Even huge fans might not be able to keep all of the Duggar kids straight. The family is famous for the shows 19 Kids and Counting (previously known as 17 Kids and Counting and 18 Kids and Counting) and Counting On. With 19 kids in the family, some who now have kids of their own, we can’t blame you if you don’t have all of their names memorized. Making it even more confusing is the fact that all the kids in the family have names starting with the letter J!
To keep things easy, we’re going to focus on the girls of the main Duggar clan. From oldest to youngest, the Duggar sisters are Jana, Jill, Jessa, Jinger, Joy-Anna, Johannah, Jennifer, Jordyn-Grace, and Josie. The Duggar sisters have gone through an amazing transformation since 19 Kids and Counting first aired back in 2008 when the Duggars had 17 kids. Some of the girls weren’t even born yet, and have literally grown up in front of our very eyes! Here’s a look at how much the Duggar sisters have changed over the years.
The documentary that started it all
While the Duggars didn’t officially become reality TV stars until 2008 with the debut of 17 Kids and Counting, they actually had their television debut a little before that. Before they landed their own reality TV show, they were the subjects of a 2004 documentary produced by Advanced Medical Productions Inc. called 14 Children and Pregnant Again!
In this special, the Duggar sisters are very young. Only Jana, Jill, Jessa, Jinger, and Joy-Anna were born at the time. Johannah was born by the end of the special, much to the disappointment of the boys who were clearly looking forward to another Duggar brother rather than another Duggar sister. The special provides a glimpse into the family’s earlier years, before "Duggar" became a household name, and there are quite a few differences between the special and the reality show. There are fewer kids, for one, and it’s also evident that they hadn’t yet gotten used to being followed by a film crew.
They used to live in a tiny house
Once upon a time, the Duggars lived in a humble abode. The house that they resided in during 14 Children and Pregnant Again! had just three bedrooms and two bathrooms. That might be plenty of space for an average family, but definitely not for 16 people. According to the family, there was always a line for the bathroom and, with just one hot water heater, they had to carefully schedule showers.
It wasn’t long, though, before the Duggars got a much needed upgrade. Today, the main family lives in a massive 7,000 square foot home, although some of the married children have moved on to their own places. The custom home took a year and a half to build, and the kids still have to share bedrooms (although they’re much more spacious). All of the unmarried Duggar sisters share one bedroom. The boys also share their own bedroom, and sleep in bunk beds.
Sharing their knowledge with the world
When the Duggar sisters first became known to the world, they were still children, and some more sisters hadn’t even been born yet! They’ve certainly changed a lot since then, and the oldest sisters have matured into young adults who are sharing what they have learned with the world. The four older sisters, Jill, Jana, Jinger, and Jessa, wrote a book called Growing Up Duggar. Published in 2014, the book went on to become a bestseller.
The book delves into the sisters’ personal lives, talking about their faith, relationships, and growing up in the Duggar family. "We’ve written this book to have the conversation we wish we could have with each of you one-on-one," wrote the Duggar sisters. "The conversation that may have begun with a letter or an e-mail you wrote to us, or the one that started with a question you asked or a comment you made after we spoke to a group somewhere. …Whoever you are… we’ve written this book to continue the conversation we started with you but couldn’t finish because time ran out and we had to go our separate ways."
They defended their brother after a scandal broke out
In 2015, a major scandal rocked the Duggar family when a police report, released through the Freedom of Information Act, revealed that Josh Duggar had admitted to molesting four of his sisters and a babysitter when he was 14. The scandal resulted in 19 Kids and Counting being cancelled.
Far from being angry with their brother, two of his victims, Jessa and Jill, jumped to his defense. In an appearance on The Kelly File, the sisters said that, while their brother had done something terrible, he had changed and they had long since forgiven him. "It’s not permissible," said Jessa about her brother’s actions. "But I do want to speak up in his defense against people who are calling him a child molester or a pedophile or a rapist. That is so overboard and a lie, really."
She added, "If you had failures in your past, it doesn’t mean you can’t be changed. We witnessed it. We know."
Most of the older sisters are following in their mom’s footsteps
With the exception of Jana, all of the older Duggar girls followed in their mom’s footsteps, taking on the roles of wife and mother. They also walked down the aisle at a pretty young age, although they waited a bit longer than their mom who married at 17.
