In Living Commentary

"Table for 12" is one of many TLC network shows spotlighting large families.

Enough is enough when it comes to TV's big families

In just the past week or so I've been asked the same question at least four times, "Do you watch '19 Kids and Counting'?" If you don't know what "19 Kids and Counting" is, they are the latest family to be thrust into the social spotlight by The Learning Channel, the same television channel that introduced us to the now divorced and dysfunctional "Jon and Kate Plus Eight."

No, I don't watch '19 Kids and Counting' mostly because I'd rather stick pins under my fingernails, but obviously plenty of people do watch the show.

"Table for Twelve" is another massive-family show brought to you by the geniuses at TLC. The Hayes family, though having a slightly smaller litter than the Duggars, is based on the same TLC philosophy of celebrating the exploitation of families and children.

Jon and Kate Gosselin of "Jon and Kate Plus Eight" had trouble conceiving and resorted to IVF (invitro fertilization) and wound up having not one baby but sextuplets to add to their family, which already consisted of twins.

Betty Hayes of "Table for Twelve" went through ovulation induction prior to conceiving her sextuplets. Add that to the four they already had and you have ten, plus parents equals 12.

Why four children weren't enough, only the Hayes' know.

The Duggar family however just had their 19th child and, from what I've read and heard from avid viewers, aren't planning to stop any time soon.

Oh, and did I mention, every single kid's name starts with the letter "J." Jee, how cute. Their page on the TLC website even includes parenting tips from dad Jim Bob (uh, yeah, enough said) and mom, Michelle.

The Duggars follow the faith of the Quiverful religion, a branch of Evangelical Christianity (however, some sources sited that the Duggars are conservative Baptists) which preaches every child is a gift from God and, the seemingly illogical conclusion that therefore you should have as many children as possible. If children are such a gift, perhaps it's better to treasure few rather than "keep score" with God.

The Duggar parents no longer believe in the use of birth control and therefore just plan to keep on pushing out puppies as long "as God allows." Well, the latest baby came early ... really, really early and weighed in at just one pound-six ounces. The complications were due to Michelle's blood pressure, which unexpectedly skyrocketed and the doctors had no choice but to perform an emergency caesarian section or risk losing both mother and child.

Perhaps this is God, or just Michelle's body's way of saying stop! Most of us will agree that children are a gift, but the truth is there are already plenty of God's gifts all over the world without homes, families, care and nurturing. So perhaps the world doesn't need another Duggar?

Somewhat ironically, when Michelle and Jim Bob first married they didn't plan to have children immediately and were using birth control. After their first son Josh was born, Michelle resumed using birth control, but managed to conceive regardless (not unheard of since no method of birth control but abstinence is 100 percent effective.) She miscarried and blamed the birth control for her lost fetus. From that point on the Duggars made the decision to have as many babies as they could.

Religion and family are two incredibly personal and private matters and I don't tell people how to deal with either in their own lives. However, the minute you take your enormous family and put them on television, you open yourself up for the opinions and scrutiny of others and that is just what the Duggars and the rest of the huge families on TLC have done.

Although they may have fans and followers, they also have plenty of people questioning their reasoning and motives, if not for having so many children, at least for putting them on television.

Growing up I was always jealous of my friends that had big families, because it appeared having that many more siblings meant that many more playmates. My envy faded as I began to realize what it really felt like to be one of eight or 10 or 12.

Close family friends of mine come from a family of 12 and they have no reluctance about telling you exactly how it was. Your older siblings become your parents.

(In fact, the Duggars specifically say that an older sibling is "assigned" to a younger sibling to help with the day to take caretaking.)

As soon as a new baby came in the house you moved into the room with six of your brothers and the personal time and attention from your parents was limited or non-existent. None of the children from this family I know have large families themselves and some decided against having any children at all due to the experiences they had growing up in a humongous family.

The Duggars and the rest of the television families look happy, relatively normal and loving. However do not forget you are watching a television show and do not forget the reality behind what we now know about the Gosselins. What you see is what the producers of that show wanted you to see and nothing more. Just because you watch them an hour a week does not mean you have an inside look into what life is like behind closed doors at the Duggar home.

