Jessa Duggar, 20, the daughter long referred to as “the hot one,” has entered into courtship with Ben Seewald, 18. She is the fifth oldest of the 20 children of the Duggars, the largest and most well-known Christian family on TV today. Jim Bob and Michelle left the size of their family up to God, and they live frugally, modestly, and in accordance with the teachings of The Bible.
I’ve been tuning in to this show for years, ever since their first TV special, 14 Kids and Pregnant Again. The Duggar family makes good TV.
People call them religious freaks. And the are!
But they’re a nice family and their kids are turning out quite well. They interact politely with people and seem well-adjusted. I’d love to see some of the Duggar kids leave home and go to college, but the oldest kids are following their interests and passions, which some would say is even more admirable. Josh started a business and then moved with his family to Washington, D.C. to work with the Family Research Council. The two oldest girls have completed midwife training, and John David has trained in firefighting and emergency rescue. Respectable pursuits.
This year’s season of 19 Kids and Counting will feature Jessa’s chaste courtship. Jim Bob says Ben is not the first guy to approach him about dating one of his daughters, but he made the family cut. Jessa and Ben have set limits on their physical relationship until they marry; their “dates” are always chaperoned, and they won’t kiss until their wedding day.
In a culture where the experimental rowdiness of HBO’s Girls seems like the norm, this chaste courtship business sounds like something from the dark ages. But it’s not.
I had a chaste courtship. Well, maybe there was a bit more hugging and kissing than Jessa and Ben have decided to pursue, but it was chaste. And I expect this of my kids. I’m not repressing them. I’m freeing them. I have sons who need to learn restraint and respect. I have daughters who will be empowered by abstinence because they can simply sidestep the issues, pressures, problems, and pitfalls of promiscuity.
Sexual freedom was a legitimate tenet of the original women’s movement. But the Girls Gone Wild climate of today’s youth culture is not pro-feminism. It has nothing to do with feminism. The Miley Cyrus arc of “growing up,” becoming overtly sexy and proclaiming your independence, is not progressive. Embracing the objectification of women doesn’t make you clever. You are still objectified. And that gets to the heart of what I want to teach my kids. I want them to treat people well. And I want them to be treated well. I want my daughters to date nice boys, and when my sons go on dates, I want them to be gentlemen. Rules and supervision may seem like a throwback to some people, but to me it’s just parenting.
Who is stronger, cooler, and knows her mind better: Laura Ingalls Wilder or Miley Cyrus?
The answer is Laura Ingalls Wilder. She took down enemies. She grew as a person. She got what she wanted out of life. She even snagged Almanzo. I applaud the Duggars for staying in the trenches with their kids through young adulthood (and beyond). While some parents throw their hands up (they’re playing my song, nodding my head like yeah, movin’ my hips like yeah) when their children become teenagers, the Duggars continue to teach, shape, and supervise their kids. I admire them. They’re a little more zealous than most people, but they try and they really love their kids.
Photo Source: Duggar Family Blog