A Youthful Romance
The Duggar family became famous after the television network, TLC, featured them in a one hour special when their kids numbered only 13. The family proved popular with viewers and evolved into their own cultural institution. However, there’s another side to their story. When Jim Bob and Michelle married, Michelle was only 17, and Jim Bob was 19. Their humble affair stands in stark contrast to the weddings of their children, some of which had nearly 1000 guests. Will their children follow in their footsteps, however?
Discovering Their Brood
After Michelle’s tragic miscarriage, the couple decided that they would leave God in charge of how many children they ended up having. The experience seemed to entrench their commitment to religion, as they began to practice ever stricter rules. Gone were Michelle’s cheerleading uniforms, instead she and her daughter only wear flowing skirts, so as not to indicate the shape of their legs. While some of their children seemed to be as committed, others have struggled to stay within these parameters.
The Duggars have never been shy about their strict moral values, which are based on the independent Baptist doctrine of Christianity. After the success of their long running show, 19 Kids and Counting, many of their beliefs have been made public. Oftentimes, the number one question they’re asked is why do they have so many children. The family’s outspoken rejection of birth control is related to a moment from their past that left a deep impression on Michelle and Jim Bob.
Showing Her Spirit
Michelle and Jim Bob were introduced to one another when Michelle was a cheerleader for their local high school. Though the family would be opposed to any of their girls cheerleading now, when the pair first met, Jim Bob was impressed when he discovered that there was a religious Christian on the squad. While they might have known they were meant to be, the pair could never have guess how much their lives would change in the future.
Much time on 19 Kids and Counting has been devoted to explaining the family’s various beliefs and why they are so strict. Central to their religious practice and subsequent fame, however, is Duggars’ abstention from any means of birth control. It may be surprising then to hear that when Michelle and Jim Bob first married, they weren’t as against its use, until Michelle suffered a miscarriage during her second pregnancy, which occurred despite being on the pill. The experience is integral to their current story.
Michelle wasn’t always the strictly Christian mom she presents on TV. There was a time in her life where she had little thought of religion, however, she said a movie changed her views of the afterlife. This experience caused her to renew interest in spiritual practice. As a teenager, Michelle could hardly have lived further from the rules she’s set out for her children, including wearing not only bathing suits, but bikinis. What was it that changed her so completely?
A Different Kind Of Momager
The term “momager” arose to describe celebrity mothers who tightly manage their children’s fame, but Michelle brings a different definition to the table. Their adherence to the Quiverfull sect of Christianity certainly affected how Michelle parented. Both she and Jim Bob didn’t want their children corrupted by the outside world to the extent that they decided homeschooling every last one of their children would be the best option. For some, this protection from the outside world would prove to be detrimental.
Discouraging Co-ed Play
The rules of the Duggar household went even further than what the children wear, how they style their hair, or being homeschooled. While Michelle divvied up her parenting tasks to the older children, she would also forbid girls and boys to play certain games together. For example, she doesn’t allow the boys to play hide and seek with the girls, as both parents fear what the implications could be. Protecting her younger kids became more paramount after her eldest son’s unholy confession.
As each one of Michelle’s children began reaching school age, she had a big decision to make. Would they attend school, even a Christian one, and risk being corrupted? It seems likely that due to the sheer size of their family, providing each one of their children with a private, Christian education would be more than Jim-Bob and Michelle could afford. Instead, Michelle became a certified teacher, and leads each one of her 19 children’s education through their GED.
One Stands Out
Michelle recently shared a touching anecdote regarding the birth of one very specific child. One might be inclined to think that with 17 births under her belt, all but her first and her last may have blended together in Michelle’s mind. In their 2009 book, however, Michelle wrote about the touching home delivery she had in order to give birth to her sixth child, Jinger. We hope her fond memories of that sentimental time have helped her accept the unexpected choices her daughter has been making.
Challenges Of Teenagers
As children become teenagers, it’s natural that they begin to consider pairing off with a romantic partner. Jim Bob and Michelle are not opposed to their children marrying young as they did, but they had to begin implementing rules that followed their own beliefs. To that end, Michelle and Jim Bob guided their children into courtship rather than dating, stating it is “dating with a purpose.” There have been some surprising results with regards to their children’s romantic lives following this method.
Keeping Their Touch
Per the guidelines Michelle and Jim Bob instilled in their children from a young age, couples are not to touch each other at all until they’re engaged. Further than that, none of their children ever even kissed until their wedding days. This isn’t unheard of in other religious circles, though rather than citing spiritual power of reserving touch until marriage, it seems like all of their rules, the parents fear sensual corruption. Despite all of their protections, their children still found ways to rebel.
