The Duggar family is arguably one of the most compelling clans on reality television for a laundry list of reasons. But most of all, the TLC celebrities continue to hold viewers’ attention because of their jaw-dropping size. Whether you like the family or not, there’s no arguing that their 21-person family (32, if you include the grandkids) produces an endless cycle of exciting storylines that keeps viewers coming back for more. Just as one Duggar is about to give birth, for example, another kid decides to up the ante with a wedding.
Of course, this phenomenon applies to juicy confessions too. Think about it: In a soccer team-sized families, it’s basically guaranteed that there will be no shortage of shocking admissions to go around. And in the Duggar family’s case, they’ve dropped quite a few truth bombs throughout the years. From Jinger Duggar copping to doing "bad deeds," to Jessa Duggar ignoring one of her parents’ strict dating rules, there’s a lot Duggar confessions to cover. So, buckle up and get ready for a deep dive into the Duggar family’s most surprising revelations to date.
Josh copped to cheating on his wife
It’s no secret that the Duggars love to wax poetic about the importance of faithfulness and honesty in marriage. And prior to a shocking moment in August 2015, Josh Duggar was one of the most outspoken proponents of commitment. If you don’t believe us, consider the fact that Josh sang a tune about loyalty to his now-wife Anna Duggar on their wedding day in September 2008. "I’ll be there, until the end with you. I’ll do my best to be faithful and true," one line of the song read (via ET Online).
So, it only makes sense that people were downright flabbergasted when in August 2015, Josh admitted to cheating on Anna via the notorious adultery website, Ashley Madison. To add insult to injury, Josh carried out his dirty deeds while he was working at the Family Research Council, an organization dedicated to advancing "faith, family, and freedom in public policy," according to its website. Hmm, hypocritical much?
Josh touched on this hypocrisy in his statement on the matter, writing, according to the Duggar family’s website: "I have been the biggest hypocrite ever. While espousing faith and family values, I have secretly over the last several years been viewing pornography on the internet and this became a secret addiction and I became unfaithful to my wife … I humbly ask for your forgiveness. Please pray for my precious wife Anna and our family during this time." Well, this is just another reminder that nothing is ever what it seems. And that wasn’t the only shocking admission to come from Josh Duggar.
Josh inappropriately touched his sisters
One of the most shocking confessions in Duggar history is when Josh admitted to inappropriately touching his sisters when he was a pre-teen. In a disturbing turn of events, fans learned in May 2015 via police documents that Josh was investigated in 2006 for allegedly molesting his underage sisters when he was just 14-years-old. And shortly after the news broke, Josh copped to his "wrongdoing" on May 21, 2015.
"Twelve years ago, as a young teenager I acted inexcusably for which I am extremely sorry and deeply regret. I hurt others, including my family and close friends. I confessed this to my parents who took several steps to help me address the situation," Josh said in a statement about the incidents that took place in 2002 and 2003, according to the Duggar Family’s Facebook page. "We spoke with the authorities where I confessed my wrongdoing and my parents arranged for me and those affected by my actions to receive counseling … I would do anything to go back to those teen years and take different actions."
Needless to say, many fans were stunned by his admission. Not only did it shatter the Duggars’ squeaky clean image, but people also struggled to accept that Josh would hurt his own sisters in such a way.
John-David’s dismissal of Josh
Shortly after Josh admitted to cheating on Anna in August 2015, his brothers and sisters opened up about the betrayal in a December 2015 episode of Counting On. Surprisingly, John-David Duggar seemed to be the most disgusted by Josh’s behavior towards Anna, despite the fact that the brothers were once very close. John-David, who appeared very solemn in the clip, said about his fractured relationship with Josh: "I always wanted to be like him [Josh]. But, one of the toughest things I ever had to tell my older brother was, ‘I don’t want to be like you anymore.’"
Essentially, John-David felt compelled to diss Josh because he wants to set a good example for his younger siblings. "I’ve got a whole bunch of younger siblings looking up to me and I’ve got to be an example to them," John-David explained. "Because whatever I am, that’s what they want to be."
Of course, there’s a good chance John-David didn’t make this confession lightly. The Duggars never shade each other (at least not directly), and he probably knew his shocking declaration would generate headlines. Shots fired.
Joy-Anna struggled with her parents’ faith
On the surface, Michelle and Jim Bob Duggar seem to have a lot of influence over their 19 children. Case in point: there’s not one example of a Duggar kid rebelling against their parents’ rules during their younger years (adulthood is another story). From the Duggar brood’s acceptance of Michelle and Jim Bob’s strict dating policies to the fact that each child subscribes to their conservative religious views, it might appear that there’s little dissent in the family.