Jill married at the age of 23 in June 2014, got pregnant right away, and had her second baby a couple of years later. Jessa tied the knot at 21 in late 2014 and also started growing her family immediately — in January 2019, she announced she was pregnant with her third child. Jinger got married in November 2016 at the age of 22 and had her daughter in July 2018. Joy-Anna, who was married at 20 in May 2018, has one child and announced in May 2019 that she is expecting another.
While their families are still quite a bit smaller than the one they grew up in, it wouldn’t be shocking if any of the girls followed their mom’s example to raise large families. The Duggars believe in having as many children as God sees fit.
Jana refuses to rush into marriage
While Jana might be the sole single grown-up sister, she isn’t sweating it. Jana would prefer to wait to find the right man and is keeping herself plenty busy without worrying about marriage.
"I know how it feels to wait for ‘Prince Charming’ to come along," she told Crown of Beauty. "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 you’re not part of ‘that’ group. But waiting doesn’t mean sitting and literally waiting. No, we need to be busy with where God has us and being content and joyfully serving Jesus there. My parents have always encouraged each of us to serve those around us."
Jana added that for now, she’s focusing on helping others. "I’ve found that when I’m having a hard or discouraging day, I try to look for ways to bless or serve someone else," she said. "And in turn it usually blesses and encourages me!"
Jinger is using her musical talents to help others
Music is an important part of the Duggar lifestyle. The family compound has a music corner, and the kids start to study the violin and piano at the age of 5 or 6. As an adult, Jinger has taken her musical talent and is using it to enrich her community. She and her husband Jeremy have used their platform as celebrities to support SWAN, a non-profit organization founded by Jeremy’s mother that helps provide at-risk children with music lessons.
"Music has had a big part in my family’s life," said Jinger in a video promoting the organization. "I remember… growing up taking violin and piano lessons and absolutely loving it."
Jeremy went on to explain that the organization aims to help children of inmates. "Many of you may not know that one in every 14 children has a parent or both parents who are incarcerated," he said. "They are 70 percent more likely themselves to end up in jail. …Research has actually shown that teaching children music lessons is one of the greatest disciplines they can learn in life to give them a successful life."
Joy-Anna has always had motherly instincts
Joy-Anna’s knack for taking care of kids has been evident since she first appeared on 14 Children and Pregnant Again! Just six years old at the time, Joy-Anna can be seen taking care of her younger siblings and even carrying her little brother around.
Joy-Anna has come quite a long way since then, and these days is taking care of her own little one (with another on the way in November 2019). Although her maternal instincts are well-honed, motherhood proved to be quite a big change for Joy-Anna. "Being a mom is, in a lot of ways, easier than I thought and then, in a lot of ways, harder than I thought," she told People. "I knew that my mom had gone through a lot with all of us kids, but I didn’t think it was that hard just because I had always taken care of kids myself. But it’s given me a whole new appreciation for moms out there that have kids."
Jessa wants to grow her family through adoption
While none of the Duggar kids have huge families yet, Jessa Duggar (who goes by her married name Seewald) has said that she is planning on having several children of her own. Unlike her mother, though, she doesn’t plan on giving birth to all of them herself. Instead, she would like to grow her own big family through adoption. In 2015, she told Duggar Family Blog that it’s something that she and her husband have researched and are seeking as a possibility. Her desire to adopt stems from her volunteer experiences.
"One of the things that really sparked the fire of adoption in my heart was through the times me and several of my siblings spent volunteering at our local children’s shelter," she said. "Seeing these kids walking through tough times and so hungry for love really opened my eyes to the need. I think that just as my parents did for me, I want to provide opportunities for my children to reach out to people around them and offer hope and comfort to those in need."
Jill is putting her experience with babies to good use
Like her sisters, Jill Duggar (she now goes by her married name Dillard) has got quite a lot of experience taking care of babies. Being good with kids is a definite asset in the Duggar family since there are always some around. As an adult, she has grown from taking care of her younger siblings to taking care of her own children, but she isn’t stopping at raising her own family. The reality star turned her instinctive nurturing talents to good use by becoming a certified professional midwife (CPM).