Jim Bob In The Loop
When their children begin courting, the mandate to be constantly chaperoned goes beyond face to face interactions. The young lovebirds are not allowed to have private communications with one another, even via virtual mediums. The kids are all added to group chats, so Mama or Papa Duggar can make sure only modest conversation occurs. Prior to their marriage, Ben Seewald wrote to Jessa Duggar as a joke, “Give me a ring.” Jim Bob promptly replied to him, “No ring yet.”
The Trickle Of Technology
Given how strict the Duggar rules are for any sort of modern entertainment, whether it’s music, TV, or movies, it’s not surprise that there are strict rules about receiving a cell phone in the Duggar household. Jim Bob and Michelle will bestow a phone onto a child when they get their drivers license, but only if it has a Christian app installed in order to block unwholesome activities. Easier said than done for the boys, who will often receive ‘dumb’ phones as a deterrent.
Enter Chaperone Amy
Fans of the Duggars show will recognize the Duggars’ far less religious cousin Amy from certain episodes. However, she recently revealed that she only ended up being on 19 Kids and Counting… because she happened to be visiting their grandmother when while the production was shooting one day. Amy was immediately asked to chaperone Anna and Josh Duggar, as they weren’t yet married. She reluctantly agreed, sharing that she was probably the worst chaperone they could have chosen, given that she doesn’t believe in the concept.
With all the emphasis the family places on dating for marriage only, fans have noticed that the process seems to be quite one sided when it comes to choosing a mate. While any prospective suitors seeking out one of the girls’ hands has to fill out a questionnaire before Jim-Bob will approve the match, it seems that female suitors have no such requirement. The Duggar boys are simply free to choose whichever partner they want, while the girls definitely aren’t.
Breaking Her Own Rules
Michelle has admitted that this strict view of dating is at odds with her own upbringing. She and Jim Bob shocked audiences when they admitted they had not been as chaste before their own marriage. Michelle, however, is embarrassed by her past behaviors, even sharing that she used to mow her lawn in a bikini. In the Duggars view, however, girls should be taught not to tempt boys, and boys should not give in to temptation, rather than manage their thoughts.
Those Fraudulent Feelings
Michelle had a further explanation for how her strict dress code developed. Despite the fact that the Duggar’s religion doesn’t necessarily require dressing in skirts, Michelle said her style developed as she felt “the Lord” was telling her to cover up more. She explained, Our interpretation was that from the neck down to the knee should be covered. By keeping those private areas covered, there’s not any ‘defrauding’ going on.” Defrauding, of course, means “stirring up desires that cannot be righteously fulfilled…”
Consequences Begin To Manifest
The extremely conservative lifestyle that Jim Bob and Michelle preach has had its share of effects on their children. Even as the eldest girls have been outspoken about the rules they follow, it turns out not everything has been sunny inside the Duggar’s home. Josh was the first to fall from grace when Jim Bob released a startling confession from his eldest child. While many of the children are otherwise following their parents provisions, Josh is not the only one to shirk their parents’ rules.
Finding An Outlet
There are very few outlets available for the Duggar children. When it comes to music for instance, pop music and dancing are not acceptable to the family. The kids can only listen to Christian music, gospel, or bluegrass. Both parents fear that if the children were to dance in front of others, it might arouse sensual desires. The only creative outlet they’re given is a strict mandate to learn and practice an instrument as part of their studies.
Turning Down Country
The Duggar children aren’t the only ones in the family with musical talent. Their cousin Amy, who often comes off as the black sheep for being far less conservative had been interested in a career as country music star. She revealed on a recent podcast that though she had a number of offers for record deals, she ultimately decided to turn them down because she didn’t like the way the network would have portrayed her on the show if she became famous in her own right.
A Cascade Of Celebrations
Michelle and Jim Bob’s eldest child, Josh, was naturally the first to get married. He met his wife Anna when they were introduced at a homeschooling convention for Christian families. Two years later, they tied the knot, and began following the same path as Jim Bob and Michelle. Their first child, a girl, was born on October 8, 2009. The couple appeared to be in matrimonial bliss after their child was born, until Josh’s big secret was revealed.
The Duggars Panic
Media outlets caught wind of serious wrongdoing that Josh confessed to engaging in when he was 14 and 15 years old with regards to several of his female siblings. In the wake of the revelations, the family’s show was cancelled by TLC, despite its popularity. The family had covered up the wrongdoing by sending Josh to a work camp and having a sheriff with whom they were friends give him a stern talking to. His now strained marriage was about to get another blow.