TLC is also the group that brought us one of the most disgusting shows on TV today, "Toddlers and Tiaras," which if you haven't yet "enjoyed," is an excuse for mothers to dress their young daughters like Vegas hookers and parade them around the country because they cannot live out their own delusions of being in pageants.

I wish I was kidding but I'm not.

These mothers spray tan their very young daughters, put on more makeup than RuPaul would be comfortable with and even have fake teeth made so their kid's baby teeth don't show when they smile. How about a show called, 'Toddlers and Tiaras: Where are they now?' and see how many of these girls managed to stay out of the adult film industry. Children that age should be out having fun with their friends, playing sports and enjoying their own hobbies, not living out the 'dream' mommy couldn't live up to.

And don't forget another well known TLC creation, "I Didn't Know I Was Pregnant," possibly the most joked about show on television in which women do not realize they are pregnant until they mistake labor pains for gas and constipation and proceed to give birth, usually in their cars, kitchens or toilets. Maybe that's why the Duggars have so many kids? After the seventh one, she didn't even know she was pregnant.

All I've learned from The Learning Channel lately is there are way too many people in this country willing to exploit the hell out of their own children for D-list celebrity status. Let's admit it, had the Balloon Boy's parents not been barred from pimping out their family you know TLC would've been the first ones standing by with ink still drying on the contract.

I don't agree with the irresponsibility that goes along with purposing overpopulating an already overpopulated planet, but I'm not going to tell Michelle Duggar or any other woman what she can or cannot do with her body. I am, however, more than happy to avoid any of the blatant exploitive broadcasting that TLC throws my way, whether it's women unknowingly giving birth in their toilets, toddlers dressed as whores or the celebration of women who believe quantity of children trumps quality of parenting.

How about fewer shows about people exploiting their children and more shows about adoptions, charity work, overcoming addiction, poverty, abuse, etc. Please TLC, teach us something worthwhile. Because if I'm going to waste my time with this crap, I may as well be losing brain cells watching "The Bachelor," at least it's got sex appeal.


Talkbacks

Broner | Feb. 12, 2010 at 5:37 p.m. (report)

OK, this is off topic but why do people keep mentioning that when certain Christians oppose government health care they're not being Christian. I doubt there are many people who don't want others to have health care - they just don't agree with the current government proposals. If you're single and don't like paying the costs that large families can incur on society, just wait until you're paying for all of their health care.

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sandstorm | Feb. 12, 2010 at 1:23 p.m. (report)

urban_cowgirl, you are not texting or tweeting here. feel free to use grown up words.

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urban_cowgirl | Feb. 9, 2010 at 5:41 p.m. (report)

I dont understand y the duggars are having ppl tell them how many kids to have... i mean we r able to choose to only have one or two or even three, but God forbid they actually put everything in Gods hands and let God decide how many kids to hav.....its not like they r on gov assistance they r makin it Gods way.... thats y ppl are on their case cuz they are doing soooo good havin a premature baby isnt a sign from God...It happens!!!! it can happen to anyone...wether it'd be the 1st 2nd or 18th child. Leave the Duggars alone... they dont care wut u think they only care wut God thinks!!!!

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Whippit Good | Feb. 9, 2010 at 11:14 a.m. (report)

Are you really saying that simply having the name Jim Bob makes you incapable of being a good parent?

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devidia | Feb. 8, 2010 at 12:53 p.m. (report)

Man, I'm with you, Sarah. I'm sick to death of being expected to watch morons who claim to be Christians (and who no doubt oppose things like healthcare reform at the same time) and emulate their stupid lifestyle of pumping out kids just because they can. Isn't that considered irresponsible? There should be a limit to how many kids people can have especially now with the economy being what it is. And I'm tired of society trying to make me feel inadequate because I'm single and childless while showering idiotic praise on people who procreate simply because they can. There are lots of children available for adoption who are already here and need a family. It's time to get a brain, people!!!

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