When it comes to the massive Duggar family of TLC’s controversial reality show 19 Kids and Counting, there is no shortage of secrets, scandals, and facts that will freak you out. Most people who have not been living under a rock for the last 10 years have heard of them and likely heard of the infamous Josh Duggar molestation scandal. (If you have been living under a rock, it was discovered that Josh molested several girls when he was a teenager — including his own sisters, and then his parents tried to cover it up) Most of the well-known Duggar dirt revolves around Josh — the molestation, the Ashley Madison account, and the alleged violent sexual encounter with p–n star Danica Dillon. But this list will focus on the things that are lesser known to the world. As you will soon see, the Duggars are guilty of much more than Josh’s indiscretions, and surprisingly, it’s often sweet matriarch Michelle who’s the culprit.
It has become more and more apparent over the past years that this supposedly virtuous family of 21 may be anything but. There are too many incidents, too many stories, too many questions to not have doubts about their virtue, and perhaps the world wouldn’t question that virtue so much if they haven’t been claiming so adamantly that they are, in fact, virtuous. They claim to be so very Christian, but the famous scandals and the lesser-known ones on this list alike say otherwise. Although there’s an endless amount of shadiness surrounding this famous family, here are 20 facts about the Duggar family that will probably freak you out, or at least make you aware that they are, indeed, the wolves and not the sheep.
20. Blanket Time
In case you don’t know what “blanket time” is, I’ll define it for you. Also called “blanket training,” it’s a parenting method from the evangelical parenting book To Train Up a Child. Starting in infancy, parents lay their baby on a blanket and flick them with a flexible object such as a ruler if the baby tries to move or crawl away. This is to begin to mold them into obedient children. Total and complete obedience is the goal, and at least three child deaths have been linked to blanket training. Michelle Duggar readily admitted in a 2011 interview that she used this type of discipline, although the Duggars have never publicly admitted to the use of corporal punishment. This photo is of Jessa Duggar’s son, Israel, and he may or may not be in blanket training at this moment. He looks pretty content in this picture, so I’m guessing not. Hopefully, the tradition has not been passed on to the next generation of Duggar parents.
19. “They Have a Rod”
The Duggar parents may not admit to corporal punishment of their children, but they may not have to. According to a 2006 police report linked to the molestation charges of oldest Duggar brother Josh, one of the other 18 children (who is not named) stated that they were spanked, and that “they have a rod.” Spanking children used to be quite normal, but these days, has become very controversial — and that’s just spanking with a hand. A rod is a much different story and could be considered child abuse. The young Duggar who said this also said that every child in his family receives spankings of this nature but that no bruises are ever visible afterward. As far as Jim Bob and Michelle are concerned, they continue to evade questions regarding corporal punishment and always dance around the topic, never admitting to it.
18. Michelle’s Mental Illness
I know that women of child-bearing age sometimes experience “baby fever”, but apparently, Michelle Duggar suffers from something called baby hunger. Psychologists and sociologists say there are some women who have this form of mental illness, meaning that they keep getting pregnant over and over again because they “crave” infants. It’s baby fever on a whole new level. If there were ever an example of this, it would be Michelle Duggar, who always says she would love to have more babies — even after 19 of them! This mental disorder is further evidenced by the fact that her older children become essential nannies or slaves to the younger ones because obviously, one woman can’t do it all herself. Once the kids are old enough to help, they do. Because it’s all about the babies. Most rational parents have one or two children because that’s all they can afford, not to mention, they don’t have the time or energy to give more than a few children the love and attention they require. Obviously, Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar cannot give 19 children what they need.
17. Too Close for Comfort
This family is obviously very close to one another, which is a good thing for most families. But the Duggars take it a little too far, in my opinion. There’s not one sole incident that illustrates that they are too close (like, grossly so) — there are tons. The glaringly obvious example is the fact that Josh molested four of his sisters. While that’s very disturbing, it’s also boring because we all already know it. Other instances include the time Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar taught their daughter, Jessa, and her then-fiancé how to kiss in the most painfully awkward video ever, and in one interview that has been called “creepy” in the media, Jessa and her sisters Jill, Jinger, and Jana called their parents “good kissers.” The girls also say they learned to kiss from Jim Bob and Josh — their brother and dad. If it were not for all the other creepy closeness, I may take this statement differently, but given who we’re talking about, I do not. One last example of this family being borderline incestuous is the fact that Jim Bob and Michelle recreated a photo of their daughter kissing her husband. Recreating photos is cute if you’re recreating a memory from childhood or something, but this is just plain weird.
