‘I’m sorry girls, but we won’t be watching 19 Kids and Counting anymore.’
‘WHAAT?!?!? WHYYYY??? MOOOMMM!!!’
It was difficult parenting decision time. The Duggars are a family that my kids have grown to love. The only one that I felt we could all watch together. We would curl up on Tuesday nights, my hand on the remote to mute during all of the ridiculous commercials and watch a family who had values, morals and the tight bond of the family be displayed. We cried when Jubilee passed, prayer for Josie to grow and be healthy and watched all of the weddings that came along. My daughter’s wrote big Duggar events on the calendar so that they knew what episode was coming. “Jill’s Birth’, “Jessa’s Wedding.’ ‘2 Hour Special’.
But I had to decide. After seeing the police report in In Touch magazine and reading the statements of admission the family, I had to decide if I wanted to tell my children the truth. A 14 year old male touched ages 4 and up sisters, and a friend staying over, sometimes while they slept. Inappropriately, grossly, criminally. To add salt to the wound, nothing was really done by law enforcement because the family chose to handle it internally, forcing the sisters, who were also sexual abuse victims, to live with their molester day after day. I had to decide if I should tell the kids the truth or sugar coat it in a child’s mind.
I chose to tell the truth. Not the whole gory detail truth, but the ‘let’s learn from this’ truth. It was one of the hardest things I have ever talked about with my girls, I won’t lie.
‘The family made some bad decisions around an illegal and bad act that Josh did and the network took the show off the schedule.’
‘What did Josh do?’
‘He touched some little girls in a way that was no OK.’
‘You mean their privates?’
‘Then, Mommy, they get what they deserve!’
Through this start, we got to have one of the best conversations we have ever had about this subject.
It allowed a real life experience talk about what is good touch and bad touch
My 8 year old understood almost immediately why it was wrong that Duggar touched girls in their private places. But the look of confusion on my 5 year old’s face prompted a great discussion on what is good touch and bad touch. Yes, mommy can help you take a bath. Yes, daddy can help you clean up if you have an accident in bed. No, no one else should be near your privates. No one at school, on a playground, at your house, at your dad’s house, at your friend’s house, should be touching your privates for any reason. This is not the same as your dad’s wife helping you pull up your wet bathing suit bottoms, but it is something to be aware of. Yes you can ALWAYS ask mommy if something is OK.
From what I have read, extensively, about child molesters, they start out gently. If my children feel free to ask me if something someone did is inappropriate, I have an opportunity to prevent something worse from happening. So making sure they understand that is an important step in helping to prevent it from happening to them.
It allowed me to share with the kids the importance of getting help if it happens
I want my girls to understand that even though the attention is now on Josh Duggar and the actions of the mother and father to guide their son through the process of hiding being found out, something they worked so hard to cover up, that those girls that he did this to should be the focus of healthy healing attention. We hear nothing about how the victims are handling this. Nothing about how they received counseling (some will disagree but having discussions with parents is not counseling) or the detriments of having to live with their molester. Serve at his wedding. Help with the births of his children.’
A side note: If you watched the 2 hour end of the season show, there was a moment at the end where they were asked what was next for the Duggars. The girls were silent but Josh, arrogantly to me at the end, chimed in and said, ‘Who knows, maybe another courtship is on the way? What do you think Jana and Jinger?’
The girls, who were sitting on the far other side of the couch, looked absolutely uncomfortable to me, and this was before the scandal broke. I remember thinking that the way he looked at them, smugly, was disrespectful. I chalked it up to my poor mood at the time, but now I read way more into it. Did anyone else have a reaction too?
I understand that it was one of the victims that wanted to police report destroyed and that the police department releasing it to In Touch was the way this came about. But I also understand that things that happen to children in a negative way, a traumatic way, a shameful way, last a lifetime. So turning this into a discussion about how the victim should be the focus, loved, cared for, giving what they need to move on, is an important one. I want my girls to understand that if they are victims at all for any reason, they are the focus of getting the help they need, not the perpetrator. I want them to feel more important than anything that might happen to them.
I can talk to them about the tricks people play
I am a ‘free to tell me anything at all’ kind of mom. I don’t care what my kids want to talk about, I will stop and talk to them as truthfully as I can for their understanding level at their age. I also sporadically ask questions that can prompt a conversation. My number one question is always, ‘Has anyone ever told you not to tell me something?’
I then hear all the secrets that their dad tell them not to share but I don’t really care about those. I am listening for key words, like ‘uncomfortable, scared, confused.’ I have not heard them yet, by the Grace of God, but by asking such a direct question, I feel it shows that I am the one they can go to. The one that will always he here when there is an answer that really needs to be talked about.
In those discussions, however, I can sneak in little tidbits about the games people play to take advantage of children. The ‘I have a puppy, kitty, candy’ games. The need for the family password that we have in case someone says, ‘Your Mommy said to come get you.’, the right adults to run to if they have threatened your mom or sisters.
It is so so important that there is a fluid, open discussion in any house with children about the wrongs that can be done. Sure, some will think my methods are incorrect, instilling fear in my children and more. Everyone will have an opinion. But if I can prevent something devastating happening to my children by being as honest as I can when an event presents itself as an example, I feel it is my job as their mother.
The event with the Duggars, as devastating as it is that his victims have to relive this in the media, as horrific as it is for victims of abuse anywhere to be reminded of the darkest time of their lives through the constant stories, can be a good discussion start for any family. I feel it has been for mine.
Can you see a learning opportunity in this fiasco for your family? I would love to hear your respectful thoughts!