The Duggar family, star of the TLC show 19 Kids And Counting, fascinated reality TV audiences for nearly seven years. As the years went on, we watched parents Jim Bob and Michelle welcome new additions to the family, saw the older children start families of their own, and learned how on earth a family with twenty-one people lives their day-to-day lives.
Of course, we also saw the abrupt end of the show when eldest son Josh was accused of sexually assaulting his own sisters many years before.
With the exception of the disgraced oldest child, fascination with the Duggars continues to this day. Fans of the show still follow the family members’ lives, and since most major milestones are still on TV screens (or at least phone screens when it comes to social media), it can be easy to think that you know everything about the famous family. However, there are still some secrets that even the biggest fans don’t know.
Curious? Read on to find out the 16 Things You Didn’t Know About The Duggars.
16. Jana and Jessa fight all the time
There’s usually friction between even the closest sisters — that’s nothing new. Sisters have been fighting since the dawn of time. The only reason that Jana and Jessa’s feuds get attention is because they play out on television and social media.
In their memoir Growing Up Duggar: It’s All About Relationships, Jana talks about how she and Jessa butted heads because Jessa liked to challenge her older sister’s authority.
Jana, for her part, has said that she had a bit of a strong personality and liked to boss her younger siblings around.
15. They can’t text their significant others
The rise of smartphones has made dating so much easier for every kid with an overprotective parent. No more worrying about Mom overhearing your phone calls, or even reading your texts — just send every message through Snapchat and you’re covered.
The Duggar kids can forget about this, though. They aren’t allowed to text any significant other if they’re not married, and if they do, Jim Bob and Michelle need to be included in the text conversation. It’s basically like a chaperoned meeting, only taking place on an iPhone instead of in a living room.
This way, the Duggar parents can make sure that their children aren’t being tempted with anything immoral, and any significant other will be sure to be on their best behavior when texting a Duggar child.
14. Josh Duggar catfished women
Josh Duggar’s two scandals are pretty well-known by now: not only was he exposed for molesting his sisters when all of them were children, but he also regularly cheated on his wife, with whom he has multiple children.
Both of those things are gross enough, but apparently the oldest Duggar took it to the next level of damaging decisions. Not only did he have an account on Ashley Madison to seek out relationships outside of his marriage, but he catfished women with other men’s pictures.
13. There are technically 20 Duggar children
Yes, the show is 19 Kids And Counting, and yes, the Duggars only have nineteen biological children. However, Jim Bob and Michelle adopted their twentieth child, Tyler, back in November of 2016.
Before you think that you somehow missed the Duggars adopting a child like Brad and Angelina did, Tyler was already part of the family. He’s Michelle’s great-nephew, and they were granted temporary guardianship of him two months before the adoption was made official.
His birth mother had him as a teenager and wasn’t able to support him, and his first guardian unfortunately suffered a stroke. With no stable environment for Tyler, Jim Bob and Michelle stepped in. His birth mom still visits him, though, and remains in his life.
12. Jinger is the wild child
Granted, being branded a wild child in the Duggar household is much easier than it would be in most families. The kids don’t have to lie to their parents or stay out late — they just have to break one of the many rules. It seems like once Jinger got married and moved out of her parents’ house, she decided to start pushing limits.
One of the Duggars’ biggest modesty rules for their daughters is that they’re required to wear either dresses or skirts that are at least knee-length in public, and pants or shorts are strictly forbidden. This is meant to keep the daughters from accidentally tempting men when they’re just out and about.
11. The oldest daughter isn’t married
Since two of the older Duggar daughters are already married with children, it’s easy for casual viewers of the show (or people who don’t really keep up with it at all) to think that all of the oldest children are married. The Duggar children are also encouraged to walk down the aisle young and start having children.
However, oldest daughter Jana is “still” not married at 27. She’s been the subject of some dating… uh, courtship rumors, but for the most part she seems to be happy doing her own thing.
10. The crew of 19 Kids And Counting have nothing but good things to say
Whenever a family is thrust into the national spotlight on a reality TV show, it’s only a matter of time before people start trying to dig up negative things about them. One of the first sources for this is the crew of the reality TV show, since they’re with the family all the time.
The crew of 19 Kids And Counting has nothing but good things to say about the Duggars, though, and have praised Jim Bob and Michelle for how patient they’re able to stay even with nineteen children.
9. Jim Bob and Michelle formerly used birth control
The Duggars are famous for their belief that using birth control is a sin. (After all, you certainly don’t have nineteen kids with birth control.) They believe that pregnancies are a gift from God that shouldn’t be blocked by any means, so birth control is out.
However, what a lot of people don’t know is that early on in their marriage, they actually did use birth control. They didn’t start trying to have kids until they’d been married for a few years and were established financially, which makes perfect sense.
After Michelle sadly miscarried, though, the Duggars went to a doctor who told them (incorrectly) that birth control would let people conceive and then abort the pregnancy. They promptly stopped using any form of birth control.
