19 Kids and Counting was a TLC reality show focused on a religious family with 19 children! If the fact that they are raising so many kids wasn’t intriguing enough, the Duggars brought their kids up in an unconventional way. Due to their religious beliefs, all the children were homeschooled and had to follow extremely strict guidelines when it came to dating and how they dressed.
After a huge family scandal, TLC immediately canceled the show and replaced it with a spin-off titled Counting On. The new series followed the older Duggar kids navigating their adult lives and having children of their own. The Duggar family has changed and expanded since the show ended, and we got the scoop!
This is the family now, with some crazy facts about the show, rules the kids have to follow, and what it’s like dating a Duggar!
The Television Debut
Fans who have followed the show since the very beginning might remember that it started off as a one-hour special called 14 Children and Pregnant Again! It followed the Duggar family anxiously awaiting the birth of baby number 15- Jackson Duggar. But who discovered the family in the first place?
On a fateful day in 2002, Jim Bob was involved in public matters. The New York Times got a hold of a photo of the supersized family heading to the polls. People were so interested in how a family of 13 made things work, so The Ladies Home Journal followed them for interviews. Little did they know that the family was almost double in size with 21 members if you include grandchildren and spouses into the mix.
Faith Must Be Emphasized
The interviews got a lot of attention and eventually caught the eye of executives at Discovery Health. That’s when the company offered to do a special about the family, and they agreed—as long as their faith was highlighted. Little did they know that the family would become so popular, leading to more episodes.
After the success of the first special, the family returned for another one entitled Raising 16 Children. It included the birth of Johannah, Duggar, child number 16! Three more specials came out after that: 16 Children and Moving In, On the Road with 16 Children, and the last one followed the family when the 17th Duggar kid, Jennifer, was born.
19 Kids and Counting
In 2008, the family finally got their own reality show. We watched the family take on New York City in episode one, and the rest of the series focused on Josh Duggar and his upcoming wedding. The show went on for 10 seasons before getting canceled due to a disgraceful scandal involving Josh.
The show wrapped up in May 2015, but fans of the show didn’t miss much. They returned to the screen that December with a spinoff show entitled Counting On, which focused on Jessa and Jill Duggar navigating adulthood. Season 11 of the show premiered in July of 2020.
Counting On and On
Michelle and Jim Bob Duggar stopped having children after child number 19, but that didn’t mean more babies didn’t come into their huge family. Season 10 of their spinoff series showed viewers that there are so many kids and more on the way! There was a lot of baby-related content on Counting On.
The show also included Jinger and Jeremy moving from Texas to Los Angeles, California. It also featured their Grandma Mary’s devastating death. If you are wondering about other members of the Duggar family and all their babies, we got them all right here for you.
On March 3, 1988, the eldest of the 19 children was welcomed into the world: Josh Duggar. He is an activist who is married to Anna Keller; we watched their union on our screens. The couple now has a total of six children together. Their fourth daughter, Meredith, was born on July 16th, 2005 – the exact day 19 Kids and Counting was officially canceled by TLC.
Josh Duggar got caught in quite a mess with scandals and inappropriate behavior. We’ll get into details on that later. He doesn’t appear on Counting On and seems to be lying low.
The latest update, as of May 2022, is that Josh has finally been sentenced for the case involving child sex abuse images. He has been sentenced to at least 12 years in prison.
John-David came with a twin sister, Jana. The babies were born on January 12th, 1990, and their parents felt so blessed after dealing with a devastating miscarriage. John David tied the knot with Abbie-Grace Burnett after a whirlwind courtship. The couple had their first daughter on January 7th, 2020 and they couldn’t be happier.
“We are on cloud nine about welcoming our own little Duggar into the world,” they revealed to E! News. “It really is amazing to think about being parents and having our child to raise. We are thankful that God has blessed us with this new life, and we look forward to taking on this new adventure!”
John-David’s twin is the beautiful Jana Duggar. Unlike her twin brother, she is not married. Being part of such a conservative family, she sticks out a bit, but she is seemingly happy on her own. She posted a funny picture with a sign reading “PLEASE FORM A SINGLE LINE,” with an arrow pointing toward her.
“There have been different guys who have come along and asked, but they haven’t been, I don’t know, the right one. It’s like this weird in-between stage. I’m not a younger one, but I’m not older, married one with kids,” she shared. It looks like she’ll be ready as soon as Mr. Right comes along.
