Jim Bob Duggar may no longer be on television every week, but his shadow still looms over the 19 Kids and Counting follow-up Counting On. He's to blame when Joy-Anna Duggar announces her limited future plans of taking care of the kids and enrolling in online Bible classes instead of attending college. Jim Bob's undue influence is also evident when the golden child Jill returns home to a massive guesthouse while Jessa and Ben prepare for their second child in the much smaller and shabbier home that used to belong to Josh. Tonight, however, viewers received even more disturbing insight into the tight grip Jim Bob has on his children.
It's no secret that Jim Bob grills each suitor before letting his daughters pursue courtship. Until now, however, many people didn't realize just how extensive this process really is. In addition to those awkward chats with Jim Bob (including the especially cringe-worthy meeting with Jeremy in which Daddy Duggar chowed down on a chocolate muffin) those interested in Jim Bob's daughters must complete extensive questionnaires, which delve into everything from the guy's earning potential to the story behind his decision to walk with the Lord.
Parental approval is a big deal for some couples, and there's nothing wrong with that... to a point. But Jim Bob's involvement (and his crass comments about being ready to "swap spit") takes the concept to a disturbing extreme. Although the daughters are technically allowed to say "no" whenever they want (as Jana has evidently done in the past), Jim Bob's excessive oversight makes it feel as if the Duggar gals have no agency whatsoever. That's not exactly unusual for these women, but still, it would be nice if they could have a bit more of a say regarding the identity of their future husbands.
I like that Jinger and Jeremy are bucking the trend with their front hugs, but ultimately, their courtship is the same as any other in the Duggar family — they're under the control of the overzealous Jim Bob Duggar. I hope that one day, one of the Duggar girls will be able to pursue the relationship of her dreams without her dad creepily getting in the way.
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