James Robert “Jim Bob” and Michelle Annette (née Ruark) are the Duggar patriarch and matriarch who gained renown by raising their 19 children in the TLC reality TV show “19 Kids and Counting,” which aired between 2008 and 2015. Although they were involved in several controversies, a major scandal involving Joshua James “Josh” Duggar’s molestation ended its run. Thankfully, TLC did not blame the rest of the family and granted them the spin-off TV show, “Jill & Jessa: Counting On,” which aired 96 episodes between 2015 and 2020. Sadly, the production company canceled it in 2021, as Josh was arrested on heinous charges, and was subsequently sentenced to over 12 years in prison in May 2022.
It’s reasonable that Josh may not talk to his parents as much, but they are still supportive. However, some of their 18 children surprisingly cut or reduced contact after finding partners, having children, moving away, and realizing the trauma that they’ve apparently endured.
Their parents brought them up on their large compound in Tontitown, Arkansas State, USA, in a strict, ultra-conservative, religious household that ascribed to Institute in Basic Life Principles (IBLP), a non-denominational Christian fundamentalist organization. They seemed happy, family-oriented, hard-working, and devoted. However, things changed around 2017, as the family TV show’s popularity waned. Their conflicts culminated when Amazon Prime Video released the docu-series about their theology in 2023, naming it “Shiny Happy People: Duggar Family Secrets.” Nearly all estranged Duggar children appeared in front of the cameras and explained why they distanced themselves after about a decade and a half on TV. Here’s who of the Duggar children no longer speaks with their parents/
A few Duggar kids cut contact
Jim Bom and Michelle met in high school, and after proposing to her on Christmas Eve in her parents’ house, Jim Bob married Michelle on 21 July 1984. They tied the knot in front of 200 guests on a budget and moved to a 900sqft or 83m2 fixer-upper house for a while. Contrary to what they now preach, Michelle used a birth control pill for a few years; hence, their first child, son Josh Duggar, was born on 3 March 1988. She started using the medication again, but after a miscarriage with the baby Caleb and learning that the pill contributed to the unfortunate situation, she and Jim Bob entrusted the number of children to God. Their twins, Jana Marie and John-David, born on 12 January 1990, were the first sign of God’s blessing.
They had Jill in 1991, Jessa in 1992, Jinger the year after, and Joseph in 1995. Josiah was born in 1996, followed by Joy-Anna the next year, twins Jedidiah and Jeremiah in 1998, then Jason, whose birth marked the turn of the century in 2000. Jim Bob and Michelle welcomed son James in 2001, Justin in 2002, Jackson two years after, and four daughters, Johannah, Jennifer, Jordyn-Grace, and Josie, in 2005, 2007, 2008, and 2009, respectively. Josie’s premature birth at 25 weeks, weighing just 0.6kgs or 1.37lbs, suggested that Michelle’s days as a new mother would be over.
Although they were ecstatic to announce the birth of their 20th child, Michelle naturally delivered their stillborn daughter, Jubilee Shalom Duggar, on 11 December 2011, and the family held her funeral three days later. Therefore, with such a big, tight-knit family with 19 children, currently 31 grandchildren, and an adopted great-nephew, Tyler Hutchins, it’s equally shocking and logical that some no longer talk to their parents regularly.
Jill and Derick left the family
Jill Dillard, née Duggar, who married Derick Dillard in 2014, is perhaps the most prominent Duggar child with a strained relationship. In the Amazon Prime Video docu-series mentioned above, she conveyed the mental and physical abuse that she endured as part of her IBLP religion. Her honesty helped depict the empire founded by Bill Gothard in 1961 in Chicago and how it affected members by birth, not those who joined. Jill described her homeschooling experience and commented on the unpaid labor, corruption, indoctrination, and cult-like practices.
🕰 How did you spend your extra hour yesterday? #daylightsavingstime 🪵🔥We enjoyed coffee outside with a nice cozy fire…
However, that wasn’t the primary problem; the show’s viewers know that she abruptly left “Counting On” with Derick in 2017. There were allegations that TLC fired them because of Derick’s transphobic comments towards Jazz Jennings. However, they claimed that they felt taken advantage of by Jim Bob, and left voluntarily because the problems had been brewing for a long time. The main problem was that Jill hadn’t received a dime from the two TV shows for about seven years of her adult life. She said that her father introduced her to Derick, and that he arranged their 21 June 2014 wedding in Springdale, Arkansas State, and felt exploited because they couldn’t back out of their wedding being filmed.
