Bizarre Facts About the Duggar Family You Should Know

It takes a specific kind of TV show to accurately portray the gritty inner workings of an ultra-conservative family, all while still making it entertaining enough to watch. With a family like the Duggars, their wholesome appeal is quite different from most reality TV shows, yet somehow, we can’t stop watching as the unscripted lives of this family unfold.
Getty Images Photo by D Dipasupil
Getty Images Photo by D Dipasupil
Their massive family has some pretty conservative beliefs that affect their everyday living. Read on to learn more about Duggar’s super unorthodox (or extremely orthodox) life!

America’s Fascination

Describing the rules and conventions of a family like the Duggars in today’s world with terms such as “conservative” or “modest” seems like an understatement.

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But it’s precisely this level of strictness that extends to a family this size that accounts for America’s fascination with an otherwise typical family on reality TV.

First-dates

First dates are already super-uncomfortable, between sweaty palms and awkward conversations, you don’t really know the other person that well but if you’re a Duggar, you can also expect your mom or dad to tag along and add another element to an already embarrassing experience.

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You see, the Duggar parents have made it a rule to join the first date and make sure nobody gets handsy on their dates.

Grocery List

We’re well aware that we must sound like an insufferable stalker that follows around the day-to-day lives of this American family but, one thing we are all thinking is what kind of grocery bill they could be raking up? Seeing as they’re feeding a family of 20+ people.

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Just looking at the first meal of the day, the Duggars eat roughly 15 boxes of breakfast cereal and 7 gallons of milk in one week! Their final grocery bill tends to fluctuate around the range of $3,000 to $3,500 every month. Now, that is a lot of money and all for groceries!

Married So Young

Things were quite different back in the 80s, it was a time of questionable hairstyles and bulky cameras, oh and apparently people decided to get married a lot younger too.

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Jim Bob Duggar was only 19 by the time he wed Michelle who was 17 at this time, basically, she was a teen bride! But considering Arkansas law, the legal age of consent is 17 years old, so it seems there’s no problem there.

Pregnant for 12 years in total

The parental figures on “19 Kids and Counting” strongly disagree with any form of contraception, which is not all surprising since, well, 19 kids and all.

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But what is remarkable is that Michelle, the matriarch of the Duggars, has spent 12 years of her life as a pregnant woman, totaling a whopping 144 months!

Only Baptists Please

Like other reality TV shows about families with unambiguous storylines, drama usually ensues in many shapes and sizes, but with the Duggar clan, it mostly centers around their beliefs and convictions.

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One of their main concerns is who their children will marry and seeing that they’re devout Baptists, it only makes sense that their children also marry adherents to the Baptist faith.

The Blanket!

Parents have all sorts of boundaries when it comes to keeping their children under control and the Duggars are no exception, but one rule, known as the blanket rule, is rather controversial, causing many eyebrows to be raised. To condition their kids into behaving, Michelle will lay down a blanket, on which the child must stay.

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If even a finger exists on the blanket’s borders, they’re in for a spanking. No, this isn’t a joke. She’ll actually go smack them with a ruler.

Tense Relationships

The Duggar brood is very strict regarding their rules and beliefs, even prioritizing those beliefs before their personal relationships. This can make it difficult when dealing with those who have shed the puritanical shackles of their childhood and decided to do things a little differently.

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Because of this, Jill Duggar has had a tense relationship with the rest of the family, after her hubby posted some unsavory tweets, forcing the couple to leave the show.

A Quiverfull of Control

The Quiverfull Movement is a Christian off-shoot that is being spread through homeschooling networks and has some pretty conservative beliefs. Quiverfull follows your standard radical evangelical principles—every word of the Bible is taken literally, including patriarchal ideas about “family values” where women must obey men’s orders, and everything secular is alternately despised.

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It sure sounds a lot like the Duggars to us, but while the Duggars share many beliefs with the movement they don’t self-identify with the group.

How Can They Afford It?

Many families like the Duggars believe that the father should be the sole provider while the mother should be caring for the family and home. That said, many people wonder how they afford their lifestyle with so many kis. Raising a big family isn’t cheap.

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A core conviction of theirs is their steadfast belief against birth control. So while a family like the Duggars have their own TV show, they can easily afford to have many children, but there are many other families who live in poverty.

A House Full of Helpers

You’d think that with 19 kids (and counting) to take care of, any expectations of having a clean household would be virtually impossible. However, every child in the Duggar household has a specific chore, which earns them an allowance.

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For every chore they do, they receive a small amount of 3¢! This means that after repetitively doing their chores for a little more than a month, they’ll have about $1 in their pocket.

