The Duggar family has been on television almost non-stop since 19 Kids and Counting debuted on TLC in September 2008 (17 Kids and Counting at the time). The show, and its spin-off Counting On, followed the family through births, weddings, joy, and tragedy. Viewers quickly learned about the strict family rules that patriarch Jim Bob Duggar and Michelle Duggar forced on their many children. Some of the kids have broken the rules, but for the most part, most have followed them, even after leaving their strict family home.
The family’s reality TV series came to an end in 2021 following a scandal involving Jim Bob and Michelle’s eldest son, Josh Duggar. It was discovered that he had committed multiple sex crimes, including possession of child pornography. Six years earlier it was also revealed that he molested multiple girls, including four of his sisters when he was a teen. We don’t know whose rules he was following but it was a really bad look for the entire family, most of whom continue to support him. Now that you’re caught up on all of the family’s recent drama, let’s take a look at the weird rules the Duggar kids are supposed to follow and who has broken them.
Hair Length for the Duggar Daughters
One of the rules that the daughters in the family have to follow is to keep long, undyed hair. Many of the daughters have changed their hairstyles up though, which means this rule can be broken and they won’t be ostracized.
Joy-Anna and Jessa have been known to wear bangs, and Joy-Anna also dyed her hair a darker color. Jinger has also been seen with shortish blonde hair, while Jill got a full hair makeover.
No Birth Control
It’s amazing how many of these rules only fall on the daughter of the family. In addition to hair length, the family has a strict no contraception and no birth control policy. The Duggars are members of a conservative Independent Baptist Church and have been linked to the extremely controversial Institute in Basic Life Principles (IBLP). Though Jim Bob and Michelle did use birth control early in their marriage, they forbid it for their children.
Jill and Derick Dillard, who have distanced themselves from the rest of the Duggar family, admitted to using non-hormonal birth control. Not coincidentally, the Dillards have only had two children in seven years of marriage. But, there’s another one on the way.
No Pants for Those Daughters
Yet another style rule for the Duggar daughters; they are not supposed to wear pants. However, once Jinger Duggar broke this rule, the other older Duggar daughters have been seen wearing pants. Michelle has still kept the youngest daughters in skirts and dresses. We imagine this goes the same way for their sons not wearing skirts.
According to Jinger, “the lord’s led” her to wearing pants and they make her feel comfortable. Originally, Michelle felt that wearing pants are something that “pertains to a man” and that she just didn’t understand.
“I just felt like I should wear dresses and skirts. My girls, I just dressed them in dresses and skirts as well,” Michelle said. “Being that that was my personal conviction. I’m raising my girls to be modest and honor the Lord in how they represent themselves.”
“It’s OK that my kids may have different convictions than me,” Michelle would go on to admit. “I know that he’s leading them, and that’s the most important thing.”
They All Got Homeschooled
The Duggars have all been homeschooled, but it is not clear if their children plan to continue this tradition for their own kids. Josh and Anna have homeschooled their children, but Jill announced her son Israel attended kindergarten at a public school. Jessa will have to make the decision next, as her son Spurgeon turns 6 years old soon.
No Drinking and No Smoking
The family has a no drinking alcohol and no smoking policy. This is currently a rule that many Baptists, not just the Duggar family adhere to. So far, most of the family has publicly shown to stick to this rule but there is one pioneering Duggar who also broke this rule.
Jill broke this rule as well. She was seen having drinks with her husband Derick during a date night in September 2020. Jill later showed a sense of humor about the “scandal” having a drink caused when she shared a photo of herself with a cup of coffee. “Oh, and since it seems y’all are interested in my choice of drinks recently (lol recent post)…yes, this was a REGULAR coffee (I.e. full caf) white chocolate mocha with coconut milk,” she wrote. Cheers!
The Duggar kids are supposed to have chaperoned dates when they come of age. They have very strict rules when it comes to dating. Of course, there’s no sex before marriage but there are also rules against just hugging and kissing.
There’s a 3-second rule when it comes to hugging someone you’re dating. Josiah Duggar appeared to break this rule in 2018 when he went to Missouri with his now-wife Lauren, unchaperoned.
Joy-Anna also admitted to breaking a “three-second hug” rule while dating now-husband Austin Forsyth. We suppose by these two accounts that it’s sort of okay to fudge the rules if you’re eventually going to marry the person. We’re glad these couples got to have a little fun before they tied the knot!
Jana, who is unmarried, also seems free to travel without a chaperone or repercussions from her family. We’ll talk more about her and how she’s been able to skirt other rules for the next Duggar family rule as well.
For a time, after marriage, members of the Duggar family were allowed to start their own social media accounts as long as they were jointly shared between spouses. Over time though, this rule appears to have been broken by many of the Duggar children.
Almost all of the married sisters now have their own Instagram accounts, while their husbands have separate ones. Jana, who is the eldest unmarried sister, is allowed to have her own Instagram account. What a rebel!
Divorce Is a Big No-No
Divorce is very frowned upon in the Duggar family. In fact, following multiple scandals that Josh had molested girls and his sisters and later was found guilty of possession of child pornography, his wife Anna still remains married to her husband. This goes right along with the Duggars’ stand by your man ethos.
Thankfully, for many other of the Duggar kids, divorce has not been an issue that’s been talked about publicly. However, that has not stopped Amy King from voicing her opinion about Josh and Anna’s marriage.
“My mom was a fierce protector, and so am I,” Amy wrote in an open letter to Anna following Josh’s guilty conviction. “She showed me how to stand up and speak up. If no one else in your life is saying it, I need you to understand that there is no shame in divorcing Josh.”
