‘Counting On’: Jill and Derick Dillard Seem To Confirm That the Duggar Kids Don’t Make Their Own Courtship Rules

The Duggar family has another wedding to plan. Justin Duggar announced his engagement to Claire Spivey just days after turning 18 and less than two months after announcing his courtship. Family critics have long wondered if the Duggar kids control their dating lives, and Jill Duggar may have just inadvertently answered. Jill, the family’s surprise rebel, just got real about how courtships work, and she may have admitted Jim Bob Duggar, the family’s patriarch, is in control of it all.

Jill Duggar may have accidentally revealed that Jim Bob Duggar controls the Duggar Kids’ courtships

In a recent Q&A, available on the Dillard family’s blog, Jill claims the couple set their own standards while dating. Things got a little confusing though. In the next breath, Jill admitted that they were strongly encouraged to set strict courtship rules. Those encouragements were only coming from the Duggar family camp, though. While Derick was raised in a religious household, his family wasn’t nearly as conservative as the Duggars.

RELATED: ‘Counting On’: Are Michelle and Jim Bob Duggar Abusing Their Power Over Their Children?

The differences between Derick and Jill’s upbringings became pronounced when the couple went off the script in their recent video. Derick suggested that he would have preferred to get a chance to hold Jill’s hand before engagement. Jill, quickly chimed in, claiming that Derick would have needed to clear that move with Jim Bob before attempting it. While Jill and Derick seemed to be pretty casual about the admission, fans were quick to note that Jill’s admission indicates that Jim Bob is completely in control of the dating process, even though he claims each couple gets to make their own rules.

Derick admitted he doesn’t like the term courtship

Derick had a lot to say on the topic of courtship. He even willingly admitted he found the concept “weird”. The law school student noted he doesn’t like the term and wouldn’t have used it when discussing his relationship before marriage. Jill and Derick both agreed the term was used for the television audience, but they considered their early relationship to be dating.

Jill Duggar and Derick Dillard visit 'Extra' at their New York studios
Jill Duggar and Derick Dillard | D Dipasupil/Getty Images for Extra

It is unknown if Derick dated anyone before hooking up with Jill, but fans do know that Jill didn’t date anyone before connecting with Derick. Derick was already 25 and had attended a state university by the time he married Jill. It seems plausible that he did, in fact, date other women before meeting Jill. It’s been rumored that Jeremy Vuolo, who married Jinger Duggar, absolutely dated before tying the knot. Jeremy reportedly had a college girlfriend while at Syracuse University.

What is courtship?

The Duggar family has built an entire media brand around the concept of courtship, so it should come as no surprise that Jill and the rest of her siblings were advised to use the term while actively dating. The concept of courtship is still pretty foreign to a lot of people, though. So, what exactly is the difference between dating and courtship?  

RELATED: Counting On: Marjorie Jackson May Have Shaded Her Ex-boyfriend, Josiah Duggar, in Her Book

The Duggar family has described courtship as a decision to date only if the intention to marry is there. Reportedly, the Duggar kids are expected to get to know their potential suitors in a group setting first. After that, they move to courtship. Once the courtship is announced, engagement is rarely far behind. During the courtship phase, the couple is never left alone together, and they are expected to abstain from physical contact. After the engagement, they may be allowed to hold hands, but they save their first kiss for the wedding date. While Jim Bob and his family have insisted the Duggar kids make their own rules, it sounds as though that might not be the case.