16. Punishments for M————-n
Self-exploration of the mental, emotional and physical kind is only normal during puberty, something you would think Jim Bob would know since he has had more than a dozen children who have gone through it. And since he didn’t punish his eldest child, Josh, for sexually touching his four little sisters who are also Jim Bob’s children and responsibility to protect, you would think touching oneself would not be as big of a deal. Wrong. A story from a former production worker on the show revealed that one of the older Duggar boys was caught m———–g after his younger brother, thinking his older brother was sick, told on him for being in the bathroom too long. Jim Bob walked in and caught his son in the act on a day they were filming. According to the source, Jim Bob’s screams caused the entire crew to run to him. When asked what was wrong, he said, “Idle hands are the devil’s playthings.” The next day, the son was supposed to do chores around the house but could not because Jim Bob had tied his hands together as punishment. Maybe if he didn’t inhibit natural instincts in his children, four of them would not have been molested (and emotionally scarred forever) at the hands of his own son.
15. Disowning Family Members
While it will come as a shock to no one at all that the Duggars are wholly intolerant of homosexuality and sex before marriage, what may surprise you is that they have family members that are gay and who have had babies out of wedlock. Such family members have been essentially disowned, naturally, and thus, few people know about them. Jim Bob and Michelle would prefer the world to look at them as these good, loving, Christian people when really, they cut ties with their own blood over the above issues. Michelle has a lesbian sister named Evelyn Ruark, who is in a long-term relationship with her partner, Sharon Callahan. Additionally, Josh’s sister-in-law, Susanna Keller, reportedly had a baby without being married. There’s also an alleged gay Duggar cousin, if you can believe it. Blasphemy! I wonder what would happen if the rumors circulating around their own daughter, Jana (that she’s a lesbian), turn out to be true?
14. The Children Are All Motherless
The fact that Michelle Duggar, always needing more babies, suffers psychologically takes a great toll on her existing children. As I mentioned, the older children are needed to take care of the babies and toddlers of the family, therefore assuming the role of a mother. The older kids and the younger kids both lose out on their real mother in that way, and the older ones also lose out on a childhood. Caring for their little siblings is not their responsibility. Michelle Duggar neglects her older children to continuously have more babies that will grow up, raise even more younger siblings, and the cycle continues. One example of the unfairness of this cycle was seen in an episode of 19 Kids and Counting where one of the older daughters wanted to travel, but Michelle forbade it because she needed to help care for one of the younger kids.
13. Alleged Neglect
Expanding on these last few points, some allege that an older sibling raising a younger sibling constitutes child abuse. Psychologists denounce parents that do this because children don’t possess the emotional maturity it takes to raise a human being (then again, many adult parents don’t, either). It’s wholly unfair to all children involved, which in this case, is a lot. Michelle Duggar’s baby hunger causes her to allegedly neglect her older children and treat them as babysitting and housekeeping slave labor. As reelrundown.com puts it, “Just because a couple is highly affluent, it does not give them a license to have a large family. Psychological and sociological studies authenticate that as family size increases, parents are unable to invest much emotional time in the caring of their children. To state it succinctly, the Duggars are UNABLE to care for their children.” Parenting is not easy by any means, but as one Duggar critic put it on observer.com, “I appreciate the can’t-turn-it-off lure of two parents in a pee-soaked, diaper-scented, applesauce-slimed human zoo of their own making, pretending to love every minute of it and asking God for help hourly.” Now that is a real mom right there, and her point was that Michelle doesn’t act like one.
12. They Pitched a Show In Which They Counsel S-x Abuse Victims
I’m not kidding, sadly. Yes, the parents who raised a sexual predator and then tried to cover up the scandal and make excuses for it pitched a new reality show to TLC in which they would provide Christian counseling to victims of childhood sexual abuse. Let’s forget for a minute that victims of that nature would likely do much better not healing their wounds in front of the whole country. But being counseled by a Duggar — any of them — is just insane. First, they are not qualified to take on mental and emotional issues of that magnitude. But more than that, they are the absolute last people on the face of the earth that should have anything to do with counseling sex abuse victims. And they should never, ever be able to profit from their son’s disgusting actions and their daughters’ suffering. Shame on them.
