Here's a Shocker: The Duggars Have Been In At Least 20 Parenting Controversies

by Ashley Austrew
Aug 11, 2017 at 3:00 p.m. ET

When the Duggars and their show 19 Kids and Counting first came on the scene back in 2008, they appeared to be the least controversial people on the planet. A seemingly straight-laced family with a ton of bright-eyed and bushy-tailed children, it seemed far-fetched to think they could cause massive public outrage. But boy, oh boy, did those Duggars prove us wrong. 

There's been some doozy scandals that have popped up over the years, but the Duggars are also being targeted for their parenting choices and style pretty much every time they turn around — and not all of the hate is totally warranted. Yes, we know they put themselves in the public spotlight by agreeing to be on (and getting paid for) a reality show, and, yes, there have been a ton of times where they were seriously in the wrong, but sometimes social media warriors are a tad harsh. 

Here are some parenting controversies involving the Duggar family that have made headlines. 

Originally published August 2016. Updated August 2017.

1/20 :The cover-up

Let's get the big one out of the way, shall we?

Josh allegedly molested five girls, including four of his siblings. Michelle and Jim Bob allegedly tried to hide it, consulting church elders instead of police and sending him away to a work camp. They not only failed to protect the victims, but also to hold Josh accountable for his crimes.

2 /20: Josh & Anna announce baby No. 5

2/20 :Josh & Anna announce baby No. 5

After Josh's molestation scandal, he fell out of the public eye for a bit — so it's safe to say that when he and his wife, Anna, announced in March 2017 that they are expecting another baby, people were shocked. And angry.

The backlash was swift, and it was pretty much an internet general consensus that Josh should not continue to procreate. 

3 /20: Jill’s car seat crises

3/20 :Jill’s car seat crises

Fans called Jill out several times for putting her 1-year-old son, Israel, in a forward-facing car seat. They also said the headrest was too high and the straps were too loose — all major safety issues for kids his age.

4 /20: The Zika scare

4/20 :The Zika scare

On a trip to El Salvador, fans turned on Jill and Derick for potentially exposing their son to the Zika virus. People also worried for potential offspring they might conceive on their trip since the Duggars famously don’t believe in using birth control.

5 /20: Quiverfull questions

5/20 :Quiverfull questions

Jim Bob, Michelle and their kids are members of the Quiverfull movement — a belief system that’s anti-LGBT, shuns contraception, forces unfair standards of modesty on women and has a questionable history of covering up alleged sexual abuse. As many have noted, those aren’t exactly the “wholesome” family values for which the Duggars gained fame.

6 /20: No pants allowed

6/20 :No pants allowed

Fans were pissed when Anna Duggar put her 4-month-old daughter in some baby jeans. Apparently, pants just aren’t modest enough for an infant girl.

7 /20: That’s not what blankets are for

7/20 :That’s not what blankets are for

A photo of a tightly swaddled and distraught Israel Dillard sparked concerns that Jill practiced blanket training with her son. The “training” is a form of corporal punishment, in which babies are placed on a blanket and hit if they try to venture off.

8 /20: More bump, more problems

8/20 :More bump, more problems

Jessa was criticized after she posted a baby bump selfie at 31 weeks pregnant. Fans told her she was sinning by being too vain. Apparently they’ve never seen a maternity photo shoot.

9 /20: Valentine’s gone wrong

9/20 :Valentine’s gone wrong

Jill and Derick celebrated Valentine’s Day with an open Bible, some candles and a bottle of unidentified liquid with two Champagne flutes. It was only apple cider, but since Jill was pregnant at the time, fans lost their minds assuming she was boozing it up.

10 /20: Jill’s phone-troversy

10/20 :Jill’s phone-troversy

Once upon a time, Jill tried to distract her toddler while she took a phone call. People were quick to tell her to “put the phone down and pay attention to [her] kid.” Cellphones bring all the sanctimommies to the yard.

11 /20: About that bruise

11/20 :About that bruise

A big bruise from a bump on the head left fans wondering if Jill Duggar's son, Israel, was being abused.

12 /20: Spare the rod, literally

12/20 :Spare the rod, literally

During Josh's molestation scandal, it came to light that Michelle and Jim Bob allegedly used to hit their children with a rod to discipline them. It’s a common form of punishment in the Quiverfull movement, but the idea of it left many fans rightly horrified.

13 /20: Save the doughnuts

13/20 :Save the doughnuts

The Duggars dressed as pirates for Krispy Kreme Doughnuts' Talk Like A Pirate Day. They ended up walking away with 14 dozen free doughnuts, accusations of using their many kids to get free food and a ton of criticism from fans who realized that’s about 10 doughnuts per kid.

14 /20: Uncovered outlets spark debate

14/20 :Uncovered outlets spark debate

Derick's followers questioned his baby-proofing skills when he shared a photo of his son playing near (but not with) an electrical outlet. Israel also had another mysterious bruise, leading to more speculation about abuse.

15/20 :Double trouble

Jessa and Anna’s double baby bump photo shortly after Josh’s molestation scandal had fans demanding to know how Anna could have his kids knowing that he allegedly molested his sisters.

16 /20: Baby wearing is hard

16/20 :Baby wearing is hard

Ryan Reynolds isn’t the only one who doesn’t know how to wear a baby. This photo of Jill’s makeshift baby carrier left many questioning her son’s safety.

17 /20: Babysitting vs. parenting

17/20 :Babysitting vs. parenting

Duggar watchers lost their minds after Derick Dillard wrote on Instagram that he was “babysitting” his own son. Dads don’t babysit, Derick; they parent.

18 /20: Crisis in a coffee shop

18/20 :Crisis in a coffee shop

Jessa shared a sweet snap of baby Spurgeon sitting with his dad in a coffee shop, but fans were worried about him sitting in his car seat, citing the very real problem of babies suffocating on car seats or getting tangled in their seat straps (which would be a bigger deal if it weren't for the fact that his parents were right there and clearly not leaving him alone). 

19 /20: Auntie Jinger's car kerfuffle

19/20 :Auntie Jinger's car kerfuffle

Jinger took her 4-year-old nephew, Michael, out to run a few errands, but fans quickly spotted a huge problem. The poor kid wasn't sitting in a proper booster seat or even restrained with a shoulder belt. Clearly, fans noticed.

20 /20: Josh and Anna’s PSA

20/20 :Josh and Anna’s PSA

During Anna’s fourth pregnancy, she and Josh used ultrasound photos of their unborn daughter to create a controversial PSA claiming aborted babies experience pain. Many pointed out the obvious problem of the Duggars being both anti-contraception and anti-choice.