10 Crushing Things Jill Duggar's Memoir Reveals About Her Parents

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The following article includes discussions of child abuse and sexual assault.

For years, Jill Duggar was best known for starring in the reality show "19 Kids and Counting," which followed her parents, Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar, as they tried to raise an ever-growing crew of children. As the Duggars' fourth child, Jill seemed to be totally wholesome. She certainly fit the Duggar mold as a stand-up member of what appeared to be a super-organized but also generally fun-loving family. 

However, as Jill has grown older, fans have gained a more complex view of who she is as a person. Back in 2015, the former reality star sat down with Megyn Kelly on Fox to discuss the way that her elder brother, Josh Duggar, sexually abused her as a child. Since then, Jill has been more and more openly critical of her family dynamics, speaking out against Jim Bob and Michelle on various occasions. In the summer of 2023, she appeared in the documentary "Shiny, Happy People: Duggar Family Secrets," which examines the role of child exploitation in the Duggar family enterprise. She has also discussed issues of toxic familial behavior in her now inactive YouTube channel. 

But, perhaps none of Jill's previous statements have been so revealing as the publication of her memoir, "Counting the Cost," on September 12, 2023. A copy of the book obtained by The List has shown that Jill's relationship with the Duggar family remains tense. And, it hints that Jim Bob and Michelle are nothing like the happy-go-lucky people who appear on TV.

1. Michelle Duggar used to wear bikinis

These days, Michelle Duggar has a reputation for keeping her body covered up. After all, on "19 Kids and Counting," the matriarch typically wore some combination of a cap-sleeved top with an ankle-length skirt. And, while these clothes were never really considered typical for mamas her age, Michelle seemed to take the Duggar family dress code seriously enough to choose modesty over fashion.

That being said, according to Jill Duggar's tell-all, "Counting the Cost," Michelle was not always the reserved adult that she appears to be today — au contraire. Apparently, there was actually a time when the TV personality sported more revealing attire. In her book, Jill claimed that Michelle once told her children that she used to wear swimsuits in her yard. The soft-spoken wife and mother allegedly confessed, "When I was younger, before I was a Christian, I used to mow my lawn in a bikini. I really didn't know any better."

Interestingly, Jill wrote that her mother only began to change her attire once she started to date Jim Bob Duggar. Per the former reality star's account, Michelle told her children that the family patriarch changed her mind about issues of modesty, saying, "You know what made me want to stop dressing like I used to? I learned from your dad that men aren't like us girls. When women wear tight or revealing clothes ... it gets guys going and can stir up their sensual desires."

2. Jim Bob used to put Jill on a pedestal

Even though Michelle Duggar wore swimsuits in the past, her family seemed to regard her as the ultimate Christian woman. In "Counting the Cost," Jill Duggar described the way that she admired her mother's dedication to their faith: "Mom was the most godly woman I knew. Thinking about her transformation [from bathing suits to modest dress] only made me love and respect her more."

Fascinatingly, though, Jill claimed that Michelle's holiness was something that she herself was expected to live up to. According to Jill's childhood memories, Jim Bob Duggar would oftentimes compare her to Michelle, placing her on a pedestal beside her mother. The former TV personality wrote, "'Oh yeah,' Pops would say whenever he was asked about his kids and he thought none of us were listening, 'Jill's so sweet, so kind, and caring. Out of all of my daughters, she's the most like Michelle.'"

Apparently, these comparisons put a lot of pressure on Jill to behave in a certain way. The outspoken young woman recalled, "For an approval hunter like me, being compared to my mom like that was the greatest prize I could ever wish for. Mom was calm, self-effacing, and entirely loving. She seemed nearly incapable of anger or bitterness." While this might seem like a nearly impossible standard to emulate, Jill said that she did her best, sharing, "I wanted to be the good girl. I tried to be the perfect daughter."

3. Jim Bob sexualized Jill's decision to wear pants

Unfortunately for Jill Duggar, growing up on a pedestal may have given her a long way to fall — at least in the eyes of her more conservative parents. This was especially true when the fourth-born child realized that she was ready to trade in her long skirts for a nice pair of pants. According to Jill's tell-all, "Counting the Cost," Jim Bob Duggar was not at all pleased by his daughter's decision. And, the way that Jill remembers things, her father even went so far as to sexualize her fashion choice. 

Writing in her memoir, Jill recalled the day that Jim Bob confronted her for wearing a pair of black leggings. Apparently, the family patriarch turned to his daughter and said, "You know, Mom's got this book somewhere that talks about clothing and modesty and what it does to men when they see women wearing pants and stuff. So, maybe you should give that a read."

