‘Counting On’ Critics Are Convinced the Duggar Kids Often Broke Jim Bob and Michelle’s Courtship Rules

Michelle and Jim Bob Duggar raised their kids with very religious rules. And when it comes to dating, the two are serious about limiting their kids’ physical contact with partners. The Duggars are not allowed to date; they can only court, and they must have a chaperone present on every date up until their wedding. But some critics of the show are certain that the kids didn’t always follow the rules – and that some couples were more likely culprits than others.

Michelle and Jim Bob Duggar's older children
Michelle and Jim Bob Duggar’s older children | Ida Mae Astute/Walt Disney Television via Getty Images

Michelle and Jim Bob Duggar seriously sheltered their children growing up

These days, several of the Duggar children have married and started families of their own. But the process of finding a life partner wasn’t the same as it is for most people. Michelle and Jim Bob greatly sheltered their kids growing up and didn’t allow them to experience most things American kids do.

The parents banned television from their household and never let their kids believe in Santa. They also didn’t allow any dancing or mainstream music, since it could promote promiscuity. Plus, the kids were all homeschooled, so they only interacted with members of their church or those who their parents deemed acceptable friends.

Jinger Duggar has branched out from her parents’ rules since marrying Jeremy Vuolo.

The kids are only allowed to court — and there are plenty of rules

The Duggar kids also were not allowed to date; they could only enter into courtships, which were essentially relationships with the intention of marrying. The kids would “court” people for several months while getting to know the person and learning their values. If they felt the person’s values and commitment to God matched up with their own, they would get engaged.

There was absolutely no physical intimacy allowed in courtships. The Duggars could only side-hug their partners; they could not kiss or hug them (from the front) while courting — and there was definitely no sexual contact allowed. All of the kids remained virgins until they wed and shared their first kiss with their new husband or wife on their wedding day.

Some critics are certain there were a few rule breakers

Though the Duggars seemed to obey all of the rules on camera, some critics aren’t convinced that they’re all as innocent as they seem. Jessa Duggar actually admitted in her book “Growing Up Duggar” that she broke the rules while courting Ben Seewald. She noted that the two would have secret phone calls every night (phone calls were supposed to be chaperoned at all times). And critics are certain that other kids have done the same.

Jessa Duggar with her husband, Ben Seewald, and three kids.

“Out of 19 children, surely at least one won’t ‘stay pure’ until marriage,” one user wrote in a Reddit thread. “Austin seemed so nervous knowing cameras were there when Joy didn’t. When she went in for the full hug, I was convinced they’d done more than side hug already,” someone else speculated. “… If Jeremy dated normally before dating Jinger [I don’t know] how he’d be okay with the Duggar rules,” another user added.

Fans speculated that at least one or two couples, primarily Joy Duggar and Austin Forsyth, had broken the courtship rules. Others also suggested the younger kids could easily be paid off with “$5 to buy an ice cream” (while chaperoning) to give the kids some alone time. It’s important to note that Jessa has been the only one to ever actually come forward and say she broke the rules; otherwise, the other couples are simply speculation.