Fans were surprised when Jill broke the tradition of speaking out about other members of her tight-knit family. She exchanged vows with Derick Dillard. Jill admitted that they have been keeping their distance from the family. They now have two children.
“The first few years of our marriage, we spent time and money working towards opportunities only to hit a dead end when we’d be told, ‘Well, you’re not allowed to do that,” Derick told People about the fallout. “We’ve had some disagreements, but we’re working towards healing definitely and restoration,” Jill explained on their YouTube channel. Yes, they have a YouTube channel.
Fans have been speculating about whether or not Jessa Duggar is expecting a new baby. There hasn’t been an official announcement sharing the news, but there are some notable changes in her photos. In 2014, she walked down the aisle with Ben Seewald, and they couldn’t wait to start a family together. Their first child was born exactly four days after their first wedding anniversary.
In 2019, they had their second child, and fans can’t help but wonder if a new one is coming soon. Duggar followers noticed that Jessa’s Instagram pictures don’t show her body from the waist down, and the shooting angles were changed. I guess we’ll know in a few months.
Jinger Duggar married ex-soccer player Jeremy Vuolo. The couple welcomed their first baby, Felicity, on November 5th, 2016. In May 2020, they revealed that Jinger is pregnant once again after experiencing a miscarriage last fall. Thankfully, their spirits are looking up.
“In those times when your faith is tried, you just run to God all the more,” Jinger explained to People. “It was such a hard time, but Jer just really supported me, and it was such a tremendous blessing to have many people who loved on us in that difficulty.”
Joseph Duggar is Michelle and Jim Bob’s 7th child, born on January 20th, 1995. In 2017, he married Kendra Caldwell and the pair seem to be extremely happy together. So far, they have two children, one boy and one girl.
But it won’t be that way for long. On August 19th, the couple revealed that a tiebreaker will be arriving in 2021. The exciting news didn’t come as a surprise. After all, this is the Duggar family. Do you think it will be a boy or a girl? We have to wait just a few more months to find out!
Josiah Duggar is Duggar child number eight, born on August 28th, 1996. He and his wife share adorable photos on social media, but there are rumors surrounding his marriage. In 2018, Josiah exchanged vows with Lauren Swanson. They had their first daughter, Bella Milagro, in 2019. Before their engagement was announced, Josiah was dating another girl.
Rumor has it that he only married Lauren because his dad forced him. Hollywood Gossip reported that, according to a source, Josiah may have agreed to the union to keep the money coming. Critics also claim that the pair lack chemistry and may split up soon. But only time will tell.
Born on October 28th, 1997, Joy-Anna Duggar is Michelle and Jim Bob’s 9th child. Joy got hitched to Austin Forsyth in 2017. The following year, they had their son Gideon. They had their second baby, Evelyn, on August 21st, 2020. The couple seems to be happily married, but there are always going to be haters out there.
Joy isn’t bothered by the critics, though, and she figured out a way to respond to the critics. She just adds smiley faces to her sarcastic comments. No better way to get back at the trolls than not caring about their rude, judgy opinions.
No Kids Yet
Joy-Anna Duggar is the one who got hitched most recently. After her, there is another set of twins, Jedidiah and Jeremiah. The boys are enjoying their lives as bachelors. Jason Duggar is number 12 and is actually starting his own construction company. James Duggar was born in 2001 and is looked at as the “funcle” by his nieces and nephews.
Justin Duggar was born on November 15th, 2002. Last month, he went public with his girlfriend Claire, and his family fully supports his relationship. Jackson Duggar is still a youngster about to get his driver’s license while his little sister Johanna continues to make new friends. Can you believe little Jenny is a teenager now? And the youngest, Josie, had some complications at birth but is now happier and healthier than ever.
All sisters fight, and it’s no different when it comes to the Duggers, even the closest sisters. Janna and Jessa’s feuds made waves because we all go to see it play out on their reality show as well as on social media. In their memoir Growing Up Duggar: It’s All About Relationships, Jana revealed the reason they two argued was that Jessa liked to challenge her big sister’s authority. Jana explained that she can get bossy at times and liked to tell her little siblings what to do.
Since they are adults now, you would assume most of the feuding happens privately. However, when it comes to Jill and Jessa, the two have a tendency of following and unfollowing each other on social media platforms.
