The Strange Scandals and Secrets That the Duggar Family Tried to Hide
The Duggar family is one of the most unique families out there and they’re known for their tendency to take things too far. Their TLC show 19 Kids and Counting only brushed the surface of the many strange secrets and scandals that surround them.
The Duggars’ unusual policies and enormous family made for a spectacular reality show, but with so many people in one family and such extreme faith, things are bound to be interesting. Check out the most controversial and unforgettable scandals of the Duggars that make them such a captivating (and confusing) family.
Pants Are For Grown Ups
The Duggars have a strict dress code, even at home. Girls can only wear dresses and skirts, while guys wear shorts. This seems unfair, don’t you think? Not all women in the family are happy with this rule.
At some point, there were so many disagreements about what was allowed that Jim Bob and Michelle no longer enforce the dress code as strictly as they used to. For this reason, you can find the girls wearing pants nowadays.
A Dozen Years of Pregnancy
The 19 Kids and Counting parents strongly oppose birth control, which isn’t surprising considering their large family. Michelle Duggar, the household’s matriarch, has spent an incredible 144 months pregnant!
Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar have 19 children—nine daughters and ten sons. And in case you didn’t notice, every single one of their kids has a name that starts with the same letter: J.
Divorce is NOT an Option
The Duggar family has some strict rules regarding marriage, and one of the biggest ones is that divorce is not allowed. It doesn’t matter what your partner does or how unhappy you are in the relationship; you are expected to stick it out for life.
This was tested when Michelle’s husband was caught up in a scandal involving infidelity and accusations of relations with minors. Despite the gravity of the situation, Michelle stayed by his side, which some might find admirable, while others might find incredibly difficult to understand.
Only 3 Bedrooms?
Sharing a bathroom with one or two siblings can be a hassle, but can you imagine sharing it with 20 others? The Duggar family’s massive home has nine bathrooms to accommodate the many people living in the house. However, there are only 3 bedrooms in the whole place!
You might be wondering how this is possible with so many kids at home. Apparently, Michelle and Jim Bob have their own room, the girls all cram into one room, and the boys all share a room. In such a large house, many people have questioned why they make all the kids stay together. The Duggars have made clear that they don’t believe privacy is necessary.
The Real Reason the Show Was Cancelled
Perhaps the darkest secret that the Duggar family attempted to conceal was the police case against their son, Josh Duggar. The horrifying news broke in 2015 that the eldest Duggar son was involved in a molestation case.
He was accused of mistreating multiple young girls, some of which were his own sisters. The case was filed against him in the early 2000s and was kept secret until 2015 when the news broke and the show 19 Kids and Counting was canceled as a result.
When You Date One, You Date the Entire Family
Parents want to keep their kids safe, but there’s a fine line between protection and overbearing. Unfortunately, Jim Bob Duggar’s helicopter parenting style is a bit extreme, and he’s not big on privacy. He even acts as a gatekeeper when it comes to his daughters’ love lives, approving or vetoing any potential suitors.
Jim Bob and Michelle want to stay in the loop on their kids’ relationships, so they even request to be added to group chats. It’s understandable to be curious, but sometimes it’s best to let kids have privacy.
They Like to "Train Them Young"
You might assume that with 19 kids (and counting), the Duggar household would be a chaotic mess, but that’s not the case. Instead, each child has a specific chore, while Mom and Dad handle other responsibilities. They call the assignments “jurisdictions”.
The bright side is that each Duggar kid earns an allowance for their work. They get a generous 3¢ for each chore completed. So after 33 days, they’ll have about $1 in their pockets.
Birth Control is Not Allowed
Like their other rules, the Duggar’s views on family planning are guided by their stringent religious beliefs. Earlier, we mentioned that Michelle and Jim Bob have different family planning approaches. They don’t use birth control because it violates their religious beliefs and because they believe that birth control causes miscarriages.
It’s worth noting, however, that Michelle was initially on the pill when they only planned on having a couple of kids. Unfortunately, her body reacted negatively to the birth control, and instead of preventing pregnancies, they ended mid-term.
