pop culture gossip community about contact archives subscribe advertise fine print bmc

« Nancy Kerrigan's Father's Death is Ruled a Homicide | Pop Culture Main | The World Now Knows What CGI Smurfs Look Like »

19 Kids and Still Counting: Why The Duggars Will Continue to Have Children and Why We Need to Shutup About It Already

Michelle-duggar_2 The Duggars have been under a lot of fire recently after the recent pre-mature birth of their 19th child, Josie.  Josie was born 4 months prior to her due date after mom Michelle had complications with pre-eclampsia.

Criticism from the medical and parenting communities have been both harsh and sometimes completely false in terms of medical risk: 

“ ‘The risks of additional pregnancies start to go up dramatically after four,’ warns Dr. Jeffrey Richardson,a Ventura, Calif., obstetrician who had practiced for more than 30 years.”

“ ‘Postpartum hemorrhage, dysfunctional labor, preterm labor and early miscarriage are all risks.’ ”

To which I say, OH REALLY?  I have never ever heard that claim before.  Ever.  Just because someone is a doctor, (he is a general surgeon, by the way), doesn't make them an expert in another field.

People are outraged that Michelle and Jim Bob have put baby Josie in grave danger by conceiving her.  Other parents are wagging their fingers and saying "I told you so," and "it was bound to happen since they didn't stop having kids." 


The fact is, this could have happened with baby # 1 or 2 or 7.  It can happen to anyone and I don't believe Michelle and Jim Bob increased their risks any.  I mean, baby # 18 was just fine, as were the 17 before that.  Obviously Michelle's body can handle pregnancy and childbirth very well.  I know some of you will disagree with me, and that's fine - but you can't deny that she had 18 healthy children before baby Josie.

You might as well hold your criticism; it doesn't sway the Duggars.  Michelle had a miscarriage after conceiving on birth control pills and her doctor said the pills were the cause.  Now the Duggars are avoiding birth control and abstaining after babies (40 days after a boy, 80 days after a girl) like the Bible says.

Adds Michelle: “It is not as if we’re going for another (child) immediately. This is going to be a year of different focus for me, getting Josie through her first year of life.”

As it should be.

The Duggars say in People: “Each child is a gift from God.”  Jim Bob adds, “The negatives don’t bother us.” Agrees Michelle: “Our hearts haven’t changed.”

I don't know at what point the Duggars will decide to stop having children, but in watching the show, I have observed the following:

The kids are well cared for.  They eat nutritious food, they are always dressed nicely, and they are clean.  They speak kindly to each other, they help each other and teach each other.  They are grateful for what they have, they make do with what they don't, and they love each other. 

I don't care if Michelle and Jim Bob have 100 more children, they are doing something right.  Those children piled into the tiny room where baby Josie was being kept in an incubator, and the room was quiet.  My two children would be hooting and hollering and I'd be hard-pressed to keep my 5 year old from knocking something over.  The older Duggar children explained the situation to the younger ones, engaged them in seeing their newest sister and cried at how small Josie is.  They are a close-knit, compassionate bunch.


As for Josie, she is recovering from a bowel perforation and now weighs more than 2 pounds. The Duggars will relocate to Little Rock Arkansas, for the next year to care for her. “Josie has been off the ventilator for two weeks now, and they are increasing her feeds little by little,” says Jim Bob. “We pray that she grows strong.”

Michelle is 43 years old.  Personally I wouldn't be having babies after that age, but many people do without complication.  Personally I wouldn't be having 19 kids and counting either but that's the Duggar's business and as long as they are caring for them the way it appears they are, I don't believe it's our place to criticize them.

It's all too easy to make snap judgments about a family this rare.  But if you watch the show at all, you'll see this family is strong in their values, comfortable with who they are, and waist-high in their faith.  You're not going to change the way they do things.  Regardless of the clown car jokes, all those kids can't go back to where they came from.

{photo source}

« Nancy Kerrigan's Father's Death is Ruled a Homicide | Pop Culture Main | The World Now Knows What CGI Smurfs Look Like »



Thank you for writing such a wonderful post about an extraordinary family. I whole-heartedly agree with all of the points that you've made and I don't understand why there is so much Duggar hate out there. This family is amazing and I can only hope that someday I can instill in my own children the faith and values that Jim Bob and Michelle have instilled in theirs. My prayers to baby Josie and the entire family.


I complete agree with everything you said.
Great post!

Jen O.

Thanks for this. I definitely (DEFINITELY) wouldn't have that many children, but just because I wouldn't do it doesn't make it wrong. And you are completely right - every single one of their 19 children are better behaved than either of my two, so they must be doing something right. Lots of somethings. The 18 children at home appear happy, healthy, respectful, well behaved and well adjusted people. Isn't that all we ever ask for our kids? Why are we chastising them for populating this world with wonderful human beings? Rant all over the bad parents in this world and leave these two alone.