But before you congratulate Michelle and Jim Bob Duggar getting their kids to drink the Kool-Aid, let us fill you in Joy-Anna Duggar’s shocking admission that she once grappled with her parents’ faith. Yep, Joy-Anna went there. Making matters even more jaw-dropping is that Joy-Anna revealed this info while toasting Joseph Duggar at his rehearsal dinner. "I can’t speak and cry. It’s terrible. First of all I want to say that Joe, I’m so thankful for you," Joy-Anna admitted through tears (via Us Weekly). "You really did change my life. Just through my teen years, I think I was having a hard time taking my parents’ faith as my own and you really befriended me as an older brother."
Although Joy-Anna didn’t elaborate on her "hard time," it’s clear that whatever Joseph said to her did the trick. Not only is Joy-Anna now married to Austin Forsyth — a very religious and conservative guy — but she also named her son, Gideon, after a Biblical figure.
Jessa broke a major dating rule
Michelle and Jim Bob’s list of Duggar family dating rules is extensive, to say the least, and they’re very strict about every single one. So, it’s a bit shocking that Jessa Duggar admitted to talking to her then-boyfriend, Ben Seewald, on the phone unchaperoned before they got hitched — a big no no in her parents’ eyes.
"The day Ben and I started courting, we began our tradition of calling each other on the phone every night," Jessa wrote in the Duggar girls’ book, Growing Up Duggar. "These were such special times. These calls were not ‘chaperoned.’ They were private just between the two of us."
Say what now, Jessa? How did you manage to pull that fast one over Jim Bob and Michelle? We think you might have been a spy in another lifetime.
Although it’s not clear how Jessa managed to pull this off (we assume these calls occurred when her parents were fast asleep), it’s clear Jill Duggar didn’t pick up on her sister’s crafty ways. In fact, Jim Bob and Michelle listened in on every Skype and phone sesh Jill had with her now-husband, Derick Dillard, during their courtship. Oh well.
Cousin Amy was born out of wedlock
If you followed 19 Kids & Counting from the jump, the name Amy Duggar King probably sounds familiar to you. King, as some fans already know, is the daughter of Jim Bob’s sister, Deanna Duggar. Although Deanna prefers to stay out of the spotlight, King is no stranger to dropping headline-generating truth bombs about her family. In fact, King stunned fans in January 2015 when she admitted that her mom gave birth to her out of wedlock. Following some rumors about the juicy scandal (the Duggars don’t have sex before marriage, y’all), King took to Instagram to clear the air. "The tabloids are telling the truth, my mom and dad did have me out of wedlock," King revealed (via The Daily Mail). "I’m sure [my mom] was scared, young, ridiculed, and felt ashamed."
But wait — that’s not the most surprising part of this story. Interestingly enough, Deanna didn’t marry Amy’s dad, Terry Jordan, shortly after the birth. Nope, Deanna waited 18 years to get hitched to Jordan. "Terry and I knew each other a long time ago, and I got pregnant with Amy," Deanna confessed in 2009 (via Radar Online). And so, we dated each other on and off for quite some time. Then we finally decided you know what, we need to get married! So we got married, we’ve been together 3 years." Better late than never, right?
Jana feels left out
Being single in a large family can be tough, especially when your sisters and brothers are off getting hitched in rapid succession. Case in point: Jana Duggar, the eldest daughter in the Duggar family, admitted to feeling left out now that most of her older siblings are coupled up. When Jana was asked about what it’s like to be single amid all the Duggar weddings and pregnancies, she responded, according to Crown of Beauty: "I know how it feels to wait for ‘Prince Charming’ to come along. I’m still waiting. Waiting is not always easy. Especially in those times when all the married siblings are getting together and you can’t go along because your [sic] not part of ‘that’ group."
But what’s especially eye-brow raising about Jana’s revelation is that the Duggars like to paint her as someone who is completely unbothered by her relationship status. From talking endlessly about how happy Jana is to have her own garden (seriously, this comes up a lot) to her knack for interior design, it seems like Michelle and Jim Bob are obsessed with trying to persuade viewers that their daughter is doing just fine alone. While this may be true, it’s a bit interesting that the Duggars don’t give Jana the chance to talk about the downsides of being single on Counting On. It’s a little odd, if you ask us.
