Keeping up with Joseph Duggar and his famous family is no easy feat. With 19 kids in the brood, whose names all start with the letter J, it can be hard to keep track of who’s who no matter how loyal of a fan you are. The reality TV family originally became known for their large kin on the TLC show 19 Kids and Counting and many of the members of the family are featured on its spin-off, Counting On.
As one of the middle kids, Joseph Duggar easily gets lost in the shuffle, but he’s become better known to audiences as he has gotten married and started a Duggar family of his own. Born on Jan. 20, 1995, he’s the third oldest of the Duggar boys and has four older sisters. Far from being just one out of the bunch, Duggar has distinguished himself from his family in several ways and is making a name for himself as one of the more intriguing members of the large family. Here are some details about the seventh Duggar kid that you might not have learned from watching him on TV.
He struggled with his faith when he was younger
The Duggar clan is known for their strong Christian faith. It’s the drive behind much of their lifestyle, including their large family size and why they court their future spouses instead of date. This doesn’t mean, though, that their faith always comes easily to them. In a blog post on the website Joseph Duggar shares with his wife, Kendra, he wrote about how he has struggled with his faith in God in the past.
“Throughout my teenage years I had doubts about my standing before God,” he wrote. “There were times when I would think, ‘Maybe I’m not truly a Christian. Maybe I’m just going through the motions, and I’m not truly saved.’ But then, in pride, I would shake off those feelings, and resist that idea. What would others think of me? Everyone around me thinks I’m already a Christian. From the outside, no one could tell my inward struggle.” He continued, “I wasn’t rebellious or disrespectful… But inwardly, I knew that I was lacking a real and personal relationship with Jesus Christ…”
He also attended a men's Christian training academy
Things started turning around for Joseph Duggar and his faith when he applied to ALERT, a men’s Christian training program that, according to its website, “trains young men to meet needs in times of crisis.” ALERT’s mission is to “help you grow physically and spiritually, teach you to be ready to serve with a Christlike attitude, and train you with skills you can use wherever God’s calling takes you.”
Duggar wrote on his site that the application made him look closer at his faith and decide to talk to his parents about his struggles. “They were so wise in the words they spoke,” he said. “For the first time, the realities of sin, conviction, the cross, forgiveness, and new life in Christ became real to me. I was humbled and broken before the Lord, and at that moment I prayed and repented of my sin, put my faith and trust in Jesus Christ, and gave Him control of my life.”
Duggar graduated from the program in 2013. A few years later, his brother Jeremiah followed in his footsteps and attended ALERT, graduating from the program’s basic training in 2016.
He bucked tradition and went off to college
Traditionally, the Duggars are homeschooled. This holds true even for their higher education. While none of the Duggars, including their parents, have a four-year college degree, many of them have taken classes through an online program called CollegePlus. “The great thing about it is it’s a distance learning program,” family matriarch Michelle Duggar wrote in a blog post (via InTouch). “Taking the courses online works with your schedule so that you’re still able to work or pursue other experiences while studying. Also, the cost is minimal compared to the brick-and-mortar universities, and as a large family with a debt-free policy we’ve been really pleased with that.”
Joseph Duggar, however, bucked tradition and left home to continue his education, completing a year-long degree program at Crown College in Biblical Studies in 2016. “Joseph just completed a year at Crown Bible College and is now back working with the Duggar family business doing construction,” announced the Duggars on their Facebook page on Duggar’s 21st birthday. “He now plans to acquire his real estate license and his CDL license.”
He and his wife met at church
The Duggars don’t date. Instead, they meet someone they think they would be interested in as a potential spouse and court them with the intent of one day marrying them. Duggar met his spouse, Kendra Caldwell, when he was 22 and she was just 18. The couple met at church, although their families had known each other for a while. In March 2017, the two took things to the next level and announced they were officially courting.
“Our families are close friends through church and this has allowed Kendra and me to get to know each other,” Duggar told People. “She’s the best!”
