of the most convicting parts of reading the book was Michelle's section on parenting. Again, it has always amazed me on the show how quietly and calmly she speaks to her children. Even when she is correcting them or teaching an important lesson, she speaks in such a calm manner. In the book, she writes about her decision to parent in this way. Proverbs 15:1 is her reasoning: "A soft answer turneth away wrath; but grievous words stir up anger." What a convicting thought! Is yelling the correct response to handling your child's misbehavior? If you think about it, yelling is usually the result of letting emotions take over reasoning. If you're yelling, you're more than likely not using good reasoning. It definitely isn't showing the love of Christ to your child. And your child probably can't even understand or fully comprehend what you're telling them because you're yelling. (Just a side note: I realize I have absolutely NO experience in parenting, so I have little credibility. I'm not trying to say what I think is the right way to do things. I'm just sharing my thought process and my reactions to what someone I consider an expert has to say.)
Mrs. Duggar shared several experiences when her children misbehaved and she reacted by yelling or getting upset. In the end, she realized her reaction was just as wrong as what the children did and she wasn't able to effectively get the point across. She realized the point to disciplining children isn't to prove that you are in control as the parent. The point to disciplining is to teach your children that they need to obey their parents even when they don't understand or agree. They need to learn to trust their parents because they have wisdom about situations that come with being a parent. That wisdom might regard safety or morality. Mrs. Duggar shared that her goal in disciplining her children with a soft and calm response is for them to realize they are being disobedient, give correction and reasoning for what they should have done, and affirm that they are being disciplined out of love.
Another aspect of the Duggar family that I have always admired is their approach to homeschooling. They have a hands-on approach to teaching their children. They value the learning that comes from real life experiences and teaching in the moment. Of course, they do have more "formal" aspects to their education that involves textbooks, computer tutorials, and organized curriculum. But the kids are encouraged to take learning into their own hands and find lessons in daily life. One of my favorite stories from their book was about their oldest son, Josh. When he was about 12 years old he earned a reward for doing something good (I can't remember if it was chores or what, but it doesn't make much difference). As a reward, he was given the option of receiving $20 or an old, rundown truck his dad had. He picked the truck. Over the years, he learned how to make repairs on the truck, worked to buy new parts, and made the truck usable again. By the time he turned 16, he had a truck to drive. I just love that! That experience then developed into him working on cars and now he owns his own used car lot. Talk about preparing a child for the future when they're young! Jim Bob and Michelle aim to prepare their children for adulthood. They encourage and focus on helping the boys work toward a career that will allow them to provide for a family. The girls are encouraged to learn skills to be wives, mothers, and helpmeets. This doesn't mean that they're stuck in the house learning to cook, do laundry, and wash dishes. They do learn those skills at a young age, but there are so many other ways they can learn helpful skills. A couple of the girls are involved in the volunteer fire and rescue service. They are studying to be midwives. They are in school for music education. Their heart is toward serving God and being wives and mothers. They aren't focused on having lucrative careers. That is something I admire greatly.
I could go on an on, but I would rather you just read the book for yourself. Again, please understand that I am not trying to idolize or put this family on a pedestal. I am sure there are many other families who live such a great example. And I even know some. I guess my point is to share that I am encouraged by this family's willingness to live a public life in service to the Lord. I feel like their testimony is inspiring to many. Sure there are doubters and critics, but isn't that what we're guaranteed as Christians? Do I think every Christian family should publicize their life? No. Honestly, I don't know that most family could do it in such an humble and honest way. I think the Duggars are able.
The bottom line is: live your life as a child of God so that others don't have reason to doubt, show the love of Christ, and go read about the Duggars.