Real Community Lets You Be Real: A Look at the Duggar Family Rules

by | Mar 18, 2020 | Uncategorized | 55 comments

The Duggar Family Guidelines and Fake Christian Community
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This month on the blog we’re talking about real community–how to be in a healthy place with people who love you and challenge you, and whom you can spur on to love and good deeds, too.

We’ve been talking about how to find healthy community, how to make friends, and what giving and accepting advice should look like in healthy community.

I want to add one more thing today, even though it’s not Monday, because a reader sent me this list and asked me to comment on it, and I thought it fit well in this month when we’re talking about community.

She sent me a list of the Duggar House Guidelines, which was up on the web in 2008, amended and enlarged in 2010, and then removed. Different variations of this list can be found online in the wayback machine (just search for http://duggarfamily.com/familyguidelines.html), and here’s a 2010 one:

  1. Always use soft words, even when you don’t feel well.
  2. Always display kind actions and joyful attitudes, even if you have been mistreated. Have the right response by quickly forgiving others in your heart even before they ask.
  3. Always be enthusiastic and look for opportunities to praise others’ character.
  4. Always deflect praise and be grateful to God and others for the ways they have benefited your life.
  5. Always use manners and be respectful of others and their belongings.
  6. Always do what is right, even when others may not, or when no one is looking.
  7. Thank God for how He made you, for what He has given you and everything He allows you to go through. (Romans 8:28)
  8. Don’t mock or put others down. Develop compassion and pray for others.
  9. Never argue, complain, or blame. Quickly admit when you have done wrong and ask for forgiveness (even if you were only 10% at fault). Don’t wait till you’re caught. Be sure your sins will find you out. He who covers his sin will not prosper, but he that confesses and forsakes it shall find mercy.
    Have a tough accountability/prayer partner to daily share your heart with and to keep you in line (your parents, spouse). The power of sin is in secrecy.
  10. Be attentive and look for ways to serve others with sincere motives and no thought of self-gain.
  11. Think pure thoughts (Philippians 4:8, Romans 13:14).
  12. Always give a good report of others. Don’t gossip! Never tale-bear unless physical harm will come to someone. (Use Matthew 18.)
  13. Never raise a hand to hit.
  14. Never raise a foot to kick.
  15. Never raise an object to throw.
  16. Never raise a voice to yell.
  17. Never raise an eye to scowl.
  18. Use one toy/activity at a time. Share!
  19. Do your best to keep your surroundings neat, clean and organized.
  20. Never let the sun go down on your wrath. (Don’t go to bed angry or guilty)
  21. Amendment J.O.Y. –
    Put Jesus first, Others second, Yourself last.

I don’t want to talk about the Duggars, really, especially since they did take these guidelines down (I think after a lot of criticism). But people did it send it to me, and I found that this list encapsulates a lot of the problems I see in certain Christian communities. So since we’re talking about healthy Christian community this month, I’d like to deconstruct just three parts of it today, in hopes that I can help us identify when our community’s culture may not be healthy.

It’s okay to accept praise

The rules say:

  • Always be enthusiastic and look for opportunities to praise others’ character.
  • Always deflect praise and be grateful to God and others for the ways they have benefited your life.

So we’re to praise others, but then we’re to deflect praise. That’s a bit of a problem (I can see the circular conversations: “You’re so good at that!”, “Oh, no I’m not really, it’s all Jesus!”, “But still, you’re so good!” etc etc.)

Is there a better way to look at this? Can you accept praise without becoming proud or conceited?

I think so. And i think it’s healthier to do that than to pretend that you are never good at anything, that your effort never really mattered. After all, God is pleased with us when we listen to Him and when we do interesting things, and I think it’s okay to feel His pleasure.

Yet how many of us find it uncomfortable when someone gives us a compliment, and we need to immediately try to show why it’s not a big deal or why they’re wrong?

I’ve found a good answer is, “thank you for encouraging me.” If it’s good to praise others because it encourages them, then isn’t it okay to accept encouragement?

God Himself wants to say to us one day, “well done, good and faithful servant.”

You don’t always need to use soft words

I find the emphasis on always saying nice things in a nice way is a little bit odd, because some situations do not call for nice words or soft words. Nevertheless, the guidelines say:

Always use soft words, even when you don’t feel well.