11. Alleged Child Neglect and Endangerment
One of the worst instances of the Duggars allegedly neglecting a child could have actually turned out much worse than it did. In 2015, images surfaced of five-year-old Josie Duggar walking on a beach, unsupervised, with a gun right at her feet. We have all heard way too many stories of the accidental shooting deaths of children, and so it’s very scary that they so nonchalantly left a gun lying around and then allowed their little girl to walk around where she could easily grab it. Even if you “know” it’s unloaded, it’s still extremely irresponsible. These photos were taken during a family vacation in Texas, and commenters say the gun looks to be a .22 shotgun that’s been discovered by little Josie as her older siblings fish in the background. The family are avid gun enthusiasts and have been known to talk about gun safety. All I can say is: practice what you preach, Duggars.
10. Jim Bob’s Ludicrous ‘Looniness’
Jim Bob Duggar honest-to-God believes that using birth control will cause a miscarriage. He believes this because that’s what he believes happened to his wife with what would have been their second child. Besides making himself sound a little loony, he’s also just dead wrong, and hopefully, his ignorant rants never make their way into the impressionable minds of any young people. Should a woman somehow wind up pregnant while on birth control (it does happen), she has the same chances of miscarrying as does any other woman. Even scarier than Jim Bob’s rigid belief that birth control will cause a woman’s body to abort the fetus is the fact that a Christian doctor he and Michelle spoke to back then confirmed his beliefs. Michelle’s face in this unrelated photo says everything I’m feeling about this nonsense.
9. Duggars Under Investigation
After Josh’s scandal went public, the entire family (and their fortune) was at risk because many other issues concerning the family came to light, such as the living conditions as described by the children, themselves, during the time of the molestation. Back then, the Duggars resided in a home built to house six but where 18 people were living. At the time, the 10 brothers, five sisters, and baby were split between two bedrooms, even sharing beds with one another. It was an unhealthy situation in many aspects — physically, of course, but also psychologically. Jessa Duggar revealed that she and her siblings suffered daily anxiety. The small hot-water heater was inadequate for the showers, laundry, dishes, and living, in general, for that many humans. Jim Bob was a licensed real estate professional who knew that many people in a house of that size was against the law and that they were in violation of Springdale city ordinances.
8. Allegedly Support Cults and Child Predators
The Duggars sure don’t keep good company. They’re followers of the ministries of Bill Gothard and Doug Phillips, whose religious groups are rejected by even the most evangelical Christians as cults. And they’re friends with the two men as well as advocates for them. It was Gothard the Duggars turned to when Josh’s indiscretions came to light, and Gothard, himself, has been accused of sexually harassing 34 young girls. He resigned his post because of it. Phillips was sued in 2014 for molesting a woman from when she was just 15. Yet, still, the Duggars speak on his behalf as well as Gothard’s and this includes the Duggar daughters who were abuse victims, themselves.
7. Jill and Jessa: Exploitative and Fraudulent?
Everyone knows that the Duggar family brings in a ton of money from their show and other appearances. In fact, they were reportedly paid $25,000-$40,000 per episode of 19 Kids and Counting –– no wonder they could afford all those kids and that massive house! They earned millions and millions of dollars. So people were pissed when one of the older Duggar sisters, Jessa, was pregnant, and on her behalf, her family posted to their blog the stores she preferred to shop at in case fans wanted to know which gift cards to buy her. This presumptuous attitude, along with the time another older Duggar sister, Jill, was trying to raise money to move with her husband and son to Costa Rica, outraged fans, since everyone knows the family has millions. They were even accused of being fraudulent. Why take money from the people who’ve essentially given them their wealth by watching and supporting their show, when they really don’t need it?
6. Jim Bob Caught Being Sexist and Cheap
It’s said that you can tell a lot about a person by how they treat a waiter or waitress. I would have to agree that it’s quite telling of a person’s character. Unfortunately for our friend, Jim Bob Duggar, his actions toward those in the service industry, specifically restaurants, point to the fact that he’s both sexist and cheap. According to one former server at a fancy Italian restaurant chain the Duggars frequent, Jim Bob would never speak to her and only give her “nasty” looks. In front of her, he would tell his wife what he wanted to eat, and she would repeat the order to the waitress, a woman. This server says her fellow female wait staff all had the same experiences with the Duggar patriarch, but the males did not; Jim Bob would order himself with the men. Additionally, Jim Bob would ask to have the automatic gratuity removed from the bill (something that is standard with large parties) and then tip horrendously. According to the same server, his usual tip was around five percent, which is just plain insulting.
