I’m not going to lie, I get excited when I turn on my television to TLC and 19 Kids and Counting is on, but it’s a love-hate relationship I have with the show.
For those of you who don’t know, it’s about the Duggar family, consisting of two parents, Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar, and their 19 children (all of whose names begin with the letter J.) Yes – 19. They appear to be a happy-go-lucky, always-smiling, Christian family.
Like a typical American, I’m drawn to reality shows like these. They’re intriguing. The Duggar’s lifestyle is so different than what we are exposed to in our personal lives. However, there are a lot of reasons why I think people need to really look beyond the show and see that there’s nothing admirable about their lifestyle.
For starters, the way Jim Bob and Michelle manage their five-times-the-normal-sized family is through their Independent Baptist religion. Now, I could go into everything that I think is wrong with how seriously the Duggars take their religion – the fact that many of their beliefs involve patriarchal and controlling practices, or the fact that the girls could be shunned from the family if they were to wear too short of a skirt, but what I want to focus on is the way the Duggars date.
They don’t refer to it as dating – but rather, courting. Jim Bob said courtship is “about getting to know each other for the purpose of possibly getting engaged and getting married.” He adds that the difference between courting and dating is that in courting, “you set boundaries for yourself so that you don’t cross over those.”
Let’s analyze one of the older Duggars, 21-year-old Jessa and the man she just recently married, 19-year-old Ben. Before their marriage, they could only engage in “side hugs.” No frontal hugs, no kissing, and don’t even think about holding hands.
There are so many things wrong with this mindset. In my opinion, getting physical with someone is necessary to figure out what you like. I’m not saying that the size of a guy’s junk should be a deal-breaker, but imagine committing to marriage and realizing, hey, I don’t like the way this guy kisses at all.
But the Duggars take it beyond physicalities. Every date, every encounter, even every text message sent – must include some sort of chaperone, usually a parent but sometimes a sibling, watching their every move. There’s no such thing as a private conversation between the couple before they tie the knot.
The reason behind this policy? Jim Bob explained in one episode, “As far as our kids dating, we believe a lot of times if you’re alone with the person, it can create desires that can kind of get stirred up, and you don’t have any accountability, and [that] can kind of lead to some hanky panky.”
I don’t know about you, but the way I talked to my boyfriend was a lot different when we were alone versus when in the company of my parents. So before they make the decision to get married, Duggars don’t even really get to see what their partner is like.
Obviously the Duggars are an extreme outlier for Generation Y. After all, we’re seen as the generation that would pick a bundle of casual hook-ups over a stable relationship. We’re seen as the generation that would rather spend our Sunday mornings nursing our hangovers than go to church. However, there are a few lessons that I think Generation Y need to take out of the Duggars’ policy.
We’ve been called the “me me me” generation, but maybe it’s time we embrace it. After all, we invented YOLO. Do what you want and live for yourself. If you want to pull the first move and kiss the guy you’ve been eyeing, then kiss him, and if you’re having a Netflix-movie night with your babe, cuddle the f*ck out of each other! When finding a potential partner, every stepping stone is what is going to make your relationship count.
To be honest, I hope that in my lifetime, TLC releases a new show, like Breaking Amish, and features one lone Duggar breaking off from their strict dating ideals without fear of being shunned. Generation Y, listen to your gut and take some chances, because that’s what dating is all about.
Featured image via en: Jim Bob Duggar / CC BY