Secular Media Only
All forms of media, from music to television to books, have to be approved by the Duggar patriarch and matriarch. There wasn’t even music at their weddings! Jill seems to have broken this rule. She once shared a photo of her son Samuel with a stack of secular books.
“Start protecting your family by removing books, magazines, television, or internet that have worldly or sensual content,” Jim Bob wrote in a letter to fathers warning them of the dangers of secular media. “Replace them with good things like wholesome music, biographies of great Christians, good old-fashioned family fun and games.”
We’re not sure what he means by “worldly” content but venture to guess that means any media that does not feature faces that look like those of his lily-white family members.
No Face or Body Piercings
We turn to Jill yet again as she is the only Duggar that has seemingly broken the no body piercings policy of the family. It caused a bit of a stir after she unveiled her nose ring but it seems like that’s water under the bridge for this member of the Duggar family who is not afraid to dance to the beat of her own drum.
The Duggars Do Not Celebrate Halloween
In October 2021, Jinger posted a photo via Instagram of her and her husband trick-or-treating with friends. That had been previously off-limits for her as a child growing up in the Duggar home. A decade prior, her mother had written about how the family views the Halloween festivities.
In a blog post, Michelle wrote that the family “do go to pumpkin patches and corn mazes [but] we don’t do the Halloween thing” — which might be why fans were surprised to see Jinger dressed as Tigger from Winnie the Pooh.
We’ve seen that the Duggar family has some pretty strict and conservative rules for its members. It’s clear as the older generation of their kids ages into adulthood and has begun marrying and having their own children, that they are more willing to skirt the rules or break them a bit to work for their current lifestyle.
That doesn’t mean that Jim Bob and Michelle are not as strict with the younger kids in their brood. It will be interesting to see how many will continue to live by Jim Bob’s rules and who will also stray from them as they age into adulthood.
The Duggar family might be off the TV but they have left a huge impression. Their unconventional lifestyle and the sheer size of their family make them an oddity but not completely that far from many Evangelical families in this country who look to them as role models. Each family gets to decide what values they want to instill and this one seems to have mostly kept the kids as almost equally conservative as their parents. Who knows what the future will bring?
We talked about Jill a lot for this piece and if you’d like to know more about how she has distanced herself from her family in recent years, please continue reading below.
Over the last few years, we’ve seen Jill Duggar Dillard‘s relationship with her family change dramatically. Now, the reality star is talking about what’s happened and why. She now admits that she and her husband, Derick Dillard lost the power to dictate their lives.
After being a prominent figure of the flagship Duggar program, 19 Kids and Counting, a series that loosely documented the extremely conservative family from 2008 and 2015, she then appeared in the spinoff Counting On. Shortly after signing on, she abruptly quit the reality show in 2017. And now, she is opening up about how she felt and what lead her to the decision.
Jill Duggar says that she and her husband’s lives were controlled to a point that she felt she couldn’t make basic decisions about her career and life.
“Our control to choose what jobs we were allowed to accept and even where we were allowed to live was taken away from us,” Jill told People, and explained that her plans were nixed if they conflicted in any with her extended family or TLC’s plans.
Derick, who is finishing up a law degree, explained further, “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.'”
As you might expect from an ultra-conservative family, change is not always welcome, and when Jill told her family of her decision to leave, “It didn’t go over very well with anyone,” she admitted. “By that point, we’d had enough. We knew we had to pull out completely to reevaluate and get our bearings.”
People reached out to Jill’s parents, Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar, and asked if they’d provide comment. “Every family has differences of opinion and perspective at times, but families work things out,” a statement they provided said. “We all love Jill, Derick, and their boys very much. It is our prayer that our relationship is healed and fully restored quickly!”
The mom of two has been spreading her wings since leaving the show and has grown more independent making her own choices about dancing, the clothing she wears, and whether or not to drink alcohol. The Duggar family is notoriously strict in these regards and also discourages the use of birth control and listening to non-religious music.
“Sometimes,” she explained, “it’s a good thing being okay with other people not being okay.”
Just because she’s left the show, does not mean she’s left fans behind. Jill and Derick invite them to visit their family blog. And, the couple recently launched a YouTube channel. In one video they describe their motivation behind the videos stating plainly, “We can be the ones to tell our story.”
While she’s enjoyed her newfound freedoms, she still wants to be close with her family and find some common ground. She said she hopes a reconciliation is on the horizon.
“I never expected this to happen or for it to get to this point,” Jill revealed. “But I’m realizing I can’t put a timeline on healing. I love my family and they love me. I really just have to follow God’s lead and take it one day at a time.”
As we reported, Jill recently spoke about the distance from her family in a YouTube video. “There’s been some distancing there,” she said. “We’re not on the best terms with some of my family. We’ve had some disagreements, but we’re working towards healing definitely and restoration, but we’re having to kind of just take some time and heal.”
Family, right? We hope Jill and Derick continue to expand their horizons and chase their dreams. We think the rest of the Duggars will come around. After all, their statement did say they’re praying on it.
- 1 Hair Length for the Duggar Daughters
- 2 No Birth Control
- 3 No Pants for Those Daughters
- 4 They All Got Homeschooled
- 5 No Drinking and No Smoking
- 6 Chaperoned Dates
- 7 Shared Social Media Accounts Among Spouses
- 8 Divorce Is a Big No-No
- 9 Secular Media Only
- 10 No Face or Body Piercings
- 11 The Duggars Do Not Celebrate Halloween
- 12 Final Thoughts
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