The future Mrs. Duggar was also thrilled to be seeing the reality TV star and seemed completely besotted from the beginning of their courtship. “I’m looking forward to getting to spend more time with Joseph as we take this exciting step toward a new season in life,” she said. “It’s a really wonderful moment!”
Did he steal his brother's girlfriend?
Things might be picture perfect for Joseph and Kendra Duggar, but can the same be said for Duggar’s brother Jedidiah? After the courtship was announced, rumors swirled that Joseph had wooed Kendra away from Jedidiah. A former employee of the Duggar family allegedly told The Hollywood Gossip that, before being involved with Joseph, Kendra had actually been seeing Jedidiah. Joseph reportedly came along during the early stages of Kendra and Jedidiah’s courtship and Kendra began seeing him instead.
“There’s a whole world that goes on that really isn’t so,” said the anonymous source about the alleged love triangle and ensuing feud between the brothers. “When the cameras aren’t rolling, it’s a whole different life.”
While none of this was confirmed by the Duggar family, the former employee claimed that things were tense between the brothers for some time. Eventually, however, Jedediah reportedly came around and wrote a letter to his brother blessing the relationship.
He and his wife are inseparable
It seems that Joseph Duggar and his wife genuinely enjoy spending time together. While some soon-to-be married couples look at their bachelor and bachelorette parties as a last hurrah, a way of letting loose with their friends for one last party without their future spouse in tow, Duggar and his wife chose to host one big shindig instead. They invited 25 of their closest family and friends to celebrate their upcoming nuptials.
“We decided to do a joint bachelor-bachelorette party because we love spending time together,” they told People. “We figured this would be a really good activity for both of our families to connect.”
Their joint party was spent on the water and included a picnic lunch once the couple and their guests returned to shore. “We ended up doing the water skiing and tubing for our joint bachelor-bachelorette party because Kendra loves the water, and I just enjoy doing whatever she’s doing,” said the groom-to-be.
"It is an amazing feeling to be husband and wife"
As is tradition with the family, Joseph Duggar and Kendra Caldwell married not long after they started courting. They announced their courtship to the public in March 2017 and were married in September of that year at the First Baptist Church in Siloam Springs, Ark. The elegant ceremony naturally had a massive bridal party to accommodate their large families. Duggar’s brother Josiah was his best man and his groomsmen included his brothers John David, Jedidiah, Jeremiah, Jason, James, and Justin. Kendra’s sister, Lauren, served as her maid of honor. Her bridesmaids consisted of her mom and some of Duggar’s sisters, Jana, Jill, Jessa, Jinger, Joy, Johannah, and Jennifer.
“It is an amazing feeling to be husband and wife,” Duggar told People. “It’s something that I’ve always dreamed of to have a wife and to raise a family in a way that honors the lord. We are very excited to see what God has in the future for us.”
Their honeymoon was a religious experience
For their honeymoon, Joseph Duggar and Kendra Caldwell traveled to Europe for an adventure in Greece. The trip wasn’t just about touring the beautiful country and seeing the historic sites; it also helped deepen their faith. One of the sites they visited, Mars Hill (known in Greek as Areopagus), can be found in the Bible as the place where a sermon was delivered by Paul, one of the most important figures in Christianity.
“Joe and I were so thankful to be able to go to Greece for our honeymoon,” Kendra wrote on the couple’s website. “We really enjoyed our time in Athens, seeing the ancient ruins and Mars Hill where the apostle Paul had preached a message to the people of Athens. We also spent some time on the Island of Santorini, we were able to see the beautiful sunsets as well as the white buildings with dome tops. But the best part was getting to experience it together as a couple!” She added, “We love reliving these special moments through pictures and sharing them with you all.”
A cheating scandal involving his brother broke his heart
In 2015, a scandal erupted when the news broke that Josh Duggar, the eldest of the Duggar kids, had cheated on his wife. The news came just a few months after it was reported that, as a teenager, Josh had molested five underage girls, including four of his sisters.
