Childrearing

It’s Not Just The Duggars, Every Parent Is A Potential Cult Leader

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Duggar FamilyThe infamous Duggar family catches a lot of criticism for the way that they raise their kids. They get flack for having so many children. In general, there’s a tremendous amount of vitriol leveled towards Jim Bob and Michelle. Most recently, Tracie Egan Morrissey over at Jezebel gives a thorough argument as to how the Duggar family is a cult. Not just a cult, they’re an evil cult.

Morrissey debates,

“Instead of recruiting members, Michelle and Bob just created them with their own bodies. And these kids don’t stand a chance of escaping and becoming their own people with their own opinions and their own identities. Because their identities have already been established for them — based on the group — from the minute they were conceived and given a J-name. “

She then goes through and analyzes the eight factors used to identify a destructive cult outlined by psychiatrist Robert Jay Lifton, and explains exactly how the troupe of 19 Kids and Counting fits the bill.

Now, I don’t agree with all of the Duggar’s choices. I would never choose their lifestyle for myself or my family. But I have to admit that I bristled at the idea that a family teaching their children about their own personal beliefs is a cult. I’m a little hesitant to equate parents and cult leaders, simply because these parents chose to employ philosophies that I’m personally against. I understand where Jezebel was coming from, but I feel like the piece ignores that most parents are trying to teach their children to share their beliefs. Even if, like in my case, it’s to embrace diverse opinions. That’s still a moral that I’m committed to making sure my daughter shares with me.


By Morrissey’s logic, almost any parent could be considered a cult leader, especially if they happen to hold different views from your own. We’re signaling out the Duggars for their conservative viewpoint. But to a conservative, I may be indoctrinating my child in liberal, biased media. I might be brainwashing my daughter to not respect the Word of God. From a different perspective, maybe I’m the cult leader.

Parenting is all about teaching your children morals and how to live. Most parents want their children to share their morals, and therefore instruct young kids on certain behavior that’s appropriate, on certain activities that are acceptable. We guide them and create children who undeniably influenced by our choices. We consider this our job as parents.

Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar don’t hold the same values that I do, but that doesn’t mean one of us is brain-washing and the other is merely instructing. The Duggars don’t allow their kids to watch television or read unapproved literature, but that stems from a core belief about evil in the world and protecting their kids from it. I don’t let my daughter watch R-rated movies, but that doesn’t mean I’m controlling her.  I’m deciding what’s appropriate. The children are home-schooled in a curriculum that the parents approve. My daughter’s curriculum is approved by me when I choose to send her to a certain school.

Parents make choices and they try to do what’s best for their children. I don’t agree with the Duggars, but I feel like their actions are a reflection of two parents trying to do what they believe is right for their kids. If that makes them a cult, there are a whole lot of communes popping up all over the country.

(Photo: TLC)