Duggar Family - How They Do It

Filed under: Celeb Parents, In The News

How does a couple with 17 kids even find time to get started on #18?

"We try to be creative and different, and that can add a spark to the relationship," said Michelle Duggar, who is in fact expecting her next addition on New Year's Day. Michelle and her husband Jim Bob are shooting the second season of "The Duggar Family: 17 and Counting." ParentDish caught up with the couple on a rare afternoon off.

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They wouldn't talk about the new baby girl's name (Hint: It starts with the letter J, is the result of a family vote and, no, they won't say.) But they are ready to share the secrets to their success as a family and as a couple. How do they, ya know, keep the home fire burning?

"The spark stays because we purpose to keep that spark," said Michelle.
"We want to please the other one," said Jim Bob.

That includes all the hidden love notes Jim Bob leaves for Michelle in her makeup bag and the daily morning cup of coffee or cocoa she serves him. Jim Bob complimented Michelle. "Her soft voice and sweet spirit melts my heart. And she looks really cute when she's pregnant."

Good thing, because Michelle has been pregnant for some 135 months over 24 years of marriage. "Things get busy and exhausting when providing for a family," said Michelle. "Having sex when I'm pregnant, I'm a little more tired." When Jim Bob and Michelle hear that a pastor in Texas recently challenged the marrieds in his congregation to have sex daily, they're genuinely tickled.

"Good advice," laughed Jim Bob.

That's a joke, sort of. Because, if anything, the Duggars are certainly best known not for their romps but the romper rooms in their 7,000 square-foot home, where the kids are home schooled, have "jurisdiction-style" chores and are fully committed to an evangelical Christian lifestyle. Sharing is big; the word "mine" is not. Their teens pledge "TLW" -- true love waits. "The girls love the idea of courtship and saving themselves for the one that God made for them," said Michelle.

Another aspect of their lives that feels just short of a miracle is how darn nice everyone is to one another. How do they do it? The answer, in part, can be found in their new book, appropriately titled, "The Duggars: 20 and Counting!: Raising One of America's Largest Families--How They Do It."

"We're not professional parents," said Jim Bob.
"We're still learning," agreed Michelle.
"With each child it's a whole new ballgame," he said
"Because each one is so different," she finished.

That's 18 ballgames for one family with enough children for two baseball teams.

It's not always easy, admitted Michelle. "Right now I've got a lot of little boys who fight or argue with each other. Every 30 minutes there's a major crisis over an owee or a toy. But I don't get involved. They learn to work it out themselves."

Some critics question the Duggar's ability to give each child enough individual attention and love. Michelle countered, "Our goal as parents is to keep up with their hearts, not just their actions. They know they have a safe place to share their joys, failures and dreams." For the record, that is my goal as a parent, too.

It seems to me that this kind of nurturing/removed split is the only way the Duggars could possibly manage the demands of 17 kids -- plus. Between filling hungry tummies and all the goodnight kisses, I just don't see any other way to get by. And that's the attraction and fascination of the Duggars. This unrepentantly prolific couple is "blessed" with a disproportionate amount of children while the rest of us wonder, "Why?" "How?" and "What would I do?"

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.