No Texting Significant Others
Ever since the rise of smartphones, dating has become much easier for kids with overprotective parents. You don’t have to worry about family members listening in on your phone calls or reading your messages (as long as you send everything through Snapchat). Unfortunately, this isn’t the case for the Duggar kids.
The kids aren’t allowed to text their significant others (unless they are married). If they do, parents Jim Bob and Michelle must be included in the text chat. So basically, if they want to text a boyfriend or girlfriend, mom and dad need to chaperone the conversation. This way, the children will be on their best behavior and not be tempted with anything immoral.
Josh Duggar Was a Catfish
If you know anything about the family, you have surely heard about Josh Duggar’s two major scandals. Not only was he charged with inappropriate behavior (sexual harassment) towards his sisters when they were young. He also cheated on his wife quite frequently. If that wasn’t bad enough, Josh made some more damaging decisions.
The oldest Duggar child created an Ashley Madison account so that he could find relationships outside of his marriage. He then proceeded to use other men’s pictures and catfish women. One of the men he used pictures of is a DJ in California who is currently suing Josh for damages and defamation.
There Are Technically 20 Duggar Children
As we know, the reality show is called 19 Kids and Counting because the family has 19 biological children. But in November 2016, Jim Bob and Michelle adopted Tyler – their 20th child. Before you think that the show missed something as big as an adoption, Tyler was already part of the family.
Tyler is Michelle’s great-nephew, and the family was granted temporary guardianship over him for two months before the adoption was official. His biological mother gave birth to him as a teenager and couldn’t support or take care of a baby. Sadly, Tyler’s first guardian suffered a stroke, and with no safe environment to grow up in, Aunty Michelle stepped in, and the family welcomed him into the clan.
The Wild Child
If you’re a Duggar kid, being dubbed the “wild child” isn’t a difficult task, and they are likely way tamer than the black sheep in an ordinary family. The Duggars don’t have to stay out past curfew or disobey their parents to be branded the bad seed; they just have to break one of the many rules. When Jinger Duggar got married and left her parents’ home, she started pushing the limits.
The daughters in the family are required to wear knee-length dresses or skirts in public; pants and shorts are forbidden. This rule is there so that the girls won’t tempt men when they are out and about. Jinger decided this rule wasn’t for her and has been photographed multiple times wearing pants.
The Single Twin
Since two of the older Duggar daughters are married with children, it makes sense that casual viewers of their reality show assume that all of the oldest children are married, especially since the family encourages marrying young and popping out babies.
With that said, the oldest Duggar daughter, Jana, is 30 years old and “still” not married. There were courtship rumors surrounding her dating life, but she seems to be just fine on her own. Jana is a trained midwife and even worked as a firefighter volunteer. She loves to help people when she’s not taking care of her younger siblings and nieces and nephews.
The Crew Loves Them
As soon as someone is on a reality show and thrown into the spotlight, it’s only a matter of time before internet sleuths start digging up every negative thing that they can about them. But the Duggars got some positivity. One of the very first sources was the reality show’s crew, who spend a lot of time with the family.
But the crew of 19 Kids and Counting only had good things to say about the Duggars. They even praised Jim Bob and Michelle for their patience and strength in raising 19 kids. The children even look at crew members as part of their family, kind of like extra aunts and uncles. The crew often helps out and even picks up extra diapers for them.
Why They Stopped Using Birth Control
If there is one thing the Duggars are famous for, it’s their belief that using birth control is a sin. I mean, nobody is popping out 19 kids while on birth control. Since they view pregnancy as a gift from God, they believe that it shouldn’t be prevented. Therefore, birth control is out.
But what you may not know is that Jim Bob and Michelle did use birth control early in their marriage. They didn’t want kids until they were together for a few years and financially stable- which makes total sense. After Michelle had a miscarriage, the couple went to a doctor who (incorrectly) told them that birth control allows people to conceive but then aborts the baby. They immediately stopped using any form of birth control.
The Kids Having Kids
19 Kids and Counting has been off the air for a little while now. But big Duggar fans out there can catch the family on their spin-off show, Counting On. At first, it was just Jill and Jessa: Counting On, which followed two of the daughters navigating married life. To accommodate the other adult Duggar children who made appearances on the show, the title was changed.
