Reaction to Duggar’s Miscarriage Shows Our Cruel, Anonymous Society at Work

I have never seen the show ’19 Kids and Counting’ featuring Jim and Michelle Duggars and their large family, and have no interest whatsoever. It is ‘Reality TV’, which already lands me at 0% interest, then add on my general disinterest in everything they and the show are about, and you have a formula for a show that I actively avoid. I don’t share their religious views nor do I have an larger-than-average family, so my daily life is nothing like theirs – yet this week I feel a certain kinship with the Duggars.

You see, I have two wonderful teenage boys, born ~17 months apart. That we had a second child was an amazing miracle after the years and trials having the first. But for more than 13 years we have been greeted with wonderfully insensitive comments about how we barely waited for one to come out before we put the next one in. And about whether they were twins and so on. We might have actually had a third except that our doctor warned that my wife might not survive – it was over two weeks in the hospital with the second child.

Before our first child, my wife and I had spent more than four years actively trying to get pregnant. During this time we had three painful miscarriages, including one that was far enough along that it had to be ‘birthed’ by our OB/GYN. The other two required D&C (or D&E) procedures, which were no less tragic or painful, particularly considering their other use and the population of the waiting rooms in that section of the Brigham & Womans Hospital in Boston.

People say you never really get over the loss of a child, and I can say that we have never forgotten our losses. Miscarriage is a terrible thing – but unlike the death of a child the world has met, people seem to have no problem dismissing that loss as trivial. One woman my wife worked with said ‘I don’t know why you are crying over an unborn fetus that couldn’t survive in the world anyway’. We met with mostly kindness or folks with no clue what to say, but some were downright mean and rude.

And as we know, the wonderful blind wall of the internet allows for massive amounts of judgement and cruel words all in the name of ‘free speech’. And certainly they CAN say whatever they want … but do they really NEED to?

A month or so ago we heard about the upcoming 21st child for the Duggars, and this week of their tragic loss:

“Earlier today at a routine doctor’s appointment, Michelle and I received the sad news that we lost the baby,” Jim Bob told Us. “Michelle is resting comfortably at home with the support of the entire family. We are grateful for all the thoughts and prayers, but ask for privacy during this difficult time.

So this week we have seen loads of judgement on exactly what their loss meant … here is just a sampling:

“I just can’t feel bad about this. It’s about time.”
“Time to her to stop popping them out and take care of the kids she has.”
“If she hadn’t been trying to get into the Guinness World Records for having the most babies, she wouldn’t have to be ‘suffering’ this loss.”
“God bless anything up in the sky that prevented this idiot from spawning another moron on this planet.”
“This is a sign from god that she should stop having babies”
“Maybe it’s her body telling her it’s time to stop carrying children”
“This woman is way to old to still be having babies.”
“Use contraception”

Some have even sought to politicize it, but I won’t help them out with a link. Others have sought to get people to simply stop judging:

The Duggars are similarly holding steadfast to their belief that miracles don’t look the same to every set of eyes. And they see baby 20 as just as much of a blessing as No. 1 . The Duggars’ blessings aren’t yours or mine. They’ve made choices few of us would, but they’ve determined to accept them with as much grace and gratitude as they can muster. Because this is what reproductive freedom and choice look like.

As for me, all I can say is … I am sorry for your loss and I wish you a speedy recovery and a bit of space to grieve your loss.

Everyone else, just STFU and remember that just because you CAN say something doesn’t mean you SHOULD.

Source: CafeMom and other sites …

Categories: News, Rants and Raves

13 replies

  1. Any parents that can financially and emotionally care for their children should have as many as they wish!  The Duggars (JimBob & MICHELLE, BTW) have NO DEBT, and significant assets they have from their own hard work.  They have no inherited wealth.  I’d be willing to bet that 100% of the negative commenters have a mortgage they are struggling to keep up with, and other debt as well, and are more jealous than anything else.    They raise their family with religious views I don’t personally understand, but children that are not given free reign to the internet, do not play video games, are not parked in front of the TV for entertainment, and DO have family bible time every day, DO get individual love and support from each of their parents deserve parent of the year awards.  Anyone who disagrees should be ashamed of themselves.

  2. I understand where you’re coming from, but I’m not sure you understand where I am coming from. I get that in a perfect world, I shouldn’t have an opinion on whether or not the Duggar’s have a 20TH child; however, the Duggars spend almost as much time telling us about their plight to get pregnant as trying to get pregnant. They announced the loss of their child the same day that they found out. They, seemingly, thrive on the attention.