Girls Take The Spotlight
As the media wrecked havoc on the family’s personal lives, Josh and Anna retreated from the public eye. The Duggars began to make several of their eldest daughters the focus of their public showings. It was just in time for the girls to begin courting and marrying partners of their own. First Jessa Duggar announced that she was in a courtship with Ben Seewald, whom she met at church. But older sister Jill, wasn’t going to let Jessa get all the attention.
The Year Of Weddings
Despite the family of 21 having two sets of twins, it wasn’t the eldest twins, John-David and Jana to announce weddings in the same year. It was the next two daughters, Jill and Jessa who tied the knot only months apart. Jessa met Derick Dillard through her father, who was working with him as a spiritual partner while Derick was in Nepal for an extended period of time. Jill and Derick beat Jessa and Ben to the alter, but there was more excitement to come.
Triple The Fun
Shortly before the family was rocked by Josh’s allegations going public, he and Anna had announced that they were expecting their third child in 2015. There was more good news on the horizon though, as both Jessa and Jill announced their own pregnancies. In the face of what seemed like the family’s imminent downfall staring them in the face, Jim Bob and Michelle were ecstatic to welcome three grandchildren all in one year. Unfortunately, Josh had more secrets lurking in the shadows.
The Illusion Of Marriage
For all of Michelle and Jim Bob’s rules, by 2015, it was clear just that they might have gone too far. In addition to Josh’s serious misbehavior in his younger years, he was finding it difficult to remain faithful to his wife Anna. An anonymous source who claims to be friends with the family posted on Reddit that in light of Josh’s infidelity, Anna wanted to leave him. Jim Bob and Michelle, however, managed to convince her to bring him back to Christ.
Creating Something New
The Duggars’ carefully considered lifestyle was in a downward spiral, as one by one, advertisers dropped their show. TLC ultimately gave 19 Kids and Counting the ax because of Josh, but the network wasn’t ready to take Jessa and Jill away from their fans yet. Inspired by several specials that focused on the girls, as well as their adult kin, TLC spun the specials into a full blown series called Counting On. Josh, however, would be nowhere near the cameras.
Social Media Disengagement
As social media has proliferated, the elder Duggar siblings began sharing their lives on Instagram and Facebook, whether or not they would continue to have a TV show. Of course, that meant a new mandate for Mama Duggar to enact. No social media before marriage! That means, the still unwed Jana and John-David are relatively sheltered from the public eye. As information about the twins is scarce, fans have been wondering why they’re still single. The answer isn’t so straightforward.
Josiah was excited to announce some good news of his own in 2015, when he began courting Marjorie Jackson. Josiah even jumped the gun and started an Instagram account where he posted a number of pictures of the pair. Just four months later, the couple called off their courtship, causing Josiah to release another public statement. He told People in 2016, “We were just trying to follow God’s lead on everything. She didn’t feel that it was the right timing then, so we called it quits for a bit.”
As Told By Jinger
The next Duggar sibling to get married with Jinger, who might be the least traditional of the siblings, at least of those who have reached adulthood. Jinger has long been considered the rebel of the family by fans, but the reasons why are different than you think. For starters, she married famous soccer player, Jeremy Vuolo, who became acquainted to Jinger via her brother in law, Ben Seewald. Jinger’s surprises go much deeper than that though.
An Action Packed Year
2017 proved to be a big year for the Duggars. Michelle and Jim Bob welcomes three more grandchildren, second babies for Jill and Jessa, while Anna Duggar give birth to her and Josh’s fifth child. It seems she has forgiven him for his continued misbehavior. Not only that, two more Duggar kids, Joy-Anna and Joseph both got married. Fans were anxiously waiting an announcement from Jinger, but the news they got instead proved to be an even bigger surprise.
Joys and Joes
First, Joy-Anna and husband Austin Forsyth announced that their family would be growing by one, but the next Duggar to announce a baby still wasn’t Jinger. Joseph and his wife, Kendra, who is only 19, also shared they were expecting a little one. It seemed as though Jinger was preoccupied with being a rebel rather than having a child. None of them have come close to Josh’s misdeeds, but 2017 has certainly been the year that the Duggar kids are ready to live by rules of their own.
Jinger Flaunts Her Style
For all of the girls’ talk on the show about dressing modestly, Jinger had enough of mom’s frumpy clothing, and became the first of the girls to put on pants. The liberation she felt has been palpable by her continuously striking fashion choices, as she’s begun to show more skin since leaving her parents house. Jim Bob has said that once his daughters are married they’re only obliged to live by their husbands’ rules, but Jinger hasn’t stopped there.
