The inaugural episode of the eighth season of TLC’s hit show Counting On premiered on July 30, and the Duggar family, now spread across a good portion of the country, seems to be as busy as ever. As tends to be the theme of many new episodes, a maternal and marital miasma is sure to enrapture eager viewers and continue to have Duggar detractors rolling their eyes.
The season eight trailer revealed that, though married prior to the already-expecting Joy Anna Duggar, Jinger Duggar is now eating for two. This alongside the shocking revelation that Josiah Duggar didn’t even bother to shave his chin stubble before proposing to his lady friend. What’s more, Joy-Anna seems like she may have had rough go of it when delivering her baby. Jessa Seewald, affecting a pompous persona, stated that each of the Duggar girls had a nine pound first child, which could spell trouble for the expectant couple.
As the Duggar family rapidly expands, things seem to get more interesting. As stated by Jana in TLC’s promo, “You always think things are going to start slowing down and it’s like, no.” Eloquently put, though it is true that viewers will have tons to gossip about when the season kicks into full gear.
Newcomers to TLCs (in)famous program may be a bit lost, however, and this new season doesn’t seem eager to adopt onlookers. With that in mind, here are a few things fans should know about everyone’s favorite former 19 Kids and Counting stars.
20 Duggars Don’t Date
This will be pretty obvious to those already familiar with the show, but none of the Duggar children are allowed to date. They are allowed to engage in relationships, though these are referred to as "courtships" and are subject to a litany of archaic, pseudo-amish rules. Courting couples are only allowed to hug from the side, never allowed to kiss, and are very rarely allowed to even touch one another. What’s more, parents need to be involved in all text and email correspondence between couples in a courtship, and we can assume that these kids just aren’t allowed to have any sort of fun at any time.
19 The Cinderella Duggar
Though many of her younger siblings have been married off and flown the coop, the 28-year-old Jana Duggar still lives in her parents' house and has yet to enter into a romantic relationship of any kind. While that may indeed be of her own fruition, fans have long speculated that the Duggar parents are forcing her to stay home and take care of her much younger brothers and sisters. True or not, her status as the “Cinderella Duggar” will likely remain unchanged until she either manages to move out or finds someone with whom to walk down the aisle.
18 All in the Family
This should be immediately apparent, but the Duggar family is extremely conservative. They take their Christian morales so far as to shelter their children from the outside world via homeschooling. None of the 19 Duggar kids have attended any sort of public school during their high school days, though some have gone on to pursue online-oriented post-secondary education options. Schooling from a single source has the tendency to lead toward a one-dimensional worldview, something for which the Duggar family has often been criticized. Time will tell if any of Jim Bob and Michelle’s grandchildren will be allowed in a public school.
17 Michelle Can’t control Her Temper
While most mothers of large families are given to streaks of lost temper, Michelle Duggar has confessed that she inordinately allowed her feelings to get the best of her early on in the show’s lifetime. Raising, caring for, and teaching a giant group of kids must be beyond difficult, and many viewers will likely be quick to forgive Michelle’s frayed nerves. According to her, however, she reviewed her religious doctrine and learned to reign in her emotions. Living in a house with upwards of twenty people can’t be easy, and most of us would probably pass on an opportunity to drop by the Duggar house when Michelle is having a rough day.
16 She Wears Short Shorts, I Wear Jean Skirts
In keeping with their conservative lifestyle, the Duggar girls are almost always seen modestly dressed. Aside from a few raunchy instagram photos only made so thanks to the family’s strict dress code, the Duggars never wear pants of any kind.
Michelle has been spotted out in jeans from time to time, but long skirts are typically the only appropriate attire for women in the Duggar household.
Fashion can be a fickle mistress, and it may be nice to know that Duggar girls won’t have to keep up with the latest trends. Many fans have lamented the family’s restrictive practices, but they aren’t likely to change anytime soon.
15 They Spend More on Groceries Than Most Spend on Rent
The Duggar family is huge, and it makes sense that their grocery shopping budget is equally huge.