Moreover, they couldn’t prevent TLC from getting footage of the birth of their first child, Israel, in April 2015. TLC paid the insurance and other expenses, but Jill stated, ‘The money went to the family, which means that they paid Jim Bob, telling us that we had to take it up with him, meaning that we weren’t getting anything.’ Jill clarified that she voluntarily appeared in the TV show despite not being compensated.
They called out Jim Bob in 2017
The problem with free labor arose in 2016, when TLC called Jill and Derick to film in the US for “Counting On.” They lived in El Salvador and did missionary work, so they didn’t want to return, especially for no monetary gain. However, that’s when TLC informed them that they were contractually obligated to film, and it turned out that her father had allegedly forged her signature, legally binding Jill and Derick to the show until 2019. After Derek called out the fraud, Jim Bob offered them $10 an hour for filming and a lump sum equal to minimum wage.
Chad Gallagher, who represented Jim Bob and Michelle, and their company, Mad Family Inc., forbade Jill and Derick from contacting TLC. Instead, Jim Bob offered them a new contract with a bit more money, but far more restrictions and a longer commitment. Jill and Derick immediately refused, and a lawyer eventually extracted a portion of the money that she should have received from TLC over the years.
Jill is the most rebellious sibling
She enjoyed a private life with her husband after she gave birth to their second child, son Samuel Scott on 8 July 2017. Jill and Derick eventually became active on YouTube, and in 2021 stated, ‘In this season of life, we have to prioritize our mental and emotional health and all that. Our threshold, as we like to call it, is just a little bit lower.’ Jill then explained that she hadn’t visited her parent’s home in a couple of years, because of its many emotional triggers and restrictions. That contrasted their February 2020 statement that ‘they weren’t on the best terms because of disagreements, but working towards healing and restoration.’ The couple later added that they could only come to the Duggar compound if Jim Bob were there, which cut them off from caring for Jill’s younger siblings.
Jill and Derick revealed that they were expecting their third son, whom they would name River Bliss, in 2021, but sadly announced in October of that year that she’d miscarried. Thankfully, God has answered their prayers, and they announced in February 2022 that they were expecting again – Frederick Michael “Freddy” Dillard was born a month past her due date on 7 July 2022. Jill announced that she would continue to voice her displeasure with her former religion in the upcoming memoir, “Counting the Cost,” which she announced on 31 May 2023. She co-wrote it with Derick and Craig Borlase and will publish it in January 2024 through Simon & Schuster.
tJill was the first of The Duggar children to rebel against the rules of faith and went the furthest in doing so. She appeared in outfits that her parents forbade, and sent Israel to public school instead of homeschooling him. IBLP members were equally shocked that Jill promoted sex games, toys, and lube, used non-hormonal birth control, and said that she and her husband would get a tattoo if it were one that they would forever cherish.
Jinger also withdrew
Jinger Nicole Vuolo, née Duggar, the sixth child born to Jim Bob and Michelle, gained prominence in Discovery Health Channel’s 2004 documentary, “14 Children and Pregnant Again.” She loved her life and faith and wrote two books, “Growing Up Duggar” in 2014 with Jill, Jana, and Jessa, and “The Hope We Hold: Finding Peace” in 2021 with her husband, Jeremy Vuolo.
However, Jinger’s distancing began when she met soccer player Jeremy, on a mission trip to Central America in 2015. They married in November 2016, and she left IBLP in 2017, and became a devotee of Grace Community Church in Los Angeles, California. Jeremy is employed by The Master’s Seminary, an affiliated organization. Jinger gave birth to their two daughters, Felicity Nicole in 2018, and Evangeline Jo in 2020, confirming her withdrawal from her family.
Her memoir was the climax
Jinger’s second memoir, “Becoming Free Indeed: My Story of Disentangling Faith From Fear,” published in 2023, was the final nail in the coffin of her former religious beliefs. She chastised the cult-like religious devotion, and stated that fear marked her childhood. She gave examples of only wearing skirts and dresses, going to permitted locations, hanging out with vetted friends, and listening to music without drums as triggering activities and behaviors.
Jinger realized that being constantly scared to break the rules was damaging and left lasting effects. However, her criticism seems to be directed at her father’s traditions, and Jinger did not cut contact completely; she posted a selfie with Michelle for Mother’s Day in 2023. However, while Jinger stated that she loved her mother, the photo had no timestamp and could have been taken long before she announced her memoir’s release. Additionally, as Amy Duggar recently demonstrated, loving a parent or a grandparent doesn’t mean staying permanently in touch.
