Growing Up Duggar: It's All About Relationships


But if we choose to be grateful and thank God for the unchangeable things in our lives, whether it is facial features or a birthmark we were born with—or even physical scars that have come about later in life from accidents such as burns or being injured in a car wreck—it changes our whole perspective on life. We will finally be able to overcome fear of rejection and live confidently and contentedly with these unchangeable things that we did not choose for ourselves.

Dad reminded us that when we pray the Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:9–13) we are asking God to forgive us to the same degree we forgive others. It says, “Forgive us . . . as we forgive.” Dad asked us to think about those words and take them seriously. Even though we might not feel like forgiving someone, we must choose to forgive every person who offends us and do it even before they ask—and regardless of whether they ever do ask. We must come to the place where we say, “Lord, I choose to forgive (name of offender) for (name of offense).” It’s a choice we can’t afford not to make.

Express Gratefulness AS A FAMILY, WE resolve to weed out daily those attitudes of ungratefulness that sneak in and bring with them an air of discontent. For instance, around our house we are not allowed to say, “I’m bored.” It is an expression of ungratefulness with a person’s surroundings and a complaining attitude with the idea that one must be constantly doing something fun or entertaining in order to be happy.

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you,” saith the LORD, “thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.” —Jeremiah 29:11

HellomynameisJoyAnnait’sverynicetomeetyou.” The words ran together and had us all chuckling. Mom gave the little girl credit for trying and encouraged her to slow down next time. Way down.

Here’s the bottom line: The relationship a girl has with her dad often influences how she will relate to boys. Girls want to believe their dads love them and will protect them. When they don’t feel that, they often go searching for those things from guys. This can lead to unwise decisions, which in turn bring a host of consequences and painful memories.

In Ephesians 5, Paul reminds us, “See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.” To redeem the time really means to be a good steward and make the highest and best use of our time. We should be careful to evaluate and consider the time we devote to these things so that it doesn’t get out of hand.


Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven. —Matthew 5:16

Now, we must admit that there have been times when one of us dared to utter those taboo words, but Mom quickly cured us of our “boredom” with her nonchalant reply, “Well, if you can’t think of anything to do, I certainly can!” and then she would put us to work! If we as sons and daughters take on a selfish “me-centered” attitude in life, we may begin to feel that our parents owe it to us to provide us with all the latest toys and gadgets, cute cars, and a fancy house. But the Bible says, “And having food and raiment, let us be therewith content” (1 Timothy 6:8). This means we should be content with the most basic necessities of life, and that anything beyond that is an extra bonus, not something we deserve or require.

Several years ago we added “my pleasure” to the manners chart after we read the book How Did You Do It, Truett? by S. Truett Cathy, founder of Chick-fil-A. In it, Mr. Cathy tells how he studied the methods of five-star hotels and found that workers are required to say “My pleasure” instead of “You’re welcome” when being thanked for something. In essence, one is saying, “Thank you for giving me the pleasure of serving you,” and not, “Yes, it was such a sacrifice on my part. You’re welcome.” He found a direct link between business success and employees learning to treat costumers with the utmost courtesy and respect, and that was one of the principles he adopted for all Chick-fil-A workers.

she used to mow her yard in a bikini—and she wondered why the neighbor lady didn’t really like her

the definition of the word gossip as “sharing private information with those who are not a part of the problem or a part of the solution.” And we also learned that slander is “sharing information with a design to hurt.” Both gossip and slander are wrong in God’s eyes.

THE OBEDIENCE GAME DUGGAR KIDS GROW UP playing the Obedience Game. It’s sort of like Mother May I? except it has a few extra twists—and there’s no need to double-check with “Mother” because she (or Dad) is the one giving the orders. It’s one way Mom and Dad help the little kids in the family burn off extra energy some nights before we all put on our pajamas and gather for Bible time (more about that in chapter 8). To play the Obedience Game, the little kids all gather in the living room. After listening carefully to Mom’s or Dad’s instructions, they respond with “Yes, ma’am, I’d be happy to!” then run and quickly accomplish the tasks. For example, Mom might say, “Jennifer, go upstairs to the girls’ room, touch the foot of your bed, then come back downstairs and give Mom a high-five.” Jennifer answers with an energetic “Yes, ma’am, I’d be happy to!” and off she goes. Dad might say, “Johannah, run around the kitchen table three times, then touch the front doorknob and come back.” As Johannah stands up she says, “Yes, sir, I’d be happy to!” “Jackson, go touch the front door, then touch the back door, then touch the side door, and then come back.” Jackson, who loves to play army, stands at attention, then salutes and replies, “Yes, sir, I’d be happy to!” as he goes to complete his assignment at lightning speed. Sometimes spotters are sent along with the game player to make sure the directions are followed exactly. And of course, the faster the orders can be followed, the more applause the contestant gets when he or she slides back into the living room, out of breath and pleased with himself or herself for having complied flawlessly. All the younger Duggar kids love to play this game; it’s a way to make practicing obedience fun! THE FOUR POINTS OF OBEDIENCE THE GAME’S RULES (MADE up by our family) stem from our study of the four points of obedience, which Mom taught us when we were young. As a matter of fact, as we are writing this book she is currently teaching these points to our youngest siblings. Obedience must be: 1. Instant. We answer with an immediate, prompt “Yes ma’am!” or “Yes sir!” as we set out to obey. (This response is important to let the authority know you heard what he or she asked you to do and that you are going to get it done as soon as possible.) Delayed obedience is really disobedience. 2. Cheerful. No grumbling or complaining. Instead, we respond with a cheerful “I’d be happy to!” 3. Thorough. We do our best, complete the task as explained, and leave nothing out. No lazy shortcuts! 4. Unconditional. No excuses. No, “That’s not my job!” or “Can’t someone else do it? or “But . . .” THE HIDDEN GOAL WITH this fun, fast-paced game is that kids won’t need to be told more than once to do something. Mom would explain the deeper reason behind why she and Daddy desired for us to learn obedience. “Mom and Daddy won’t always be with you, but God will,” she says. “As we teach you to hear and obey our voice now, our prayer is that ultimately you will learn to hear and obey what God’s tells you to do through His Word.” In many families it seems that many of the goals of child training have been lost. Parents often expect their children to know what they should say and do, and then they’re shocked and react harshly when their sweet little two-year-old throws a tantrum in the middle of the grocery store. This parental attitude probably stems from the belief that we are all born basically good deep down inside, but the truth is, we are all born with a sin nature. Think about it: You don’t have to teach a child to hit, scream, whine, disobey, or be selfish. It comes naturally. The Bible says that parents are to “train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6).

When I shared her story with the other leaders that evening, one of them commented, “That just goes to show that intellectually, a person can have all the head knowledge of the Bible and Christianity, but sometimes people stop short of truly knowing Jesus.