Michelle and Jim Bob Breaking Their Own Rules
The Duggars believe that kissing before marriage is a sin, and yet, the devout couple broke their own rules before their wedding night. Hypocritical, much?
They revealed in an interview in 2014 that they had kissed before they were married. While they performed this sin they still preach abstinence until marriage and demand that all 19 of their children do the same.
Controversial Forms of Discipline
The Duggars believe in the importance of discipline with their children. These disciplinary rules start when the children are babies! One rule in the house is known as “the blanket rule”.
To teach the children to obey, Michelle places a blanket on the floor and demands that the child stays on it for as long as possible. If any part of their body extends beyond the blanket’s edges, they’ll be disciplined with “The Rod” on their legs or backside. Michelle and Jim Bob have received a lot of criticism from the public for this form of punishment.
Brainwashed by Bill Gothard
Bill Gothard is the founder of The Institute in Basic Life Principles, which many people refer to as a cult. The basic principle is that people need to submit to God, women and children need to submit to the husband and the children are taught to manage the house and be obedient.
In the new documentary airing about the Duggars and their religion, there is a lot of speculation about Gothard and his teachings. Some people suggest he and the Duggars are attempting world domination through their religious ideas.
The Duggars Were Publicity for The IBLP Church
Some have criticized TLC for giving the Duggars the platform through their show 19 Kids and Counting. They believe that the show was nothing but a PR stunt to spread Bill Gothard’s teachings to more of the world.
Since many of the teachings in the church are controversial, TLC received criticism for allowing the Institute of Basic Life Principles such attention. Others criticized the Duggars for calling themselves Christians when their extreme teachings do not align with the Christian Church.
The Duggar Parents Tag Along on the First Date
The first date with a new partner can be uncomfortable, especially if you don’t know each other well. Yet, it gets even more awkward if you’re dating one of the Duggar girls. Jim Bob and Michelle have made it a rule to accompany their daughters on dates to ensure no one breaks the “dating rules,” and the suitor has to pay for their dinners.
Social media use is controversial, and parents can’t always control what their children do online. However, the Duggar parents have banned their kids from using social media until after marriage, which seems unusual. Even their 30-plus-year-old daughter, Jana, must follow this strict rule.
They Married Young
In the 1980s, things were a lot different from what they are now. Mullets were the height of fashion, people didn’t worry too much about matching their clothes, and folks often got married at a younger age. For example, Michelle was 17 when she married Jim, who was 19.
In Arkansas, where they lived, the consent age was 17, so they were in the clear legally. Jim worked as a realtor at his family’s brokerage, and he had plenty of money to support his growing family—at least until they hit baby number three, which is when their finances started taking a hit.
An Unexpected Safe Word
As a parent, it’s natural to want to shield your kids from the outside world, but it’s impossible to keep them away from everything. You have to trust that you’ve taught them enough about right and wrong so they can make informed decisions. On the other hand, when you have 18 siblings, you learn to care for each other.
The Duggar children have devised an innovative way to protect each other’s purity. When a scantily clad woman comes into view, the first boy to notice will yell, “Nike!” to warn his brothers to look away.
The Joy-Anna Pregnancy Rumor
One of the eldest Duggar children, Joy-Anna was meant to be married in October of 2017. However, she moved up her wedding date 5 months so she was married in May of the same year.
The pregnancy rumor started circulating and people were very interested to know if she had broken the strict abstinence rules set forth by her parents. Joy-Anna gave birth to her first child in February of 2018. Hmmm…
Strange Rules That Affect Other People, Too
If you’ve watched the show featuring the Duggar family, you may have noticed that no women or girls are allowed to wear pants, as Jim Bob and Michelle have taught their children to dress a certain way. However, once they become adults, they can wear what they want as long as it’s modest. Some of the girls occasionally break this no-pants-allowed rule, even though they risk getting in trouble.
But that’s not the only weird rule in the Duggar household. When Jill was training to be a midwife, her parents were okay with her helping her pregnant friend, but when they found out she wasn’t married, they changed their minds. Imagine having to tell your friend you can’t help them because your Mom said “no.”
There's a Right Way to Hug
The Duggars are known for their unique parenting style, and it’s safe to say it’s strict. For instance, hugging must be done in a particular way. Unmarried children can only give and receive side hugs. However, once married, they can hug however they want.