    And that’s all well and good except that they are making their children suffer as a result. Their last daughter was born prematurely, almost died, and will probably continue to have medical problems throughout the rest of her life. She shouldn’t be forced to go through all of that suffering simply because her parents aren’t “right in the head.”

    I’m sorry for the poor baby who died but I have 0 sympathy for the parents.

    • I guess the fact that I didn’t know any of that until you spelled it out must mean that I live under a reality TV rock. I like it under my rock.

    • Mike’s main point in this post seems to be missing. This post isn’t about piling on, or off, the family as much as it is about the fact that people think it is okay to say whatever they want whenever they want and the anonymity of the Internet makes things even worse.
      The very fact that Mike and his wife have had people comment on how close their boys are in age is ridiculous, offensive and just wrong. We’ve gotten it too and not because we have so many kids or kids so close in age but because we CHOSE to NOT have kids at all. And yes, I’ve had comments, seen people make assumptions as to why, and do all kinds of other nonsense etc when it is none of their business.
      I teach from a tradition that spends a great deal of time discussing the dangers of gossip. Interestingly, gossip isn’t just speaking trash about people who are not there but peaking about them PERIOD when they aren’t around. (The reason is actually quite practical- such a conversation might start neutral or positive but it will often go negative rather quickly. Try it- I have and it is the case many times.) This, the dangers of people gossiping and overstepping, was true before modern communications and has only gotten worse with the speed and anonymity of today. We need to step back, take a breath and SERIOUSLY think about what we say or write before we say or write it. (And for that matter people need to read Carly’s post from this morning and take it seriously.)
      Anonymity has simply made to crassness worse. (Trust us, the rude, unsigned comments that get erased and the fact that we usually lock comments on YouTube prove it over and over and over again.)
      On the other hand, (there is always another hand) if you go on a reality tv show you are looking for the notoriety and, to a certain degree, asking for it. In such a crass society that is a dangerous mix and is the reason I would NEVER consider doing a reality anything… Not that anyone would ever consider asking. :)
      Sent from my iPad

    • I do understand where you are coming from – at least from your words. I don’t actually know you so cannot fully understand, just as you cannot understand these people you pontificate about.

      You have given yourself the lofty position of judging others you don’t know based on a hidden agenda that is based on religious, family-size, job-type, and other criteria you have custom tailored. I don’t know you so I don’t know your agenda or what type of person you are.

      But none of that is my point – it is so quick and easy to judge others, and even to dismiss the eligibility for certain sympathy based on some perceived offense: being famous or on TV, being religious, being black or white or asian or jewish or muslim or catholic … and on and on.

      My point is simple.  These were people.  Their baby died.  They are sad, and we need to realize that their pain is every bit as legitimate as ours, and we do not get to judge.

      I don’t know you, so you might be a very nice person … but based on your words and willingness to deny the pain of a couple who are grieving the death of a child – I would say that you are a insufferable, cold-hearted b!tch.

  3. Michael,
    Well said. Sure, the Duggers invited public comment by putting themselves on
    display. It is humorous that they appear to believe the “be fruitful and
    multiply” line given to Adam and Eve in the Old Testament was meant as a
    personal challenge for the entire human race.

    But, comments like those you quoted are over the line. People are generally nasty (evil, sinful, and so forth). It’s really the most shameful when they choose to take delight in another person’s suffering.

  4. @ Corinne – clearly you have never watched the show.  If you had you would know that they don’t “try” to get pregnant.  They have relations without any form of birth control, and believe that any child they conceive is a gift.  They have said many times that they thought each time might be the last as Michelle is getting older, but have celebrated each child.  No one who watches them interact as a family could ever think that their children are being mistreated.  They have no “plight to get pregnant.”  Perhaps you are mixing them up with another of the family reality shows with multiple children as a resulting from fertility treatments. 

    Regarding the youngest daughter, Josie, yes she was premature.  Following emergency gallbladder surgery during her pregnancy, Michelle developed pre-eclampsia, and had to have an emergency cesarean to save both her life and that of the baby.  The baby, now 2, is normal although small for her age, and is meeting the appropriate milestones and catching up well to her age group.  Yes, she may have some issues in her life related to having been a preemie, but you cannot blame parents for a premature birth any more than you could a parent whose child has cancer. 

