The Duggar Family's Most Relatable Parenting Moments

No one would ever call the Duggars an average family. That was the whole appeal of "19 Kids & Counting": seeing how two parents managed to juggle all the responsibilities and needs of nearly two dozen children without losing their minds. Of course, now we know that the Duggars' lives were much less wholesome than they appeared on TV — daughter Jinger Duggar Vuolo's explosive new memoir is proof of that. But despite the questionable circumstances under which they were raised, most of the adult Duggar daughters have chosen to focus on being the best mothers they can be to their own families.

That's not to say that it's always easy. Being a parent means taking the crazy moments along with the calm ones, even when you're a member of a famous family. The married Duggar sisters — Jinger, along with Jill Duggar Dillard, Jessa Duggar Seewald, and Joy-Anna Duggar Forsyth — enjoy sharing photos of their children with fans. Some are heartwarming, others hilarious, but all are totally relatable to any parent or caregiver.

Jessa's sons made a makeshift ladder

With four young children in the house, it's no wonder Jessa Duggar Seewald leads the pack in pics of relatable mom moments. One of her more recent ones involved her sons, Spurgeon and Henry, caught in the act of stacking a chair atop a piano bench in order to reach some unidentified object. As she described it on Instagram, she was in the midst of putting her baby down for a nap when her Mom Spidey-Sense told her to check on her boys. (One wonders how she found the presence of mind to take a picture before getting Henry back on solid ground.)

"New Seewald house rule: No stacking anything on top of anything and then standing on top of the second anything," she wrote. Sister Jill agreed in the comments section: "Haha always making new rules!"

Toilet trouble

Toddlers are little packages of curiosity, and sometimes their explorations have hilariously disastrous consequences. In November 2022, Jessa shared a video of 2-year-old Fern putting a stuffed toy in the toilet. "Another one bites the dust. Last month she was throwing everything in the trash can, but this month she found a new location for her toy burials," she wrote. Jessa scolded her daughter — "Fernie, that's a no-no! You don't play with potty" — but it was clear that this mom was more amused than annoyed. "I love this age and stage, even with all the toddler shenanigans," she concluded. "So cute!" 

This isn't Fern's first time experimenting in the bathroom. Jessa also posted a candid video of the toddler unrolling and tearing apart a long strip of toilet paper. 

A heart-worming moment

Kids appreciate the wonders of nature — sometimes more than their parents would prefer. But Joy-Anna Duggar Forsyth was totally chill when her son, Gideon, proudly showed off his latest find. She wrote, "Gideon ran inside and said 'MAMA! MAMA! I got a worm!' He was so proud of finding his first worm." She added, however, that his playdate friend was more grossed-out than fascinated. 

Followers responded with stories of their own worm-hunting days. Several advised Joy to introduce Gideon to fishing, now that he has the hang of finding bait. A fellow mom spoke from experience: "Adorable, just not so cute when you find them in their pockets when doing the laundry!"

Saying ahhh

Parenting is full of "firsts": first smiles, first steps, and the first day of school. Here, Joy shared Gideon's first trip to the dentist. Understandably, he grimaced a bit at having equipment probed in his mouth, but the outcome was worth it. "Our first dentist appointment for Gideon and no cavities! He did great for the Doctor!" Joy wrote. Her followers raved: "Wow, what a neat little tooth trooper...  he handled that so well!" wrote one. A second one agreed: "I NEVER was like that at the dentist."

New smile, who dis?

Jill Duggar Dillard celebrated another type of "first" exactly one day after nephew Gideon's trip to the dentist. It was the last day of kindergarten for her oldest son, Israel, which was exciting enough — but he also lost his first tooth! The little pearl was safely saved in a plastic bag, the better to keep it for the Tooth Fairy, and Jill documented the milestone with a picture of Israel's newly gapped smile. Fans sent in their congratulations and their own stories; many of them recalled that their own kids lost teeth on their last day of kindergarten, too.

Picking pumpkins, making memories

It just isn't autumn until you've gone to a local pumpkin patch to pick up a gourd or two. Jinger Duggar Vuolo posted a photo of "picking pumpkins with our little pumpkins" in October 2021 at the Toluca Lake Pumpkin Festival to make adorable family memories. Older daughter Felicity is shown here, perhaps in the midst of choosing her favorite. Her outfit might seem a little odd for an outdoor autumn outing. But don't forget, the Vuolos live near Los Angeles, where folks can still go about in T-shirts while northern neighbors are into sweater weather.