Thanks for a nice post! I was one of the haters, but started watching the show and realized that the family (while NOT something I would choose) really does love each other and no one seems left out.

I am equally glad that they are debt-free and do not depend on handouts or someone else to pay for their stuff. (Ahem- octomom)


cindy w

What's interesting is that in a different day & age, their story wouldn't be all that remarkable. My great-grandmother had 16 children (3 died during infancy, 13 lived to adulthood), and her last one was born when she was 48 years old. I'm pretty sure no one ever stuck her picture on the cover of People magazine questioning her judgment.

I agree that the Duggars seem to be a perfectly normal, well-functioning family. It's a shame that they're being subjected to all of this finger-wagging.


Great post. I certainly wouldn't make the same choices they do, but the amount of vitriolic HATRED out there for them is really scary. I think people support the rights of individuals to make their own choices in theory, but in practice most people want everyone to be exactly the same as they are.


Thank you for this post. I'm so tired of all the judgmental people out there who don't fully know or understand the Duggar's situation. You said it all perfectly.


I so agree. Wonderfully put. Never would do it, don't really understand it, but none of my business. Amen.



I totally agree with you. I cannot stand when I hear people say those thing about this family. Their kids are well taken care of and are happy. And like you said a premature baby could happen to anyone. He OB even said her baby was in good shape after having so many children.


The Duggars completely freak me out. They are completely opposite from me in their belief systems. I can not imagine being in their situation.

That being said, I agree that their kids seem well-behaved and happy.

How could that ever be a bad thing?


I've been only vaguely aware of these people except for the fact that HELLO 19 KIDS!, but reading your post reminded me how judge-y and up in everyone else's business we tend to get.
If those kids are well cared for and well-mannered, if they have enough to eat and clothes to wear and KNOW HOW TO ACT RIGHT, well then who are we to say when they should give up having kids? You're spot on, lady.
Also regarding the premature birth and resulting issues -- my twins were also born that early, they were born at 24 weeks, and I had even (mostly) quit smoking and was taking good care of myself. So yeah, it could happen to anyone at anytime for a myriad of reasons.



I totally agree with everything you've said here and I think it's just about the lamest thing in the world when people criticize others for making different choices than they'd make.

However, I still don't understand why in the hell the Duggars even have a tv show (I've never watched it and never will). And, you know, they've made their life everybody's business by putting it on tv, so I'm not going to shed any tears for them when people are critical of them. They're free to put their lives out there, and everybody else is free to talk shit about them for doing it.


I agree completely. I had pre-eclampsia with #1 at 29 years of age - should I not consider more kids because of it?

I read somewhere that the percentage of pre-eclamptic pregnancies ends up being roughly 1 in 19.


As long as they are loving, caring, and providing for their children I don't see the problem.

Heck, I don't even want 1 child let alone double digits (I will gladly give my quota to them). I don't want others to judge me for not wanting children so who am I to judge them wanting so many.


Excellent points. I find the thought of having that many children repugnant (therefore I don't have that many) and I cannot imagine what that woman's body looks like, but apparently her husband's good with it and so is she. As long as everyone is cared for, fed, loved, etc. why should I even care?

I miscarried my first preganancy. I had preeclampsia during my second (my son was born nine weeks early) and my son had a stroke in utereo. I did everything "right." And I was far younger than Michelle is now.

People need step back and look at the big picture, then ask themselves: "Why do I really care?"


We so often want to condemn anything different from how we live, lest we be left to question our own choices. Thanks for this post. I walked by the PEOPLE magazine at the store today and wondered, "why do we even have the right to question how many children are enough for these people?"

I really admire the Duggars and know that, as different as parts of my life are from theirs, I could certainly use to take a few pages from their parenting book. Their results speak for themselves.

Karen Chatters

I think she's off the charts nutso to have that many babies but, that's just my opinion, and you're completely right. She's (they) entitled to do what she wants with her body, her marriage and her family and if they want to have all those kids, power to them. They seem loving and caring and compassionate and they can remember all their kids names, I just can't imagine.


Ah, this is a nice, nice post. Seriously. Let's look at the big picture - which you obviously did. Loved, cared-for children taken care of by hard working parents.

I'm sorry - WHAT is there to get snarky about?

Good good post!


It appalls me that someone like that doctor can say basically that they brought it on themselves by having so many. It's obvious that they love their children very much, and I wouldn't wish a sick baby on ANYONE.


I agree. Frankly, I know people with two kids who don't take care of them and shouldn't have had them. They take care of them, they are clothed and fed and seemingly well behaved and loved. Shrug.

I think we all know people who've had a baby born way too early. It sucks and it's horribly sad, but there generally isn't a reason. Saying it is punishment of some kind, or that she did something wrong is just uncalled for.

