An Open Letter to Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar

Dear Jim Bob and Michelle:

By Jim Bob Duggar (Email from Jim Bob Duggar) [CC BY 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

By Jim Bob Duggar [CC BY 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

I would like to offer my sincere sympathies at this time. I am sure your daughters and the other girls involved in your recent scandal had no need or desire to have this brought up again and I know you must be feeling pain and shame as well.

Every parent must decide for themselves what they believe is the best way to raise their children. Considerations include public school versus private school versus homeschooling, attending church services versus eschewing religion, and, on an even more basic level, are kids better off as only children or do they do better with siblings.

We all have to make these decisions — and hundreds more — as we do our best to raise our children to be the best possible people they can be. I know I have struggled with the choice between working more so that my children can have the dance and theatre lessons they love and cutting back on such activities so that I can spend more time with them. Hopefully, I’ve found a good balance between the two.

You and I have made very, very different choices for our children. We do not subscribe to religious beliefs while you embed it in the very fabric of your lives. You homeschool your children while my kids attend public schools. Our children have mostly unfettered access to the internet and are encouraged to explore other cultures and lifestyles while you, as I understand it, severely limit their exposure to the world outside your community. And those differences are all okay.

Neither of us can claim to be definitively “right” — we’ve both made mistakes and wrong choices but we’re both doing the best we can. I certainly disagree with many of the choices you’ve made in raising your kids (just as, I’m sure, you feel the same about the choices I’ve made) but I would never tell you that you were parenting “wrong” or that you shouldn’t be allowed to raise your kids as you think best.

But that is where the biggest difference lies. You see, you seem to have a problem keeping your disapproval of others to yourself. Of course, you can disapprove of my parenting style or the choices I’ve made or even how I live my life but it’s not up to you to prevent me from making those choices or living my life as I think best. And, given the recent scandal involving your eldest son, it seems to me that you are even less in a position where you ought to be passing judgment on others than most parents.

More importantly, you certainly shouldn’t be making false claims about others — especially when those claims actually apply to your own son. The thing is, it seems quite apparent that, at least in one area, in one case, your parenting choices did not produce the best outcome — in fact, your choices didn’t even produce an acceptable outcome.

So while you may not approve of LGBT parents or parents who accept and support their LGBT children, it is certainly not your place to deny those families their rights and fair treatment.

In addition, I would say the same is true of your son — what business does he have of condemning others, of claiming that members of the LGBT community are a danger to kids when he, himself, was at one time that very danger?

So, I respectfully request that you learn from this situation and understand that you are not the arbiter of what is or is not acceptable. It is not up to you to decide who gets what rights. I’ll refer you to the book you hold so dear: “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” (Matthew 7:1-5) It is not up to you to define what a family is and how it should work for anyone except yourselves.

This post is part of Blogging for LGBTQ Families Day 2015.

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