Jessa's little gardener

A green thumb in the making: Ivy Jane Seewald saw her parents' large potted tree and thought it was the perfect opportunity to practice her gardening skills. "Perspective: At least it was DRY soil before I watered the plant or she would've been making mud pies on the white rug," mom Jessa sighed. Thankfully, the mess came right up with a good vacuuming: "Count your blessings!" A fan praised her parenting: "Sometimes no matter how stressed a situation can be you have to laugh through it. Life is [too] short and our babies grow up [too] fast."

Ivy tried mom's makeup

There's barely a mom alive whose child hasn't gotten into their makeup bag at one time or another. Just a few weeks after the potted-plant incident, Ivy tried her hand at using mascara. Noticing things were a little too quiet around the house, Jessa opened the bathroom door and caught Ivy red-handed (or black-handed). "[S]he looked up me with the most innocent smile and exclaimed 'Mommy, I'm so pretty!'" Jessa wrote. Fans responded with plenty of laugh emojis and sympathetic nods. One wrote, "Oh my word. This is so real. Ivy will be so happy years from now that you captured this moment."

Junior chef

Followers had decidedly mixed reactions to this picture Jill Duggar Dillard posted in September 2022. "Love my breakfast helper this morning!" she cheered as Israel helped prep the family's morning eggs. "There's nothing like helpers in the kitchen," noted a commenter. Others weren't so pleased to see Israel's methods. "Buttocks and feet on the kitchen counter? Why?" asked a fan. Another scolded, "nope get him down now too dangerous! Bad habits being sent!" But for every person who tutted over the boy's safety, there were three who defended Jill. "OMG! She is right there and he is perfectly safe," went one response. "My son sat on the counter to cook as a toddler and small child. It was never dangerous, he's never been hurt," said a fellow mom.

Jinger shared a Halloween family moment

The Vuolo family had some Halloween fun in 2022 by dressing up in a "Paddington Bear" theme. Felicity played the famous red-hatted bear, while Jinger and her husband, Jeremy, played Mr. and Mrs. Brown, the family who takes him in from a London train station. As for Evy? A jar of marmalade, of course! 

This Instagram post got a lot of mixed reactions. While many followers loved the costumes, others were disappointed that the Vuolos have opted not to show their daughters' faces on social media. And still others were surprised to see Jinger celebrating the holiday at all. Back in their "19 Kids & Counting" days, the Duggar family didn't do Halloween, because it went against their Christian faith (per In Touch Weekly). Instead, they participated in church harvest festivals and visited corn mazes. But now that Jinger has broken from her childhood church group, she has no issue with having some non-scary All Hallows' Eve fun. 

Evelyn got in a pickle

Among other things, the Duggar family was well known on their shows for their love of pickles. It's thought that mom Michelle started the craze with her recurrent craving for the salty treat during her many pregnancies (via In Touch Weekly), and most of her 19 children acquired a taste for them as well. Gifts of pickles became a family tradition, and the Duggars even indulged in pickle-topped pizza!

In February 2021, Joy announced the "BIG NEWS!" that her 6-month-old daughter, Evelyn Mae, had just tried her first pickle. Though she couldn't actually bite into it, Evy gave the dill a few good licks. "She's got them Duggar genes," Joy joked. 

A helpful big brother

One of the Duggars' strategies to keep order in a house of 19 children was a "buddy system" in which the older daughters helped with the daily care of their younger siblings. Joy's son Gideon must have inherited that helpful spirit, as Joy discovered when she found her son feeding his baby sister. Gideon could have used a little work with his aim, but Evy clearly didn't seem to mind. All Joy could do was laugh: "Oh. My. Word." We're betting bath time came early in the Forsyth house that night.

A sisterly meal

Jessa's two daughters had better luck with their mealtime. As seen in this video, Ivy was determined to make sure her baby sis Fern got to eat every bit of her applesauce pouch. She even climbed on a stool to get a better reach. "At 3 and 1 years old, they're already best friends!" Jessa wrote. But one fan cautioned that this relationship might change a bit as time goes on: "Enjoy them while they are little," she wrote. "Teen girls are not for the faint of heart."

