Glad that’s over – The truth behind 15 Kids & Counting




The programme aired last night and six months and hundreds of hours worth of filming has been condensed and edited into tiny snatches of our lives.

I’m relieved that it’s all over.  I thought it was a more positive take on large families but the constraints of time means they have definitely only managed to scratch a tiny bit of the surface of real, everyday life.

Certainly, there was so much more about homeschooling and how it actually works to what has been shown.  Whole days of filming, with an educational trip, actual lessons (rather than the general chat and recap which was shrunk into seconds of footage) and explanations about curriculum and tests and the different kind of homeschooling methods were omitted.  Mind you, I’m not too concerned given that in real life (if you’re basing opinions on the snatch they showed) the six, seven and eight year olds as well as Caitlin (who was 11 at the time of filming – not 13) can all tell you in detail about the Treaty of Versailles and the Munich Treaty as well as files of progress and test results.  I know it works well, we have proof already in how effective it is yet I don’t think the depth of it all was clearly portrayed.

Edit: I know it was portrayed that we keep the children locked in the house and learning around the kitchen table because we wanted to keep them from outside influences. The question I was asked was did I think there were bad influences in schools and I answered that yes there were but added that there were bad influences everywhere and we’re not naive enough to think that we can protect them all the time.  This was cut rather differently.  I wrote a series of posts a few years ago on the reasons we chose to home educate.  To cocoon the children from “the outside world” wasn’t it!  You can read them here:

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Do they mix with other children – of course they do -several times a week!  Just because they don’t go to school does not mean they do not socialise!

Do they ever leave our side?  Of course!  They go off to Beaver or Guide camps and concerts and trips just like any other child.

Do I think I know everything to teach them? – No way! That is why we buy in a curriculum which each child works to according to their ability – not their age.  This means that if they need to focus on one field or topic a little longer they can, and if they are able to progress further in something else they can do that too.  They aren’t limited by having to work lock-step with 20-something other children.  This was our concern and first reason for deciding to homeschool.

The older two children were barely mentioned, and only had a fleeting look-in at the very start of the programme.  I felt a little sad about that.  In fairness though, they were unable to come over for much of the filming due to college and work commitments.

The headaches and sickness were hardly life threatening – being due to a urine infection, it emerged.  My first ever urine infection I have ever experienced in any of my pregnancies – not bad going at all – but obviously explaining and including that would have detracted from the drama of the pregnancy.

It would have been nice to have seen some of the fun moments in our lives.  Once again though, our story was taken from the dramatic angle and so I guess they had to stick with that line.

I did enjoy looking back at my pregnancy.  I cringed at hearing and seeing myself and got emotional watching the twins being born, marvelling at how much they have grown.

We thoroughly enjoyed filming, we loved the end result and thought the programme was very well done but feel that there was still so much that had to be missed out in the final programme.  We’re bracing ourselves for negativity but I’m hoping we’ve managed to show large families in at least a little bit more of a positive light.

For anyone who is interested in our story written in our own words, either about our life as a large family or our twin pregnancy please click here to find out more about our books. 

Anyway, it’s all over now.  Phew!

Editing to add:  I was not “rushed into theatre” to have the twins delivered.  Neither their lives nor mine were ever at risk.  I was scheduled to have a c-section on Thursday 20th October. I went in for my pre-op appointment on Monday 17th October where it was discovered I was lightly contracting.  They admitted me overnight, then at 2pm the following afternoon decided to bring the c-section forward as I was 3 cm dilated.

I am not dying! I never was.  I have always had perfectly good health in pregnancy – in ALL my pregnancies.  The headaches were put down to a urine infection which was picked up with a blood test.  I have never experienced a urine infection in any of my previous pregnancies until this one.

The “clot on the lungs” thing was precautionary.  They wanted to rule out any clot but took into account that I was 34 wks pg with twins and so thought that was more likely the reason for my breathlessness.  I was upset not because I was dying or in danger, but because I had only gone in for an appointment and then told I had to be admitted. Unless I am in labour or having a baby, I do not like to go into hospital!  I hope that clarifies a few more things!


 Please feel free to ask any questions or address any concerns either by leaving a comment below or by emailing me at  






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34 thoughts on “Glad that’s over – The truth behind 15 Kids & Counting

  1. I thought you came across really well but it I agree it would have been nice to get to know the family better. I think they should devote a whole programme to one family at a time. Whenever the narrator spoke about 13 year old Caitlin, I kept saying “I’m sure she’s 12”! I laughed when you said “when you have more than 6 children people start leaving you alone”. I’ve found that you can be having a nice chat with someone and as soon as they find out how many kids you have their whole perception of you completely changes. They have a look in their eyes as if to say “I don’t want to talk to this nutter anymore!” Don’t take any notice if you do get any negative comments, there are a lot of atheist, child-hating saddos out there!
    Oh and by the way your skin looked great. I’m sure mine wouldn’t look so good especially in HD!

