Jubilee Shalom Duggar, Miscarriage, and Loss in the Duggar Family

Since the tragic miscarriage of Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar’s twentieth child, Jubilee Shalom, the world has been trying to comprehend just why this Quiverfull family continues to seek media attention with their super-sized family. Usually provoking outrage among some individuals, including professionals, every time the married couple announces a new pregnancy, this time the family has to deal with an unfortunate loss. Much to the chagrin of the American public, however, Jim Bob and Michelle have decided to take photos of tiny Jubilee Shalom and post them on the Internet, with her hand holding the baby’s hand. While the Duggars are certainly not the first couple to lose a child through miscarriage, what is being questioned is how they are dealing with it through the media. Not to mention, the Duggar parents having to explain the miscarriage to the rest of their children.

Maybe it is this family’s unusual ideals of what constitutes perfection and paradise on earth, living in an insulated world of their own which they believe they have full control over. Yet the death of Jubilee Shalom is perhaps the greatest example of reality, something that occurs not as a result of sin (orthodox Christian doctrine teaches that death is the result of Adam and Eve’s fall from the Garden of Eden in Genesis Chapter 3) but is rather a fact of everyday life, somewhat like taxes. Death is part of the cycle of nature, with humans being born and dying every day, as do animals and plants (technically, humans are part of the animal kingdom and not exalted, immortal beings).

It is not the actual death of little Jubilee that seems out of place here – Michelle Duggar is 45 years old and as a woman’s age increases, so does her chance of having more high-risk births – but rather how the family handles the issue. For example, why are the Duggar children having such difficulty in accepting the death of what would have been their newest sibling? Have Jim Bob and Michelle never discussed the reality of death with their children? Moreover, has Jim Bob or Michelle even talked to their children about the possibility of a parent dying? Considering that the family still has little ones (even though Michelle has trained her oldest children to do the actual parenting of the younger children), what would happen to the children? The oldest daughters may be qualified to care for the younger children, but what about financially supporting them? None of the Duggar children have been encouraged to enter college in order to get a degree and get a high-paying job. Family values must come first when it comes to the Duggars, even at the cost of individual achievement. That is pretty sad and unrealistic. Should both parents die, the children would be left on their own, with their basic instinct for survival confiscated from them in the name of “love and concern” by their Biblically militant parents. The Quiverfull movement makes no allowances for family members to seek higher education, careers, or making good money, especially not for the daughters. Females are relegated to the home, expected to bear as many children as possible as far as God will permit it. According to Quiverfull belief, if the Duggars were not permitted to have a twentieth child, what does this mean as a supernatural message? That God has said, “You two have brought enough babies into the world that you cannot take care of. You have your oldest children feeding and raising the younger ones.”? Leaving everything in God’s hands in cases like this seems to make it so much easier to place the blame elsewhere. Since Christianity as a religion is centered around a scapegoat doctrine, regardless if it is a mainstream church like the Methodist, Roman Catholic, and Baptist ones, or a group like the Jehovah Witnesses or Latter Day Saints, assuming personal responsibility for something like this would be a long shot. The human body was not designed to bear twenty children and with lower child mortality rates today compared to those of the eighteenth century, there really is no need for any family to have that many children. The Duggars do not even live on a farm so they cannot use the excuse that they need that many children to till the fields.

On the outside, it seems like Jim Bob and Michelle are Creators in their own right, controlling everything their children do, how they dress, act, and learn (Michelle homeschools the children). Include the fact the couple insists on giving very child a name that starts with the letter J in honor of their Creator Jim Bob, it can be a tremendous ego boost to them to exercise that sort of control over their offspring. Of course, the couple may claim that their children love them unconditionally, but that would be more accurately described as brainwashing, since no child can truly love a parent unconditionally. A child’s dependency upon the parents (I should say, the oldest Duggar children) must never be mistaken for unconditional love, an emotion that is a developed one, not innate from birth. Jim Bob and Michelle love their children conditionally, so long as the children obey the parents unconditionally. Most people view this as being a subtle form of emotional blackmail, the control over the children in the name of Biblical values.

A miscarriage may be the least of Jim Bob and Michelle’s worries. Having one of their children growing up and deserting the family to eke out a high paying career, or one of them being gay (something that is not tolerable among Quiverfullers) would be a far greater worry, since it would mean the loss of their child in the name of betrayal of the values the parents tried so hard to instill in their children. Sometimes a little rebellion can be good for a child, developing a backbone and learning to say “No” to such a form of extreme control. At some point, Michelle Duggar will run out of eggs and no longer be able to bear children. What sort of activity will she and Jim Bob then indulge in? When their children are grown up and (hopefully) moved away from home so as not to be held down in the name of “love and concern”, the Duggars may have to re-evaluate their values and attempt to create a life that is very different from the one they were used to living. Hopefully their children will be able to experience lives of their own without the extreme control over them by Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar.



Quiverfull, by Kathryn Joyce (Boston: Beacon Press) 2009.

People also view

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *