The Sign Jill Duggar Dillard Is Headed Toward A Reconciliation With Her Family

Jill Duggar Dillard's tell-all book revealed more than anyone ever expected. She'd vaguely hinted in the past about not being on the best terms with her family, and said in a YouTube video that she wanted to leave the "Counting On" show "to pursue [her] own goals." But, "Counting the Cost" finally spelled out the truth about her estrangement from her father, Jim Bob Duggar. Dillard explained the family patriarch enjoyed the perks of TV fame — money, a full fridge, free trips, and promotion for their controversial faith group, the Institute in Basic Life Principles — to the point where he controlled her life choices and allegedly fudged her tax forms. He even pressured her to divulge a painful personal secret on TV to protect her brother Josh Duggar.

Dillard recalls that when she and her husband, Derick Dillard, arranged a mediation session with her parents, Jim Bob screamed at her and said she was the "guilty" party for being disrespectful. He later sent the couple a demand not to visit the family "Big House" unless he was there. "Being effectively banned from the Big House felt like a reactionary and cruel blow," Dillard wrote in her memoir. As late as 2021, she told fans in a YouTube vlog she hadn't been back there in a few years.

That made it all the more surprising to see the Dillards celebrating Christmas 2023 with her extended family. Naturally, curious minds want to know whether this marks a thaw in the chilly father-daughter relationship.

Was the Big House ban lifted for Christmas?

James Duggar, the 13th of the famous "19 Kids & Counting" clan, posted a set of pictures on Instagram of his parents' Christmas celebration. Not everyone made it over there this year; Jinger Duggar Vuolo and her family were traveling to her in-laws',  and Jessa Duggar Seewald had just given birth to her fifth child a few days earlier. But among the adult children who did attend — John-David, Jason, Jackson, Jedidiah, Jeremiah, Jana, and Joy (Forsyth) Duggar were all spotted — was Jill Duggar Dillard. James captured a candid shot of her and her husband, Derick Dillard, in the kitchen talking with Jed. 

While Jill didn't post any photos of the day herself, she did put up James' picture on her Instagram Stories, captioning, "It was great to see you bro!" She also noted she adopted a Duggar Christmas tradition in her own home, displaying a "Happy Birthday, Jesus" sign. "My mom always did this growing up and @derickdillard reminded me of it and suggested the boys and I do it this year," she explained.

None of James's photos show dad Jim Bob Duggar, though it's assumed he must have been there if the Dillards were invited. No one has commented on any interaction between father and daughter, but a Hallmark-worthy reconciliation scene seems unlikely. A more probable scenario would be one similar to Prince Harry attending King Charles' coronation: a polite acknowledgement of dad and a short stay.

Jill still leans on her mom for support

Despite the lingering hurt between Jill Duggar Dillard and her father, Jim Bob Duggar, she still maintains a cordial relationship with the rest of her family. She's quick to cheer when one of her adult siblings announces a pregnancy or birth on Instagram. Dillard was also the only one of the Duggars to actively promote sister Jinger Duggar Vuolo's book "Becoming Free Indeed," which criticized the faith group in which they were raised.

Dillard has been a part of family events that didn't involve her father. As recently as April 2023, she joined her mother, Michelle Duggar, and all eight of her sisters on an outing when Jinger came to town from LA. The previous August, she was among the guests at the baby shower for Abbie Duggar, wife of her brother John-David Duggar.  Michelle has also come through for Dillard in times of need. She was in the delivery room when her daughter's third son, Frederick Michael Dillard, was born in 2022; just a few weeks later, Michelle helped Dillard recover from emergency gallbladder surgery.

"Counting the Cost" even ends on a note of hope for the estranged family. On the day Dillard came home with Frederick, she and Derick Dillard invited Jim Bob Duggar into their home to see his newest grandchild. "There was nothing complex there, nothing to worry about," Jill wrote. "Just a man taking delight at the precious baby that his daughter had just brought into the world."

Fans see signs of hope for Jill and her family

Many of James Duggar's followers were delighted to see sister Jill Dillard back home for the holidays. Sentiments included: "One party is not forgiveness, but it is a start," "People make it sound like your family is in some [never ending] war. [...] They forget us Christians FORGIVE," and "Merry Christmas, Duggar Family. May this New Year bring peace and healing to all of you."

Others weren't as impressed. One commenter was apparently in the anti-Dillard camp: "Jill is probably there so she has something new to whine about next time she needs a buck." Katie Paulson of the "Without a Crystal Ball" vlog dismissed the encounter as a stunt orchestrated by Jim Bob Duggar to make himself look good. She wrote, "I have no idea why Jill & Derick would even bother with his games but alas — it's her only way to see her siblings." Paulson also shared, "[T]here is no possible healthy relationship with Jim Bob."

At this writing, Dillard hasn't offered any explanation of the visit or an update on the rift with her dad. However, she did share a post emphasizing she appreciates the happier parts of her childhood. "[Y]ou can still love your people and be grateful for SO MANY THINGS that did go right, even in the midst of heartbreak, hardship, healing and healthy boundaries!" she captioned. "The feelings shouldn't have to invalidate each other."