‘Counting On’: Joy Anna Duggar’s Husband Austin Forsyth Has Ties to a Controversial Parenting Book

The Duggar family might be well-known for their squeaky clean image — except for a few notable exceptions — but not everything about this crew is as innocent as it appears. From sexual molestation charges to massive cover-ups, the Duggars have certainly been in a lot of hot water over the years.

And it’s not just the core Duggar family members who have a few skeletons in their closet they’d rather keep hidden. Joy-Anna Duggar’s husband Austin Forsyth is an upstanding Christian citizen who Jim Bob deemed worthy of his daughter’s hand in marriage. That’s why fans were scandalized to find that the Forsyth family is linked to one very controversial book.

Gideon, Joy-Anna Duggar, and Austin Forsyth during the holidays
Gideon, Joy-Anna Duggar, and Austin Forsyth | Austin and Joy Forsyth via Instagram

Jim Bob Duggar had to vet and approve Austin Forsyth

There’s almost no chance Jim Bob Duggar would approve of a relationship between his daughter Joy-Anna and someone who didn’t share the same values. After all, Duggar sons and daughters take dating to the extreme and only begin courting when they’re convinced the person could become their future spouse. The family patriarch sometimes sets up these unions.

That’s why it’s so shocking that Austin Forsyth’s family is tied to such a controversial practice. And it really makes fans wonder: Did Jim Bob know about this before Austin and Joy-Anna started courting?

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The Forsyths have ties to a controversial parenting book

The Forsyth family runs a business in Combs, Arkansas called Fort Rock Family Camp and Christian Retreat Center. According to the website, Terry Forsyth established the 1800s themed camp in 1995 as a way for families to “slow down, reconnect, and create lasting memories.”

The concept sounds innocent enough. But the major problem fans have with it is some of the values promoted at the camp, such as extreme corporal punishment. The book in question is called, To Train Up a Child and the Forsyths have promoted authors and parenting experts Debi and Mike Pearl at their camp.

‘To Train Up a Child’ advocates spanking children with implements

Spanking is a controversial enough topic on its own. But the book To Train Up a Child takes physical punishment for unruly children one step further by recommending, “a good spanking instrument” such as rubber tubing to avoid “causing damage to muscle or bone.” The book also advocates hosing down children who have toilet training accidents as punishment and withholding food because “a little fasting is good training.”

The New York Times reported that copies of To Train Up a Child were found in the homes of three children who died of child abuse. But the Pearls insist those deaths aren’t their fault. “If you find a 12-step book in an alcoholic’s house, you wouldn’t blame the book,” Mike Pearl said in his defense.

The Duggars may use controversial discipline techniques

Austin and Joy may or may not use the methods found in To Train Up a Child for parenting their son, Gideon. But the family has been accused of using methods in the book before.

For example, fans have strongly suspected Jill and Derick Dillard employ “blanket training” with their children from a young age. This method, which is also found in To Train Up a Child, instructs parents to hit young children with an object such as a flexible ruler if they try to crawl off a blanket, thereby teaching them boundaries. The Dillards have never confirmed nor denied using blanket training.

It’s impossible to know if the Duggars fully believe in the suggested disciplinary actions found in the Pearls’ book. But we do know that the Forsyth family believes in it, otherwise, they wouldn’t be promoting the book at their camp.