Freed From Expectations
Jinger’s new fashion choices, which graduated from simply wearing pants to wearing shorts, and even baring her shoulders have also had an effect on her elder sisters. After Jinger was seen shirking Mama’s strict dress code, Jill was also caught wearing pants in a photo with some fans. Even Jessa is rumored to have tried on more comfortable leg wear, though it’s not the first time she’s broken a rule. Both Jessa and Jinger broke several of their parents strict courting rules prior to their marriages.
Showing His Face
Josiah didn’t seem to catch a lot of heat for having an Instagram before he was engaged. Though he took a break from the site after his break up, he’s been back on it as of late, which has made many think that’s he may be courting again. Either way, Mama Duggar made it clear that there was no social media until after engagement. Nevertheless, we have to wonder if she would be more strict about the posts were Josiah a girl.
Jill and Derick have also been breaking free in unexpected ways. For one, Jill has openly been sporting a nose ring, which her parents would surely disapprove of. However, some say she may have done in to prepare for possibly giving birth again, as the area she pierced is supposedly connected to childbirth. Her husband meanwhile shared a video of him very clearly dancing to the popular song, “Despacito.” His choice of soundtrack definitely would not get the approval of Jim Bob or Michelle.
Bachelor And Spinster
At 28, the eldest Duggar twins could be considered past their prime being that they’re still single. The anonymous source claims, however, that Jana is single by choice, as she’s constantly turning down potential courtships. Why that is, remains a mystery. John-David, on the other hand, supposedly is too scared to try courting after being turned down by a girl he liked when he was younger. Who knows if it’s time for dad to take control of the situation. But still, the clan is Counting On.
Josiah’s Big Announcement
After the heartbreak and humiliation Josiah suffered when his courtship was broken off, he seemed to bounce back in recent months as seen through his forbidden social media accounts. Josiah’s rebellion, however, correctly pointed towards his newfound romance, as he’s announced an engagement at long last. Only six weeks after publicizing their courtship, Josiah has gotten engaged to childhood friend, Lauren Swanson. It looks like social media is no longer a forbidden fruit for the young Josiah.
Modest To Not
For all of their talk of eschewing immodest clothing, to the point that the girls wouldn’t even wear regular bathing suits in order so that they don’t cause unnecessary interest in them. Though the girls have been bucking their mom’s strict rules now that they’re married, an unexpected family member has recently broken the skirt only rule. That person would be Michelle Duggar herself, who wore pants on a recent trip to Hawaii with Jim-Bob. Then again, she wore them en lieu of a bathing suit.
It isn’t enough for the Duggars to simply date with an eye towards marriage. As with many of their other choices, Michelle and Jim Bob won’t allow their children to enter into a situation that might disrupt their spiritual purity. To that end, as their children have begun courting, Michelle and Jim Bob have made sure that the couple is chaperoned when together at all times. They allow them to participate in group dates, but even then, the Duggar parents’ watchful eyes follow them even further.
Discovering Their Brood
Civic engagement has been an important part of the Duggars’ lives, as dad Jim Bob has been active in local politics. The interests worked in the family’s favor when producers at TLC saw a photo of the entire clan. Then, they only had 13 kids, who were all dressed in matching outfits as they accompanied mom and dad to vote when Jim Bob ran for one of Arkansas’s Senate seats. He may not have won the election, but the publicity was a sign of things to come.
One Left Behind
It isn’t always easy having 18 older siblings, but it’s probably even harder to be the second to last child. Given that youngest child Josie was born premature, she’s often lavished with attention. Of course, that leaves second to last child, Jordyn often pushed aside. Even more worrying, Jordyn’s birthday is close to her sister Josie’s, so the contrast in the size of celebration is even more noticeable. It’s to the extent that fans publicly pointed out how long it took for a birthday post to go up.
For all the trouble eldest child Josh has put his family through, these days, it isn’t a Duggar really causing the family trouble. No one in the clan might disagree with Derrick Dillard’s more offensive Twitter remarks, but the conservative family knows better than to let their true feelings go public. Derrick, however, faced backlash from TLC, who told him he would no longer be shown on Counting On. That also means the end of Jill, at least for now.
The Spotlight Refocused
The Duggar family hasn’t been shy about putting their lives on full display. While there are some things they’ve tried to keep private, there’s new information that they’ve recently shared about an unexpected member of their clan.
New Surprises In Store
As fans continue to speculate whether or not Jill is expecting her third child already, one of their wishes finally came true. In early January, Jinger and Jeremy took to their Instagram in order to say that it was finally their turn to try out parenthood. It’s clear that no matter what, they likely won’t be raising their kids the way Jinger was raised. Given the various ways the children began rejecting their upbringing, it seems likely that they’ll continue down the path of rebellion.