Derick Dillard and Jill Duggar are determined to avoid Jill’s parents mistakes.
No, “mistakes” implies that this was accidental. They’re hoping to avoid Jim Bob and Michelle’s irredeemable awful choices.
Even the tiniest deviation from family rules earned scorn and accusations from the cult survivor’s awful parents.
So when Jill began wearing pants, her parents accused her of leading her siblings “astray.” Oh, brother.
Many families rely upon eldest siblings for childcare labor, making them responsible for children who are not their own.
In “traditional” families, this role falls to eldest daughters. And in a sprawling family at the heart of a toxic cult, this means many more children. All with the expectation that she will then go on to birth her own massive brood.
That was certainly the case for Jill. Though most discuss Jana’s role as involuntary third parent, Jill was the fourth-eldest of nineteen … and acted as caregiver to many of her siblings.
Why was Jill’s “buddy group” of younger siblings important? (Aside from, you know, how deeply unfair it all was)
Well, because she spent years dressing, feeding, and entertaining these siblings.
They looked up to her. And, to Jim Bob and Michelle, that became a problem.
Jill was the first of the Duggar daughters to marry. By cult rules, this made her essentially Derick’s property … and thus able to live by new rules instead of by Jim Bob’s.
So she began, for the first time in her life, making actual decisions.
Jill wore pants. She got a small nose piercing. These symbols of bodily autonomy are antithetical to the cult where women exist as servants, scapegoats, incubators, and prey.
Jill and Derick appeared on a recent episode of Kate Casey’s Reality Life podcast.
There, Jill shared that Jim Bob and Michelle applied “pressure” to try to make her keep abiding by family rules … even when she was a married adult.
“‘Look how you’re leading. You’re going to lead your younger siblings astray,'” Jill recalls her parents saying as they confronted her. All because she made her own choices, like wearing pants.
“That burden is not mine to bear,” Jill countered. This may seem obvious to all of us, but for a cult survivor, it was a revelation.
“You put me in this position of … influence with my younger siblings,” she pointed out.
“And now,” Jill said accurately, “you’re afraid of the result of that.”
Jill is not the only one who remembers this. Derick spoke up, recalling how his in-laws confronted his wife.
“‘You’re leading your 6-year-old sister astray,'” he remembers them saying, “‘because she looks up to you like a parent and now you’re choosing to wear pants.'”
Derick continued his recollection: “‘We don’t agree with wearing pants. So this is your fault.'”
“In reality, it’s the parents’ responsibility,” Derick then summarized.
Meanwhile, Jill says that it was never her intention that all of her siblings should dress and style themselves like she does. Unlike Jim Bob and Michelle, she believes in choice. (Sometimes)
Jill very reasonably noted: “It’s a journey for everyone and not everybody’s going to arrive at the same conclusion.”
“These are real people, people that I love — my siblings, my parents. I have great relationships with some of my siblings,” Jill characterized.
“Other ones, it’s a little strained and sometimes complicated,” she admitted.
“But,” Jill concluded, “I extend a lot of grace because I have been in their shoes before.”