We're bringing you a 5-part interview series with the Duggar family! Part 1: The Duggars teach us the importance of date night.
But first, an introduction. I have to admit, I was prepared to be freaked out by Michelle and Jim Bob Duggar. What sane couple has 18 children, gives them all names that start with the letter "J", (Josh, Jana, John, Jill, Jessa, Jinger, Joseph, Josiah, Joy-Anna, Jedidiah, Jeremiah, Jason, James, Justin, Jackson, Johannah, Jennifer and Jordyn-Grace), decides to home school all of them, and encourages them all to play musical instruments in their free time? (Probably a couple who isn't interested in peace and quiet.) Surprise. They were both soft-spoken and kind, so much that I wondered how they fared roaming the New York City streets. They were the opposite of frazzled -- taking everything in stride. They were even concerned about me, worried that I might miss seeing cornfields of my native Ohio. (Don't they have enough to worry about?)
The best part is, the Duggars are so supportive of each other. Their decision is controversial for sure, but they don't care. They've made a choice to establish the Duggar Empire, they're doing the best they can, and it seems like they're loving it. I talked with them about how exactly they get it all done and still have time to enjoy the ride.
1) Don't Let 18 Kids Get in the Way of Date Night
"So we do the date thing, and I love that, and it's probably my selfish thing. The kids benefit, they see the strong relationship there, they know that mom and dad love each other." --Michelle
What is the heart of your story? Why did you decide to have this very unique life?
JD: Back when we first got married we thought we'd have one or two or three children. We got married pretty young; Michelle was 17 and I was 19. My parents just had 2 children, and Michelle was the last of 7 children. Michelle went on the birth control pill when we first got married and at the 4-year mark she went off it and we had Josh. Then she went back on the pill and she ended up getting pregnant anyway, but the pill caused her to miscarry.
MD: And at that point we were shocked, grieved. Here we were holding one baby in our arms and enjoying being parents, realizing we had lost a baby. At that point we really searched the scriptures and found that God said children are a gift and a blessing and a reward from Him. We asked God to give us a love for children like He loves children and we dedicated every area of our life to the Lord together. We decided that we wanted to receive whatever gift God wanted to give us. And right after that, the Lord blessed us with twins.
JD: And then another one. And another one. And another one.
MD: And another set of twins! We really believe that children are a blessing from God and that's our heart. When we view children as a blessing or a gift instead of a burden, we will treat them much differently. We enjoy them, they are precious, and they grow up really fast. Our first child, Josh, just got married last year in September and we realized just how fast they grow up. We encourage parents to enjoy them while you have them. Before you know it, they'll be grown and have their own families.
Do you get criticism for having so many kids?
JD: Yes, but we gave our reputation to God.
MD: There are different views for everything, and we figure that's okay. Because we know that we're doing what God has called us to do, and we are enjoying our family. We don't feel like this is what everyone is called to. It's not for everyone, but we know it's where we are and we're enjoying being there.
What about you, Michelle? Do you have time to do totally selfish things for yourself? When was the last time you did something just for you?
MD: It's so funny, the joy of my life is really being with my family. I love going on a date with Jim Bob, and that's selfish, I think. We do that weekly, either for lunch or dinner. The kids benefit, they see the strong relationship there, they know that mom and dad love each other. So we do the date thing, and I love that, and it's probably my selfish thing.
And I enjoy when it's quiet and everyone is in bed. I'm a night owl, not really a morning bird. I enjoy my shower and resting. I love to listen to the Bible on CD. I start that, kick back, relax, go to sleep and enjoy hearing that all night. I put it on continuously. Jim Bob and I talk about it when we wake up in the morning… "Did you hear? Did you think about this?"