A Love That Multiplies: An Up-Close View of How They Make It Work
by MIchelle & Jim Bob Duggar
An inside look into the lives and philosophies of America's favorite extra-large family.
Appropriate for adults or interested young people
Though it's been a couple of years since I read it, this book seems very similar to the Duggar's first book "The Duggars: 20 & Counting." It covers new territory but with a similar feel. It covers their personal convictions, shares some resources, and recounts recent family experiences - especially those surrounding the birth of their youngest child, micro-premie, Josie.
I enjoyed spending some time with the Duggars. I admire the way they view children as gifts from God, and their willingness to make obedience to God a primary and public part of their lives. Their happy and loving attitudes are a little bit contagious, and I need all of that I can "catch."
The book reads a bit like a late night conversation, personable, full of detail, sometimes randomly heading into unrelated territory, and occasionally repetitive. Yet it's sincerity wins the day, and it leaves readers feeling like we really have spent time with this fascinating family.
Some ideas I found interesting:
One of the most intriguing ideas the Duggars shared, and repeated, was their desire to keep their kids guessing. They would announce an adventure in the afternoon and proceed immediately to do it (plastic waterslides on the lawn). Or in the middle of a school day Michelle would ask where a historic figure lived, the kids would look it up on the map and she would say, "Why don't we go visit?" and load up in the van. (For this type of adventure the parents would generally have planned in advance, but to the kids it would feel like a spontaneous adventure.) For a plan-lover like me this seemed unfathomable, the kids didn't even get to look forward to it, for goodness sakes! But the more I thought about it the more value I saw in this technique. Life is full of surprises and growing up with the experience that lots of these surprises are fun and exciting can build optimism into our children.
Growing Up Basket
One simple idea they shared was giving what they called a "womanhood kit" a special basket to their daughters as they approach puberty. It included the more practical things, but also some girly items like perfume, hair clips, and lip gloss. I've seen many ideas for parenting during this transition, but loved the simplicity of this special gift.
The Duggars have a distinctive look, and they like it that way. Though I'm not ready, nor are my daughters to start wearing dresses, I was impressed with the approach they take to dressing their boys. The Duggar boys wear colored shirts, generally polos, and jeans. I decided to give this a try at my house and have been very pleased with the results. My boys no longer look like they just rolled out of bed (t-shirts and sweats will do that to a kid) and simplistic or not, sharper looking boys act better and may even get more respect from mom.
The Power of an Enthusiastic Greeting
The Duggars teach their children that to be joyful and greet others warmly is part of sharing Christ's love and valuing others. They practice and encourage them to overcome their shyness as it is an extension of selfishness. This was another idea caused me a lot of thought. My final conclusion was that my children are sometimes "shy" out of selfishness and I would like to encourage them to focus on others as they interact. It's definitely counter-culture to believe that such fixed standards could be appropriately applied to almost twenty unique children. But just as I value my right to parent my children according to my values and insights, I believe the same respect should be given to this amazing family.