Ultimately, this rather explicit reaction to Jill's clothing choices seemed to leave a negative impact on the independent young woman. At the time, Jill said that she felt shamed. The former child star wrote, "I cried when I got home. I felt embarrassed, humiliated, even though nobody else had been in the room with us." She went on to say that, by defending her own right to wear pants, she felt that she was "stand[ing] up for [her] convictions."

4. Michelle and Jim Bob seemed to disagree about the appropriateness of Jill's nose ring

In the end, Jill Duggar's decision to wear pants was not the only thing that her father disapproved of. As the mother of three explained in "Counting the Cost," Jim Bob Duggar also objected to her nose ring — even though she was well into her twenties when she got her nose pierced. According to Jill's account, she called both of her parents to inform them of her decision before actually going through with the procedure. And while Michelle Duggar seemed relatively neutral about the whole thing, the same could not be said about Jim Bob.

In her book, Jill recalled, "The piercing was uneventful. The voicemail that was waiting for me from Pops when I got out ... that was another thing altogether. He pleaded with me not to do it. He told me I was making a huge mistake." As if that reaction weren't dramatic enough, Jim Bob apparently went on to imply that Jill's nose ring would have an impact on the whole family. "He begged me to think about how [the piercing] was going to affect my little sisters."

Interestingly, Michelle did not seem to share her husband's strong opinions about their daughter's nose ring. After receiving Jim Bob's bombastic voicemail, Jill said that she spoke to her mom. Michelle allegedly told Jill, "I'm so glad you did not answer his call. He wasn't in a good state of mind."

5. Jim Bob allegedly protected Josh Duggar when the world learned of the child molestation scandal

In 2015, In Touch published a bombshell piece that would change the way the Duggar family would be viewed forever. The outlet revealed that, according to police documents, the eldest Duggar child, Josh Duggar, had admitted to molesting five girls while they slept. Separate reports later found that four of the five victims were Josh's sisters. And, in a subsequent interview with Megyn Kelly, Jill Duggar revealed that she had been one of the children who was harmed.

As the world reeled at this news, Jim Bob Duggar was allegedly working overtime to keep Josh out of the spotlight. As Jill explained in "Counting the Cost," the family patriarch arranged for Josh to spend some time in a Christian rehab facility in Rockford, Illinois. And, apparently, he did everything in his power to keep the press away from his wayward son. Reflecting on this time in her memoir, Jill recalled her father telling the rest of the family, "We had some trouble getting him up there. The paparazzi were trying real hard to find out where he was going. They even tracked the tail number of his flight. But at least we got him in there without being seen." At the time, Jim Bob's efforts to protect Josh were astounding to Jill. She wrote, "I couldn't help but think of the lengths that Pop had gone to in order to guard Josh's privacy."

If you or someone you know may be the victim of child abuse, please contact the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-4-A-Child (1-800-422-4453) or contact their live chat services.

6. Jill felt forced to talk about her sexual assault to the press

While Jim Bob Duggar seemed intent on preventing Josh Duggar from the press, the patriarch did not appear remotely worried about protecting his daughters from the trauma of reliving their past experiences. In "Counting the Cost," Jill Duggar wrote that she felt pressured into going on TV to defend Josh. Referencing her 2015 appearance on Fox News, Jill recalled, "I was terrified and didn't want to interview at all, but I felt like it was the only way to prove my love and commitment to my parents. I could clear their name and tell everyone that my brother's problems were a thing of the past. How could I stay silent?"

But, even though she ultimately agreed to give the interview, Jill said she felt uncomfortable with the way that her personal privacy was being sacrificed in order to protect Josh. She wrote, "What I'd really wanted was for Pops to say, 'No, we're not going to put you on Fox News. I'm going to do everything I can to keep you girls out of this. We are not concerned about the future of our [reality] show anymore.' I wanted my daddy to stand up for me in that way." She went on to claim that what happened instead was the very opposite of what she had hoped. "It felt as though I, as a woman, was expected to do all I could to protect Pops and Josh."

7. Jim Bob wanted to send Derick to rehab for alcoholism

Jill Duggar is not the only one who has struggled to understand her parents' worldview. Her husband, Derick Dillard, has also been said to have experienced some tense interactions with his in-laws. As explained in "Counting the Cost," there was even a time when Jim Bob Duggar came after Derick for what the patriarch viewed as immoral behavior. Chief among these was the time that Jim Bob came across a picture of the couple sipping alcoholic beverages. 

