Love them or leave them, but either way, the Duggars remain a staple in the reality TV world. They may not have the most boisterous bunch of reality TV personalities fans have ever encountered, but that doesn't mean their lives aren't absolutely fascinating.
And even though Jim Bob and Michelle (and now their adult children) are quite forthcoming about their lives, their religion, and more, there's still a lot of confusion over who the family is and what their motives are for appearing on TLC (and elsewhere!).
From their countless interviews over the years to the family's books (there have been a few, including those penned by both the matriarch of the family and the Duggar daughters!) to their appearances on their show 19 Kids and Counting, the Duggars have revealed quite a lot about who they are and who they aren't.
Still, many fans (and critics) have some misconceptions about the extremely large family and what their lives are really like. Speculation over their authenticity, their earnings, their family structure, and their beliefs could have dragged the Duggars down, but instead, they've embraced the questions and let viewers into their lives, even in the tougher times.
Here are 20 things people believe about the Duggars that are actually untrue.
20 The Duggars Are Part Of A 'Cult'
Most people see the Duggars' 19 kids and assume they're part of some sort of weird cult. After all, who needs that many children, right? And most of us know where babies come from... But Michelle and Jim Bob's religious beliefs are what motivate their large family and their overall way of life.
The pair subscribe to a religious movement called "Quiverfull," which is pretty self-explanatory; families aim to "fill" their "quivers" full of "arrows" (AKA children) because they believe that's what their religious deity wants them to do. And after an early pregnancy loss, which Michelle and Jim Bob have been very open about, the couple decided to embrace however many children God would give them.
19 The Family Is Mormon
A lot of people think of those in the Mormon religion as having very large families. Plus, the Duggars' conservative nature (both in terms of their beliefs and their style of dress!) are somewhat similar to how most people express their Mormon beliefs.
But the Duggars aren't Mormon. They're actually "devout independent Baptists," according to the family's Wikipedia page, and Jim Bob and Duggar have talked about how conservative they are. The family only watches "wholesome" TV, filters their Internet access (and that of their children), and "adhere to certain standards of modesty" that have many viewers shaking their heads. Case in point: no pants for the ladies; knee-concealing dresses only!
18 Michelle Took Chances On Her Pregnancies
Most of the criticism that has befallen the Duggars due to their bringing 19 kids into the world. People are skeptical that the kids are being cared for properly or that they're getting enough attention, and some people also think that Michelle put her own health at risk by having so many children.
The thing is, Michelle clearly followed medical advice with all her pregnancies, as many of them were C-sections, so she wasn't taking chances with her children's health. And while her last child (Josie) arrived with complications, Michelle took medical advice and had an emergency C-section — and today they're both healthy.
17 None Of The Kids Get An Education
People often think of the Duggar kids as being very sheltered. After all, they have no need for playmates since they have so many siblings, and the family is clear about how "unwholesome" TV and Internet are not allowed in the home. But just because the kids don't attend public school doesn't mean they're not getting an education.
Michelle (and Jim Bob, sort of) homeschool their brood and have since the beginning when it was just little Josh at home. Their primary motivation was instilling Christian values in their kids, of course, but the family is also traditional in the sense that they are training up their kids to be good husbands and wives. Don't need public school for that, right?
16 Michelle Has Always Been Straightlaced
Softspoken Michelle Duggar almost seems like the poster child for her family's devout religion. But it seems like Michelle sort of found religion later in life, rather than grew up with it leading the way. In fact, Michelle was a cheerleader back in high school (when she and Jim Bob met), according to OK! Magazine, and she wasn't exactly the most religious lady around.
The couple's extreme devotion to their religion grew over time, and as the pair has explained in multiple interviews, an early pregnancy loss cemented their belief that God would lead them in the right direction if they gave in to his whims. For Michelle, it was clearly better late than never, as the family hasn't seemed to discuss her cheer past outright.
15 The Girls Live For Marriage
With a lot of the older siblings getting married and moving on out of the Duggar home, a lot of fans have speculated that the girls are really only worried about finding a husband. And yes, it's important to the Duggar ladies to find an adequately religious and respectable man to marry. But although eight of the 19 Duggars are already wed (including Josh, John-David, Jill, Jessa, Jinger, Joseph, Josiah, and Joy-Anna), 29-year-old Jana is still living at home.
