‘Counting On’: The 1 Disney Movie the Duggars Were Allowed to Watch as Kids

The Duggar kids didn’t exactly have a normal childhood. Parents Michelle and Jim Bob Duggar homeschooled their 19 children, imposed strict rules about everything from clothing to dating, and didn’t embrace common holiday traditions such as dressing up for Halloween or visits from Santa. And then there was pop culture — or the lack thereof. As seen on their former TLC reality series 19 Kids and Counting, the Duggars didn’t listen to popular music or watch most mainstream TV shows and movies. 

Jim Bob and Michelle set restrictions on what their kids could watch, but they didn’t ban movies and television altogether. While many classic kids movies were off limits because they didn’t align with the family’s conservative Christian values, at least one beloved Disney flick made the cut.

The Duggar family only watched ‘wholesome’ TV shows and movies

Members of the Duggar family on the Today show
The Duggar Family in 2011 | Peter Kramer/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images

RELATED: Jill Duggar Reveals That Her Family Didn’t Watch Their Own Show When She Was Growing Up

While the Duggars don’t make a habit of flipping on the TV just to kill time, they don’t ban screen-time altogether. In a 2011 interview with The Huffington Post, Jim Bob explained that they do watch some “wholesome” shows and movies on DVD. 

“We do watch DVDs — The Andy Griffith Show,” Jim Bob said. “We are very selective about what we watch. We actually don’t watch broadcast TV.”

One movie that apparently met Jim Bob and Michelle’s tough standards might surprise some Counting On fans who think the Duggar kids had a Disney-free childhood. The 1942 animated film Bambi was on the list of Duggar-approved media, Michelle revealed in a 2012 blog post.

‘Bambi’ is a Duggar-approved Disney movie 

Bambi falling on ice
Bambi | FilmPublicityArchive/United Archives via Getty Images

On her blog, Michelle shared some stories about how her kids reacted when watching Bambi. The movie often upsets young kids because of the scene when Bambi’s mother is shot (offscreen) by hunters. The Duggar kids were no exception, with then 6-six-year-old Johannah telling her mother, “Mommy, I don’t like this part of the movie.”

Michelle told her daughter it was OK if she didn’t want to watch the upsetting part of the movie. She let her know that she didn’t like that part of Bambi either.  

“That’s OK for the little ones,” she wrote. “I know that sometimes the music in the part of the film where the mommy dies can be too much, and they don’t know how to handle that. And, yet, I think that’s part of life. You know, life and death, and we foster that as a family. The music and the drama in the film, some of them can’t handle it. And that’s OK.”

Movie night in the Duggar house was a reward 

On her blog, Michelle made it clear that the Duggars had regular movie nights on Fridays, but that they were a reward for the kids who had completed all their chores and other tasks during the week. 

“We’ll pick out a movie for that Friday, and everybody knows their checklist has to be accomplished by the end of the week,” she explained. In addition to Bambi, movie options might have included the original 1950 version of Cheaper By the Dozen or Flywheel, a faith-based film about a used car dealer who decides to embrace honesty. They’ve also praised the films of Christian actor Kirk Cameron.

“[I]f they’ve been lazy and they slacked off and they didn’t really focus on getting all their checklist items done, they may miss out on that movie time because — and I know this sounds really hard — but it’s all about ‘you work hard and then you play,” Michelle wrote. “And it’s also the same for free time; they can play when they’ve earned their free time.”