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I cannot bring myself to go too far down the rabbit hole concerning the Josh Duggar molestation claims, but I want to share a few thoughts that I have on the subject. There is a lot of talk about how many kids this family has, how judgmental this family has been about alternative lifestyles, and how extreme their religious views are. I disagree with a lot of the Duggars’ beliefs but have also always defended their right to have as many kids as they want (as long as they are taken care of) and to do what they believe to be best for their family. I’ve also been very intrigued by how they run their household and admire the fact that they are debt free.

In light of recent events, many questions have been raised about all aspects of their lives and also about TLC’s responsibility to determine whether this is a lifestyle that should be broadcasted or not. There are many angles that all deserve discussion and have true and valid points, but it would take me several days to discuss all of these areas. My main point, and the very first thing that popped into my head when I read the first disturbing headline is:

This is what happens when you deny your children honest discussion about natural and normal sexual behavior.  

This family has made a huge to-do about anything and everything involving interaction with the opposite sex. No alone time without a chaperone, no casual dating with anyone you don’t plan on marrying, no kissing, no hand holding, no hugging, no family planning, no dancing for God’s sake. I understand the Christian notion of waiting until you are married to have sex, and if you want to go that route, that’s fine; but I don’t see how making everything taboo and “sacred” makes for sexually sound men and women. Holding a hand or sharing a kiss is an essential part of learning to be intimate with someone. The physical aspect of marriage is not everything, but it certainly isn’t nothing. I would not want to spend my life with someone I wasn’t physically compatible with. I may be going out on a limb, but I am assuming that they also discourage any form of self exploration as well. So, now there are two young people with no idea how their own bodies work much less how someone else’s does, who are making a life long commitment to each other. Before you think I’m just picking on the Duggars, I feel the same way about Catholic priests and any religion or practice that thinks celibacy is a healthy idea. Anyone who encourages human beings to ignore or suppress their sexuality can go fly a kite in my opinion.

It is human nature to be curious about our own bodies as well as members of the opposite sex. This curiosity begins at a very young age. Truman is 2 1/2 and talks about his penis all.of.the.time. It is my job as a parent to encourage him to be respectful and proud of his body, to allow him to ask questions and to keep that line of communication open. This is not only so he can grow up and feel good about who he is, but also so later on he will be respectful of other people’s bodies. He will know that he can come to us for honest answers, and that nothing about his body or his sexuality is shameful. If he wants to have sex before marriage, it is not my place to make him feel like those urges are wrong. It is my place to provide him all of the information he needs to make a healthy decision. To teach him that sexual contact is a huge responsibility that holds the potential for very serious consequences and is not something to enter into lightly. That it is about more than just your desires, but also the feelings of the person you are with, and that above all else you must be protected and safe. I will stress being emotionally and mentally ready for a sexual relationship rather than being married. Say what you will about my methods, but a confused and guilty teen preying on his younger sisters is a far greater sin than premarital hand holding in my book. When you make normal behavior seem deviant, true deviance is going to come shining through.

Now, not only has Josh forever changed the lives of his younger sisters and who ever else has fallen victim to his behavior, but he has now been labeled a child molester. A label that will follow him for the rest of his life. His wife and children will suffer, his career will suffer and his sisters have been suffering, in silence, for a very long time. This brings me to my second point.

Once again, the females lose.

So, Josh touches his younger sisters and God knows who else, and the focus is all centered on Josh. His wrong doing. His apology. His journey through prayer and God’s forgiveness and working it all out at a manual labor camp. (Why in the world would this “fix” the problem?)

What about the girls? What has been done to make them feel secure again? Who has insured their safety? Their mental health? The females in this family are encouraged to fall in line behind the men in their lives. To be led by them. To blindly trust that these men are Godly and will take care of them. How could that ideology remain true, and still be encouraged, after one of the most trusted men in their lives betrayed them on this level? How dare those parents parade around on television wagging fingers in their daughters faces about making sure to “side-hug” their soon to be husbands, preaching chastity and innocence, knowing deep down that their own son took some of that innocence away? The moment it became known that Josh assaulted those girls, Jim and Michelle should have given their methods and beliefs a very honest review. Obviously, something isn’t working. Continuing to raise your other sons the exact same way you raised the first one after seeing what has happened, is pretty much ensuring that your other daughters will become victims as well. But they stayed quiet and stayed the course. I can only imagine the mental and emotional damage done to the girls, never seeing their brother held truly accountable for any of the abuse he inflicted upon them. It took over a year for Jim Bob to contact authorities. How long would it have taken if a stranger had assaulted one of the girls? Josh’s squeaky clean image and the future success of their show was valued more than their daughters’ bodily integrity. No amount of praying makes that acceptable.

So, I’m finally done with the Duggars. I hope that their children grow to think for themselves instead of believing their parents’ unrealistic hype. I hope they never again feel justified in condemning homosexuality or birth control or premarital sex or anything else for that matter. Finally, I hope that other people in the world who have patterned their lifestyles after these people recognize that the Duggars are far from perfect. You can be religious, spiritual or conservative without being fanatical. I’m wondering what else we don’t know about the Duggar family.