This is what motherhood looks like

Some mothers look absolutely perfect even after a day of work, errands, and kid-wrangling. Then there are real mothers. Joy proudly falls into the second category. After a hectic day at home, she posted a video showing that she hadn't even bothered to get dressed. "When you finally see yourself in the mirror after looking like this all day," she wrote. "This is real life. Oily hair, breakouts, Christmas pj pants paired with my colorful Texas-tee. It's my sign of getting a lot done!" The 60,000-plus followers who liked the post have been there themselves. "All moms can relate! You are totally rocking the look," one replied.

Babe in toyland

"A girl and her toys," Jinger wrote about this pic, taken when her older daughter, Felicity, was just over a year old. "Lissy's" pink outfit so perfectly matched the rug that Jinger's fans had a good chuckle over the "Where's Waldo?" effect. Others praised Jinger for picking educational toys, and yet another fan referenced Jeremy's former career as a pro player with the New York Red Bulls and San Antonio Scorpions. "I spy a soccer father, like daughter." Some shook their heads over the very relatable mess: "Mommy, that's a LOT of toys! I know you'll teach her to help pick up!"

Jessa let her daughter eat a leftover lolly

Jessa and Ben aren't sticklers for the "5-second rule" about food. When they noticed that Fern had a lollipop stuck to her dress (Jessa suspects Fern must have left it somewhere and sat on it), they didn't take it to the trash. Instead, the senior Seewalds alerted their daughter to it and cheered as Fern pulled it off and resumed eating it. "That's what I call saving it for later," Jessa laughed. "Yum! Just as good as it was half an hour ago." 

Cold-weather improv

Most of the adult Duggars live in Arkansas, where snow is a rarity. When they got a few inches' worth in January 2023, Jessa and her family made the most of it with a romp in their backyard. It was a perfect snow-day memory as they threw snowballs and toddled through the small drifts. To keep little Fern's hands from getting too wet and freezy, dad Ben wrapped plastic bags around them. Fans loved the video, and reminisced about their own childhoods: "Grew up with bags on our shoes n gloves!" recalled one.

The snow/mudman cometh

That same snow hit the Dillards' neighborhood, and they, too, took advantage of the rarely seen white stuff. "Snow day = fun day!" she wrote. "@derickdillard got out there with the boys and made a snowman and pulled sleds all over!" Later, they indulged in another winter treat: drinking hot chocolate and watching "Charlotte's Web." Israel and Samuel joined their dad to create an impressively large snowman, complete with a winter hat and coal eyes and mouth. But the snow was so sparse on the ground that the guys collected a fair share of mud and dirt as they worked. "That is one muddy snowman! Love it," commented a follower. Another joked, "It's a pigpen snowman."

Getting the wiggles out

Getting four small children to bed at a decent hour can be a challenge and a half. The Seewalds, however, have one technique that's both fun and effective: "Some nights you gotta have a bedtime dance session to get the rest of their energy out!" she captioned this video. As the music filled the living room, all the kids had a blast spinning, jumping, kicking and twirling. This video surprised followers for a couple of reasons: First, when Jessa was growing up, dancing was forbidden in the Duggar home, on the grounds that it might be too sensual. Second, the Seewalds were shaking it out to Kanye West's "Follow God," a style of music that Jessa was never exposed to at home. Some fans questioned the song's appropriateness for a Christian family, but others were supportive. "Gotta say, I'm slightly but pleasantly surprised to see you enjoying Kanye's music!" one said.

A musical family

The Duggar family was well known for its restricted lifestyle, such as their dress code barring the girls from wearing pants and crop tops, and their ban on traditional dating (the married children all met their spouses through church activities or mutual friends, and then went through a supervised courtship). But while the Duggar kids weren't allowed to listen to secular music, they all learned how to play classical music and hymns on the piano, violin, and other instruments (per In Touch Weekly). It's a skill that Jinger continues to enjoy, and she's passing it on to her own daughters. 

The sweetest moment

Finally, one of the most relatable times in any mom's life is the pure delight of holding a sleepy baby and relishing that fine hair, those tiny fingers, and that indescribably yummy baby-head scent. Jill is captured tenderly kissing her newborn son, Frederick, who arrived on July 7 of 2022. Her face reflects her gratitude for this moment: Freddy was Jill's "rainbow baby," born after a tragic miscarriage the year before. As the Dillard Family blog explains, he was also born a few weeks prematurely and spent some time in the NICU before coming home to join his big brothers.