It’s interesting to see the kids all grown up and hit big milestones – weddings, children, and the obstacles that all adults generally go through. Josh Duggar is noticeably absent from the spin-off show. This doesn’t come as a surprise, as he is the main reason the family’s original show was canceled.
Don’t Go Under the Knife
Since the Duggars have conservative values, it’s safe to assume they don’t want to go under the knife. These beliefs were passed down to their children, and the Duggar daughters went on record saying that they are against plastic surgery.
They claim that your nose, lips, and breast aren’t meant to be changed because that’s how God designed your body. But if you still decide to go through with the procedure, it’s better to pray before getting on the operating table. People think it’s unclear as to what is considered altering your body because the Duggar girls have pierced ears. To me, it’s pretty obvious that an earring and a nose job are two completely different things.
Follow the Duggar Blog
After Josh’s media storm got the family’s reality show off the air, Counting On only focused on the older Duggar children. But if you want to keep up with the younger kids and parents, Jim Bob and Michelle, you can turn to written media. Without the show, you can follow their lives online.
The whole family has a blog which is they update pretty regularly. That way, fans can see the little Duggars grow up. The blog includes recipes, media appearances, and some old episodes of the reality show if you’re feeling nostalgic. If you’re a die-hard fan and want some Duggar swag, there is a web store with merch!
The Reason Behind the “J” Names
One of the most notable things about the Duggar family is that all the kids’ names begin with the same letter. With the exception of their adopted son Tyler, all of the 19 biological children start with J: Josh, Jana, John-David, Jill, Jessa, Jinger, Joseph, Josiah, Joy-Anna, Jedidiah, Jeremiah, Jason, James, Justin, Jackson, Johannah, Jennifer, Jordyn-Grace, and Josie.
There is no moral meaning behind the letter J. Michelle explained she wanted to give her first son a Biblical name, so she went with Joshua, and after the twins were given “J” names, it just kind of happened. They didn’t want any child to feel left out. I don’t think that would have been a problem since they had 16 more kids after their first set of twins were born.
Jim Bob’s Political Career
Jim Bob is known for his real-estate business, which helps him support 19 kids and allows the family to thrive (well, that and reality show money). What many people don’t know is that the family dad also had a short-lived political career in Arkansas. He was actually a Republican member of the Arkansas House of Representatives from 1999-2002.
His ambitions grew after that and he tried beating out incumbent Tim Hutchinson when he ran as a Republican nominee for the U.S. Senate. He lost the election and decided to go into real estate instead of returning to the Arkansas House of Representatives. Since then, he has been involved in politics, campaigning, and advertising for different candidates.
The Duggars Aren’t Quiverfulls
The Duggar family is publicly associated with the Quiverfull movement within Christianity. It’s basically a very small and very dedicated group. But the number of members grows every day.
The idea behind the Quiverfull movement is that children are a gift from God and weapons for God. In other words, you should have as many babies as possible so that your “quiver is full.” This idea seems to align perfectly with the Duggar family; however, they said they are not part of this hyper-Christian group. They are Baptists and belong to the Institute of Basic Life Principles.
Sketchy Homeschooling Program
Unfortunately, Josh Duggar’s scandal isn’t the family’s only connection to sexual assault. All the Duggar kids were homeschooled and followed a very specific curriculum, which was supposed to protect them from secular temptations and values. The homeschool program is called the Advanced Training Institute and seemed to be a perfect fit for the conservative Duggar family.
The Advanced Training Institute teachings suggest that assault is always the victim’s fault, which is extremely worrying, especially since all the Duggar kids were taught this… even the ones that were assaulted. Anyway, the founder of the organization had to resign in 2014 after he was accused of sexual harassment by thirty-four women! Good luck trying to get out of this one, buddy.
How the Josh Duggar Scandal Went Public
With all the harassment allegations coming to light in recent years after the #MeToo movement encouraged women to speak out, it seems like it’s just a matter of time until predators are discovered. Unfortunately, the opposite is true. Since victims are often scared to come forward, the assaulters feel like they can get away with it. This was nearly the case with Josh Duggar.
A friend close to the family knew about the situation and promised not to say anything. She journaled about it on some scraps of paper and left them in between pages of a book so no one would find them. That was until they loaned the book out, forgetting what was in there. The person who had the book wasn’t sworn to secrecy and blew his cover.