In one episode of the show, Jill awaited the arrival of her boyfriend who had been gone for months. In the excitement of the moment, Jill accidentally gave her boyfriend a front hug which was deeply frowned upon by the family.
Jill Duggar Separate From the Family
Jill Duggar is the second eldest daughter of the Duggar family and she has become outspoken on her experience growing up in the family and in the IBLP church. This has caused some strain in her family since she doesn’t agree with all of their viewpoints.
Jim Bob and Michelle take her speaking out as an attack on their beliefs and she has been somewhat ostracized from her family as a whole. In the upcoming documentary about the Duggars called Shiny Happy People, Jill will be featured revealing more untold truths about growing up in the family and organization. She states in the documentary, “If there’s a story being told I would rather be the one telling it”.
A Lovely Wedding Tradition
When it comes to weddings, it’s traditional to wear your mother’s wedding dress, but what happens when you have so many daughters at home? The Duggars came up with a solution to this dilemma. Rather than passing down the same dress, Michelle broke down her wedding gown and gave pieces of it to her daughters.
This way, they all get a piece of their mom’s special dress on their wedding day. We think it’s a lovely way to keep a tradition while making it special and personal for each daughter.
Conservative Female Roles
Jim Bob’s influence on female roles in the Duggar household is minimal. Instead, the family matron takes charge of this responsibility. Michelle imparts conventional wisdom that you might expect from a conservative family, such as spending time in the kitchen and avoiding backtalk.
She also shares marriage advice with her daughters. We know she encourages her daughters to stick with their partners through thick and thin, but we can only imagine what other pearls of wisdom Michelle imparts to them when discussing the intricacies of married life.
Lots of J’s in the Family
As we mentioned earlier, all the Duggar children’s names start with the letter J. There’s Jill, Joshua, Jackson, Josie, Jana, Jessa, Jinger (yup, really), Joy-Anna, Jennifer, Justin, Johannah, Jordyn-Grace, John-David, Josiah, James, Jedidiah (of course), Jeremiah and Jason.
Interestingly, Jim Bob and Michelle didn’t originally plan this naming convention. It all started with Joshua, and then, with the birth of twins John and Ana, the couple decided to continue with the J names.
Josh Duggar Brings Shame to the Family Again
Soon after the scandal regarding Josh’s involvement with minors, he came under fire again when a data breach revealed some unsavory things about his internet activity. As it turned out, he had been using a dating site to cheat on his wife, Anna.
He issued a statement confirming that he had been unfaithful to his wife. He stated, “I have been the biggest hypocrite ever. While espousing faith and family values, I have secretly over the last several years been viewing pornography on the internet and this became a secret addiction and I became unfaithful to my wife”. Despite his prison sentence and the infidelity, the two remain married.
Babysitting Duties are Required
When you’re born into a family with so many siblings, chances are you’re going to be asked to help out with the other kids. In the Duggar household, babysitting is a guaranteed job, not a suggestion.
And no, none of the kids get paid for babysitting their younger siblings because it is expected that they help raise the young ones. When mom is pregnant a lot of the time, everyone else has to lend a helping hand.
It Sounds Pretty Quiverfull
The Quiverfull Movement is a radical Christian belief that opposes birth control and family planning. According to this ideology, having as many children as possible is a blessing from God. While the Duggars have stated that they don’t follow this belief, some of their contraception rules align with Quiverfull principles.
However, it’s essential to remember that everyone has the right to their opinions. So, whether or not the Duggars subscribe to this ideology is ultimately up for debate, but it’s okay for people to hold differing beliefs.
Please Send Us Gift Cards; Thank You
Engaged couples typically create a registry outlining their preferred gifts for their wedding. Jessa and Ben, like most couples, created a registry when they married. However, what’s not common is asking your viewers to send you gift cards and other presents.
It’s no surprise that the Duggars would engage in some bold begging. We do wonder if any fans sent gift cards to the happy couple, though.
No Body Ink Allowed
It’s no secret that the Duggar family is deeply religious. They interpret the Bible quite literally, which means avoiding tattoos or body art of any kind. Jim Bob and Michelle don’t have tattoos or body piercings and expect their children to follow suit.
