Skip to main content

Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar may be the parents of 19 children, but as their family has grown and expanded, it seems like they are having a hard time keeping everyone straight. While the Counting On stars insist they have a close relationship with each one of their kids, Michelle recently admitted that she has a hard time keeping things straight these days. By doing so she’s basically confirmed what critics have known all along; her relationship with her adult children is distant, at best.

How did Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar end up with 19 children

Michelle and Jim Bob had their first child way back in 1988. When their eldest child, Josh Duggar, was born, they had no way of knowing just how large their family would get. In fact, back then, the couple planned to limit their family to a number of children that most people would find perfectly normal. Somewhere along the way, however, they decided to give up on birth control and allow God to decide the size of their family

Michelle and Jim Bob Duggar
Michelle Duggar and Jim Bob Duggar | Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images

With two sets of twins along the way, Michelle gave birth to the family’s youngest child, Josie Duggar, in 2009. A subsequent pregnancy ended in a miscarriage. While Michelle’s fertility feat is notable, the sheer number of children in the family seemingly made it easy for more than a few kids to fall through the cracks, and followers have long been critical of the Duggar’s parenting tactics. Many believe that the large number of children in the family has led to a distant relationship between the kids and their parents, and it looks like Michelle may have just confirmed that.

Michelle’s admission on a recent episode of Counting On is pretty sad

Michelle sat down for one of her first solo interviews on Counting On. While her long absence from the show stemmed from her and Jim Bob’s decision to cover-up Josh’s indiscretions, she didn’t exactly endear herself to fans upon her return. In fact, she made herself look pretty disconnected.

Michelle admitted that she has a difficult time keeping track of who is pregnant and when they are due. When the episode was filmed, five Duggar ladies were pregnant. At the time Jessa Duggar, Joy-Anna Duggar, Kendra Caldwell, Lauren Swanson, and Anna Duggar had announced their pregnancies to the world at large.

While there were a large number of Duggar ladies pregnant at the moment, Michelle should still be able to keep track of who is currently expecting a child, one would think. Jessa went on to give birth to her first daughter, Ivy Jane, in May 2019. Joy-Anna suffered a miscarriage in the fifth month of her pregnancy. Kendra, Lauren, and Anna all welcomed daughters in November 2019. Since then, Abbie Burnett, who married John-David Duggar in November 2018, has announced her first pregnancy. She is due with the couple’s first daughter in January 2020.

Was Michelle’s admission really unexpected, though?

While Michelle tried to play off her admission as funny, most followers found it a bit sad but unsurprising. Michelle and Jim Bob have both openly admitted that the children were passed off to siblings when they were still relatively young, and the Duggar kids have all but admitted that they raised each other.

Since Michelle and Jim Bob delegated a great deal of the child-rearing to their older children, it should come as no surprise that their relationships with their adult children are somewhat distant, even though most of the Duggar kids have stuck relatively close to home.

While this was the first time Michelle has practically admitted that she isn’t close to her children, it’s not the first time it was apparent to the more critical viewer. The Duggar family shared their “jurisdictions” and buddy groups in one of the family’s earliest specials. While it may have seemed like a good way of handling a large number of children, if you look at it with a critical eye, you can see how it would be relatively easy for many of the kids to get lost in the crowd. According to  Psychology Today, a large number of children can foster closer sibling relationships, but the parent-child relationship can suffer. That seems to be the case of the Duggars.