Her husband, Derrick, wrote on the family blog (via Christian Post) that Jill decided to become a midwife so that she could turn her skills to volunteer work. "I am so proud of her for her diligence, perseverance, and hard work to see this long road through to its end and reaching her goal of becoming a CPM," he wrote.
There are rumors that Jill may not be able to give birth to any more kids
Many people expect all of the Duggars to have large families of their own. While many of them do seem to be headed in that direction, some fans think that Jill might not be able to have more children. Jill and her husband Derrick only have two children, which has many speculating about why the stay-at-home mom, who is no longer part of the Duggar family’s latest reality show, Counting On, doesn’t have more children. Reddit users have proposed the theory that Jill, who has had to undergo two C-sections, might not be able to endure another difficult childbirth.
Of course, there could be other reasons that Jill and Derrick have put having more kids on hold. Derrick is in law school and, as he has also parted ways with Counting On, it’s possible that finances are simply too tight to consider adding to their brood just yet. That said, this is all purely speculation as the couple has never commented on the subject.
The Duggar sisters’ fashion sense has evolved a lot
If you’ve only caught up with the Duggars in the last few years, you’ll have noticed that they dress stylishly, but rather modestly. This is a huge transformation from the looks they sported at the beginning of their television careers, though. On 14 Children and Pregnant Again, the Duggar women still dressed conservatively, but their clothing was decidedly old-fashioned. The girls have updated their style since then, but still avoid showing too much skin.
The rules for what the Duggars wear are pretty strict, and it’s all to keep in line with their Christian faith. "For us, we felt like we needed to be covered from our neck to below our knees mainly because God talks about the thigh being uncovered, and how that’s nakedness and shame," said the family matriarch, Michelle Duggar, on a TLC post (via Romper). According to the kids, though, the rules about clothing aren’t rules per se, but rather guidelines that they willingly embrace.
The younger Duggar girls are starting to make waves of their own
While the younger Duggar sisters aren’t as well known as their adult siblings, that doesn’t mean that they aren’t prepared to take the world by storm. The four younger sisters, Johannah, Jennifer, Jordyn-Grace, and Josie, are talented musicians who, along with their niece (oldest brother Josh’s daughter) Mackynzie Duggar, released their first album, Happy Heart, in 2018. Performing as The Duggar Girls, the kids recorded some of the family’s favorite songs on the album.
"Over the years, Aunt Deanna has given all of the Duggar children voice lessons, and it’s long been a dream that one day we would be able to record an album with our youthful, happy hearts singing these beloved tunes," says the album’s page on the Duggar Store. "We are so grateful to all who have put in time and effort to make this project a reality. We pray hearts are blessed and that God receives all the glory!"
What will the future bring for the younger Duggar sisters?
What will the younger Duggar sisters do when they grow up? Most of their older siblings are married and raising families of their own. While it remains to be seen if Johannah, Jennifer, Jordyn-Grace, and Josie will follow in the footsteps of their mom and older sisters, they do have some plans for how they want their adult lives to go.
According to the Duggar family’s website, the younger siblings have some pretty big ambitions. Johannah wants to be a doctor one day. Jennifer also wants to enter the medical field, but as a veterinarian. Jordyn-Grace’s interests lie in a more creative field; her dream is to become an artist when she grows up. Josie, the youngest of the Duggar sisters, wants to become a cook. How sweet to see all of their personalities shine through. They’re all still pretty young, though, so it’s quite possible that the younger Duggar sisters might change their minds. Only time will tell!
The sisters’ faith has remained constant
In spite of growing up, getting married, and having kids all in the public eye, the Duggars haven’t been swayed too much by fame. Throughout their entire journey, they have remained down-to-earth and have kept family and faith at the center of their lives. Even their love lives have been guided by their faith.
"Since we began our relationship, Jeremy and I have learned that when we are walking closely with Jesus, we are closest to each other," Jinger told Crown of Beauty. "If we neglect reading the Word and prayer (together and alone), we quickly realize our relationship suffers! Jesus Christ really has to be at the center."
In an interview with Duggar Family Blog, Jessa also talked about how important her faith is to her. "God can bring beauty from ashes," she said. "He delights in showing Himself strong! When we turn to God through tough times, He is always there for us. And often, as we grow and learn through things, He may allow us in the future to come alongside and support someone else who is walking through a similar situation."