‘Counting On’: How Does the Duggar Family’s Buddy System Work?

Anyone who has watched the Duggar family’s television shows, 19 kids and Counting, and Counting On, are probably aware of the family’s buddy system. From the family’s very first special, they advertised a policy in which older siblings take care of younger siblings to free up time for their parents. The so-called mentorship program allegedly promotes bonding between siblings, but how exactly does the system work?

How did the Buddy system come about?

According to the Duggar family’s Facebook page, the buddy system came about somewhat naturally. Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar noticed that the older kids were jumping in more and more to help out their younger siblings; presumably, because someone had to, lest they never get to leave the house.

Once Jim Bob and Michelle noticed, they decided to make things official. They slowly broke their children into paired up partners. Each of the older kids were responsible for helping a younger sibling get dressed and fed for the day. As more kids were added to the family, the buddy system shifted from a one-on-one mentorship program to a zone defense. The oldest Duggar girls took on the brunt of the responsibility as the older boys began engaging in more work outside the house.

What did the Duggar buddy system look like once there were 19 kids?

Once there were several youngsters in need of guidance, they broke into buddy teams. Jill, Jana, Jinger, and Jessa took on the majority of the responsibility and were assigned a group of youngsters to look after. As new kids were added to the family, they were placed into teams based on a rotation.

Michelle Duggar recounted that Jackson was particularly excited when Josie was born, as she would be part of his buddy team. While the story is undoubtedly meant to be sweet and proof that the kids enjoy the buddy system, some fans have taken issue with the tale. Viewers have long suggested that the Duggar kids lack a bond with their parents because of how quickly they are assigned to a sibling. 

Who were in the Duggar family buddy teams?

According to Reddit fans, Jana has always been responsible for the well being of Josie. Josie is the youngest Duggar child and was born as a micro-preemie. She received more care from Michelle than most of her siblings, but she was still passed off to Jana once she was her medical issues stabilized. Jana was also responsible for Jackson and Jason when both were young enough to require a buddy.

Jill’s group included Joy-Anna, Jenni, and James. Joy-Anna is married with a child of her own now but admits that Jill was always the one to care for her. Jenni looked particularly distressed when Jill was preparing to move out after her marriage, leading some fans to question just how beneficial the system really is. 

Jessa took care of Jordyn, Jeremiah, and Justin. Jessa even took some of her buddy group to shop for her wedding registry. According to In Touch, Jordyn was so concerned about Jessa’s impending marriage that she cried every time her older sister left the house.

Jinger was the last Duggar daughter to get her own buddy team. The LA-based mother of one was responsible for Jedidiah and Johanna before leaving the nest. Jinger, unlike her siblings, did not stay in Arkansas to be close to her siblings. Now thousands of miles away in sunny California, she spends her time focusing on just one child – her own.