  2. Wow, while I didn’t realise it was you, although I did think about you whilst watching it.

    I thought you and your family came across really well, very happy, content and loving. I was amazed at how organised you were – I guess you have to be – and how clean and tidy your house looked. I felt very ashamed of my lack of organisation and cleanliness.

    Whilst having a large family isn’t for me, you did a lot to dispel a lot of negative thoughts that some people may have about larger families.

    And, you looked bloody great! x

  3. As you know I have written a blog post on my interpretation of the show. Feel free to comment and if anything offends please let me know and I will set it right. You have a great family to be very proud of. Have you written any books about home educating?

  4. I can’t wait to get my hands on this programme. Send me that link if it ever goes live!

    Your feelings are very similar to ours. We filmed with TLC in 2006 and aired 2007. Over 100 hours of film cut down to 46 minutes was a true feat, but far from a true representation. There were several “that wasn’t quite right” moments. But I think we were the only ones who noticed, so I guess TLC got the story largely right.

    We also enjoyed the filming. It’ll be a treasured experience for your family for years to come. We enjoy popping our video in every now and then.

    The Jeubs are very glad to hear things went well!

  5. HI.I thought you came across really well,but thought they didnt show much about home ed and the pros of it,they only really spoke about the cons(getting children of different ages to listen at the same time) and showed that very briefly.We are unschoolers and not religious but i love your blog and you seem like a nice family.x

    1. I completely agree and am concerned that it hasn’t shown homeschooling in a favourable light. They didn’t include how we deal with schooling different ages or how we actually do it – just a load of noise and disruption which gives the impression that that is how it works. Also, the socialisation issue wasn’t addressed either – so now everyone is going to think the children are cocooned around the kitchen table all the time jumping on maps! With the restrictions on how much could be shown I feel they could only just mention it then move on.

  6. Mummy9times, can i just say that not all Atheists are child-hating saddos, i thought that was a bit harsh (at least im not anyway, i have 3 children and would love more but unfortunately complicated pregnancies is not worth the risk to my babies life) 🙁

    Tania, i think you came across very well and really enjoyed watching. My Sister in law is a home schooler and i see how much work she puts in and it really does pay off:)

    Can i just ask (and this is in no way a negative) how do you manage alone time with your children or one on one time?

    And please tell me you have more than one washing machine;-)

    Will you be watching next weeks show? i think ive seen one of the families on TV before….

    1. Thank you, Gayle.

      I only have one washing machine but its a 9kg one and can do a thirty degree wash in twelve minutes making it handy to wash a good amount of laundry with minimal electricity and water usage. I’d wholly recommend it!

      We will be tuning in to next week’s show though don’t really know anything about the families in them.

      As for one on one time – it’s a fair question but one I think can be better answered in a post, if that’s ok? I will try to answer it within a week!

  7. Just wanted to say that i am completely in awe of your family and the other family featured on the show.
    I have just finished watching it and i was so happy for your eldest daughter getting her baby sisters!
    By the way, isnt she gorgeous! She will break alot of hearts one day.

    Both families had some lovely looking kids and the newborns are also beautiful 🙂
    Well all the best for the future, hats off to you and your husband xxx

    1. Thank you Nikki – that’s very kind of you!

      I just want to point out that Caitlin isn’t the oldest daughter. She has one older brother and an older sister who were only shown for mere seconds at the beginning of the show. The programme gave the impression Caitlin was the only girl and the oldest. Oh and by the way, she isn’t 13 but 12 and she was 11 when we began filming. Oh the editing… again!

  8. Thank you for clarifying the point about your two eldest children. I missed the first few minutes and was totally confused when the narrator kept referring to the twins as babies 10 and 11 when I could only count another 7 children in your family!

    I must admit the voice over reference to you being rushed into theatre for an emergency section made me smile as the scene clearly showed you calmly walk into the theatre. Sometimes I think they need to recheck the narration against the actual footage for accuracy 🙂

  9. I enjoyed the documentary *but* it was very badly edited, I don’t understand how they can get away with being so misleading. I guess all the media are interested in these days is trying to get a strong reaction out of people and all too often they’re pushing for a negative one! You’re clearly amazing parents and have a lovely family, so it was pretty horrible that they seemed to be trying to put a negative/dramatic spin on anything they could think of and the sad thing is a lot of people are either too stupid or cynical to question whats being fed to them,lol. You should get your own show like Michelle & Jim Bob Duggar then you’d get much more say in the editing and we’d get to learn more about your adorable family 🙂 x

    1. They clearly had in mind that they wanted to portray the dark, gritty side – explaining why any fun or warm stuff in our family was excluded.