To the family, tattoos are just as taboo as premarital intimacy. Considering their strong religious beliefs, it’s understandable why they wouldn’t want their kids to get tattoos.
No Vacations at the Beach
Enjoying a day at the beach is a popular activity for many people during summer. You can play in the sand, swim, and soak in the sunshine. Unfortunately, the Duggar family doesn’t have the same opportunities to enjoy these activities until they are married.
Chances are, the male members of the Duggar family would be yelling “Nike!!” the entire time, so it makes sense that they would avoid the shore altogether to maintain their purity.
You'd Better Be a Baptist
Following the Baptist Church’s teachings is a must for a person to marry one of the Duggar kids. This is expected as many parents prefer their future son or daughter-in-law to share their beliefs.
It might seem too overbearing, but Jim and Michelle are just looking out for their children’s spiritual well-being. Of course, everyone has the right to believe whatever they want, as long as it’s not harmful to others. So, if you’re interested in joining the Duggar clan, you better brush up on your Baptist doctrine!
Michelle Duggar Doesn't Believe on Telling Her Husband "No"
In a very controversial interview, Michelle Duggar divulged into her views on a wife’s role in a marriage. She expressed on their family blog that wives should be “meek and quiet” so as to serve their husbands needs and demands. This means making yourself available to his every whim, apparently.
Michelle explained that her friend gave her the following advice which changed her marriage: “Be available. Anyone can fix him lunch, but only one person can meet that physical need of love that he has, and you always need to be available when he calls”. She described this as a “lifesaver” for their marriage. People have commented that this mentality is wholly unhealthy.
Mom Is the Teacher
Most people know that the Duggar children are homeschooled, but did you realize that Michelle teaches them from kindergarten to high school? Instead of attending a traditional school, they receive their entire education at home.
Michelle was homeschooled by her mother as a child, so she understands firsthand the benefits of homeschooling. Of course, she expects her children to carry on the tradition with her grandchildren, but not all of her daughters agree.
Teaching the Kids How to Kiss By Example?!
The Duggar parents demand that they be involved in almost every part of their children’s lives. But as with most things, they take their involvement to the extreme. This includes getting very hands-on in their children’s romantic relationships. They go so far as to teach them how to have their first kiss by showing them an example.
Most would agree this is a huge overstep in the parental relationship, but the Duggars think the “bird and the bees” chat just won’t cut it. As a result, some of the Duggar children have actually elected to share their first kiss with their husbands in private instead of in front of a crowd on their wedding day. This comes as no surprise because it must be better than Dad shouting instructions from the sidelines, right?
A Nightmare During Dinner
It’s understandable to assume that with so many people living together, everything in the house must be oversized or available in large numbers. For the Duggars, this includes their dinner table. So they had to get the largest and widest table for their moderately sized kitchen to accommodate everyone.
The result was an 18-foot-long table that provided enough space for everyone to eat comfortably without bumping elbows. However, passing side dishes down the table can be challenging as they often get cold when they reach the other end.
40 Loads of Laundry Per Week
As we mentioned earlier, everything in the Duggar home is either big or in large quantities, and their laundry room is no exception. With so many people living in the house, dirty laundry piles up faster than you can imagine. That’s why the Duggars invested in four washers and dryers to meet demand.
According to the family, they do 40 loads of laundry weekly. This has to be a ton of work for the women in the household who do the laundry.
Spare The Rod…
When it comes to disciplining their 19 children, Jim Bob, and Michelle don’t mess around. To keep their kids in check, they use The Rod—and we’re not talking about a flimsy switch here. The Rod is literally a rod, and it’s used to enforce boundaries and rules in the Duggar household.
Using a rod to hit your child for something as small as playing with toys with their sibling is a perfect example of cruel and unusual punishment.
Staying Away From the Family
Jill, the second child of the conservative Duggar family, dutifully followed every rule set by her parents. She even walked through the same kissing course with her mom and dad. However, once she got married, she left and cut all ties with her parents.
