No love lost? Counting On alum Jill Dillard (née Duggar) shared a sweet birthday tribute to little brother James Duggar despite their ongoing family drama.

“Also, Happy B-Day to my forever buddy [and] super uncle to our kids,” Jill, 31, shared via her Instagram Story on Friday, July 7, over a selfie of the brother-sister duo.

In her social media message, the mother of three – who was celebrating her two younger sons birthday that same day – was referring to the family’s system of raising children called the “buddy system.” Parents Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar implemented the system in the early 2000s as a way of getting their older daughters involved in child rearing. 

“We came up with the idea years ago when we had a number of little ones. I don’t exactly remember what age the oldest one was – maybe eight years old. We were trying to gather up all the shoes as we were walking out the door, getting them on the little feet and tying them, and buckling up all the car seats,” the couple previously explained. “And we realized it works much better if we’re trying to hurry to have one of the older ones help the little guys buckle their seatbelts.”

Jill Shares Birthday Message to ‘Forever Buddy’ James Amid Estrangement
Courtesy of Jill Duggar/Instagram

They continued, “The older ones just loved it because they thought: ‘Wow, I’m big. I’m a helper. I get to be a helper for this little guy or this little girl.’” 

In addition to James, 22, Jill was a “big buddy” to sisters Joy-Anna Forsyth (née Duggar) and Jennifer Duggar

Jill’s birthday message to James follows her appearance on the Amazon Prime docuseries Shiny Happy People: Duggar Family Secrets, to which some family members did not take kindly.

“The recent ‘documentary’ that talks about our family is sad because in it we see the media and those with ill intentions hurting people we love … This ‘documentary’ paints so much and so many in a derogatory and sensationalized way because sadly that’s the direction of entertainment these days,” Jim Bob, 57, and Michelle, 55, wrote via their family blog shortly after the four-part series was released. “We love every member of our family and will continue to do all we can to have a good relationship with each one.”

For his part, James seemingly threw shade at his older sister in a pointed Instagram Story post the following day. 

“It’s OK to lose your pride over someone you love,” the quote read on June 2. “Don’t lose someone you love over your pride.”

Two weeks later, the Arkansas native doubled down, sharing another cryptic message on Father’s Day, saying, “Regardless of what anyone may say, your the best dad I in the world! [sic]”

Have a tip? Send it to us! Email In Touch at