Yes, we’re to be gentle. But sometimes more than soft words are called for! Let me remind you of this:

Or what about this?

 

It’s okay to protect yourself

The person who sent me this list was most concerned with this final point: Telling people that they must never say anything bad about anyone else, unless it may lead to physical harm, is highly problematic.

Always give a good report of others. Don’t gossip! Never tale-bear unless physical harm will come to someone. (Use Matthew 18.)

What about emotional abuse? What about spiritual or verbal abuse? And what if the harm will come to YOU, and not someone else? What if it’s not safe to go to the person first, as Matthew 18 instructs us to do in cases of personal conflict? What if that would make the situation worse, or what if it would increase danger?

Then you need to protect  yourself and others!

Okay, now what’s the commonality in these three things?

In unhealthy community, being nice matters more than being good.

When everyone is nice to each other, then on the surface, things all seem to be peachy and rosy. And if we want to have a community where everything is perpetually peachy and rosy, then being nice (and saying soft words and never be seen to stick out and never speaking ill of others) is absolutely necessary.

But what if keeping things peachy and rosy is a really bad goal for a healthy community? What if part of the point of community is that there will be friction, because people are not perfect, and we all are different, and as we rub together we will make mistakes? What if it’s better not for everything to be peachy and rosy, but for everything to be honest with a large dose of mercy? What if honesty matters more than on-the-surface peachiness and rosiness?

And what if you actually are a precious child of God, and it’s okay to protect yourself, notice when you have been obedient, successful, or done well, and it’s okay to celebrate that? 

Healthy community does not need people to feel bad about themselves or as if everyone else is better than they are.

Healthy community requires everyone to realize that they are all made in the image of God, and to treat others as those made in the image of God as well.

It’s to realize that we, ourselves, have worth, and that others have worth, too. And it’s to help all of us reflect more and more that image of God–even if it requires treading on other people’s toes.

Isn’t that what Jesus is all about? He’s not about making things peachy and rosy, anyway. He’s about challenging us to go constantly deeper into holiness, and justice, and mercy. He said,

Matthew 10:34

Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. 

Sometimes that will mean soft words. Sometimes that will mean blunt words, forceful words, piercing words.

Sometimes that will mean being sad, being angry, being melancholy, and sometimes it will mean being excited, happy, and optimistic.

How do you know the difference?

Because we’re always focused on Christ.

That’s why I don’t have r for my life. I’ve tried to write them at different times, but it never quite works. What may be good for one situation is not good for another and doesn’t always work, because we’re messy.

So I tend to use three simple principles:

  • Spur one another on to love and good deeds.
  • Point others to Christ.
  • Be transformed into the likeness of Christ.

If we do these, we’ll be fine.

In healthy community, there is room for a wide range of emotions

And one of the other good things about this is that being like Christ acknowledges that there is room for all emotions. Emotions, in and of themselves, are not bad. They are signals of what is going on in the real world. When we deny our emotions, we’re often simultaneously denying something that is happening-we’re not allowed to speak the truth about something. But Jesus is the Truth. Truth is never a problem. As Marc Shelske says in The Wisdom of The Heart:

Healthy community encourages truth-telling, even if it means uncomfortable emotions or revelations, because the truth is not something to be feared. Truth takes us closer to Christ.

In unhealthy communities, though, appearance is what matters, so everyone must conform to a certain way of doing things, and must not rock the boat.

Healthy Christian Community vs. Fake Community: The Duggar Family Guidelines

Some challenges to you if you want to walk in healthy community:

  • Practice accepting compliments–“thank you for encouraging me.” “That’s nice to hear.” “That made my day.” “I appreciate that.”
  • This week, say what you actually think in a situation where you may be tempted to just use soft words.
  • If you hear that someone in your community is being harmed, speak up. Don’t assume someone else will!

Do we understand the difference between nice and good? What do you think of these guidelines? Let’s talk in the comments!