Although plenty of gossip surrounds Jana in her "old maid" status (the rest of the Duggar ladies were married between ages 20 and 23), it's clear that the girls have other pursuits beyond prepping for marriage and pregnancy. They have hobbies, pursue higher education, and tackle home improvement projects while "waiting" for their princes.
14 Their Frugal Living Is A Facade
We see them eating out a lot, living in the Duggar mansion, and having so many kids we can't imagine how they pay all their bills. But the Duggars have all that (and more) because they've been so frugal their whole lives. From making her own baby wipes when the kids were little to shopping second-hand, Michelle Duggar is clear that spending isn't her thing.
I used to watch earlier episodes of their reality show (long before they reached the final count of 19 kids!) and recall Michelle discussing her methods of saving money for the family. She shopped thrift and went the DIY route on a lot of things, and that means there was more cash for other stuff!
13 Jim Bob Is The Boss
Sure, he gets all the credit for making the family rules (and approving the husbands). But is Jim Bob really the boss of the house? If you've ever watched any of the family's shows, the answer is definitely no. Michelle is in charge of not only homeschooling the kids and managing their chores and responsibilities, including buddying them up, but she also wears the (figurative) pants in many cases.
One episode of the show featured Michelle jetting off to promote one of her books while Jim Bob stayed behind, managing the household (quite amusingly, I might add). So although Jim Bob is the family's religious centerpiece and ultimate decision maker, Michelle isn't as docile and order-driven as you might think.
12 The Shows Are Super Scripted
With 19 kids wreaking havoc on the family home, you might think that there has to be some order to their reality show. Chaos should ensue every episode, right? But even when the kids were little, they were disciplined enough to sit still for interviews and behave themselves, and that's likely a reflection on the family's overall beliefs and lifestyle than a script.
Sure, the kids said certain things or deflected specific questions (especially as they got older), but that was all because of their upbringing, not because a teleprompter was feeding them lines. The younger kids also had some great one-liners during their interviews, too — further proof there's no script!
11 Jim Bob Picks His Daughters' Spouses
Although we do concede that Jim Bob wields a whole lot of power in the family, it's not exactly true that he runs a tight ship in every way. Their parents thoroughly vet each spouse and monitor the new couple's communication, but it's not exactly arranged marriage status for the Duggar kiddos. Sure, some of them met their spouses through their parents (like Jill and Derick Dillard), but others were less conventional matches.
For example, Jinger married Jeremy Vuolo, and the pair met through Jinger's sister Jessa. Jess and Ben were in Jeremy's hometown one night and dropped in on church services at Jeremy's house. Of course, Jim Bob did approve the union, but according to Jinger and Jeremy's blog (Jinger and Jeremy), dad didn't meet Jeremy until after Jinger did.
10 The Older Duggars At Home Have No Lives
So many critics of the Duggars tend to have a negative perspective on the fact that the Duggar girls stay at home until they're married. And although we could assume that marriage serves as an easy out of the family home for these girls, it's more likely that their religious beliefs influence what passions they pursue. And for most of the women in the Duggar fam, that means getting married, having kids, and serving their God.
But of course, people assume that older Duggars—like Jana—are just lying around at home doing nothing while waiting to be wed. But these ladies do stay busy, that much is clear from their TV appearances! Jana spends much of her time gardening, making art, and more — and the proof is in her IG account.
9 The Girls' Prince Charmings Rescued Them
Another common misconception about the Duggar girls' apparent rush toward marriage involves their relationship with their parents. Many critics of the family say that the girls are in a hurry to get married so they can escape their parents and all of the responsibilities. And yes, being a Duggar is a lot of responsibility, to be sure — after all, the older siblings do tend to care for the younger ones, and a house that big will always need tidying!
But it's clear from the married Duggars' healthy relationships with their parents that this misconception is just that. The Duggar ladies and gents still return home, spend time with their parents, and post it all over social media.
8 Sibling Relationships Are Strained
Other critics of the Duggars suggest that sibling relationships are strained and often downright weird. After all, the "buddy system" Michelle is infamous for means that a lot of the younger kids spend more time with an older sibling than they do with their mom. However, whatever the sibling structure at home, it's only benefited the kids' relationships.