Jessa mentioned abuse first
Jessa Lauren Seewald (née Duggar), is the couple’s fifth child and third daughter, who headlined the spin-off TV show, “Jill & Jessa: Counting On” until 2020. Fans may remember that she shared in one interview in June 2015 that her eldest brother, Josh Duggar, sexually abused her when he was a teenager. However, Jessa stated that the disgusting names people called him were inappropriate and that his attack was ‘mild inappropriate touching while she was fully clothed and sleeping.’ She wasn’t even aware that it was abusive until she described his actions to her parents and siblings. Upon realizing what had happened, she said it was very wrong. Still, Jessa criticized police for allowing reports to leak to the media, calling it ‘an example of a system for children’s protection failing greatly.’
She married Benjamin “Ben” Seewald on 1 November 2014, and has given birth to four children – Spurgeon, Ivy, Henr, and Fern, and had a miscarriage in December 2022. Most reports about Jessa’s estrangement come from other sources. For instance, she wasn’t present at Jill’s baby shower in July 2022. However, she later said that she couldn’t make it that day, and was on good terms with Jill.
Signs that she didn’t get along with her father come from Jinger, who wrote in her memoir that Jessa and her husband had distanced themselves from IBLP; Ben is currently a pastor at Immanuel Baptist Church, and Jessa might have converted. Additionally, Ben has different political leanings than Jim Bob. While Jim Bob and Michelle voted for Donald J. Trump during the 2016 presidential elections, Ben voted for an unnamed candidate who wasn’t Hillary Clinton or Donald, and had retweeted notable people whose views opposed Trump’s campaign objectives, voicing his support for their opinion. Jessa posted a picture with her nine sisters and mother in April 2023. However, that could be a one-off gathering that she attended for her sisters, and doesn’t signify a close bond with her mother.
Amy Duggar raised serious issues
Amy Rachelle King, née Dugar, isn’t one of the biological children, but a niece to Jim Bob and Michelle. However, she appeared in the TV show so frequently that many consider her a sibling. Amy might have shared many negative experiences after quitting, but she declared that she couldn’t discuss anything because of the non-disclosure agreement (NDA) that she’d signed. However, she could no longer hold back by June 2023, and called her uncle out for his inability to protect his children, posting a TikTok video saying that she didn’t trust Jim Bob around her three-year-old son Daxton. Amy accused Jim Bob of not stopping Josh from abusing Jill and Jessa, and confronted him with sweeping things under the rug, telling him that he’d lost her respect and the chance to get to know Daxton better.
She even slammed Jim Bob for claiming that he didn’t recall the abuse during the 2021 trial of his son Josh. Amy concluded that ‘something wasn’t right there, and that many screws were loose’ in Jim Bob’s head. She reminded the show’s fans that he did nothing and instead ‘felt happy that Josh was comfortable enough to confide in him and Michelle that he inappropriately touched his sisters.’ Amy stated that she felt terrible for Josh’s wife and children, and offered them a place to stay after his sentencing.
Amy also starred in the after show for “Shiny Happy People: Duggar Family Secrets” on 21 June, in which she clarified that she and her husband, Dillon King, only talk to Duggar children who left IBLP, or are healing from the family trauma. She doesn’t speak to others who don’t see or don’t want to see the truth. Amy reiterated that the safety of her children was paramount, explaining, ‘It sucks that we don’t get a chance to be with our family members because we still love them. We might disagree with them and stand for the truth, but it’s hard because we still have all those memories.’
The parents responded
Jim Bob and Michelle usually handled all matters privately and, when they had to, provided vague statements through their public representative. However, the 2023 docu-series made some serious allegations, including that Jim Bob replaced the founder of IBLP after Bill stepped down as the leader in 2014, following allegations of sexual harassment and molestations from 34 women, some of whom were minors at the time of Bill’s misdeeds.
Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar Speak Out After Eldest Son Josh Is Found Guilty on Child Porn Charges pic.twitter.com/ipewZbYQAc
— People (@people) December 10, 2021
However, in typical fashion, the matriarch and patriarch didn’t respond to individual accusations, instead, providing a vague statement on 1 June 2023 via their website, www.duggarfamily.com. They wrote that ‘the recent documentary that talked about their family was sad because in it they saw the media and those with ill intentions who wanted to hurt people they love.’ They declared that they would continue clinging to their faith, noting, ‘We have always believed that the best chance to repair damaged relationships, or to reconcile differences, is through love in a private setting.’