In her memoir, Jill recalled the dinner leading up to the battle of the wills. "Derick had drunk a beer, and I'd had my cocktail. It was a special kid-free date time, just the two of us." Toward the end of the meal, the husband and wife decided to snap a photo of their evening. Jill admitted, "I didn't move the piña colada out of the shot."

Unfortunately, though, Jim Bob clearly did not see things this way. In his view, Jill wrote, Derick was misusing alcohol and needed to seek immediate treatment. "Pops made contact soon after [learning that we drink alcohol] and offered to send Derick to the same rehab facility Josh had been to, in the hope of curing Derick's clearly raging alcoholism." According to Jill, Derick came back to his father-in-law with a firm response: "Since he'd never been drunk or ever had more than two drinks in any one sitting, Derick declined."

8. The patriarch tried creating problems in Jill and Derick's marriage

Alcohol was not the only point of tension between Jim Bob Duggar and his son-in-law, according to "Counting the Cost." The book also alleges that Jim Bob clashed with both Jill Duggar Dillard and Derick Dillard over filming schedules. As per Jill's account, things got particularly intense when Jim Bob asked the couple to return to the United States in the middle of their mission trip to El Salvador so that they could shoot the promo for "Jill and Jessa: Counting On." Apparently, neither Jill nor Derick thought that it would be appropriate to break their commitment to the mission in order to participate in a reality show, so they turned Jim Bob down.

Jill alleged that it was at this point that her father began doing everything within his power to get her to do the show — even if that meant getting involved in her marriage. During one telephone call, Jill wrote that Jim Bob went so far as to ask, "Is this you or is this Derick who is being the problem here?" For the former child star, this question was crushing. "I'd never heard Pops say something like that before, and it pierced like a dagger to hear him try to pit us against each other like that. I was speechless." Sadly, though, the conversation didn't end there. Jim Bob allegedly went on to say, "This isn't like you, Sweet Jilly Muffin. Is Derick behind this?"

9. The Duggars pressured Jill and Derick into a public pregnancy announcement

Generally speaking, couples have the right to make their pregnancy announcements however they see fit. But, if Jill Duggar's "Counting the Cost" is anything to go by, that is certainly not the case in the Duggar household. Indeed, Jill alleged that her parents felt that there was a "right" way to make a pregnancy announcement. As she explained in her book, "Mom and Pops believed their adult children — even those of us who were married and starting to have families of their own — were still under their parental authority ... When it came to announcing that I was pregnant, there was no chance of us calling the shots."

According to the Duggar family's rules, Jill and her husband, Derick Dillard, couldn't just organize a family dinner and share the news. Instead, they had to get the cameras involved immediately. In her tell-all, Jill claimed, "First, we were supposed to tell producers [about the pregnancy], then — when they were ready to capture it on film — we were allowed to tell our parents." 

Of course, this rule did not necessarily apply to every single person that the couple knew. Jill herself admitted, "I bent the rules a little, telling a couple of my sisters and buddies first." However, Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar wanted to be told on camera. "When it came time to tell my parents ... I made sure I followed the rules." 

10. Jim Bob and Michelle did not respond well to Jill's criticism

Over time, Jill Duggar says that she began to feel frustrated with some of her father's attitudes. As she explained in "Counting the Cost," there came a point when she and Derick Dillard could not keep their feelings to themselves any longer. Jill wrote, "But when the problems [with Pops] continued, we thought it best to not just sweep them under the rug and continue pretending. We decided to take Pops' advice about coming to him with our problems, but not in person this time. Based on our recent history, and wanting a little buffer, we decided to put our thoughts down into a letter." Thus, Jill and Derick proceeded to draft a 27-page note discussing all the family dynamics that troubled them. And, while Jill did not publish the letter in her memoir, she did leave a few hints about its contents, including complaints about the Duggar dress code, concerns about the apparent lack of compensation for her time on reality TV, and a request for more honesty moving forward.

Ultimately, though, Jill wrote that Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar did not take this criticism well. At a family mediation session, the patriarch allegedly said, "That letter you guys sent us ... " before Michelle went ahead and finished his sentence for him, "It was the most disrespectful thing I've ever read." 

Jill Duggar Dillard clearly didn't hold back when it came to detailing her life as one of the "19 Kids and Counting" stars, and her story makes it obvious that what viewers saw on TLC doesn't reflect the reality of living life as a Duggar.