Unfortunately, this caused her to lose contact with her siblings. While it might seem like a drastic move, we want to extend our best wishes to Jill. We bet there are many of us who believe she made the right decision.
Bob Had a Short Political Career
You might know Bob as the patriarch of the Duggar family, but did you know he’s also a professional realtor who can support his large family of over 20 members with his hard work?
Did you also know that he once had political aspirations and served as an Arkansas House of Representatives member for three years? Although he wasn’t successful in his Senate bid, he’s now happy to focus on his family and their reality show on TLC.
No Fun Activities
If you thought hugging and kissing were taboo in the Duggar household, you might be surprised to know that dancing is also frowned upon. Even dancing with your siblings is off-limits since it’s believed to lead to impure thoughts. Fortnite enthusiasts take note: Jim Bob is not a dancer! But once the kids are grown and married, they can dance to their heart’s content.
Dancing was considered a temptation by the Devil, but that doesn’t mean the Duggars are completely against other fun things. While you won’t find Twilight novels or romantic books in their home, they might appreciate Amish Vampires by Kerry Nietz, although the title might be offputting.
Expected Sibling Rivalry
Sibling rivalries can last a lifetime, even after one sibling leaves the nest. Whenever conflicting siblings reunite, things can quickly turn sour, and in the Duggar household, this is the case for Jana and Jessa. Jessa, the younger sister, often challenges her older sister’s authority, which is understandable for a teenager wanting independence.
Michelle and Jim Bob do their best to make sure their children are obedient and do not fight with one another, but, kids will be kids. Much to their dismay, they can only exercise so much control over their children.
No Premarital Mischief (of any kind)
Playing with siblings, hugging, kissing, and getting tattoos are all considered inappropriate in the Duggar household. With such strict rules, it’s no surprise that their deeply religious parents also frown upon premarital relations.
The family takes the New Testament’s teachings seriously, which means anything beyond friendship before marriage is out of the question. So, there’s not much to see here, folks. It’s just another example of how the Duggars live.
Here, We Speak Softly
In the Duggar household, there’s no need to raise your voice—the threat of The Rod should be enough to dissuade the kids from doing so. With a large family, everyone can use their “soft words” to be heard, and yelling is prohibited.
It’s a unique way of communicating, but it works for them. Of course, Mom and Dad have the final say in everything that happens, but at least all the kids can give their input.
A Massive Grocery Bill
Let’s talk about Jim Bob and Michelle’s situation. They have a big family with over 20 mouths to feed, and that’s no small feat! To satisfy everyone with nutritious and delicious food, they spend an impressive $3,000 per month.
Considering the costs of diapers, formula, and doctor visits, it can’t be easy to make ends meet. We have a hunch that TLC’s check might help, though.
Trying To Hide a Dark Past
It’s been brought up several times that the boys and girls in the family can’t play together. It might seem like an unnecessary rule, but there is a reason for it that the family hasn’t been very forthcoming about. However, we firmly believe that siblings should be able to play with each other regardless of gender.
A more serious issue recently came to light involving the Duggar family. The eldest son, Joshua, has a dark past involving inappropriate behavior with his sisters. Although the family forgave him, it caused controversy and resulted in him being excluded from the spin-off series Counting On.
There Are Only Two Bedrooms
Despite having nine bathrooms and seven showers, sleeping space is limited for the Duggar children living at home. They all have to share two bedrooms: One for the boys and another for the girls.
Privacy is probably non-existent with all of the kids and their belongings crammed into a small space. The remaining siblings probably feel relief when one child eventually moves out.
A Budding Entrepreneur in the Family
Jason, the twelfth child in the Duggar family, shares his father’s ambition to become an entrepreneur. He started his own construction company at a young age, which is impressive considering he’s never dealt with people outside of his family.
His nieces and nephews affectionately refer to him as the “funcle” because of his fun-loving nature. Every December, Jason travels to South America to spread the Good Word and give out candy and other treats to children on the continent.
An Escape Plan in the Ropes
Jennifer is the 17th child of the Duggar family, and her birth was captured on camera for fans to see. She’s grown up with the reality TV show as a regular part of her life since it’s all she knows from birth. Jennifer is known to be the shyest of the girls, which is understandable given her young age.