Sheila Wray Gregoire

Author at Bare Marriage

Sheila is determined to help Christians find biblical, healthy, evidence-based help for their marriages. And in doing so, she's turning the evangelical world on its head, challenging many of the toxic teachings, especially in her newest book The Great Sex Rescue. She’s an award-winning author of 8 books and a sought-after speaker. With her humorous, no-nonsense approach, Sheila works with her husband Keith and daughter Rebecca to create podcasts and courses to help couples find true intimacy. Plus she knits. All the time. ENTJ, straight 8

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55 Comments

  1. Shay

    “In unhealthy communities, though, appearance is what matters, so everyone must conform to a certain way of doing things, and must not rock the boat.”
    This really struck me because it describes my childhood perfectly. My mother is a wonderful woman and certainly had good intentions, but she always made what others think a priority, still does actually. It seems good on the surface, but looking back I can see how unhealthy this was for us. Thanks for this article.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Glad you related to it!

      Reply
    • Mark Kieft

      Thank you so much for your honesty and for taking on all the issues that you do. As a pastor it is sometimes hard to read all the different sides of things. But you do a great job of giving us the core of what was said or written. And then you respond to it using scripture clearly and honestly. Thank You

      Reply
  2. Blessed Wife

    The Duggars mostly seem like precious people, and I don’t want to pick on them. But with these rules in place, they raised a sexual predator, lived with him AND HIS VICTIMS for years, and had no clue. That’s a problem.
    Also, as you point out, Jesus did not mince words. He would absolutely rip people a new one when the occasion called for it; but always with the goal of leading people toward the Father and His way. Paul did the same. I wonder if these rules evolved not from the example of scripture, but from what made it easiest to get along in a house with 21 people living in it? Easiest, not necessarily best.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Very true, Blessed Wife. I think the Duggars just came from a community where they didn’t know any differently, and they were never modelled what healthy family was actually like. That’s why I think blogs are so important. They can infiltrate communities where you may not know any healthy people in real life, but you can learn what healthy really looks like, and start to question what’s around you. I don’t think the Duggars meant to be dysfunctional at all (nobody does!). I think they thought they were honouring the Lord, and in some ways they were. But the example they set was not of healthy community, and I do think that’s sad, given the influence they had.

      Reply
  3. Ina

    Honestly, reading these rules from the viewpoint of someone raising toddlers these rules make perfect sense! In the beginning of teaching kids, you do have to focus on training them to bring their requests with a soft voice (unless you like whiny adults!) Their default is yelling because they think maybe their sister glanced in the direction of their toy and that might mean she’s thinking about taking it. They know how to demand, to state what they want etc… so these rules make sense in teaching kids to consider their siblings needs, to remind them that, “a soft answer turns away wrath. ” Of course, if kids age and their relationships get more complicated, but the rules don’t change to reflect that, then you run into these problems! And, I think it’s worth noting, family is a community but it’s unique and family rules won’t look the same as church or community rules.

    Reply
    • Laura

      I agree, back in the days when I had four toddlers and then four preschoolers we had a lot of weird rules (Don’t lick people! Ask before you eat someone else’s crackers! If one person needs to go potty, EVERYONE is going potty!) that would really seem crazy and unhealthily strict if you applied them to a church or a group of adults.
      For the record, we don’t enforce those rules anymore now that all four kids are teens. Now we have new weird rules like Don’t eat all the grapes in one sitting. Or No hour long showers, Get in. Get clean. Get out.
      Context is important

      Reply
      • Sheila Wray Gregoire

        Yep. I get that. But these were their family rules for EVERYONE, and I think the reference to Matthew 18 shows that they weren’t aiming at small people.
        ( we had a similar rule about no hour long showers. Katie liked LOOOOOONG showers!)

        Reply
        • Ketsia

          Great article Sheila, as usual! The whole thing with deflecting compliments is so unhealthy. It really devalues our unique contributions using our God-given gifts, talents, and even physical attributes. It’s like you’re saying “No! no! Don’t compliment me, I am nothing.” That’s the opposite of how God feels about us, and it sows seeds for low self-esteem and hypocrisy in my opinion

          Reply
          • Sheila Wray Gregoire

            Yep! i think there is a real strain in some circles of Christianity to think, “I am nothing. I am scum before God.” But God rejoices over us with singing! We are made in His image!

    • Elissa

      Yes, this is exactly what I was thinking! Principles like “point others to Christ” and, “Be transformed into the image of Christ” are great for people who are mature enough to know how to apply them, but a house full of small children (which, it’s worth noting, the Duggers had 10-12 years ago) needs something less abstract until kids can learn to draw practical application from principles on their own. I’m not saying I agree with all their specific rules, but it seems unfair to compare family rules in a house with a bunch of small kids to a church community of adults and expect them to look the same.

