Jim Bob Duggar and his famous family – stars of 19 Kids & Counting and Counting On – have spent over a decade crafting the wholesome image of a conservative, religious family who believes God (and not birth control) has the power over how many kids you should have.
But beyond their beliefs on procreation, the family has such concerning views on things like modesty, gender roles, and higher education, that even fellow Christians have called them out for being highly questionable. Even though every parent has the right to raise their children as they choose, fans are still concerned about how much Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar isolate their kids, limit their potential, and impose rules full of sexist double standards.
This week, I had the opportunity to encourage other moms and share with them tips I have learned along life’s way. As a busy mom with a growing family through the years, I never imagined me being the one to talk to crowds! My days were filled with all the daily chores of being a mom. Yet, I am so thankful for the opportunity to share our story with others and encourage moms in their faith, their marriages and raising their children. I am amazed at how God can use an imperfect person like me to encourage and help others. I always pray that I’ll have the right words and share my heart with love and care to the lives I come in contact with. I’ve discovered that it is in the most difficult trials of life that we grow the most spiritually and learn to trust God the most. I think sharing out of our joys and our sorrows, allows us to be encouraged together. It was a great night and I loved every moment and every kind face I saw. Love, Michelle
According to Romper, one of the first things fans noticed about the Duggar family when they first appeared on television back in 2004 – besides the large number of kids – was how conservatively the women dressed.
Michelle once explained on an episode of 19 Kids & Counting that she and her unmarried daughters follow strict rules of modesty that include wearing long skirts down to the ankles, no pants, minimal arm exposure, and long hair.
They also have a secret code word for the boys in the family to avert their eyes if they come across a woman dressed immodestly, making it the girls’ responsibility to keep the boys from lusting after a female. The girls use the word “Nike” to let the boys know they need to stare at their shoes.
“That’s a signal to the boys, and even to Dad, that they should nonchalantly drop their eyes and look down at their shoes as we walk past her… It’s meant to help keep the guys’ eyes from seeing things they shouldn’t be seeing,” Michelle explained.
In addition to dressing a certain way and being responsible for the boys’ wandering eyes, the family discourages daughters from going to college, and so far none of them have pursued higher education.
Jim Bob and Michelle teach their kids little to nothing about sex, and what they do share with them is not medically accurate. The family uses homeschooling materials from the Advanced Training Institute (ATI), and according to one of their “wisdom booklets,” they teach the girls that having relations with a man who isn’t your husband can apparently give you cancer.
They also blame the victim in sexual assault cases, using ATI’s approach that assault isn’t that bad because it only harms the body and not the most important part: soul and spirit. In the ATI teaching documents, it also asks a person to consider whether the abused is at fault.
Jim Bob Duggar may promote traditional family values, but it seems his daughters may have some missed opportunities because of the problematic teachings and double standards.
New episodes of Counting On return to TLC later this summer.