Helicopter Parenting

The draconian parenting style of Jim Bob Duggar has got to be one of the most disturbing things we’ve ever seen. For the maturing Duggar children, there’s no such thing as privacy.

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And this is even more voracious when it comes to their children’s romantic lives. Their dad acts as a “gatekeeper” and has to give his thumbs-up when anyone asks his daughters out.

Hot Water

Sharing a bathroom between two or three of your siblings can be difficult enough, but try splitting one with 20 other people! By the time you take your shower after waiting in line, most of the hot water’s run out, so your choices are either shower in icy water or reek for the rest of the day.

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To tackle this the Duggars have nine bathrooms outfitted with seven showers, so at least there’s a better distribution of resources than we would expect.

No Social Media!

As many parents can attest to, there’s nearly nothing you can do to stop your kids from using social media. But not if you’re a Duggar! Social media is outright banned in their house.

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Many kids being allowed to use social media once they reach a certain age, but for the Duggars, it only has to do with their relationship status. Even Jana has to adhere to this ridiculous rule as she’s unmarried and in her thirties!

Monitoring Their Messages

As if having your parents decide on who you get to date as well as who you certainly won’t date isn’t strange enough, both parents have full access to their girls’ private messages and texts.

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Before Jessa got engaged to Ben Seewald, her fiancé asked if they could text each other since he was far away and wanted to keep in touch. Her parents agreed, but only if they were included in every text.

“Nike!”

As any parent can confirm, protecting your kids from the outside world is almost impossible. Even if you grow up in the conservative Duggar household and try to shelter their kids more than the typical family. Fortunately, for them, they have 18 siblings who can help.

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Whenever they’re out and about, they do their best to avoid scantily clad women by warning each other with a safe word. The first boy to see her will say, “Nike!” to warn his brothers to avert their innocent eyes from the evils of the modern world.

Modesty Police

A recurring theme among the Duggar household is modesty, and of course, this applies more so to women and girls. While they’re growing up, they’re not allowed to wear pants, as these are viewed by wicked offenders when it comes to modest clothing. Yikes.

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Only once the girls have grown up, can the Duggar girls wear pants, but they still have to keep it modest. However, every now and then the daughters try push the envelope, landing them a stern lecture for the act. Talk about scandalous!

No Hugging it Out

Another way the Duggar parents like to police their kids is by enforcing rules when it comes to physical touch, like hugging. Turns out, side-hugs are the only appropriate way to do it if you’re a part of this conservative clan.

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Only once they’re grown up and married, are they allowed to hug however they please. Sounds like a lot to think about whenever one finds themselves in a warm embrace.

Matchmaker

Being protective of your children when you’re their parents is fine and all, but the Duggars have taken it a few steps further. The parenting style of the Duggars must be one of the most disturbing things we’ve ever seen when it comes to reality TV.

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For the elder Duggars and their romantic pursuits, there’s really no such thing as privacy. Along with everything else, their dad also plays the role of matchmaker for his children and has to approve who and when their children can date.

Keeping Separate

Another weird rule the Duggar parents enforce is not allowing their children to be alone in the same room with their partner, which is a fairly common rule amongst conservative parents and not one we’d be surprised about. But this rule also extends to all their children and their sibling relationships.

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Taking this to such an extreme is just another way the Duggars like to impose their beliefs about the separation of genders and is very telling of their perspective.

Beach Bodies?

Due to their modest dress code, there are many places that are simply out of bounds for the Duggar household. One obvious trip they would never be taking is to the beach, seeing as they can’t police what everyone else wears while catching a wave or tanning on the seaside.

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It sounds unfortunate but it seems like the Duggar family certainly find their own methods of having fun and cutting loose.

Too Cool for Public School

Many people all around the world prefer homeschooling their children, but the Duggars, being more conservative than the average family, believe this is the only way to raise their kids and insists her children do the same for their children.

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Not all the girls have followed this proposal and Jill even made the decision to send her child to public school, which meant some serious disapproval from the family.

Romance Novels

It’s no surprise that Duggar’s ultra-conservative beliefs extend beyond the realm of physical contact and dating. Even romance novels are not permitted on Duggar shelves, and it doesn’t matter how old their kids are or whether or not those romance novels are meant for young adults.

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The kids don’t seem to miss it, and why would they? They live in an incredibly sheltered bubble, enforced by their parents.

Speaking in “Soft Words”

“Soft words” sounds exactly like what we’d expect from the Duggar household speaking style. So yes, this means that everyone has to be careful how to speak and what kind of words they use around each other and never responding in anger.

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This does sound quite pleasant as we can imagine a rather peaceful household. Though now and again one needs to scream and shout and let it all out! We’re only human after all.