      Reply
      • Sheila Wray Gregoire

        I’d agree–if that one about Matthew 18 weren’t there. That’s something that only older people will really understand. This isn’t just a rule system for toddlers. And considering that most abuse happens within families, that’s just not healthy.
        And the thing about praise isn’t healthy, either, even within a family. Do you know what I mean?

        Reply
        • Elissa

          I guess I don’t understand why only older people would understand Matthew 18. I was taught to use Matthew 18 for general conflict resolution from a very young age. We didn’t call it “using Matthew 18,” we called it the 3-step rule, but it was basically the same thing – first you try to resolve your issue with the person in question, and if that doesn’t work you go get help from someone with more authority (i.e. a parent).
          I see that we can certainly think of exceptions where these rules shouldn’t apply, but parents generally don’t make rules for exceptions (that’s why they’re called exceptions 😉). Appropriate exceptions are learned, again, as kids mature – at which point they shouldn’t need house rules listed out for them in order to remember anyway.

          Reply
      • Lisa

        I grew up in a family with eleven children. It can be very easy for guidelines intended for little ones to stay in place long after those little ones are too old for them, because there’s always a new crop of littles. What do you say—“These rules only apply to the youngest four children”? Sometimes that’s appropriate, but when the rules have been formulated as scriptural principles rather than behavioral guidelines (“Always display kind actions” vs. “Don’t stick out your tongue”), that can be tricky. I completely agree with your critique, but I can see how something like this could easily be established and then not be changed when appropriate.

        Reply
    • Rebecca Lindenbach

      Yes I think your point about how family communities are going to look different from each other is very important.
      But let’s not forget that these are the rules that were in place in a family where a son grew up to sexually assault his sisters. And it went undisclosed for a long time. And then when it was disclosed, the brother was protected at the expense of the girls’ psychological, physical, and emotional safety.
      So in that context, it is important to ask ourselves, “are rules like this partially responsible for what happened? How can my family learn from this example and become a safer place than the Duggar family was for their children?”
      In light of their family context, emphasizing niceness and not rocking the boat is a huge red flag. Maybe it was that emphasis on niceness and speaking “softly” that led to them failing to take their son’s assault of their daughters and a cousin seriously–because it wasn’t “nice”. Maybe we should learn from that and create family dynamics so that if, God forbid, a child is assaulted he/she knows that they can freely and quickly come to mom and dad, even if it means saying something mean or harsh about another member of the family.
      Context matters. And the context for these rules is pretty darn damning, if you ask me.

      Reply
      • Bethany#2

        It seems like there are several different versions of what happened. But the prevailing explanation was that they were sleeping and were completely unaware until he confessed. Still a very good point though!

        Reply
    • Meagan

      Yeah, I was thinking the same thing. Most of these rules are pulled from biblical principals of loving your neighbor. Three are always exceptions to the rule, but that’s why we don’t teach rules in isolation. Wisdom is needed too. I think Sheila is reading more into this than is actually there.

      Reply
  4. Anon

    If I am praising someone, I tend to say something specific, such as ‘thank you for sharing your testimony; God used it to challenge me’ or ‘thank you for your card – it really encouraged me’. I think it’s because it’s always encouraging to know that God has used me, and if someone else praises me this way, I’m happy to know I’ve been a blessing, but because of the way the compliment is phrased, there’s no temptation to start thinking that actually I’m wonderful in my own strength. So that’s how I tend to compliment others too.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      That’s a great way to do it!

      Reply
      • Ina

        Yes, this would all make sense if this was a post about parenting. Which it didn’t really seem to be. Talking about these rules in a post about relationship over rules, or a post about the balance between teaching your kids to be nice as your default with your siblings but not being afraid to bring conflict to the forefront would make sense. Taking this individual family situation and making it into a post about church community is confusing and not really constructive.

        Reply
        • Ina

          This was meant as a response above, not to this comment! 🤦‍♀️I think this comment about compliments is fantastic!