    They raise their children to be responsible, polite, mature, empathetic and to reach out to those in need, putting others before themselves.  I can certainly see how that would be disturbing to the mainstream – where children run wild, take drugs and shoot up schools, or commit suicide because they have been bullied, literally to death. 

    And, they also have a wildly popular TV program that films them in their day to day life.  So, the sad facts are instantly publicly available.  Like it or not, they do have a following, and people ARE interested in what happens to them.  So making an announcement about it on the same day that it happens makes more sense to me than waiting for the tabloids to leak it out and create a media frenzy.  

    Your lack of empathy makes me feel very sorry for you. 

    • JD, while I don’t personally agree with many of their choices, starting with their choice to put themselves and their children so very “out there” in the public eye (they are adults and can choose, the kids can’t) there is little with which I can disagree in your comments. Until… Until you wrote
      I can certainly see how that would be disturbing to the mainstream – where children run wild, take drugs and shoot up schools, or commit suicide because they have been bullied, literally to death.
      Does all of this happen? Sure. It is what defines “the mainstream”? Nope. I have 450 or so kids in my school (closer to 600 if you count the preschool) and, guess what? They don’t run wild etc etc etc.
      With that comment you show yourself to be as biased as that which you are criticizing but in a different direction.
      Sent from my iPad

    • JD … in general I agree with your main thrust, but I think you took it too far as Dan says. Kids are kids, regardless. I will not call the Duggars kids freaks or weird … but neither do the assertions you make represent even remotely the ‘mainstream’. Do I get annoyed at kids who are handed a Nintendo DS as a substitute ‘binky’ and left to wander the mall unsupervised, sure! Just as I get annoyed at the people who will not stand to let an elderly person or a parent and small child have the last seat on the train. There is bad behavior everywhere – but extreme, antisocial and violent behavior is an entirely different thing.

      As I said, I have never seen the show, and abhor so-called ‘reality’ TV. Part of that is the litany of destroyed families and lives it leaves in its wake, another part is the ‘strive to be on TV’ mentality – which has apparently spawned entirely too many ‘teen mom wannabes’. But the biggest concern I have is the kids themselves … they exist in a world of unreality, and not of their own choosing. We really have no idea what happens over time – but we have seen too many ‘TV tots’ end up in a very bad place emotionally and otherwise as they grew older … and have no data on the increasing pool of kids flowing quickly through reality TV land.

  5. Kev and I just spent an hour (seriously) talking about this. Neither of us knows much about the Duggars, and their choices are not ones we would ever make, nor could we even begin to imagine. I suppose that is the point of their show then, to normalize their situation for people like us who happen to be watching? I don’t know.

    But the bottom line is this: whether you “like” the Duggars or not, this child was wanted and it died. To feel anything but sympathy for a set of grieving parents — even if their personal choices are not ones that you would ever make — is callous and cruel. 
    Hiding behind the internet veil of anonymity to take cheap shots or pronounce judgements about their lifestyle and their choices is something that can be saved for another day. Right now, sympathy and empathy are called for. And if you can’t offer that … then say nothing, or as Mike so eloquently put it: STFU. 

  6. Apologies to all.  My indignation took me a step too far and I was apparently typing faster than thinking.  I certainly didn’t mean to imply that all children run wild with poor manners and violent behavior.  And, if what I wrote implies that, then I’m just dead wrong.  I didn’t mean to imply that at all. 

    I just have so little tolerance for hate speech, whether it’s regarding a specific family or a specific religion, or skin color that I revert into a defensive mode and I jump in with both feet.  I should have taken more care to choose my words more carefully.  But the same people who are spewing this vitriolic nastiness who also claim that the American family is in jeopardy from anyone who isn’t like them, and here is an example of a family who really practices what they preach. 

    And, I have watched their shows for years, before there were shows, when they had a couple of specials, and they have remained steadfast in their practices and their beliefs.  And as for the kids not having choices, 5 of them are over 18, and I think like 6 or 7 are in the high teens – certainly capable of expressing their desires to be on or not.  I think the biggest reason that they don’t “implode” as so many other reality TV families is that they do not watch their own show.  They keep largely to a religious community that shares their particular values for all of their social interaction, but certainly interact with the public as well, they just have tight guidelines on how they do that.  I don’t share their religious views at all, nor do I understand them.  But they see their show as a way to be a mission to people and share their feelings on parenting and religion, and I think most other tv families are in it for their 5 minutes of fame or the money. 

    None of that matters in the end.  I agree with Judie.  No matter what they lost something precious to them, and they should be allowed to grieve in peace.