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Interview With Michelle Duggar: Mother of 18 Children (Part I)

Michelle Duggar has been pregnant for 12 years if you combine all the time she spent carrying her 18 children. She and her husband, Jim Bob, have two sets of twins in their brood aged one month to 21 years old.

The mom and dad made famous by TLC's 17 Kids and Counting took time away from their family to chat with me via phone about their new book, The Duggars: 20 and Counting!, and the topics — marriage, raising children, conservative values, financial freedom, and faith — it covers, while their newest addition Jordyn gurgled in the background. The couple was candid, open, and incredibly kind. And if you assume they set out to have kids by the dozens and name them all with the letter "J," then think again!

After suffering a miscarriage, Michelle and Jim Bob, who are religious, chose to forgo the birth control they had been using and leave it up to God to decide how many children they would have. Michelle, now known for her soft voice and calm demeanor, spoke of a time when she had five children under five, was exhausted and shedding tears. She credits her faith for getting her though the challenges of motherhood.

As far as their children all having names starting with "J," in the text, Jim Bob and Michelle explain that they initially picked names they liked that all happened to start with the same letter for their first three children and then continued the trend not wanting the newest baby to feel left out — only they never suspected there would be so many names.

To see Michelle's candid responses to a couple of lil questions,

.

lilsugar: The book answers just about every question a person could have about your family and the forces that have guided you in making those decisions. Did you write The Duggars: 20 and Counting! to dispel misconceptions people have about your family?

Michelle Duggar: I see how the book could do that, but I don't think that was our intention. We really just had a heart to answer the people who had been emailing us. We had thousands of emails and there was just no way we could do what we needed to do to take care of our family and take care of those. We've been in politics in the past (Jim Bob was a state legislator in Arkansas) and we know there's a lot of people out there that don't agree with us, so that goes on as well, but we wrote this for the people that ask us for advice and encouragement more than the other angle.

lilsugar: Online, some members of the public have been critical of your buddy system, saying that your older children are raising the younger ones; do you think this is a misconception?

Michelle Duggar: I'll put it the way my daughter, Jill, said it — she had really had a sweet answer. She said, "Mama, they just don't understand or know what it's like to be in our large family and how much fun we have and how sweet is it to have these little ones that look up to us and want to be like us. When people get this idea of oh my God, they have so many kids and there's no way you can spend one-on-one time with them and give them the undivided attention or that the older ones are raising the younger ones, love doesn't divide it multiples."

My older ones have a mentoring relationship with the little ones. We are still the parents, Dad and I are the ones to give them counsel and different things like that, but when they are working together on their music practice or playing phonics games and doing math drills, those times are precious because I see the relationships that have developed.

Check out what Jim Bob and Michelle had to say about homeschooling and keeping a calm home in tomorrow's post on lilsugar. For more information on the Duggars, check out their website.