          Reply
  5. Natalie

    Concerning accepting compliments, OH MY GOSH, I cannot say “Amen sister!” to your points enough!!!!
    Giving someone a compliment is meant to encourage and uplift them. And in return, it makes you feel good to make them feel good. But those good intentions get completely derailed when the person keeps deflecting the compliment. It’s basically like they’re saying “no, you’re wrong. I’m not ____. You are incorrect and wrong for bringing it up”, which just makes you feel like crap. Why would you want to make some – a kind, good-intentioned person – feel that way? So really, in that light, it’s being very godly and thinking of other’s feelings when you accept their compliments. 😉
    I remember growing up getting compliments and accepting them, and then some ladies of authority over me at church and school telling me I was vain and egotistical and arrogant. For a long time, I deflected and tried to self-martyr myself in an effort to be more Christ-like (not-so-curiously enough, that mentality also followed me into the bedroom and reeked SERIOUS havoc on my relationship with my husband as well as my relationship with my own sexual pleasure). Eventually, my thoughts changed and I came to my current conclusion on where I stand concerning compliments and humility. Just because God blessed you with a lot of strengths doesn’t mean that there’s something inherently wrong or sinful with you being blessed.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Well said, Natalie! Love it.

      Reply
    • Arwen

      It’s also a fake humbleness to deflect like that. It makes the person appear humble but really they aren’t humble because they are lying when they deny the obvious compliment given to them. Say, if a person is a good cake maker and you compliment them and they deny it, not only are they lying but they aren’t being humble at all. Because if they deny being a good cake maker then why are they still continuing to make cakes? Because they know they are good at it. Say, thank you. I agree with you!

      Reply
      • Sheila Wray Gregoire

        Yep.

        Reply
      • unmowngrass

        I like this definition I heard… Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less.
        So when you do think of yourself, be honest about both your strengths and weaknesses, and then just stop thinking about yourself and think about each other…

        Reply
    • Meghan

      Exactly. Jesus was humble, but he didn’t downgrade himself. He knew exactly who he was and what he was about and didn’t demure in the slightest. I appreciate Erwin’s viewpoint in The Jesus Style when he argues that humility is seeing yourself as you really are and not inflating your ego or trying to put yourself down. You just are who God made you to be and give the glory back to him where it belongs.
      I suppose in action, if someone were to compliment me on my patience in parenting (which is hard won, to be sure), I might reply “Thank you! It’s been a tough road to get here but God is gracious to supply what I need!”

      Reply
  6. Rachel

    As someone who grew up in a Christian home with rules a lot like these, both spoken and unspoken, I can tell you a bit of what happened to me: I grew up feeling ashamed and guilty and unspiritual and a potential “bad testimony” when any negative feelings or sin bubbled up from deep inside. I had no recourse but to stuff them back down inside and pray and ask the Lord for forgiveness. Because I had no one to express my true heart to, and thereby grow in grace and truth, I grew up without the ability to diagnose and dissect what was going on in me. Thankfully I am a rather meditative, contemplative, deep person who is unafraid to know herself, warts and all, so with the help of a good counselor I am finally unraveling things that should have and could have been sorted out long ago, ideally with the help of my parents. But they (and the conservative Baptist community that taught them to parent in this way) were so concerned with outward behavior that my heart went missing along the way. I am just now recovering it and learning how to honor it.
    See, that list looks and sounds very, very biblical and godly. And it is, in some ways! But it’s also very, very incomplete. This list leaves no room for fully wrestling with our sinful reality. For crying and sweating drops of blood. For pushing and yearning and aching and questioning and crying out for help. For laying things bare. For sin, for confession, for pleading, for reality. For getting to the deepest roots of all things, dirty things, ungodly things, uncomfortable things. For grief and fallenness. For forgiveness. For redemption. For Christ and the true costs of the cross.
    Nope, gotta smile and pretend you’re not bleeding and confused inside!
    Nope, gotta be perfect!
    It’s what we all want, right? It’s what Jesus came to do, right? So why not try? After all, what would people think of us if we’re not super great all the time? Bad testimony!! (Or is it?)
    There is no room for humanity with the Behavior Above All Else parenting mindset. I do not doubt the Duggars (and my parents) did what they thought was absolutely biblical and right. They really did. But it was so lacking, and I grieve for the many hearts that were dismissed – and missed – along the way.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Thank you for that, Rachel. I’m glad you’re walking in a much more healthy way now, and that you’ve been able to process so much of this.
      One of the things Rebecca found when talking to millennials about her book Why I Didn’t Rebel (like when she did all the interviews) was that parents giving kids the room to speak Truth, even if the parents didn’t like it or agree with it, was so important. When kids weren’t allowed to speak truth, then they often ditched everything entirely. When they were able to recognize that some things were good and others were bad, then they good accept the good. When they weren’t allowed to point out that ANYTHING was bad, then they often ditched EVERYTHING, even what was good. We need to teach our kids that it’s good to be discerning, and that truth is truth. We need to see below the surface, as God does. It’s so important to a healthy self, too.

