Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar Are Possibly the Worst Parents in America

In the beginning, there was Batman. Only he wasn’t Batman. He was a little boy, a kid who probably liked playing with his toys and spending time with his parents. He wasn’t an inventor, a crime fighter, a dark shadow, a menace, or a vigilante. Nope, he was a boy, and privilege aside, he was pretty much like every other little boy on the planet.

And then something awful happened. Though the story varies based on the source, the conclusion was always the same; the boy’s loving parents were murdered in cold blood. Little Bruce Wayne, the boy who had all the time in the world to develop into a stable, healthy, and emotionally available adult was suddenly cut out of the natural cycle of human development and plunged into a darkness that he would never fully escape. In the end, he was Batman, the dark avenger, and he was fully formed in the depths of a loss he couldn’t cope with.

Batman is a product of his upbringing. True, this metaphor is not necessarily a parallel to every situation, but it is a perfect example of how a child’s early development can shape the kind of person that they become. And unlike Batman, the traumas of youth don’t always lead to all things ultra-heroic.

Take Josh Duggar. Josh Duggar is clearly not Batman. He is not a hero, a role model, an avenger of all injustices, and in all likeliness, he’s not a good guy either. The repeated scandals that have come to light in the past few months have proven that he is only good at failing at everything that every decent human being is supposed to do. Yes, Josh Duggar is most definitely not Batman.

Along with the recent scandals that have come to light, there has been greater public scrutiny on Josh Duggar’s parents, Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar. And for good reason. The stories that have surfaced about them are nothing short of bizarre and awful, from them admitting to having full knowledge of Josh sexually molesting his sisters to sending him off to “therapy”, a retreat that is basically a glorified church camp. Jim Bob and Michelle have looked the media square in the eye and have stated that they believe all of this to be normal, and that faith and prayer will make Josh more like Batman and less like the Joker.

Then, claims about the children’s bizarre upbringing were brought to light. The 19 Kids and Counting stars are known for being highly religious, and discussions of sex and sexuality were strictly forbidden. Sources claim and Jim Bob used the code word “Nike” for every time he suspected his children of having sexual thoughts. No person in the Duggar family was allowed to explore their sexuality without a union appointed by a pastor under God, a practice that is far too common in austere, religious households.

So, what does a child do when his budding sexual feelings are immediately called “immoral” and never discussed? What can a boy do when he is not allowed to be a normal, healthy, curious human being? And what can he do, as a grown man, when his wife was taught the exact same things by parents who were exactly the same as his? Apparently, you do what Josh Duggar has done.

I am not by any means condoning Josh Duggar’s behaviour. His actions have been reprehensible. What I am doing is pointing out an all too familiar calling card that has been handed out time and time again by the same backwards religious fanatics that America calls its own. Aside from the unfounded allegations of physical abuse, Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar have failed utterly as parents by refraining from doing one thing: protecting their children.

Denial and a hefty emphasis on faith DOES NOT save your two young daughters from the fact that their older brother abused them, and protecting that brother IS NOT okay. You do not get to blame the Devil on the fact that he cheated on his wife on tore up his family. Josh Duggar deserves to pay the piper like any other young man in his position does, and if his parents want him to heal, he deserves real medical attention, not more of the faith brain-washing that got him there in the first place.

Okay, so maybe the Duggars aren’t the worst family in America, but they are setting a rather poor example. Though they are the ones suffering for it in the limelight, they are the launch-off point for millions of other families in the world who stop their children from experiencing the natural, healthy aspects of their bodies in the name of “God”. And whatever way you slice it, mind-controlling an impressionable child by means of religious indoctrination is abuse. I am not bashing religion. I am bashing people who use religion as an excuse for their bad behaviour.

Although Josh Duggar is not Batman, he and the Dark Knight do hold something in common: their parents weren’t around to help them towards a healthy life. Bruce Wayne was lucky that Alfred was around to hold his hand when he needed someone, and perhaps that’s why Bruce channeled all of his pain into something good. If only Josh Duggar had an Alfred around when he felt alone in his feelings.

My best advice for Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar? Pay attention. Protect your daughters. Give your son medicine, not snake oil. Do better. God can’t heal your family from this. You can.


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About Lauren Messervey