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nickolse nickolse 5 years
OH MY GOSH PEOPLE SOME OF YOU ARE SO RUDE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! THEY HAVE SO MANY KIDS BECAUSE THEY ARE DOING WHAT GOD HAS BROUGHT THEM TO THIS WORLD TO DO MAKE A NEW GENERATION. I WATCH EVERY SINGLE SHOW AND HAVE READ ALL THEIR BOOKS AND CAN NAME EVERY PERSON IN THE FAMILY INCLUDING THEIR FRIENDS YOU CAN SAY IM OBSESSED WITH THIS SHOW BUT GOODNESS GRACIOUS GET A LIFE PEOPLE DONT BE HATERS CUZ YOU KNOW YOU ARE JEALUOS AND IM ONLY 13 SO YEAH I LOVE THEIR FAMILY NOW I WANT TO SEE APOLOGIES BTW...THEIR KIDS LOVE THEIR FAMILY AND ARENT SUFFERING FROM NEGLECT OR NOT HAVEING ENOUGHT TIME WITH THEIR PARENTS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
queenie1 queenie1 7 years
Yes, I agree Jennifer. When I heard the comment about the girls having to get back to take care of the other children, I felt sad. I agree with children having chores, but this is getting out of hand. Also, Jim-Bob said when the girls were gone that this reminds him of when the children were little meaning that they had no one to help them with childcare. In addition, when you put yourself out there on live television, it is expected that others will be more critical. I think deep down, the Duggars say some things such as, "It is my daughters' choice if they continue to wear modest clothes." However, the daughters know that there would be some real friction if they chose something other than this. In the show about Josh's wedding, Jim-Bob seemed to have some anger issues about Michelle having had other boy friends before him. He didn't go into details about Michelle's activities such as kissing or going further. However, the parents are trying to shield their children from the parents so called "mistakes." I wonder how this will turn out as the other children get older.
Jennifer777 Jennifer777 7 years
PinkNC- The Duggars to not rely on any form of assistance. They own commercial property which they rent out to provide for their family. They also don't buy new clothing, they shop at thrift stores or make their own. CaterpillarGirl- The kids have to sign up to spend one-on-one time with their parents. If there isn't a slot open that day then you have to wait. That is a little worrisome to me. I watched to Duggar wedding special (and I have watched the shows before) and the one thing that sticks in my mind was a comment Josh made...and this is not an exact quote. "We don't have much time because the girls have to get back to help mom and dad with the little kids." If the parents cannot handle the kids on their own then they have too many. It is not always about the amount of love you have to give; it is about the quality of time/affection/etc. (I am sure that the mom who just had octuplets LOVES each and every one of her 14 children but even her own mother has said she is not capable of caring for them all.)
lindasmaggie lindasmaggie 7 years
I don't know why people find this amazing. Where I live we have a church where they marry their cousins and go as high as 22 children in a family.You should see the grocery carts. They don't mix with others, no T.V. or many modern things. Of course the men of the church watch sports on TV, but not the women and children. Modern form of slavery and oppression.
macgirl macgirl 7 years
PinkNC, while I may find them creepy it is my understanding that they are pretty self sufficient and do not take any government assistance. I also find the lady down the street that has 12 cats, 3 dogs and more birds than can be counted creepy. That's just my opinion though.
PinkNC PinkNC 7 years
They "chose to forgo the birth control they had been using and leave it up to God to decide how many children they would have." Yeah, after reading that comment, I can clearly understand why some of you are calling them creepy. I've never heard of this family. How much FREE government assistant are they getting? How many FREE items have they recieved over the years for all these kids from other organizations? People like this not only recieve FREE government assistance like monthly checks, medical, food stamps, daycare, and so on. They also get free cars to boot.
nessa17 nessa17 7 years
I can't wait for the rest of the interview. I find them interesting and have no problem with how many kids they have, its their life.
macgirl macgirl 7 years
I think they are creepy.
Moms Moms 7 years
I think the Duggars are really interesting people. What I like most about them is that though they decided this is what is best for their family, they know it isn't for everyone. Michelle had some really thoughtful answers to tough questions that I'll be posting in the coming days.
foxie foxie 7 years
What does she plan on doing once she gets into her 40s?
Liss1 Liss1 7 years
I find them fascinating (sp? what happened to spell check) I am in the middle of reading their book right now, i am enjoying it.
elisabeth elisabeth 7 years
WOW! What a family!
LaurenG22 LaurenG22 7 years
I agree with Lickety-- this may be well and good for the parents but the kids are suffering in some ways. May it be socializing with other children, one on one time with parents, even just having a life apart from this circus show they are calling a family. I think it is rediculous and selfish to have this many children, one can abstain when they are ovulating and NOT get pregnant every single year. It's not that difficult.
CaterpillarGirl CaterpillarGirl 7 years
lickety wow, how insightful you must be to a) know how much time these kids get to spend with parents , you must also be against sending kids to boarding school, daycare, or summer camp. b) what the kids are actually thinking and learning especially the older ones who are very well educated and can speak for themselves at this point.
Angelica Angelica 7 years
Thank you for bringing the Duggars to us, lilsugar! Their story is truly amazing and unusual, so it's neat to hear it straight from them. While I could never fathom having 18 children, Michelle seems like a great mom. I can't wait to read the book and the rest of the interview!
emmebeth emmebeth 7 years
These people creep me out.
lickety-split lickety-split 7 years
love doesn't expand time. there are 24 hours in a day. so how many minutes does each child get with mom or dad in the way of alone time? children only know what they are raised with, so it's no surprise that the duggar kids don't realized the incredible burden being placed on them by having to parent someone else's children when they are still children themselves. it's a free country. the duggar's are free to keep breeding and i am free to think having children has become an addiction for these people.
CaterpillarGirl CaterpillarGirl 7 years
the only thing i would change...is michelles hair, i love her but woah.
CaterpillarGirl CaterpillarGirl 7 years
A family who shares faith in God, loves one another and provides is exactly the type of people I want to see on TV. I love this family. I might not agree with all of thier choices, or the way they do things but I absolutely applaud them all for the obvious love and devotion they have for eachother.
Rally-RE Rally-RE 7 years
i'm SO EXCITED to see the duggars on lilsugar!!!! i love their show and am fascinated by their life. i can't imagine having that many kids. and, i applaud them for their money choices and being financially independent of state help. that's amazing! while i'm more of a liberal thinker, their conservative views and values interest me ... raising their children with their choice of religion. and, they always seem to be happy! i like how they are the opposite of jon and kate plus 8 ... sort of the coastal states meets rural america. their styles are so different yet both work. i look forward to hearing more ... i'm a huge duggar's fan!!!
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