      Reply
    • Arwen

      Couldn’t have said it better, Rachel! Don’t know if you have noticed this but i have started noticing a Christianity that hates ugliness slowly gaining momentum in the Church. A lot of white washed tombs “believers” seem to be increasing in the body.

      Reply
    • Adrienne Koziol

      Whole-heartedly agree! Our humanity is sucked out of us when rules like this are implemented. No room for raw emotions, creativity, personality. Any deviance from the proper, pre-set standard is sinful (or at the very least, flirting with sin!). I’ve known too many families that have stifled their children with the intent if keeping sin at bay. Unfortunately, rules made to control behavior give the appearance of godliness but never produce it. Only Christ can do that. These rules take the power out of His hands and places it into ours.

      Reply
      • Sheila Wray Gregoire

        Exactly! “the appearance of godliness”, but not the form of it. That’s so true.

        Reply
  7. Bethany#2

    For family rules, these would smooth the surface, but in the long run not very good. I have a friend who had long conversations with her children about all kinds of moral and public behavior. At the time she almost seemed to almost be running in circles. But now that her oldest is 12ish, her children are very well brought up and wonderful individuals! Teaching children properly takes a lot of energy, but is priceless.

    Reply
  8. Madeline

    I would really like to hear y’all’s thoughts on how to raise children with protection from sexual assault in mind. Actually how to cultivate that environment in general, a part from raising children (I don’t have any at the moment).
    I grew up with very similar rules – only they were unwritten but still very real. I was sexually assaulted by my brother when I was 11. I don’t think it is a coincidence I see similarities in the Duggar rules and the attitudes of my parents. The thing is, my parents are loving and wonderful people. They love Jesus. They love their kids. I don’t think they ever in a million years even considered the possibility that that could happen in their own home. Frankly, they were very naive. I want to know how to be more aware and take preventative measures without being fearful or paranoid!

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      For sure, Madeline! Joanna wrote a post for us on the blog a little while ago on 10 ways to be an abuse savvy mom that may help. A lot of people are very well-meaning, but they don’t see how this emphasis on what things looks like on the outside does contribute to other problems.

      Reply
    • Phil

      Hi Madeline – First off I don’t think you need to be paranoid about being a parent. I love Jesus and I can tell you I screw up parenting daily. I do my best and what I would say is that I have been given enough information by the grace of God that while I know my wife and I parent the best we can we still screw it up. The key is that we don’t screw it up too much. In our case as was mentioned by Sheila and is the primary point in this post is that we need to be able to speak the truth. My wife and I have grown(particularly me) to be able to speak the truth to each other and lead as an example to our children. We allow our kids space to speak (which has its own issues as well). In our case we allow our kids to speak and talk to us. One of the pitfalls that comes with this for us is the fact that our kids think they can talk back to us. They don’t know where the line is and we as parents have difficulty with that part. BUT and this is big. Because we allow our kids to speak up they are also able to come to us and speak the truth when the truth needs to be spoken. And we as parents know how to listen and decipher the truth and flush that out. We have been raising our children to the best of our ability and we don’t have a lot of rules in our house. We have expectations for sure but not very many set rules. And they do fluctuate as the children grow. As for why one parent raises a child molester and one doesn’t I can’t really explain that. I think in part some of it just comes down to kids choices. We as parents can’t control everything. We can only arm our children with the best tools possible. I grew up in a situation that allowed me to become a sex addict. I don’t blame my Mom. I was given the tools to make choices and I chose wrong. Could my Mom have done better? Sure. However, It is not her fault of who I became. And anyway God gave me a way out so I don’t have to live like that anymore. I have an opinion that may not go over to well here but having 21 family members in the same house is just pure chaos. We have 3 kids and I think that is crazy. I question how one could parent 19 kids or whatever they have. Heck some people can’t parent 1 kid. Anyway Madeline there is no handbook for parenting. I just think that if you follow Jesus and you do the best you can God will take care of what you can’t. I don’t know much about the Duggars except very little and my best guess is that God has given them the tools to handle the other side of the sexual assault and it is now on them to repair what was missed. The truth will set you free.