However, there are rumors she plans to leave home as soon as she can. Just hang in there for just three more years, Jennifer, and you’ll be a legal adult free to make your own decisions.
Josie, The Miracle Baby
Josie is the youngest member of the Duggar family, and her birth surprised Michelle due to pregnancy complications. She was born weighing just over a pound, and many worried about her survival. Yet, despite the rough start, Josie pulled through and grew up healthy.
In addition to that, she has a fantastic singing voice! Who knows, after leaving the Duggar household, could Josie pursue a career in the music industry? The sky’s the limit for this talented young girl.
A Massive Guest List
Jill Duggar, the fourth child, is among the most beloved members of the 19-member Duggar family. She displayed a talent for playing the piano and violin at a young age but became a certified midwife instead.
Her wedding day reportedly had over 1,500 guests, so Jill enjoyed a big celebration. Let’s hope she didn’t ask her fans for gift cards on her wedding day!
The Ever-Changing Show Name
The TV show about the Duggar family has undergone several title changes, reflecting its growing numbers. It all started when Jim Bob and Michelle were featured on TV after renovating their home. TV producers saw potential in their large family and created a show called 16 Children and Moving In.
When Michelle gave birth to her 17th child, the show was renamed 17 Kids and Counting. The title changed again as the family grew, ending with 19 Kids and Counting. Maybe the show will be renewed with another title, Done with the Kids soon.
Walking Down the Aisle, Again
Despite Jim Bob’s allegations of infidelity, Michelle stayed by his side. After all, she taught her daughters to be loyal in their relationships. Jim Bob seems he deeply regretted his mistakes and renewed his wedding vows to Michelle.
Since then, the Duggar children have gathered on their parents’ anniversary to listen to the updated vows. Perhaps it was a way to keep their dad accountable, or the family just enjoyed the heartfelt sentiment.
An Unfortunate Event
In 2011, the Duggar household experienced a heartbreaking loss when Michelle suffered a miscarriage during her 20th pregnancy. They had named the baby Jubilee Shalom, and the family mourned the loss together. There were speculations that this experience might have discouraged them from trying again.
Some experts think Michelle is experiencing a strong desire for another baby, often called “baby hunger.”
What’s Baby Hunger?
Let’s clarify something—we’re not saying Michelle eats her own children when we say she had “baby hunger.” But it is interesting to note that despite being pregnant for 12 years out of her 54 years on this planet, Michelle seems to have forgotten about pregnancy pains and stresses.
Some people wonder if the trauma of miscarrying a child would be enough to make her stop, but others think she might have a 20th child soon. While we don’t necessarily agree with having that many kids, it’s ultimately up to Michelle to decide. Plus, she’s got plenty of reality TV money to go around!
The Kids Take Care of Each Other
With Michelle being pregnant for a long time and so frequently, the kids have had to learn to grow up independently. Though they have each other to rely on, their father works, and their mother is often incapacitated due to pregnancy sickness.
Michelle still raises her kids the way she believes is right. A mother’s love is truly unique, but it’s important to cherish and appreciate the moments you have with your loved ones.
The Family Is Quite Popular
As a viewer, you might find it frustrating to see the Duggar kids following such strange rules. It’s also difficult to watch and not want to intervene to help the kids retain some sanity. Yet, the camera crew enjoys being around the Duggar family—it’s not just a job to them.
They hang out with the family off-camera and enjoy their company. It’s impressive that the Duggars are so relaxed and comfortable with the production crew, considering their job is to document the family’s every move.
The Family Has Some Questionable Friends and Values
Let’s talk about the rumors—some people think the Duggar family might not have the best company. Many complaints about their associations come from religious doctrines. Bill Gothard, a minister the family follows closely, has been accused of improper conduct. He even helped Jim Bob when infidelity allegations surfaced.
Another close friend and minister, Doug Philips, has faced lawsuits over harassment allegations. With their conservative stance, it’s no wonder the family has been criticized for their homophobic views. Interestingly, when Michelle discovered a crew member was gay, the network had to replace him discreetly. The current production crew seems to have a positive relationship with the Duggars, but they have to be careful around them or risk losing their job.