Jim Bob Duggar and Michelle Duggar are controversial, to say the least. For their fundamentalist approach to religion, for the way that they treat their daughters. Their parenting in general has been brought into question by ... basically everyone.
Despite that, the Duggar family will be speaking at a conference, telling the audience how to "prepare" their children for the world.
Critics are slamming the Duggar parents, pointing out that their children end up as clones of their parents. Not a single Duggar child has gone on to get a university education.
Eschewing actual education in favor of keeping children culturally isolated through homeschooling is one of the goals of Bill Gothard and his Institute for Basic Life Principles.
Sure, the Duggars have distanced themselves from Gothard ... somewhat.
Duggar cousin Amy Duggar King tweeted her criticism of the Duggar family church, saying that she does not support it in any way or form.
She got really specific, pointing out that she doesn't share their views on topics like legalism (in which following select lifestyle rules from the Old Testament seems to take precedence over accepting salvation through Jesus).
To a lesser extent, the Duggar Family has tried to show that they aren't quite in lock step with Gothard's views. That might have something to do with Bill Gothard resigning in disgrace a few years back after being accused of sexual harassment and molestation.
Did we mention that Gothard is the one who "counseled" Josh Duggar after Josh's own bout of molestation? Yeah.
Despite the alleged distance between the Duggars and the IBLP, Jim Bob and Michelle will speak at the Big Sandy Family Conference in 2018.
The topic? On preparing one's children to enter the world.
Critics have taken aim at the audacity of Jim Bob and Michelle to lecture anyone on parenting.
Reluctantly setting aside allegations of abuse, the idea that they've actually prepared their children for the world is absurd.
By keeping their children isolated from American culture and from society, they've prepared their children to remain part of an insular subculture that shuns the real world and rejects anything unfamiliar from their childhoods.
Or, as one criticism phrased it, Jim Bob and Michelle produce only "robotic clones."
The page, Duggar Family News: Life is Not Pickles and Hairspray, took aim at the couple's expected presence at the Big Sandy conference, saying:
"Those kids are all robotic clones of Jim Bob and Michelle. I really don’t think God intended for everyone to be clones of their parents."
To be clear, this isn't some bonkers conspiracy theory. They're saying that the Duggars actively suppress the individuality of their children.
More to the point, the writer of the criticism believes that the Duggars are positively ungodly:
"We would have never advanced as a civilization if that [were] His intention."
And there's a specific example:
"It seems God called Jill to become a nurse but Jim Bob overruled God and pushed her towards midwifery."
"If their kids were actually doing something besides family businesses or having babies, they might have something to talk about."
If you're looking for other examples of the Duggars suppressing the individuality of their children whenever they express a desire to live actual lives:
-None of the Duggar children have gone on to have a university education. Not everyone has to go to college, but for no children from a wealthy family to go to higher education? That's bad. And no, Joe Duggar's one-year of Biblical study is not the same.
-Jinger Duggar has expressed an interest in photography. When she expressed a desire to live in a big city like New York, Michelle dismissed it as Jinger just wanting to live closer to Walmart.
-Joy-Anna actually had an internship with a local politician. While that's not exactly breaking the mold, since Jim Bob also worked in politics, some wondered if she might pursue elected office. But apparently her parents didn't push her to do that, and now she's pregnant and married.
(Considering the shotgun wedding rumors, her parents may have ruled out any other life path, particularly after she got pregnant)
In other words, many believe that the Duggar girls are trapped in a dangerous cult and that they may remain that way for the rest of their lives.
It's important to note that the Duggar family's avoidance of higher education (and public education ... and maybe education in general, since Jessa Duggar can't even do homeschooling right) isn't a coincidence.
Many fundamentalists and other deeply conservative folks are reluctant to encourage even their sons to attend a university.
Why? Because they believe that universities are "liberal bastions" where agenda-carrying professors braindwash children with wild ideas like equality.
In reality, the beliefs of professors vary wildly, and most are just passionate nerds who love a particular subject. But eduction and, perhaps more importantly, actual social contact with people who aren't exactly like a person can usually have a positive effect.
Imagine if a Duggar child came home from college and had made gay friends. Or friends from non-Christian backgrounds. Or both!
Jim Bob and Michelle might speak at the Big Sandy Conference, but they're not going to be talking about preparing your children for the world. Not really.
They'll be talking about how to insulate your children from the world. How to keep them from ever being truly a part of their world.
Critics say that they will be talking about how to crush every spark of individuality out of your child so that, even when they leave the nest, they'll always adhere to how you want them to be.