      Reply
  9. Arwen

    These lists and families/Christians like the Duggars remind me of what the Bible talks about, having a form of godliness, or being like white washed tombs. Like you said image matters to them more than acting Christ-like even in “unsightly” circumstances. They remind me of the Pharisee who proclaimed, thank God i’m not like that sinner.
    It’s fake righteousness, fake christianity, and is more American than Christian. They don’t want a Christianity that is dirty, ugly, struggle, scars, bearing the cross, sacrificing your family and yourself, etc. these things make God look bad in their mind and as a result they have created another god of their image.
    You can look godly on the outside all you want, in fact Jesus said, “For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” Nobody held the image of godliness more than the Pharisee’s they fulfilled, “In unhealthy communities, though, appearance is what matters, so everyone must conform to a certain way of doing things, and must not rock the boat,” to a T. But on the inside they were filled with dead men’s bones!
    I see around me a lot of believers who would rather have a form of godliness than true transformed, regenerated hearts. There is a LOT i can say on this but i’ll end it here.

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  10. Maria

    I have always hated the don’t tattle rule….as a child and as an adult. It allows the strong to dominate and bully the weak. I encourage my children to come and get help with any conflict whenever they want or need to. It does not mean you are right and the other one is wrong or visa versa. For our family it meant you needed help. Sometimes they could go back and talk to the other person, sometimes I intervened, and sometimes they sorted out their feelings and the issue was solved without any confrontation. Every situation is sooo different; it’s hard to have rules especially with children who don’t understand nuances well. Yes, this takes time and can interrupt my life but it’s worth it. I don’t have as many children as the Duggers but almost. And I have many children of all age groups. This works well for everyone, even for my husband and me. Isn’t that what we all want from counselors?

    Reply
    • Arwen

      Maria, the don’t tattle rule not only hurts individual families but it also hurts communities at large. There are many communities that have the same rules. Rules like, snitches get stitches, or blue wall of silence, etc. Th refusal to expose evil/sin is what results in sin prospering and precisely what predators/criminals desire above all else. Keep quite and let me continue in peace.

      Reply
      • Maria

        I agree. The don’t gossip rule in churches and sometimes work places can also hide problems and abuse or danger. It’s not gossip to warn or talk about situations that are concerning or confusing or dangerous.

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        • Katydid

          When I was a child, I remember being told that tattling is wrong, but to always tell an adult about a dangerous situation. I kept my peace and adhered to it. Then, I saw something on the playground that ought not happen. I carefully measured it against the rule and figured it was dangerous or potentially dangerous. I ran to the teacher and told her and she looked down at me and said, “don’t tattle!” But, then addressed the dangerous situation. So, I was hurt and confused.
          Years later, I witnessed what I felt merited child abuse. I had the ability to gather information, but I called an off-duty police officer and I double-checked with CPS that what I witnessed was meriting an investigation, AND that I could use the method of information gathering that I had. This incident and the info were gathered while I was working. I even checked with my manager to make sure I was ok and doing the right thing. Everyone gave me the all clear. CPS assured me that my identity was protected. A week later I was fired from my job because of it.
          No good deed goes unpunished.
          I spent years speaking only good about my spouse, feeling horrible because I knew they were lies. It was really hard when people would say how lovely my spouse was and how well I was treated while I was in agony knowing that they didn’t see me getting sworn at and threatened.

          Reply
          • Sheila Wray Gregoire

            Oh, Katydid, that’s so sad! I’m sorry about you being fired from your job for doing the right thing. I hope that that child was protected in the end. And I’m so sorry about your marriage. Are you safe now?

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      So true!