8. The kids have their own spinoff show
Although 19 Kids And Counting has been off the air for a few years now, die-hard Duggar fans know that you can still catch the family on Counting On.
Although at first it was Jill and Jessa: Counting On, to follow the first two daughters who got hitched, the title was changed to accommodate the other adult Duggar children who make appearances on the show.
The show focuses on the oldest Duggar children so that fans can follow them through their life milestones — marriages, children, and all the trials and tribulations that come with just being an adult in general.
Notably absent, of course, is Josh Duggar, who was the main reason that the family’s first TV show was canceled. Although Counting On hasn’t been as popular as 19KAC, it still has a sizeable following.
7. They’re against plastic surgery
You could probably assume this safely given the Duggars’ more conservative values, but the Duggar daughters have gone on record as saying that they’re against plastic surgery.
Although it’s not exactly a sin — after all, there’s not anything about plastic surgery in the Bible — they believe that it goes against God’s plan for your body and is immoral.
Features like your nose, lips, and breasts are meant to be unchangeable since God designed your body that way. If you decide to go under the knife anyway, though, they think it’s best that you pray before you hop onto the operating table.
6. You can follow the Duggar blog online
With Josh’s mediastorm wiping 19 Kids And Counting off the air, and Counting On only following the lives of the older Duggar children, what’s a fan of Jim Bob, Michelle, and the youngest Duggars supposed to do?
Well, you might have to turn to written media instead. Although there’s no longer a show focusing on the entire formidable Duggar clan, you can still follow their lives online. There’s a blog for the whole family that’s still updated regularly, so fans are still able to watch the young Duggars grow up.
On the blog, you can find family updates, recipes, latest media appearances, and even binge watch old episodes of the show if you’re feeling nostalgic. If you really want to get your Duggar on, there’s also a web store with merchandise.
5. The J names are random
One of the many quirky things about the Duggar family is the kids’ names. It’s hard to miss that all of them — literally all 19, with the exception of adopted Tyler — start with “J.”
From oldest to youngest, they are: Josh, Jana, John-David, Jill, Jessa, Jinger, Joseph, Josiah, Joy-Anna, Jedidiah, Jeremiah, Jason, James, Justin, Jackson, Johannah, Jennifer, Jordyn-Grace, and Josie.
There’s no real meaning behind the J, though. Michelle Duggar says that they chose Joshua’s name because it was Biblical, and after the twins were also given “J” names, they just didn’t want anyone to feel left out. Given that they had sixteen more children after the first set of twins, we’re betting no one would.
4. Jim-Bob had a short career in politics
Although he’s mostly known for his real estate business that has allowed the family of nineteen to thrive (along with that reality TV money), not as many people know that the Duggar patriarch also had a short-lived political career in Arkansas.
From 1999 to 2002, he was a Republican member of the Arkansas House of Representatives. After that, he had bigger ambitions and ran as a Republican nominee for the U.S. Senate, trying to beat out incumbent Tim Hutchinson.
He was trounced in the election. Instead of returning to the Arkansas House, he pivoted to real estate instead. Since then, the only political involvement he’s had has been advocating or campaigning for different candidates.
3. The Duggars aren’t Quiverfulls
The Duggars are often publicly linked with the Quiverfull movement within Christianity, a very small, very dedicated group of people that not many people are aware of.
Their numbers are growing by the day, though — the main idea behind the Quiverfull movement is that children are gifts from God first of all, and weapons for God second… so you should have as many children as possible so that your “quiver is full.”
This does seem to fit the Duggars to a T, but they’ve said they don’t identify with the hyper Christian group. They are Baptists and belong to the Institute in Basic Life Principles, an umbrella organization that covers a lot of similarly strict Christian ministries.
2. Their homeschooling program was influenced by someone accused of assault
Unfortunately, Josh Duggar isn’t the Duggar fam’s only connection to sexual assault. The Duggar children were all homeschooled according to a very specific program, since they were meant to be protected from secular values and temptations.
That homeschool program is called the Advanced Training Institute, which is just as conservative as the Duggars.
However, the Advanced Training Institute has materials about sexual assault that suggest that assault is always the victim’s fault, which is especially worrying considering all of the Duggar children — some of whom were assaulted — got this message.
1. Josh Duggar’s abuse was almost never discovered
With all of the sexual assault or harassment allegations that have recently been coming to light, it can sometimes seem like it’s only a matter of time until sexual assaulters are discovered.
However, the opposite is true. Often victims are too afraid or are unable to come forward, so most perpetrators get away with it. Josh Duggar almost did, too.
His sexual abuse was only discovered because a family friend who knew about the situation was journaling about it on small slips of paper, which they then slid in between the pages of a book.
Forgetting that these papers were in the book, they then loaned it out to someone who hadn’t been sworn to secrecy — and his cover was blown.
Can you think of any other secrets about The Duggars that we missed? Let us know in the comments.
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