Joseph Duggar, along with another brother, John-David, spoke about the scandal on Counting On. Both brothers said they were devastated by Josh’s actions. Joseph was quick to condemn his older brother, as was John-David. “I don’t think there’s any way any of us would have known that my brother was living such a secret life,” he said (via People). “It broke my heart. Whenever somebody you respect the most is willing to get up and proclaim what we believe as Christians, about being true to your wife, you’d never think that that’s the person who’s involved in it.”
He loves kids
It’s a good thing that Joseph Duggar enjoys being around children because there are always plenty in the family. He and his wife announced they were expecting their first child just a few months after their wedding and couldn’t have been more thrilled about it. “During this season that we are celebrating the birth of Christ, we are so excited to share with you that we are expecting the gift of a child ourselves!” they told Us Weekly in December 2017. “Wow, it’s so exciting!!! We’ve both always loved children and seen them as a real blessing from God. It’s so surreal to think of being parents and having our own little one.”
Their baby, Garrett David Duggar, was born the following June, when Duggar was 23 and his wife 19. “No matter how many times we’ve experienced the joy of babies born in our families, there’s nothing comparable to the joy in our hearts today!” they said in a statement (via People). “Children truly are a gift from God.”
Getting ready for their second baby
Not long after the birth of Garrett, the Duggars announced that they were once again expecting a baby. The couple announced Kendra’s pregnancy in April 2019, less than a year after their first baby was born. “We are ready to double the fun at our house!” the ecstatic couple told Us Weekly. “Being parents has already proven to be a greater joy than we had hoped or imagined. We love getting to parent together and are loving every moment and milestone. We are very happy that our little family will welcome a new addition later this year. Children really are a blessing from God!”
The Duggars will likely continue to have more children after baby number two. “We would love to have more kids if the Lord blesses us,” Kendra told Us Weekly as she was awaiting Garrett’s birth. “As many as He wants to give us, we’ll be happy to take them.”
Fans have criticized him for getting his wife pregnant so soon
Getting married young and having babies is what fans have come to expect of the Duggar clan, so it’s safe to say that Kendra knew what she was getting into when she married into it. This hasn’t stopped people from accusing Joseph Duggar of turning his wife into “a baby machine,” though. These critics don’t like the fact that Kendra became pregnant so soon after giving birth to her first baby, even though it appears that the Duggars are thrilled about their rapidly growing family and have been planning on having a large family from day one.
Kendra, who turned 20 in August 2018, will have two children at an age when many people are still in school. This has many people worried for her physical and mental well-being as she cares for two little ones at such a young age.
His wife is also from a big family
Criticism aside, Kendra seems excited to be having another baby. Just like her husband, she also comes from a large family (although there aren’t quite as many kids in the Caldwell household). Much like Kendra herself, Kendra’s mom got married at a young age and started having babies — and they’re still coming! Kendra’s father was born in 1978 while her mom was born in 1980, meaning they were only in their 30s when their 19-year-old daughter made them grandparents.
In fact, while they were waiting for the arrival of their first grandchild, Kendra’s mom was also getting ready to give Kendra another sibling. Kendra announced in a special episode of Counting On, “Joe and Kendra’s First Baby,” that she found out about a month before she gave birth that her mom was expecting her eighth child. “I think this has definitely been really interesting because we’ve been able to share a lot of things that we didn’t get to share before so I feel like we’ve become even more like friends,” said Kendra. “And I guess our relationship has just gone to a different level.”
He isn't big on social media
If you want know more about Joseph Duggar, you’re just going to have to catch up on Counting On. The reality star isn’t very active on social media. While he and his wife have a dedicated website, it only has a small number of blog posts with limited updates about their lives. The same goes for the rest of their social media presence. Neither Duggar nor his wife have independent social media accounts — at least none that are public and confirmed to belong to them.
There’s an old Twitter account made in 2015 that claims to be Duggar’s official Twitter account, but, at the time of this writing, it doesn’t have that telling blue checkmark that is associated with verified profiles of public figures. The account only has a handful of tweets and hasn’t been updated in years. The couple also has their own Instagram account dubbed “littleduggarfamily.” While that account is verified and has hundreds of thousands of followers, it’s not very active. The couple’s photos are few and far between.
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