      Reply
  11. Meghan

    “Emotions, in and of themselves, are not bad. They are signals of what is going on in the real world. When we deny our emotions, we’re often simultaneously denying something that is happening-we’re not allowed to speak the truth about something. But Jesus is the Truth. Truth is never a problem. ”
    Yes yes yes!!!! This is what we’ve been working on teaching our toddler daughter. Her emotions aren’t a problem, but how she reacts to her emotions can be. We try very hard to focus on finding healthy outlets for anger and sadness and impatience and only ask for forgiveness for hurtful actions. It’s all part of our effort to teach her to be like Christ.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      That’s wonderful!

      Reply
  12. Arwen

    Also, Sheila, what it means to be created in the image of God is to mean to be created in His character/attributes not His physical body as He has none because he’s a Spirit. God has every character we have because those characters come from Him. He feels, sad, angry, hurt, joyful, etc. etc. The same emotions we have He has the difference is that ours has been tainted by sin while His has not. So we might be angry about unrighteous things like the line at the Supermarket being to long while He gets angry about righteous things like sin. It’s not okay to tell humans who posses godly characters that they are not allowed to use them. Instead what we should do is tell people they are free to express ALL emotions as long as they don’t sin with them. If we were not allowed to posses those emotions He would have made us animals.

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  13. Tory

    It’s funny because my husband and I were just talking today about how a man would say what it is he is upset about, whereas a woman is more likely to say something like “it’s fine. Do whatever you want. I don’t care.” But she really does care, and that is frustrating to guys, because they are not mind readers! My theory is that girls are raised to be nice and get along and not make waves, so when we become adult women, that “nice” front is at odds with our true self. We were never taught how to handle conflict well, we were taught to avoid it altogether.

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    • libl

      For me, it wasnt just that girls are supposed to be nice, but that if you did speak up you’d be royally mowed down by a man. He would explode, rant, rave, swear, and be mean and broody for days.
      So, I tend to pick which hill I want to die on. The rest is just “fine.”
      Also, I think women say, “fine” because they know he won’t get it or won’t care to change or address it and will just exhaust her with arguing about it and likely do his own thing, anyway, or punish her with brooding about it, so a curt “fine” cuts the prolonged agony short.

      Reply
      • Sheila Wray Gregoire

        That is so sad, Libl. What is wrong with us that women are treated that way in some communities? I’m so glad that in my family and among my friends it has never been like this.

        Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I think this is very true, Tory! And it doesn’t really serve anyone well.

      Reply
  14. Jane Eyre

    The part about not speaking badly of others absent physical harm is nuts.
    Gossip is harmful, and often not even entirely true. If someone is spreading false words about another, it’s our job to speak up with the truth. Many times, gossip is spread to deflect blame, and we don’t support the truth by letting that happen.

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  15. Emmy

    Who are the Duggars? Never heard of them before.
    Their rules, however, sounded like a Monastery Order of some kind. Made me think of some Medieval writings such as Thomas A Kempis. And I don’t mean Medieval as a kind of derogarory word or a nick name but a real, historical time. During the Middle Ages, such rules and such books were written.

    Reply
    • unmowngrass

      They had a TV show, because they have a very large family — 19 kids in total, most of whom have now grown up (and some have youtube channels).
      They also at some point became a bit insular, I think (I don’t know tons about them)… Like, they didn’t go to church but just had church by themselves at home with Dad as the pastor. They homeschooled long before it was as common as it is today. Now there’s nothing wrong with homeschooling, but it adds to the insular picture. Even getting 21 people out of the door to get to church is bound to be tricky! So it’s very understandable how/why they started doing it at home. But an unintended consequence of that is that they lose accountability to anyone else.

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  16. Michaela

    I have a hard time accepting compliments because of this. People at church always compliment me on my singing. I just smile and say thank you.
    The whole keep sweet and don’t say anything “mean” concept allowed my abusive pastor remain in the church. He emotionally abused me and I battled guilt speaking up about what he did. Maybe if I was bolder, he wouldn’t be preaching from the pulpit at another church.
    When I was brutally honest about what had happened to my senior pastor’s wife, she said to not feel guilty because he deceived the whole church body. She also said if she knew what he did to me, she would have raised some Cain.
    “Keeping sweet” caused so much damage that I’m still working to repair.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I’m sorry, Michaela! But it sounds like you’re on exactly the right road, and God is really working in your life. And that’s wonderful.

      Reply

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