The Duggars are back with more answers to your parenting questions. Here, Jim Bob and Michelle — who recently became parents for the 18th time — offer their secrets to managing such a large brood.
Q: How do you prepare for the holidays with so many to feed and keep entertained? — Jesi Allen, Clover, S.C.
Michelle: We try to plan and prepare ahead. Writing our shopping list, prepare for the meals and stuff. We get everyone involved. The little ones roll out pie dough. They get to open up cans and mix up stuff for green bean casserole. Everyone likes helping out.
Q: How do you make sure that each of your children has quality time with you? There are only so many hours in a day. — Dorine Hagarman, Woodbridge, Va.
Michelle: We decided to home-school. We spend a lot a time with our children because we're here day in and day out. We spend a lot of time with them helping with schoolwork. We have heart-to-heart talks with them. On Saturdays we take it as a day of rest for our family — we try not to schedule a lot on Saturday, which has been so wonderful. We can relax when the schedule is not as crazy as the rest of the week. We have a chance to find out what's going on with each of them.
Jim Bob: When we run errands, like go to the store or the post office, the kids take turns coming with us. If it is a short errand, a little one will go. For longer errands like the grocery store, two or three older ones get to go.
Michelle: When I'm standing cooking, one will be standing there with me. One-on-one time with mommy. I'll say, 'What's going on?' and they spill it all out.
Jim Bob: When you have one child, you are their only playmate, but here there's someone around all the time. My job is very flexible, I'm in and out, here more than gone. With home-schooling we get to spend more time with our children individually than most people do with two children.
Q: How do you get all your children to get along? They seem to be happy, respect each other, show good manners and not beat each other up! — Marlane Romanelli, Rivervale, N.J.
Jim Bob: It's a daily job to keep up with their hearts and attitudes and actions. I don’t know how any parent can do this without pointing to a relationship with God. Even when parents aren’t around, there's nothing they can get away with!
Michelle: There are two things you need for success in life. Number one is you've got to love with your whole heart; your focus is wanting to please. Second, you must love others, reach out to others and not have that self-centered focus. Look around at others and think, "How can I bless them?" Then you'll be a success no matter what you do.
Jim Bob: Michelle's read a lot of child training books, and we've talked about the principles and agreed on them. One thing she brought up early on: If a kid hits another, instead of telling the child to say sorry, the one should go to the other, "I was wrong for hitting you with a toy, please forgive me." We teach them to ask for forgiveness from their hearts early on.
Michelle: That way, you appeal to the child's conscience, not just the mind, get to their little hearts. [The message is:] You don’t need to come to mommy every time you have a conflict, you can talk to each other. It's worth your effort to learn to talk nice to each other, and work it out.
Q: We are a family of seven, two boys and three girls. Do you also have some chicken recipes you can share? — Pearl, Barnegat, N.J.
Visit TheDuggarFamily.com for more tips like these, or TLCfor more info on the family. Michelle and Jim Bob’s book, “The Duggars: 20 and Counting,” is out now on Howard Books. Their show “17 Kids and Counting” airs on TLC on Mondays at 10 p.m. EST.
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