Sibling Rivalry

A bit of sibling rivalry never really hurt anybody, right? Well as long as you don’t factor in the dynamics of a massive family like the Duggars. We suppose it gets hard to keep count on who did what and which sibling you’re most annoyed with.

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There do seem to be two Duggars that are at constant odds with one another, Jana and Jessa. With Jessa being the younger, she’s always challenging her older sister’s authority.

Getting Tattoos

Being a devoutly religious family, the Duggars are totally opposed to getting inked, as we could all have guessed by now.

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Because of its permanent nature, getting a tattoo would be as odious to the Duggar family and their picture-perfect Christian values as being physically intimate before marriage.

All Their Names

If you have ever watched the Duggars, you have probably noticed all the Duggar children names start with the letter “J.” This was not by accident and soon became something of a tradition.

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Their first born was a boy, who was named Joshua. Then, when their twins arrived, they called him John and wanting to honor their friend, so they pinned a “J” onto Ana, consequently, this is how their tradition was born.

Everyone Has to be Married

Their conservative convictions are so rigid that it even gets in the way of their professions. An instance of this played out while Jill was a midwife in training, and was asked to help with another acquaintance who was pregnant but not married at the time.

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While any professional who was trained in ethics, knows to treat people from different backgrounds and beliefs as they would their own, this type of tolerance is not typical when it comes to certain religious groups and Jill was banned from helping with this patient, all because of her marital status.

Corporeal Punishment

Jim Bob and Michelle want to make sure their growing brood strictly follows their rules and to enforce this kind of blind, unquestioning loyalty, they make use of corporeal discipline.

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With 19 kids, how else would they impose such strict devotion? They would never admit this as spanking is very controversial in today’s society.

A House Representative

Being the head of a patriarchal household means Jim Bob better bring home the bacon, which he does through his real estate business. But for a while, that wasn’t his only profession. For a bit more than two years, Jim Bob served as a representative in the Arkansas House of Representatives.

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Once that stint in H.O.R. was over, Jim Bob decided to run for senate but didn’t win. He still dabbles in politics but now only for the sake of his brethren.

Trapped or Married

Like many devout Christian, the Duggars believe in the sanctity of marriage and that means that divorce is simply not an option, no matter what happens. This is why when Josh Duggar’s reputation attracted some serious scrutiny, but his wife stayed by his side and even defended him.

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The reports that surfaced involved him being accused of inappropriate behavior outside of his marriage. He was also exposed for having an account on a dating site which he used exclusively for having extramarital rendezvous.

Wedding Pieces

With so many daughters getting married, how do the Duggars handle passing down the tradition that many families have when it comes to wearing their mother’s dress on their special day?

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The Duggars decided to give each girl a part of Michelle’s gown to use in their wedding dresses. So from the veil to the train, every Duggar girl will have a little bit of their mother’s dress as they walk down the aisle.

You May Kiss the Bride?

Growing up in the Duggar home means your first kiss will only happen once you’re at the altar and already hitched. When it finally came time for Jessa’s wedding, she was incredibly tense and felt shy over having her first kiss in front of an audience.

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Of course, this would be a totally normal response for someone who grew up in a super-conservative family. Having your first kiss can be daunting, doing it in front of everyone adds another level of nerves!

Laundry Duty

Another chore in the Duggar home that requires a lot of planning and effort would be laundry. To keep everyone well dressed and looking picture-perfect, as any respectable suburban family should, they have four washers and dryers and average 40 loads a week.

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We don’t know if we’re just bad at math or if the Duggars are bad at laundry duty but that’s roughly 37 more times than an average-sized family.

Gender Roles

From the moment a female Duggar is born or married into the family, she falls under the control of her father or husband. Seeing as women aren’t supposed to work outside the home, and if Jim Bob can’t find anyone for his daughters to marry, they have to live at home and care for the other children (Sorry, Jana Duggar.)

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Would you like to go to college or have a career? What’s that? There’s simply no exemption when it comes to gender roles in the Duggar household.

Unpaid Babysitters

All older brothers and sisters know being part of a big family means you’ll have to look after the younger ones some time or other. Babysitting one or two siblings can be challenging enough, but imagine having to babysit six or more!

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Now that’s a lot of chaos to manage, but if you’re a Duggar, you know it’s just a regular Tuesday evening and worse yet, you won’t even get paid.

Gifts, This Way!

Gift registries are nothing new, but what sets the Duggars apart is that they sent out requests to their viewers when it came time for Jessa and Ben to tie the knot. Many considered this appeal for gifts a little much considering that they seem to be doing okay, especially as reality TV stars.

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Perhaps many of their fans wanted to indulge in the gift of giving. What are your thoughts?