Remember how Jinger met her hubby Jeremy through Jessa and Ben? The siblings often travel to visit one another, even when they live far apart, and all of the Duggars seem to have great relationships with their nieces and nephews, too. Even Josh isn't left out of family events — you just don't see him on camera via TLC very often (if at all).
7 No Kid Gets Enough Attention
Ever since their early days on TLC, the Duggars have fielded questions about how they make time for all their kids. Of course, it's easier these days with many of the older kids married off and out of the house. But way back when, Jim Bob and Duggar realized they did need to work out a system to ensure all their kids got the attention they needed.
I recall watching episodes of 19 Kids and Counting when the Duggars discussed how they kept a chart where kids could sign up for extra mom or dad time. Of course, being homeschooled, the kids were always home during the day—and most often with Michelle—but the parents were conscious enough to recognize that there weren't always enough hours in the day for each child to feel tended to.
6 They Don't Teach Their Kids About The Birds And Bees
Because of the Duggars' somewhat offbeat rules about "courtship" (I.E. it's not dating, it's "dating with a purpose"), people might assume that their kids enter adulthood without any idea of how the birds and the bees work. Well, those critics must not have watched the pre-wedding episodes that featured Josh Duggar! Right before Josh wed his wife Anna, Jim Bob sat down with him and gifted him a book (likely one the family considers "wholesome") about marital relations.
Clearly, the kids do learn about the birds and the bees, but maybe not on the same schedule that other, less sheltered, kids do. After all, they're not learning about biology from TV or the Internet!
5 Michelle Makes The Kids Run The House
Lots of moms with only one or two kids get utterly frustrated and burnt out while attempting to keep up with housework. Not only is having kids draining, but they make a whole bunch of messes! So now imagine that you have 19 (give or take) kids underfoot all day every day — because remember, the Duggar kids aren't only at home during summers and weekends!
And yet, Michelle has caught heat for "making" the kids run the household... Except, the kids just have chores, and they're always age-appropriate and actually pretty smart. For example, even the boys learn to do laundry, and everyone has a turn at making meals for the whole family.
4 TLC Bought Their House
People tend to think that the Duggars must have lived in squalor pre-TLC, but that's not entirely true. Yes, the reality show did document the family building and moving into their giant home, but it wasn't a freebie. According to Wikipedia, the Duggars bought the land and the frames for their home, and because one was actually bent on arrival, they got another for free.
Then, TLC rounded up a few teams to donate supplies and labor to get the house finished. So no, it wasn't a handout. Although the timing of the build was super convenient as TLC got the footage they needed and the Duggars got their house finished quickly.
3 Their Reality TV Funds Their Lifestyle
Most people know that Jim Bob Duggar was a politician back in the day, but fewer know that husband and wife were both real estate agents and later investors. The family has owned assorted rental properties over the years, too, with multiple episodes of their show featuring the Duggar kids helping their parents clean up rental properties or make repairs on homes.
We're sure the paychecks from TLC are nothing to scoff at, but the Duggars were already living debt-free by the time they started appearing on television. And, keep in mind they'd already bought the land for their home plus most of the frame for the giant house.
2 Michelle Is Done Having Kids
People assume that Michelle is done having kids, and in terms of biology, that might be true. Multiple sources have confirmed that doctors told Michelle that further attempts at pregnancy would be unsafe, but that doesn't mean the family doesn't plan to expand more in other ways!
They've already added an adopted child (Tyler) to their brood, so who's to say they won't embrace even more children who need a home? Tyler is apparently a genetic relative of Michelle, and he's been popping up over the years in the family's photos with little explanation. Of course, Wikipedia may be wrong on this one, but we know he's as much a part of the family as the other kids.
1 The Next Generation Is Changing The Game
The next generation of Duggars seems to be surprising everyone with their pants and their jobs outside the home. But are they really changing all the rules that Michelle and Jim Bob set forth for them? The short answer is no, which might be surprising given how "revolutionary" the kids' behavior seems, especially the ones who have gotten married.
If you keep an eye on any of the Duggar kids' social media profiles (or those of their spouses), you'll see just as much commitment to the family's religious beliefs as ever. Even with their "freedom," the Duggar kids are sticking with what their parents taught them, proving to critics that there really isn't a revolution happening.
Sources: Duggar Family Blog, Wikipedia, Jinger and Jeremy, OK! Magazine