5. Michelle’s Maniacal Blog Post
It was not long after Josh Duggar’s sordid teenage secrets came to light that he made headlines once again, this time for cheating on his wife, Anna. But Michelle Duggar just had to insert herself into the situation and make things worse. Anna was already blaming herself for her husband’s wandering eye, as many women do when their husbands cheat. But Michelle indirectly implied that her daughter-in-law was not satisfying her son in the bedroom and that it was, therefore, her fault — yikes. On their blog, Michelle posted about how important it was in a marriage for women to have sex with their husbands whenever and wherever he pleased. A wife, according to the Duggar matriarch, should always be “joyfully available” to him. That was pretty crappy to blame poor Anna when cheating was no one’s fault but sex addict Josh’s. In any case, divorce rumors have been swirling around the parents of four ever since the first scandals came out.
4. Beer Made Michelle Leave Her 1 lb., 6 oz. Newborn
Just days after giving birth to a dangerously premature Josie in 2009, Michelle Duggar left her one-pound, six-ounce infant in the NICU to attend a protest nearby. The protest was held in opposition to an EZ Mart’s request for a beer license, which seems like an appropriate request to me. But Michelle, as with all the Duggar species, was so worked up she was in tears over her strong feelings that alcohol should not be sold in her town. I was not even aware that entire towns existed that had no alcohol for sale. Now, should a new mom be required to stay by her baby’s side 24/7 while in the NICU? Of course not, especially when said mother has 18 other children to pretend that she’s caring for. But to leave a baby that small to protest something so silly is just insane. And prioritizing that over her struggling newborn did not make people happy.
3. First Signs of a Psychopath…
In 2015, Jill Duggar’s husband, Derik Dillard (who holds the same values as the family), posted a video to Instagram of him sledding… over a frightened kitten. PETA was outraged and demanded a public apology. Derick was accused of purposely running into the cat and taking pleasure in it. In an open letter PETA released, they said, “Almost more disturbing than your enjoyment in it was your family’s… PETA is asking him to apologize publicly for his actions and remind his followers that Jesus’ command to ‘do unto others’ includes all God’s creatures.” The internet freaked out over the disturbing video, which is just further proof that the Duggar family is not all they make themselves out to be. Comments were highly defensive, disgusted, and honestly, quite amusing. One commenter pointed out that harming animals is often the first signs of a psychopath. He seems like a nice enough guy, but so did Ted Bundy.
2. Bathing Suits Are For Hussies!
Many people are aware of the ridiculous “dress code” imposed on the Duggar children that requires the girls to wear skirts or dresses and not pants. And when it comes to swimwear, girls should wear swim dresses consisting of high necks, sleeves, and a spandex undergarment. Often, even knees and collarbones are covered when a Duggar sister is going swimming, which seems a bit excessive. But the general idea is that when it comes to swimwear, bathing suits and most definitely, bikinis, are for hussies, along with many of the other sinful temptations summer brings (like clothing that would make it impossible for a young man to avoid looking where he should not look). Pictured above is a Duggar-approved swimsuit for a girl. Shockingly, in recent news, some of the oldest Duggar girls have made headlines for wearing (slightly more) normal bathing suits, as well as (gasp!) pants. The shame! Maybe they finally realized that having to wear all that to swim sucks.
1. Michelle Got One Man Fired For Being Gay
Given that the Duggars are so openly homophobic, perhaps the fact that Michelle Duggar actually got a man fired for his sexuality is not so shocking. I would think something like that would be illegal to do and grounds for a huge lawsuit, but she apparently did exactly that. A gay former crew member from 19 Kids and Counting lost his job because of Michelle’s homophobia. The production crew was encouraged not to speak to Jim Bob or Michelle to avoid upsetting them, but during one conversation, things didn’t go as they were supposed to when Michelle inquired about New York being “overrun with gays,” and it led to her discovery (she did not even try to disguise her horror) that she was in the presence of a gay man. He was immediately removed from the set, transferred to another production, and paid a bonus to keep his mouth shut about it — and to this day, no one that was there is allowed to talk about it. From then on, whenever the Duggars were with a new crew, the crew would be suspiciously more straight-laced and Christian than their predecessors. Hmm.