Peace, Love, Human Rights
Recently there was a petition on Change.org that demanded the TLC show titled 19 Kids and Counting be taken off air due to concerns over the treatment of the LGBTQ community. Many people signed the petition, while others rallied around the Duggar family in a show of support. After a few small blow ups on my personal social media pages, I decided it was time to explain exactly why I am concerned about the Duggar family being in the public eye. I cannot say whether they should or should not be on television, but I can tell you that autonomy is the big issue with this family.
Blanket training is when you train, not teach, a child to stay on one place (for example on a blanket) without straying from that place. When they do stray, the parent does something unpleasant such as make a loud noise, hit, or scare them into compliance. (Yes, this can make the world or even the caregiver seem scary which may cause psychological issues later in life.) Michelle Duggar has written about blanket training before. Even if she doesn’t hit, though there are some forums out there where she supposedly wrote about using a ruler to hit the baby, she still coerces. Coercion means you punish or manipulate another into doing what you want them to do. Little ones need to be with us. They need to be worn, carried, spoken with, etc. Sure, they can sit beside us, but to demand they not move unless we say they can move tells them they do not own their bodies and they do not own their choices. This directly speaks to the human right of bodily autonomy. We could also discuss the issues of shaming and punishing children, but I will leave you to read the resources at the bottom of this post and make your own determinations regarding these topics.
Yes, the Duggars ignore the New Testament and cut their children’s genitals. Well, I take that back, they only cut the boys’ genitals. Now, I realize that not every Christian knows that male genital cutting is forbidden in many New Testament verses, but the Duggar family was notified many times and ignored the information given. (Yes, many of my friend are human rights activists who sent information repeatedly.) This is another violation of the human right of bodily autonomy. The boys do not own their bodies, not even their sexual organs, but the parents do.
When parents are the supreme leaders in the home, it may be difficult for children to grow and develop their inner compass. It is important for children to grow and learn about their inner voice. They NEED to develop their decision making skills without fear, coercion, and punishment. If they focus on what other think or will do to them, then the children may make flawed decisions rather than responsible, informed decisions. Denying the right to develop and use the inner compass denies autonomy.
Parents are Rewarded or Punished by God
Many say that it is okay for the parents to have final decision making power over even adult children because the parents are held to a high standard by God. If rewards and consequences are always in play, you will make decisions based on these potential things rather than on the merits of the issue at hand. Rational thought may become over powered by what the parent thinks God wants. Keep in mind that the Bible, and other religious texts, is not the original version and has been changed due to man, linguistics, and translations. This means that the parents, while often well meaning, may make flawed choices on behalf of the children they control thus causing more harm than good. This idea of parents being held accountable to God for every little detail denies both the parents sand the children the human right to autonomy.
Power Over the Marriages of Others
The same sex marriage debate is a concern because people are being denied their equal rights under the 14th Amendment. When the Duggar family speaks or acts against this human right, to marry the person you love, it becomes an issue of autonomy. I am sure you can Google search any same sex marriage blog and get more details. The truth is that no one should have power over who someone marries, especially someone outside the family, if the marriage is consensual and not coerced. The truth is that who someone marries only affects that couple, not other marriages. Many marriages are legal contracts only, not religious contracts. You can have both, but not every couple does. In the USA, marriage is considered a legal contract, so being upset that others marrying same sex partners will hurt your marriage makes me wonder if perhaps your marriage isn’t strong. Also, as I stated before, the Bible, and other religious texts, is not the original version and has been changed due to man, linguistics, and translations. This also indicates that the idea of same sex partnerships and marriages being bad is a flawed idea. Denying autonomy of choice to others is a human rights violation.
I am not here to bash this family. I will say that I wish they would listen to those activists who send kind, gentle messages. I wish they would read and reread the New Testament, study linguistics, and study Biblical history so they can put into context the words of the Bible. I cannot say whether the show should be canceled or not. I do know that the world needs less refusal to honor human rights, such as autonomy, and more willingness to let those who harm none be left alone to live their lives. I want peaceful future, not one filled with confusion, hate, or denial of rights.
The Attachment Parenting Book: A Commonsense Guide to Understanding and Nurturing Your Baby By William Sears and Martha Sears
Jesus, the Gentle Parent: Gentle Christian Parenting (Little Hearts Handbooks)
By L.R. Knost
Unconditional Parenting: Moving from Rewards and Punishments to Love and Reason
by Alfie Kohn
Punished by Rewards: The Trouble with Gold Stars, Incentive Plans, A’s, Praise, and Other Bribes by Alfie Kohn
Punishment and Reward by Miki Kashtan, Ph.D. http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/acquired-spontaneity/201210/punishment-and-reward
Why Physical Punishment Does not Work by Paul C. Holinger, M.D. http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/great-kids-great-parents/201404/why-physical-punishment-does-not-work