We're pretty confident that under those cheerful, righteous facades, the Duggar family has plenty of secrets. Whether those secrets are about why Jana hasn't moved out, why Michelle's views on modesty so drastically changed, or their tricks for exploiting their fans, the Duggars certainly seem to hide a lot for a reality TV family. But now, an anonymous insider source has come forward to spill plenty of the gory details in an anonymous reddit AMA in the /r/19KidsandCounting subreddit.
In case you don't know, an AMA is an "Ask Me Anything" Q&A sesh. The source claims to be a family friend — their mom and Michelle are close, and they've known the family since they and all the kids were little. "I come from a large family similar to the Duggars," wrote Reddit user /u/va1328. "Similar may be a stretch. I'll say we're a very watered down version. About half the children and we wear pants and such. My mother met Michelle many, many years ago through an outlet for Christian mothers who share her beliefs (Homesteading, no birth control, homeschooling...) they have been close since long before the TV show."
It's an unverified AMA — meaning there's no proof that this family friend is who they say they are — so readers are free to take these answers with a grain of salt. But some of this sounds way too close to the truth to be fake to us. Check out some of their juiciest reveals.
Anna Duggar planned on leaving Josh.
There's long been speculation that Anna Duggar has been trapped with Josh because she feels like she can't leave. And according to this source, that's because she was planning on leaving — and then those plans got cancelled. While answering a fan's question about how Anna was doing lately, the family friend dropped the bombshell.
"I [walked] into the room and my mom is in tears," they explained about how they found out. "I asked her what's going on and she tells me something terrible has happened to the Duggars and she is so heartbroken for Michelle. The strange thing is when this all first came out, Michelle and Jim bob seemed under the impression (from what Michelle told my mom) that Anna was leaving."
But they weren't just upset because Anna and Josh might be splitting. They were upset because they didn't want their kids and Josh's kids to be separated. "I guess she thought they were going to be taken away and not brought back near to the family," they said.
But sometime after that, things changed: "The very next time my mom spoke to her the tune had changed and Anna was going to help navigate Josh back to the Lord and the family would come out better than ever. So I don't know exactly what changed, but something did." Anybody else a little creeped out?
Speaking of Josh Duggar, he was apparently always a creep.
If you ever got a weird vibe from Josh even before the molestation scandal broke (other than the normal weird Duggar vibe), you're not alone. So did /u/va1328. The two grew up as family friends, but allegedly there was always something off about the eldest Duggar kid. But he's not just a creep — he's also a total douche. "Is Josh really as much of a douchebag as he seems in pictures and on TV?" asked one fan. Short-answer? Yep.
Long-answer? "I haven't been around him since everything came out, but before that yes," they wrote. And they went on to describe that Josh isn't just as jerky as he seems — but that there's something more sinister about it. "It's hard to explain the feeling he gave me," they continued. "Unsettling, I guess." Unsettling is right.
Jim Bob's "life mission" is to have 100 grandchildren.
Right now, Jim Bob's got 19 kids — but according to the source, his original goal was 20, a number he fell just shy of thanks to a few tragic miscarriages. But in light of that, he set another procreation goal for himself: at least 100 grandkids. "It's like his life mission," the family friend wrote. If you count Joy-Anna and husband Austin Forsyth's pregnancy, Jim Bob's already a grandpa of 10. And with plenty of his own kids still way too young to even think about kids of their own, we'd say he's got a pretty good shot.
Unfortunately, we can't help but think about the pressure this must be placing on his kids who aren't popping out babies of their own — like Jinger and Jeremy who've yet to even announce a pregnancy. Not to mention the perennially single twins Jana and John-David. Or Jill, who's had difficult labors with her two children and might face dangerous consequences if she tries to have more.
John-David isn't courting because he's been dumped before.
No, not like in traditional dating. The Duggar's aren't allowed to do that. But like Josiah, big brother John-David's also suffered a courtship fail. Though the girls apparently get tons of suitors, the family friend revealed that John David hasn't been so lucky. While Jana is raking in — and turning down — courtship offers, John-David hasn't had a single one. And the reason for that apparently is because there was one girl he liked. The problem was that she didn't like him back.
"I think that made him even more shy and hesitant to pursue a courtship," /u/va1328 explained. "In the Duggar community, there is a lot of pressure on guys." We certainly saw what happened when Josiah and Marjorie Jackson broke their courtship off. We can imagine a guy wouldn't want to go through that again.
Michelle's whole sweet, soft-spoken schtick is phony.
Calling it her "mom voice," /u/va1328 wrote that Michelle didn't always speak that way. "She used to use her 'mom' voice really just when speaking to the little ones," they said. "Now [she] seems to speak in her soft 'mom' voice all the time." They speculated later that it might be because she has so many kids these days that it's just become her default tone of voice: "I guess she's gotten used to using it so much after so many children."
It could also be part of their act for the cameras. It's hard not to modify your behavior when you know you're being recorded all of the time — and we have to imagine that even Michelle is incredibly image-conscious about what people see when they watch the family's shows.
Going to ALERT programs isn't a privilege, it's a punishment.
When the Duggars talk about ALERT, they typically praise the experience like Josiah did on Instagram. "Going through ALERT Unit 51 in 2014 was one of the best experiences I've had," he wrote. "I'd encourage any young man 17+ who's up to the challenge to check it out!" But apparently, ALERT isn't a fun experience like sleepaway camp — it's to reform bad behaviors in kids who aren't being godly enough. They just tell the kids that it's a fun opportunity so that they want to go.
"You're pretty spot on that these programs are used to correct behavior," the family friend responded to a fan. "[But] instead of saying it's a punishment or you're being sent away because you're bad at _____, they would present it as so and so has a real opportunity to grow in (whatever area) and the Lord is calling them to seek counsel in it. Isn't it wonderful the Lord is working in their life!" Josiah isn't the only Duggar to go. Joseph and Jeremiah were also sent to the program — though Jeremiah's twin, Jedidiah, got to stay home.