The Duggar home houses a massive 18-foot dining table at which they all sit and eat their meals almost every day, and they typically spend around $3,000 on food each month.
Their dining bill is so incredible, however, that, on a monthly basis, the Duggars spend more than double the average cost of rent in the United States on food alone. Those looking to rear large families may want to reconsider, as this means that these kids could easily eat through an average couple’s yearly income. It may be a nice thought, but children can quickly become more burdensome than wholesome.
14 No Co-ed Hide and Seek
In the wake of the tremendously terrible allegations of gross misconduct levelled against Josh Duggar, the eldest of the Duggar children, Jim Bob and Michelle saw fit to instill a few new rules to ensure that similar behavior could not take place amongst the Duggar youngsters. This meant that the two had to impose a ban on same-gender hide-and-seek play. While this may sound ridiculous, the pair believes this seemingly innocent game to have enabled their first son’s scandalous behavior, and they believe this separation to be necessary. This is an awkward thing to face, and games of hide-and-seek in the Duggar household must be all the more uncomfortable as a result.
13 saying Nike
In the Duggar household, Nike is far more than a company known for footwear. For whatever reason, the kids have adopted it as a term used to warn of immodestly dressed women. When out in public, the older Duggar women will shout the word should they see someone dressed provocatively — likely a woman scandalously trotting around with her shoulders or ankles exposed — and the boys will know to avert their eyes. This is as ridiculous as it sounds, and the Duggar clan has almost certainly been ridiculed for their never-ending commitment to their seemingly backward values. They may want to protect their children, and that would be commendable had they not taken it a bit over the line.
12 Perpetually Pregnant
Given that she’s given birth to a total of nineteen children at this point, Michelle Duggar should start using her pseudo-celebrity status to inform expectant mothers of what the process is like. Michelle has been pregnant for an astounding 144 months of her life, which accounts for just over 12 years of her time on the planet. We’re all aware of the typical human gestation period, and 19 9-month pregnancy cycles must have taken quite the toll. She may love each and every one of her children, but she must have grown pretty sick of near-constant maternity at some point over those 12 long years.
11 Sub-par Parenting
Jim Bob and Michelle must be expert parents by now, but that apparently wasn’t always the case. Though the pair seemingly always wanted to raise a large family, their living conditions couldn’t support the amount of children they had early on in their parental journey. As a result, the couple nearly faced charges relating to the sub-par conditions they afforded their children. Despite their now considerable income, the Duggars still seem to prefer to live rather sparsely. However, this line of thinking nearly landed them in court some years ago, and some still believe the Duggars should be made to pay for their alleged wrongdoings.
10 Jim Bob is an Ex-Politician
Though he’s probably caught up in the production of his family’s show and the never-ending weddings in which he must participate these days, Jim Bob Duggar was once a budding politician. He earned a bit of a reputation during his time in his state’s political scene, and he even worked his way up to elected official status in 1999. Jim Bob served as a member of the Arkansas House of Representatives from 1999 to 2002, and, though it wasn’t a particularly long stint, it is an interesting piece of Duggar history. Perhaps one of his kids may one day follow in his footsteps.
9 Laundry Day
Much like their grocery bill, the Duggar family must also dedicate funds to their ridiculous laundry expenses. With a total of 21 persons in the house at one point, the cost of keeping everyone’s clothes nice and tidy must have been astronomical. The Duggars are known to have four washers and four driers, and the rate at which Michelle does laundry must equal that of an industrial-grade laundromat.
The Duggars are thought to go through as much as 40 loads of laundry weekly,
which must seem like a herculean task to those who find one or two loads a week to be difficult to handle.
8 A Talented Family
Denied any real opportunities to join a marching band or participate in any other education-related musical opportunities, the Duggar kids at least managed to find some solace in in-home music lessons. While most of the stuff they learned is semi-outdated, each of the Duggar kids actually learned how to play at least one instrument while growing up, and they frequently get together and play music in the family living room. This was a tradition kept up by Josh Duggar prior to his defamation, through the spark likely continues on in other Duggar homes. This may remind some of a certain other large, conservative, musically-oriented family which enjoyed some brief network exposure.