      The appointment you see me being examined in was a pre-arranged one – a normal consultant’s appointment but they’ve edited that in to make it look like an emergency appointment because I’m at death’s door.

      I think ultimately we’ve looked quite detached, clinical and unhinged in comparison to the Radfords. I’m very sad about the portrayal, really but I do bear in mind that it was made for viewing, not for us.

  10. Its as shame they didnt show more. I agree with the lady that said they should have done one family per episode. You and your family are amazing. Keep up the good work. It was nice to see we had the same consultant, if only foe a short time, I was transferred to the Chelsea & Westminster.

  11. I’ve just watched the show on 4OD and had to come and say that I think you’re amazing 🙂
    I love the idea of home schooling but know in reality I could never do it; it would have been nice to have seen more of that aspect of your lives and I agree that they should have made each show about one family.
    I wish you and your lovely family all the best.

    I’m off to check out your books now 🙂

  12. Hi Tania,
    I enjoyed the show and your family are great. You are doing a wonderful job.
    Homeschooling is never portrayed in a positive light but having done it myself I know it is so much better for the children. My son was bullied at school so I took him out. He has since returned to school ( a different one to before) but we still closely monitor what he is being taught. Some of the things they teach are against our Christian beliefs and we have taken him out of some lessons. He is no longer being bullied!
    I have a friend with 17 children who homeschools and finds it works well for their family. I think my son found it lonely being on his own all day even though he joined clubs in the evenings.
    I see Chris commented on the show. I have followed the Jeubs for a few years and love to join in discussions on their blog.
    Keep up the good work!

  13. Gayle – I was referring to the small minority of people that delight in verbally attacking and ridiculing large, religious families; I was not implying that all atheists are child-haters. However, I apologise if I caused any offence.

    Tania, I can’t remember but did the programme mention anything about your blog or the fact that you’ve written books? Anyone who regularly follows your blogs can see that you are definitely not detached, clinical or unhinged. If they were to do a second series of the show, would you take part again? Also – how can you have had 11 children yet have no stretchmarks or bags under your eyes?!

    1. No, they didn’t mention anything at all either about the blog or the books and I was told they would. I don’t know whether I would do a second series or not but I don’t think we would even be asked now, truth be told. I am lucky that I do have this blog to try to set the record straight even if it’s only with a handful of viewers. The other families wouldn’t have anything like that if the same thing happened to them. I understand that their priority was to get high ratings, which they did but I am not happy at how our story was told as it has made us look stupid, irresponsible and paranoid. Unfortunately, not everyone understands that things in media are edited for a certain spin – they’d be boring if they weren’t – but although we are very unconventional we certainly aren’t the neurotic nutjobs we’ve been portrayed as.

  14. Hi there. I know its nowhere near as many children as
    Yours but I have 5 children and when people find out
    Their most common response is,”what? How
    Many? Their all yours” this makes me
    God bless and keep safe. You have my
    Utmost respect. X
    Kindest regards.

  15. I didn’t realise that was you! I watched it and I was very concerned for your health, so it’s reassuring to read your version of things. I’m sure I wouldn’t be brave enough to appear on tv and have my family life dissected, but I thought your family seemed lovely. Btw, my aunt had 16 kids (we’re Catholics) and they were/are a very happy and very close family.

  16. I would have loved to see some more about your homeschool. We homeschool our three children and what they did show of your homeschooling was great anyway – you were calm amid a bit of chaos and the kids were all polite and engaged. Part of the joy of having your children with you is the ‘grit’! Your daughter (the one they showed!) was a credit to you and your homeschool. She was polite, articulate with none of the usual ‘teenage’ attitude and able to hold a sensible conversation with the interviewer which goes to show she is well socialized too!

  17. I am expecting my 3rd baby in 3 years! And I just loved watching your family! We too have strong religious views and want to raise a big family, though it is a big challenge because I suffer from Hyperemesis. Anyway my burning question is this: when the sickness bug enters the house and everyone is sick- including you…has it happend to you and how do you cope? I was crying with just two babies to deal with!!!

  18. I dont know if I’m commenting properly I’m not very good at stuff like this ha ah… just wanted to say Tanya I really enjoyed watching you and the other family on the show.. I am 26 and have 6 children and still want more… After watching your programme I feel even more broody but my husband wants us to have a break for a bit.. your family is gorgeous.. xx

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