Wednesday, August 10, 2011

"Are you like the Duggars?"

I have fielded a lot of strange questions in my time, but that one...well, it got my attention, and temporarily left me at a loss for words.

I've said it before. Strain against societal norms, especially when you're raising children, and you automatically set yourself up for every inane comment and asinine question immaginable.
Just try having more than two kids without hearing, "Don't you know what causes that?", (BTW - never ask that question to an extremely tired mom in the third trimester of her fifth pregnancy. She is physically unable to restrain herself for the millionth time, and you'll most likely wish you hadn't asked her - at least not in public.), or the ever popular, "You should see about getting that fixed." And if you only have kids of one gender you'll inevitably be asked if you're trying for the other gender. (Both of those are also comments that should be withheld from a tired, pregnant mom.) Oh, and let's not forget, "Are they all yours?"
While they're babies, and then (gracious me!!) toddlers, you'll be asked when you plan on returning to work. The older they get without you seeming anxious to dump them in daycare, the more you'll start getting "the look". The one that suggests you've either lost your mind, or that you're failing society by "not doing anything".  And don't worry, you won't just get the look. Some of the braver souls will actually ask you when you plan on doing something worthy again.
Announce you're homeschooling (or simply answer the oft asked question of why your kids aren't in school on a school day) and you may as well have begged society to hunt you down with a barrage of criticism. You can recite the questions/comments in your sleep, you hear them so often. And the looks, comments and questions vamp up again when you dare to continue homeschooling through high school. Never fear though, society won't actually have to hunt you down because you get the questions everywhere. Now what was that question about socialization?
Wear dresses, practice courtship, have longer than average hair (by that I just mean none of them have hair above their shoulders), and fail to wear makeup most of the time (never mind that this is just because you're too lazy to put it on) and you'll get:
"What denomination are you?"
"Are you Mennonite (or Mormon, or Amish, or Fundamental, or ......)" We're Christian doesn't seem to answer them sufficiently.
"Do you have to.......?" Fill in the blank here with any of the above mentioned items, from having more than two kids, to wearing dresses.
"What are you?" This is one of my favorites. I have to bite my tongue often when asked this question.

But, despite all my years of training in this sort of thing, I was completely unprepared when asked if we were like the Duggars.
Like the Duggars???
It took me a minute or two. Long enough for her to go ahead and explain that she had already asked the question of my older daughters and they had suggested she talk to me. I'm sure my bemused expression was part of the reason she hastened to add that she only asked because we seemed like such a nice family.
Well thank you, but still...
With the question still fumbling around in my head, I did manage to ask her, "In what respect do you think we're like the Duggars?" She went on to tell me, "Well you have such a lovely family," (thank you), "and you have a lot of children," (5 is a far cry from 19), "and, well....". I had to extrapolate from there. I made the assumption that all of us wearing dresses had something to do with the association as well, although she was too polite to say so. I told her that I knew little of the Duggars. Of course I know who they are, but I don't watch their TV show. I do have one of their books, but it doesn't really explain all their beliefs so I was limited with regard to how I could comment. I do know that they speak of their beliefs being responsible for why they dress modestly and homeschool, but here again, beyond passing on that bit of informaiton I was at a loss. I also know that they hold strongly to living a lifestyle free of debt and shared that too. They describe themselves as conservative Christians, so I went on to add that as such, we would most likely believe some of the same things, but we would probably have differences as well.

The whole experience left me more than a little amused, and with yet another strange question to add to my list.
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  1. Very funny post! I often here people refer to the Dugger's when talking about having many children, or wearing skirts. I have probably done this myself! I am already gearing myself for questions like these as my husband and I start our family! I wonder . . . what have been some of your responses to the questions? Any good but ladylike comebacks? Just wondering . . . Thanks for the post! Have a blessed day!

  2. It seems she meant "Are you like the Duggars - nice but weird?"!!!!!!!

  3. Thanks Megan - I thought it all humorus as well.
    Your question lends itself to a another post, so be on the lookout for my an answers to "those" questions post. I'll try to do it soon. I'll include some of my nicer comments, and a few of my "Really? You asked me that question?" kind of answers, but I'll refrain from passing on some of my husbands answers. I sometimes cringe when people greet him with those type of things.

    Yes Ruby - I rather got that impression myself. You know, after my mind got past the whole, "Huhhh??" stage. That's exactly how my older daughters took the question.

  4. I think no kids gets more nasty remarks. Telling people you have no kids often brings about judgment and shock. Yes they may be surprised or offended at first by the number of kids the Duggars have but that wears off faster than no kids. Note there are no shows about happy childless couples.I can't understand why people are so nosy about a woman's choice or lack there of.

  5. I'm sorry people have been unkind to you.
    I'm sure childlessness does get it's share of nasty remarks. Anything that goes against the average of 2 children can bring about scorn from the general population.
    I would add though, that comments with regard to having many children don't go away. The, "Don't you know what causes that?" question does decrease some in frequency (although some just start using past tense), but the other questions/comments don't. You always have those children, so people continue to make a big deal out of it.

  6. Actually, they are more nosy than rude. Even stranger has asked before when I was having kids. I could be infertile for all they know or don't want any. Sometimes it is by design. Luckily nobody has said anything in a while. Maybe they are learning it is the way things are sometimes.I think ti depends on where you live.