Michelle suffered a late-night, laundry breakdown
On the surface, Michelle Duggar appears to have her bustling household and parenting duties on lock. From Michelle’s calm mannerisms no matter the situation, to her organizational skills (girl can rock a schedule), one would assume she has it all together. Of course, not everything is at is seems — especially where it concerns Michelle’s mental state.
In a rare moment of candor, Michelle confessed that she lost it a bit during a particularly hard day at chateau Duggar. "It was 1:00 AM in the morning as I stood folding laundry with tears streaming down my cheeks," Michelle recalled, according to a April 2016 blog post. "Feelings of being overwhelmed flooded my mind. I cried aloud, ‘LORD I NEED YOUR HELP, I can’t do it all! I feel so inadequate! Diapers, dishes, laundry, meals, cleanup, school lessons, baths, hugs, kisses, correction…’ My list seemed to go on and on." Oof. It sounds like Michelle had a lot on her plate.
So, how did Michelle manage to pull it together? Look no further than Michelle’s belief in God. "Then it was as if a still small voice said, "Michelle, it’s easy to praise ME when things are going good, but are you willing to praise ME now," Michelle added "… I said, "OK Lord, I will praise you even now! … In my heart there was a release as if a burden had been lifted. I finished the laundry at 2 AM and went to bed." Well, there ya go.
Jessa and Jana have clashed for years
Any Counting On diehard can tell how much the Duggar sisters enjoy one another’s company. In fact, the ladies’ support for each other is often a focal point of the show — one episode covered how Jana literally assisted in Jessa’s delivery of her second son, Henry. That’s true love right there, guys. But as kind as Jana and Jessa are to each other now, things weren’t always so hunky dory between them.
Jessa said about her surprising sibling rivalry with Jana on an episode of Counting On: "I think as I started to get a little bit older, I also had a very strong personality and so I would sometimes protest the ideas that she [Jana] had. She’d be like we’re going to do this, and I’d be like, ‘No we’re not.’ […] We clashed heads a little bit when we were younger; but now that we’re older, I don’t know, we work together well."
But Jessa might be downplaying how bad things got between them at one point. The Duggar family book Growing Up Duggar has the story (via Inquisitr). Following an intense period of fighting, Michelle forced the feuding girls to share a bunkbed – bottom for Jessa and top for Jana. Although Michelle intended for her parenting hack to go off with a hitch, Jessa ended up kicking Jana’s bed in an effort to terrorize her during the night. Sounds harsh.
Jill spied on her husband
These days, it’s not uncommon for people to stalk their love interests via social media prior to dating. But what happens if you aren’t allowed on the internet unchaperoned? It’s a little hard to "creep" on your potential significant other when you’re not on Instagram, right? Well, it turns out Jill figured out a way to dig up info on her then-crush, Derick Dillard, without being on social media. In a bizarre twist that some people might consider to be jaw-dropping, Jill admitted to listening in on Dillard’s phone calls to Jim Bob before they started dating.
As it happens, Dillard and Jim Bob were prayer partners before the whole dating Jill thing started. We’re not completely sure what being prayer partners entails exactly, but it required Dillard and Jim Bob to talk on the phone every so often.
"As my dad got to know Derick he was really impressed with his Godly character," Jill recalled on her family’s website. "He started telling me about Derick and also told Derick about me! I listened in on a few phone conversations with my dad without Derick knowing I was doing so." Hmm…
Jinger’s "bad deeds"
Out of all the kids in the Duggar family, Jinger Duggar often comes across as the most kindhearted and upbeat one of the bunch. From Jinger kindly counseling her sisters on their fashion concerns to her spending a lot of quality time with her younger siblings, there’s a lot that fans admire about the reality star. So, it might come as a bit of a shock to Counting On viewers that Jinger committed "bad deeds" as a pre-teen.
So, what did Jinger did do that was so "terrible?" Did Jinger flip Jim Bob and Michelle the old bird or something? What sinful activities can a middle schooler realistically get involved in?
Although it’s not exactly clear what these bad deeds are, Jinger felt the need to confess her "sinner ways" to Jim Bob and Michelle when she was just 14-years-old.
"I grew up in a Christian home, of course, but I realized at a young age that I was sinner," Jinger admitted in a conversation with her brother-in-law, Ben Seewald. "I came to my parents and I was like, I really need Jesus because I know in my own self I’m not going to be able to get to heaven. I’ve done so many bad deeds. I’ve sinned against God. I cannot save myself from my sins. I was totally broken." Yikes … sounds intense. Who would ever suspected this other side to Jinger?