The Duggar Family Crisis

In light of the recent revelations about Josh Duggar’s past, I have been thinking of the Duggar family and their predicament when this occurred 12 years ago. I have read all the comments on their Facebook and Instagram pages after their statements were released. People are quick to harshly judge Josh and his parents as to how they handled the situation.  

Let me start off by stating that what Josh did was wrong. There is no doubt of that and I do not believe that anyone who has defended the Duggars believes for a moment that what he did was not wrong. However, I believe that those people so harshly judging this family and their son are not taking into consideration some very important points. 

As someone who has been watching the Duggar family shows since their first one about 10 years ago, I have made some important observations about how this family has raised their children. The children were raised in a very strict, conservative Christian home. They were also fairly isolated and most of their interactions happened between themselves. They homeschooled and they churched at home. All of the children activity helped care for the other children and the home. Parents who are raising just two children cannot imagine having their kids help with household chores or caring for their siblings. In a large family, this is necessary to allow for the running of the household and was not uncommon years ago when families were much larger.  

I do not know for sure how the Duggars handled hormonal teens. I can guess, given my own interactions with very conservative, strict families that there was perhaps not much discussion about teenage sexual urges. When Josh was 14, he had fifteen younger siblings. The Duggars were in a small home, trying to make it all work with fifteen children!  As Josh was the oldest and the first Duggar child to go through his teen years, Jim Bob and Michelle were jumping into uncharted territory. As I am a mother of a teenage daughter, I can say that I was unprepared for exactly what these teenage hormones would mean for my own child.   

For a teenage boy, raised in a very strict Christian home, I doubt he was able to discuss his sexual urges and even understand them. He was probably raised with no means of expressing his sexuality and understand what was going on. Josh had no outside interactions with girls other than his sisters and perhaps a cousin. As the oldest, he had been part of the buddy system and was used to caring for his sisters. With no one guiding him in regards to his sexual urges and appropriate outlets and as a confused child, his curiosity would have played a huge part in his inappropriate touching of his sisters. 

We do not know exactly what went on and what occurred. We know that this was a confused, hormonal child who touched his sisters. He knew it was wrong and told his parents. The family decided to handle it themselves and keep this private. I am certain they were surprised and unsure of the best way to handle it so that the children were not traumatized more. This is also a family that, at the time, did not have a regular television show. It is doubtful that there were any evil plans to cover it up to save their precious show. They did go to the police, although it was later and after the incidents occurred. We do not know why they waited, but I can say that as a parent of a teenage boy I do not believe I would have run to the police to turn my son in for this.  I would be very aware of the implications if I had and what it would mean for his adult life.  

The family chose to handle it in a way that many secular people cannot understand. Perhaps they did not need to put their children into extensive counseling because it was not as traumatic as some people are making it out to be. Many Christians I know do not trust counselors with their minor children. I am not saying what happened wasn’t wrong, I am saying that people are blowing this way out of proportion and making Josh’s actions out to be far more serious than what was indicated in the report.   

Josh was a 14-year-old boy. Yes, I said it. He was a boy, a child. I have been a teacher in a middle school and am raising my own teenagers now. They are indeed children, who are going through many changes emotionally and physically. They are confused and often make impulsive, irrational and flat-out stupid decisions. I used to shake my head at some of the bad choices some of my students made. However, as parents and teachers, our jobs are to guide children who make bad choices to understand why they are wrong and help them make the right choices later on so they can lead productive adult lives.  

If I consider what I would have done in the Duggar’s position, I can say that I would have had a long discussion with my son and my girls about what is appropriate and what is not appropriate. I would not have turned my child over to the government authorities or counselors to deal with the situation. What happened was a private matter between children within the home and that is where I would have dealt with it. I would surely not want to ruin my child’s entire life because he made bad choices as a teen. I would look at my husband and I, and consider that perhaps we had not done a good job allowing open discussion of sexual urges and how my teenage sons could appropriately express them. We would discuss boundaries, since it appears we needed to set new ones as we had not anticipated what would occur in our very close-knit family once the raging hormones of the teen years set in. 

The Duggars surely spent much time in prayer and asking for forgiveness for what Josh did. The family moved on. This is not a family to dwell much on the past or create a victim mentality within their children. Forgiveness is a powerful thing and these children have all been raised to forgive others for their transgressions.  

This occurred twelve years ago. It is sad that so many people want this man’s life to be ruined because of what occurred when he was a teenage boy. We live in a world that is foaming at the mouth to catch good people making mistakes and then slander them, destroy their lives, and the lives of their own children.  It is despicable that anyone leaked this to the media as it will surely have a negative effect on Josh, his wife, their children and the rest of the Duggar children. The glee that some people have expressed in this newfound revelation about the Duggars is disheartening. I, for one, will continue to pray for healing and peace for all of the Duggars and for forgiveness for the person who wrongfully leaked this to the media.