Seating Arrangements

With so many mouths to feed, dinner time must get quite interesting, especially considering the fact their table is 18-feet-long. This allows every Duggar enough room to eat without bumping elbows or sitting uncomfortably.

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But with so many people having to pass side dishes around, it must mean that by the time it reaches their end of the table, it’s either cold or almost done.

Bedrooms

Now that we’ve mentioned the bathrooms and seating arrangements, we can now talk about their bedrooms. The Duggars all have to share bedrooms, which means all the boys sleep in one bedroom and all the girls in another.

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Privacy is not really a concern of the Duggars, as long as they can move past each other’s belongings and reach their bed, they’re good to go. Once their children leave home, the younger Duggars must exhale a collective sigh of relief, knowing at least they’ll have a little more space.

Their Wedding Guest List

Once Jill Duggar was set to marry, we all were expecting it to be a big wedding, seeing how she’s one of the more popular of the Duggar children.

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But what we never expected is that she would have over 1,500 people in attendance. Many people prefer to keep their wedding ceremonies small, but Jill Duggar is not one of those people. With so many guests, at least Jill didn’t appeal for gifts from her fan base for her special day.

Renewing Their Vows

As we’ve seen before, the Duggars prove that appearances can be deceiving. There were even rumors of Jim Bob’s infidelity, but Michelle wasn’t (or couldn’t) going to leave.

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His response? Jim Bob decided it was time that he and his wife renew their wedding vows. It seems that their renewed vows were arranged in an attempt to keep Jim Bob in check, but if you happen to listen to the recording, it does seem genuine.

The Miscarriage

With Michelle’s last pregnancy in 2011, she was about to have their 20th child together and had plans to name their newborn Jubilee, but a few weeks after their announcement, they miscarried.

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Ever since then, there have been rumors that Jim Bob and Michelle don’t have plans to try again. A miscarriage can be traumatic to all parties involved, but there is some speculation that Michelle and Jim Bob are still recovering.

Will They Have More Kids?

Being pregnant is a novel and incredible experience for many women and is perhaps one of the reasons why Michelle Duggar has spent a quarter of her life being pregnant.

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But no matter how many times anyone has been pregnant, miscarrying a child is still a traumatic experience. That being said, the Duggars have enough loved ones around them to get the support they need through a troubling time like that.

The Duggars Limited Circle

With the Duggars having such a stern and narrow worldview, it makes sense that their friends all have the same beliefs and religious convictions as they do. But even with such a narrow circle of friends, there are many bad eggs in their basket.

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Among their friends, they also follow Bill Gothard, a minister who has reportedly been accused of inappropriate behavior. In fact, it was Bill who supported and advised Jim Bob when revelations of his infidelity were exposed to the public. Another close friend and minister of the Duggars, Doug Philips, even has had a few lawsuits filed against him, all relating to harassing women.

The Camera Crew

For many of us watching in the audience, it can be frustrating and seem quite old-fashioned to see how the Duggar children are subject to their parents’ strange rules and religious convictions. But, apparently, the camera crew that follows the Duggars around has become quite friendly with the entire family and even enjoys spending time with them.

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This is not just about doing their job, either. Both the camera crew and Duggar children do activities together outside of filming and production and this does allow the Duggar children to have some, albeit limited exposure to people outside of their strict parental confines.

Their Extreme Views

While it’s not really surprising that the Duggars have an extreme aversion to different opinions and religious beliefs, there was one incident that’s been kept under wraps regarding one of the camera crew members.

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Michelle discovered that there was a gay cameraman amongst the crew. She was so upset but that she told TLC that remove him from their set. The network even had to pay him a pretty penny so he wouldn’t sue or leak it to the press.

“Motherless” Children

Many people may not realize this about the Duggar clan but growing up in a home with so many siblings and new babies constantly on the way, many of the Duggar children have had to raise each other and themselves!

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At least they can rely on each other, AS their mom is mostly preoccupied with the babies and their dad IS working to support the family. For this reason, they don’t really get to spend that much time with their parents.

Jason’s New Venture

We’re all eager to see how the younger Duggars grows up and what they plan to do once they’re out of the house and off the show. Jason is the 12th Duggar child to be born and as he’s growing up, he’s clearly showing signs of becoming an entrepreneur.

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He already began his very own construction company, which is an impressive feat, considering his inexperience in the outside world.

Jennifer Already Wants to Leave

Being one of the younger siblings, Jennifer is already planning on leaving the show as soon as she can. Since she is the 17th sibling, she’s been on camera even before she can remember but despite that, she’s actually quite shy and doesn’t want to be filmed.

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Just hang in there Jennifer, once she’s old enough, she can make her own decisions and not be obligated to the rules of her parents, as well as the cameras.