“We love all of our children very much,” Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar noted in a statement after an early excerpt from their daughter’s book was published by People. “As with any family, few things are more painful than conflicts or problems among those you love. … We do not believe the best way to resolve conflicts, facilitate forgiveness and reconciliation, or to communicate through difficulties is through the media or in a public forum so we will not comment.”
In the excerpt, Jill, 32, describes an emotional sit-down with Jim Bob, 58, and Michelle, 56, as tensions in their relationship reached an all-time high. Jill’s husband, Derick Dillard, and a mediator were also present for the meeting. (It’s unclear when the get-together took place.)
Jill recalls telling her parents she wanted “to be able to restore” their bond and “have a good discussion” despite their ups and downs. Jim Bob and Michelle mention a “disrespectful” letter they received from their daughter and son-in-law, for which Jill apologizes. Jim Bob, however, came with “his own list of things he wanted to talk about.”
Jill grew nervous as her father brought up texts she sent accusing him of “verbally abusing” her. Jim Bob then rose out of his seat, approaching his daughter. “It wasn’t a gesture of reconciliation,” she writes. “It was an act of aggression.”
Jim Bob “towered over” Jill, who began to tear up. “You want to know why I’m crying?” she recalls telling her dad. “It’s that you think I’m some kind of horrible person just because I wear pants and have a nose ring … You treat me like I’m a prodigal who’s turned her back on you. You treat me worse than you treat my pedophile brother.”
The Duggars rose to fame in 2008 after the premiere of their show 19 Kids and Counting (originally 17 Kids and Counting). In 2015, TLC canceled the series after Jill’s brother Josh Duggar was accused of molesting several girls when he was a teenager. Jill was later revealed as one of the victims alongside her sister Jessa Duggar.
“We found out we didn’t have as much control over our lives as it related to the show and stuff, as we needed,” Jill explained in a YouTube Q&A three years later. “We had to make a decision at that time to kind of put the show aside … to pursue our own goals and everything.”
The couple, who share three sons, have been candid about their independent path as Jill’s relationship with her relatives grew more distant. She exclusively told Us Weekly in February 2021 that she was “learning to develop boundaries” with her family after stepping back from the show.
“There are definitely some issues there,” she said at the time. “We definitely feel like we’re in a healthy place now for our family and have control over our lives. … Certain people are more supportive than others.”
Two months later, Josh, 35, was arrested in Arkansas. He pleaded not guilty to receipt and possession of child pornography charges but was convicted in December 2021 and later sentenced to 151 months in prison.
Earlier this year, Jill opened up about feeling “obligated” to take her family’s side in their public controversies. “It’s not something I’m proud of,” she said in Prime Video’s Shiny Happy People docuseries, which aired in June.
Jim Bob and Michelle called out the “sensationalized” docuseries at the time, noting in a statement at the time, “Like other families, ours too has experienced the joys and heartbreaks of life, just in a very public format. … We have always believed that the best chance to repair damaged relationships, or to reconcile differences, is through love in a private setting. We love every member of our family and will continue to do all we can to have a good relationship with each one.”
Counting the Cost hits shelves Tuesday, September 12.