Michelle Was Pregnant for 12 Years
Okay, this is a really strange way to think about things, but here it goes. Since Michelle Duggar chose not to use any form of birth control, she ended up with 19 children. From the birth of her first child Josh to her last baby Josie in 2009, Michelle was pregnant for a total of 144 months!
It’s interesting to see it from that perspective. This means she literally spent 12 years of her life pregnant. Many women are known to get baby fever, but according to BabyGaga, Michelle is called “baby hungry.” Honestly, that nickname isn’t very surprising.
Jim Bob Controls Their Dating Life
It’s important for dads to have a good relationship with their daughters, and oftentimes, they become really protective of them. Jim Bob takes things a little too far. He has been referred to as his daughter’s “gatekeeper.” Before any guy can even get close to one of his girls, they need Jim Bob’s permission.
So basically, he acts as their middleman and pushes the men he likes to date his daughters. In a way, I understand this; he only wants the best for his daughters. However, they need to make decisions for themselves… especially when it comes to marriage. And I thought I had a protective dad!
Dates Are Always Chaperoned
Dating a Duggar girl isn’t a typical romance. Don’t expect to go on a nice walk on the beach and have deep, intimate conversations getting to know each other. When one of these girls goes out on a date, either her parents or a few siblings tag along. Michelle and Jim Bob aren’t lenient about this rule.
Because of their strong beliefs, every single courtship is chaperoned so that no “funny business” can happen. Michelle told TLC, “The chaperones have clear guidelines for what is acceptable and what’s not.” I can’t say I’m surprised considering the parents to chaperone their text conversations.
Learning from the Best
Here is another weird dating tradition in the Duggar family. Most of us learn to kiss from watching a cute chick flick, reading Cosmopolitan, or just practicing. Since the Duggar children don’t do any of that, they learn how to kiss their mom and dad. Yes, I’m serious.
Jessa revealed in an interview that her parents are good kissers and give her advice. This has got to be awkward. I mean, I cannot even imagine learning to kiss from watching my parents. Gross! Since they don’t date without their parents chaperoning, I can’t say I’m that shocked.
No Hugs Allowed
If you are a single Duggar, one of the rules is no front hugs! Receiving or giving them is forbidden. Only side hugs are allowed in this religious family. Jim Bob and Michelle believe that giving a front hug to a potential future partner invites too much physical contact.
It must be difficult not to be able to hug the person you might marry until the wedding. Michelle explained, “We believe it’s best to save the physical part for marriage.” I understand that there are certain physical aspects that people save for marriage, but a hug?! To each their own, I guess.
Seriously Awkward Marriage Advice
One of the most special moments a mother and daughter share is when the child is finally old enough to talk to her mom about love and boys and get dating advice from the person who loves them most in the world. But like all things connected to dating, it’s different for the Duggars.
It’s not that Michelle doesn’t talk to her daughters about boys and marriage, but she gives them questionable advice. She teaches them that married women should make themselves available to the man, joyfully available at all times. Even if they are tired or don’t feel well. Yikes! Needless to say, her opinion is extremely controversial.
The Scandal That Changed the Family Image Forever
Okay, so we already touched on this a little bit, but I promised I would get into it. Chances are you heard about the Josh Duggar scandal unless you were living under a rock in 2015. Josh was involved in highly inappropriate behavior with five underage girls.
What makes this whole situation even more unsettling is that four of these minors were his own little sisters. Years before the incident made news, Michelle and Jim Bob knew what was going on. They believe their prodigal son “was just curious about girls.”
Jill and Jessa Defended Josh
It didn’t take long for Josh Duggar’s scandal to make headlines, and fans were shocked. I mean, this is an extremely religious family with incredibly strict rules when it comes to dating and touching. Jill and Jessa self-identified as two of Josh’s victims.
During an emotional interview, the girls admitted that they knew what he was doing was wrong, but they still defended their big brother. They just reiterated what their parents said about their oldest son being “a young boy a little too curious about girls.” The public wasn’t happy that they defended Josh’s behavior.
They Have a Safe Word for “Immodest” Women
Obviously, Michelle and Jim Bob work extremely hard to keep their children protected from the cruel evils of the secular world. However, since they live in a world where most people don’t agree with their beliefs, it’s hard to shelter them from everything.
So, when the family goes out, they gave a way to protect the boys from impure thoughts and protection. Whenever they see a girl dressed immodestly, they yell out “Nike.” That is a strange safe word and kind of sounds like slut-shaming if you ask me.