I do tend to make fun of all the J names. But I have name issues.


Heather hit the nail on the head for me. That doctor's message did seem to say they deserved it! I have seen a few episodes, including one where *Michelle's own OB/GYN* (who probably knows more about the situation than a random general surgeon) said that Michelle's body was fine and handled the multiple pregnancies well, but I still see articles and comments about the state of her private parts ... I don't think having a TV show about one's unusual family makes that kind of speculation okay.


THANK YOU. I am so tired of people getting all judgemental on a couple for no other reason than that they choose not to use birth control and welcome each child as a gift from God. If we want a society where we have reproductive freedom, that includes people having large families, not just those who keep their families small or who chose to not have children.


Jim Bob's head looks bizzaro in that second pic. It's wierding me out.

Nice post about the family :)

Goddess in Progress

I couldn't agree with you more, and that stupid People magazine cover bothers me every time I see it.

They didn't "choose" to have a premature baby, nor did she do anything to cause her preeclampsia. Yes, I have heard that high numbers of pregnancies can lead to certain complications. But after 18 normal ones, I too would have assumed number 19 would have been fine.

I agree. Their kids are happy, healthy, and seem to be generally good people. They support themselves. Who the hell are we to judge?

Mrs Chaos

I really liked this post.

They do seem like good people. Even if I would not (don't) make the same choices.


Okay, personally I don't agree with their religious convictions, and I sure as heck don't believe in thier way of life as far as fashion choice, but

Those kids are happy, the family is happy and not stepford family happy, I mean kids will be kids happy. Have you seen Johannah she is definelty a kid with a mind of her own.

I say leave them alone and worry about your own family if you just HAVE to worry about someones kids.


I don't understand why they can't practice natural birth control, that is, abstaining from intercourse during the fertile stage of Michele's cycle. I think it's dangerous and ridiculous at this point to endanger Michele's life with further pregnancies. She has had a warning with the premature birth of Josie and it would be selfish to all the Duggar children if Michele was to die during another pregnancy leaving all those children motherless.

Suzy Q

I don't agree with their beliefs, and I think they're really odd for having so many kids in this day and age. That said, however, this country was founded on the concept of religious freedom and they are as entitled to their beliefs as am I.

Also, if the posters who actually watch their show are right about the kids being loved and well-adjusted, then fine. However, putting yourselves on TV WILL open you up for criticism. Hell, I criticize EVERY reality show.

For those who abhor the idea of so many (well-brought-up) children being born into one family, I say go see "Idiocracy." You might just change your mind about the Duggars.


Well written post! I understand why people are critical, that's what people do: criticize choices that are strange or different to us. But, I have never thought this family deserved it. Yes, they opened their lives to the media, but you don't ever hear about them doing all the media blitz stuff that other "reality" families do. I also haven't ever heard them complain about the criticism.

I think the circumstances of their family are pretty extreme but they truly love their children and their children seem to truly love each other.

I read a criticism of them the other day for having the older children assist in raising the younger ones. That's how it was done in my Dad's day. He was the 2nd oldest of 7 and there was about 15 years between him and the youngest. He and his older sister helped raise the younger kids.

Whether they have more or not I do hope they and the newest baby are able to pull through this crisis strong and healthy.


Thank you for saying what I've said all along!! It's NO ONE'S business!

I lost 2 babies before having my healthy little boy 6 months ago, and I'm only 31!!!

This family inspires me. I have no intention of having 19 children (I think 4 will be our limit), but she keeps me in check. If this woman can keep her gentleness & lovingness with 19 munchkins, then surely I should be able to keep my composure with 1.

God bless them!


Great post! Fully agree with you.
I'm 1 of 4 & my partner, a nearly-only-child, sometimes is whelmed by how 'big' families are with 4 or 5 kids. & while we may not have any, I'm not that bugged out by the idea of that many. *shrug*
To each their own. ;p


Agreed! Thanks for writing such a great post!


CindyW, you make a point I've often thought of. Before birth control was an option, it was not deviant to have lots of children. Would I want to be raised in that family, or raise my own family like that? Absolutely not. But its still a little hard for me to see not using birth control as a controversy-worthy topic. I do think People is stirring up the contention as much as they possibly can. Some in the media think these magazine covers are very intentionally controversial: bit.ly/a52jBn


Great post.

Like a lot of people who have already commented, I wouldn't want a zillion children, nor am I religious, BUT you can't argue that they seem to be good parents doing everything they can, so everyone else should step off!


I completely agree with you! I am amazed by the Duggar family-- I struggle to manage my household, and I only have 2 children! Michelle and Jim Bob are wonderful, caring, devoted parents, and their children are thriving. I might not agree with their religious or political beliefs, but they are fantastic parents.


