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The Duggar family rose to fame through their two TLC shows: 19 Kids and Counting and Counting On. A major part of viewers’ interest in the family is its size: The Duggars are a family of 21. However, most of the show focuses only around the family and its faith, and doesn’t dive too deeply into the children’s friendships with anyone outside the family. Did the Duggar children grow up with any close friends?

Jessa Duggar with her sister, Jill
Jessa Duggar with her sister, Jill | Jessa Seewald via Instagram

The Duggar kids have been homeschooled all their lives

Since the Duggar children were little, they’ve spent most of their days at home. Michelle Duggar follows a strict homeschool program (that some have seen as controversial) and has taught each child without ever sending them to school. As the older children grew up, some of them took on the role of teaching the younger kids. The kids never went to a regular school and met friends that way, which is typically the best way to get to know people. The Duggars also have not joined any sports teams, which is another common way for young children to meet friends. In that respect, they grew up at a major disadvantage for formulating true friendships.

The family knows plenty of people from church

One place the family spends plenty of time is their church. Each family member essentially lives to please God as part of their religion, so they attend church services and events very frequently. And they have met hundreds of people through their own church and the missionary work they’ve done. But on the show, it doesn’t seem that they have many friends over to their house at any given time or set up play dates for the younger ones. It’s unclear if Jim Bob and Michelle don’t do that for a reason, or if they prefer to only let their children’s social skills develop at church.

The Duggars meet most of their husbands and wives through the church as well

The Duggars’ marriage rules are a bit different than most Americans. There are plenty of intimacy rules they must follow, and they need both sets of parents’ approval to enter into a courtship. The Duggars typically meet their husbands and wives through missionary work or through the church. It makes sense, since they weren’t given the same opportunities to make friends growing up that most young people are. (The Duggars also did not attend college.)

But the only longtime friend featured on the show consistently is Jana’s friend, Laura DeMasie

The Duggar children don’t typically have friends featured on the show, so while they meet plenty of acquaintances through church, it doesn’t appear that they have many close friends individually. However, Jana Duggar, the oldest Duggar daughter, does have one best friend who is frequently featured on the show: Laura DeMasie. Laura is a few years older than Jana and helps her homeschool the children. Jana also frequently brings her best friend along on family trips and to big family events. There have been rumors that the two are romantically involved, but both women have shut those rumors down. All in all, it seems that the Duggar children do have friends, but they don’t grow up in “cliques” the way most American kids do.

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