By Matt Sweetwood for Good Men Project
The big social news across the USA this week was In Touch Weekly’s disclosure about abuse in the Duggar family. They are the real-life family, with nineteen (19) children, from the TLC’s, “19 Kids and Counting“ TV reality show. They have gained praise as well as condemnation for their direct and sometimes harsh outspoken views on people who do not follow their same Baptist Christian morality.
One of the brothers sexually abused several of his younger sisters years ago when the boy was 15 years old. The parents knew about this but still agreed to participate in a reality show, hoping their secret was safe. This past week, both parents and then a few days later, two of the abused daughters gave painful to watch, interviews on FNC’s, The Kelly File. The harsh reality of their reality got really real, really quick.
When I saw the Duggar dad, Jim Bob, giving his interview on the Kelly File, it painfully reminded me of a time when I my kids were physically and emotionally abused by their mother. This was 20 years ago, and happened before she left us in a fit of rage and finally diagnosed Borderline Personality Disorder behavior. I let it happen because I was in denial, which clearly Jim Bob still is. This dispassionate way he talks about what happened, his failure to acknowledge the gravity of what his son did and the glossing over what they did to get their kids over the trauma indicates that, years later, he still doesn’t get it. What was his plan to fix it and lead his family to success? Put all of them on a TV Reality Show? That would be funny if there weren’t 19 children’s lives at stake.
My 3 daughters and 2 boys, now all in their 20’s are all happy, remarkably well-adjusted and highly successful. I believe they are ok because I quickly snapped out of the daze I was in. I overcame denial of the fact that a mom could harm her children and became angry – angry at their mom and really angry at myself for letting it happen. And my reaction, because I desperately love my kids and would do anything to make it better for them, was to come up with a life-long plan that would lead them to a better place – the best place I could bring them. As their leader I viewed my success as a man and a dad was going to be measured by how they turned out. There was no chance I would have agreed to participating in a TV reality show and in fact I worked hard to keep what happened in our home very private.
Raising 19 children or 5 children or even one child to successful adulthood is an extremely difficult task. Add in abuse by a family member and you better have your A-game on and have it on until the kids are about 30 years old. Jim Bob, you can’t fix a problem until you acknowledge the problem so man up, get your kids off TV and come up with a plan that places their success and happiness first.
Please Jim Bob, no more TV interviews. It’s painful to watch another dad in denial over what has happened to his kids.
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