7 do what they say, not what they do
Though many of the family’s more controversial political beliefs aren’t discussed on the show, references have been made to Michelle’s use of birth control shortly after her marriage to Jim Bob. This is strange because of that fact that she has denounced these practices and discouraged others from using such family planning tactics in the past. Of course, her one-time use of birth control may now be something she regrets, though it does stand that this massive family was once held to no more than two. Most of the Duggar kids seem eager to keep the family tree growing, so this topic doesn’t seem likely to creep into the Duggar conversation anytime soon.
6 Blanket Training
The Duggars adhere to a controversial and brutish child-rearing philosophy stemming from the biblical advice suggested by the teachings of the equally controversial Michael and Debi Perl. The concept of “spare the rod, spoil the child,” has been around for some time, though no family in the public consciousness relies as stringently upon it as the Duggars. Duggar toddlers are placed on a blanket and scolded if they crawl off of it. This is, in theory, intended to instill obedience in children. However, it has caused many a public outcry, and even many Duggar faithful disapprove of this particular parenting tactic.
5 holding hands after Marriage
Plenty of couples tend to leave intimacy for their wedding night, and, while not exactly a popular perspective, this practice isn’t considered to be particularly abnormal. In typical Duggar fashion, however, this insane Arkansas family is not to be outdone when it comes to backward conservative philosophy. Adhering to specific moral doctrine is fine, though Ben and Jessa Seewald probably wanted to get to know each other at least a little more before tying the knot. Prior to his proposal, this couple hadn’t even done so much as hold hands, and this would have made them quite an odd couple at the time.
4 Bigger and Bigger
Raising a large family takes a ton of work, but Michelle Duggar likely had a decent amount of experience before even meeting her future husband. Though comparatively much smaller than the gigantic Duggar clan, Michelle grew up the youngest of seven children. This likely afforded her some much needed experience when it came to living in an overcrowded house and taking care of more household responsibilities than a typical person can handle. Again, while there isn’t anything inherently wrong with rearing large families, it should be known that such things take specifically-inclined people and shouldn’t be committed to without a great degree of consideration.
3 pennies for chores
For whatever reason, it has been said that Duggar kids are afforded a total of three cents for every chore they complete. The inner mechanisms of Jim Bob and Michelle’s weird brains are often enigmatic at best, but this really doesn’t seem to make much sense at all. This probably isn’t a great way to teach kids the value of money because they make way too little of it for it to be useful, and it almost seems humiliating given that they make even less than most incarcerated felons. This may go hand-in-hand with their gruff early-childhood plans, but Michelle and Jim Bob really need to either dispel this myth or provide their audience with a bit of clarification.
2 Musically Malcontent
Michelle and Jim Bob control just about every aspect of their children’s lives, so it seems only natural that their authoritarianism would extend to their musical tastes. None of the Duggar kids are permitted to listen to modern day pop music, as Michelle has said that she believes it to promote “sensual thoughts.” This may be a rational fear, though the already spartan social conditions afforded to Duggar kids hardly needs further restriction. Most parents monitor their kids’ media intake when they are young, but, like most things in the Duggar household, this practice hangs around for much too long.
1 Pushing the Boundaries
Many criticized Michelle Duggar when the family announced back in 2011 that she was expecting her twentieth child. At the time, the show wasn’t quite as popular as Counting On, 19 Kids and Counting’s successor, would later grow to become. However, there was still a ton of fanfare surrounding the baby’s arrival in the episodes leading up to the birth. Unfortunately, things didn’t go as planned, and the Duggar family remained 19 strong. While a circumstance worthy of condolence, the fact that Michelle tried to have a child at the age of 45 drew the ire of plenty of those outside the 19 Kids fanbase, and the couple promptly held off after that.
References: babygaga.com, enews.com, perezhilton.com, accesshollywood.com