Michelle Duggar on What It's Really Like to Have 19 Kids

Jeanne Sager The Stir Exclusive

Duggar familyI've got a confession to make. When I found out I'd be sitting down with Michelle Duggar to talk about the new season of 19 Kids & Counting premiering April 1 on TLC, I was a tad bit more nervous than I usually am when it comes to celebrity interviews. What if she found out I have -- gasp -- just one child? Would the conversation end right then and there? 

As it turns out, Michelle Duggar may have 19 kids, but she's a lot more like the moms I meet on the playground than you'd expect. Not only did she tell The Stir she doesn't know everything about parenting (got that sanctimommies? Even Michelle Duggar doesn't know it all!), but sometimes the mother of 19 who appears to do it all flawlessly on TV gets flustered! 

Here's what Michelle Duggar had to say about parenthood!

On whether she's done making babies at 47:

We would love more. If God saw fit to bless us with another baby, I would be thrilled. I know my time is ticking, the clock might be running out. I may not be able to have any more biologically. We are so grateful in enjoying the ones God has given us at this point, but yeah, we'd receive another kid if God sees fit to give us another one.

On whether she's ever questioned her decision to have so many kids:

When I was parenting my children when they were younger, I just had one of those overwhelming moments thinking there's no way I can do this, what am I doing? What am I thinking? There's no way I can love all these kiddos and train and teach and feed and clothe and all of that.

At that moment, the Lord gave me [my] life verse, and ever since then when I get overwhelmed, I think, You're right, Lord, I can't do this in my own strength, but in my weakness, God is my strength.

On how she stays sane as a mom:

It truly is that faith in God that really brings me through my days. I wake up in the morning and say, Lord, whatever you have for me today, I am willing and I just want to walk with you and I want to know you and really delight in knowing you, and as I do that, He really does make my days so much more adventuresome.

On why she doesn't consider herself a parenting expert:

When we think we've figured everything out, God just throws us a curveball and we go, "Oh man!" It's so funny because every situation is going to be different that we come up against in life, and every child that we deal with is so different. They are not cookie cutters.

I'm 47 and I'm in a different season and stage of my life than I was when I fell in love and met the man of my dreams at 17. I realize we're forever learning and growing and changing. I chuckle in different areas of our relationship with Jim Bob and me. Just when a man thinks he's got us figured out, we go through a hormone change and he's like, Oh wow, interesting, that's new. Then I'm like, Me too! We're going through this together; we're one in spirit.

It's a journey and I'm learning, and with parenting, it's the same way.

The principles of God's word are always true, but with each child, I go around a different way of learning. I tell my kids you've got to bear with me, be patient with Mom. I've never been a mom of 19 kids and counting and loving these grandbabies and I'm learning as I go. I want to learn. I want to learn what God wants me to learn through it.

On how she seeks out quality time with each kid:

For children we are the only thing ... they're born and they know Mommy and Daddy, that's their life, they want to please us -- you know, when they're small, as they get a little bigger, they have a will that comes out and we have to teach them! But spending that one-on-one time with them is so precious.

I purposely do that. I purposely set out ... if I'm working around the house, I pull one alongside of me and I start asking them how are you doing, what's going on in your life, what can Mom pray for you about, are there some things I need to know that I don't know about, what books have you been reading, what's your favorite? All these things; I've got a list of questions I love to go down and just ask them and talk with them about so I know who they are, I know where they're at, I know their heart.

That's purposeful, especially with as many people under our roof!

The good thing is we homeschool, so we're together day in and day out. I probably do get to spend a lot more time with my family than maybe those that find themselves coming and going a lot. This is school, this is home, this is life. This is like our central station, and we work out from here.

On what kids really need most from their parents:

I think connecting with their heart is what Jim Bob & I found to be the most important thing, really purposing to let them know that they have a safe place to share their heart and that we really want to know their heart, we want to know them, we want to pray them through this journey of life together.

It's different for little ones than it is for my middle ones and then for my adult ones. It's just such a fun journey of life experiencing that with each one of them.

Do you watch 19 Kids & Counting? Do you find yourself relating to the family in any way?

 

Image via TLC

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