THANK YOU! I love the Duggars. Not AT ALL my lifestyle choice, but hey. Those kids are happy, clean, healthy, and kind. Bravo.


I don't know that I'd call tater tot casserole "nutritious.' I don't know that I'd call relying upon the older ones to essentially raise the younger ones "good parenting."

Karen Sugarpants

Beth - as if they have tator tot casserole every night. Those parents are very involved in the upbringing. Have you even seen the show?


Nicely done. It's so easy to snark at people whose out-of-the-ordinary choices make them an easy target, but it's the bigger person who can take a step back, look at the full picture, and call it like it is: Two parents making choices that work for them, and doing a pretty good job at it, all things considered (although I DO have my reservations about religious indoctrination in general...).

Thanks for posting this.

kari Weber

My mom was one of ten... 19 IS a lot, but I think the real problem people have is that they WANT the Duggars to have more problems. It is a cop out to attack their beliefs or their parenting skills (when the children are so OBVIOUSLY well behaved...) if there was something VALID to criticize them about we would have heard it by now.
Also, it wasn't like the baby was born premature because of cervix failure, or prolapsed uterus or something... pre-eclampsia comes on without the ability to be diagnosed before-hand. My $0.02


Thank you so much for being one of so few people who will actually say something nice about this amazing family. It truly bothers me that so many people are so judgmental of the Duggars' decision to have so many children - what people should be really worried about is all the children who do not have parents who will love and nurture them the way that the Duggars do. Though I would never have so many children, I have read their book "20 Dugggars" and think that it is amazing how they have been so successfully raised 18 great kids. Also, in terms of people's argument against Michelle's decision to have another child at 43 obviously are not aware that the Duggars made it extremely obvious that they were not expecting another baby after Jordyn-Grace. Though the risks of birth defects and other genetic problems do increase with maternal age, the vast majority of children born to mothers over 40 DO NOT have problems. Michelle has been commended so many times by OB/GYNs and other doctors for her health and "childbearing shape" for her age (like baby Josie, my mother was 43 when I was born and not in as good health as Michelle, yet I am in better health than most of my peers and family), so if anybody is going to have a baby at 43, I hope it is going to be someone like her.


The only thing I dont believe you mentioned is that Josie is not ill because of anything anyone could do- many women get pre-eclamsia and no one blames the baby for being ill and causing this. The mother can't 'cause' this either.
I just wish I was able to have as much patience and strength as they obviously do.


Personally, I could care less if they keep having more kids. It's certainly not up to me to decide. I do like their show, even if they seem a bit unorthodox to me. Their lives are interesting.

I am surprised that her uterus hasn't fallen out, though.


I don't care if the Duggars have 19 more children. If they can support and pay for all of them, then that's fine.

Here's where I do have a few problems, though. Whatever the Duggars do IS actually my business, because that's what happens when you exploit yourself and your family on TV. Do people sympathesize when celebrity families such as the Kardashians or Hiltons have their many life issues and complications headlined all over the media? NO. Those families chose to make bank off of their lifestyles, as have the Duggars. Jim-Bob and Michelle chose to make themselves and their children household names, just like Jon and Kate Gosselin did with their eight children.

If the Duggars and the people who have positive opinions about their lifestyle want people to "not care" or "mind their own business", well tough luck. As long as there's a 17,18,19... etc and Counting, I will (and anyone else who watches, for that matter) say whatever the hell I feel like, because I can. If you have a problem, well take it up with Jim-Bob and Michelle who decided to have their children's every day (what should be private) routines, embarrassing moments, and even little Josie's dangerous birth filmed and exploited so all of America could view and obsess about it. When millions of people know who you are and enough about your life, don't expect everyone to like you.

I'm not trying to sound bitter, hateful, or spiteful; I'm simply pointing out an important observation many commenters miss when they feel the Duggars are being too harshly judged. The Duggars gave the media permission to manipulate their family, now they can pay the price.

Snarky or defender of the reality genre oppressed.  Let's pick a genre and stay with it, mkay?

You said "I don't believe it's our place to criticize them....It's all too easy to make snap judgments."

In scrolling though the post titles on the front page of Mama Pop today, to say nothing of the stories and comments, there is one story that refers to a character on a reality show as a douche, disparaging remarks about another celebrity's anatomy, and a judgment of a movie that was released this weekend as a snoozefest (again, that's just the titles of the posts).

I do believe that a good portion of what the writers do on this site is judge and criticize. And sometimes, they do it with an aim at humor, other times, they're cruel.

Let's not forget that the saddle on that high horse of yours is paid for by the bitchy snark that keeps the site running... and that keeps readers coming back.

The comments to this entry are closed.

Read the Comments Policy »

« Nancy Kerrigan's Father's Death is Ruled a Homicide | Main | The World Now Knows What CGI Smurfs Look Like »

Blog Widget by LinkWithin