19 Kids and Counting

Common Sense Media says

Mild behind-the-scenes look at an unusually large family.





What parents need to know

Educational value
Not applicable
Positive messages

The family appears to be very loving; discipline is firm, but also kind and respectful. They are proud of living within their means and not using credit.

Positive role models

The family is conservative and has clear values to match that background -- including the reinforcement of traditional gender roles. Each family member appears devoted to their way of life and proud of their family's closeness.

Violence & scariness

Michelle's troubled pregnancies, and the subsequent death of and funeral for an unborn child, is a major theme in later seasons of the show.

Sexy stuff

A person's virginity and premarital sex, as it relates to abstinence, appropriate courting behavior, and marriage, is occasionally discussed.

Not applicable
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that 19 Kids and Counting focuses on the real-life ups and downs of a large conservative Christian family. Many of the family activities on display promote family togetherness, respect for elders, firm but loving discipline, and more positive family behaviors. In later season of the show the Duggars experience a miscarriage as well as have a child who has some special health needs, which brings up the question of why the parents continue to have children. Not everyone will agree with the family's choices, but there are no other iffy issues to content with.

Parents say

Kids say

What's the story?

19 KIDS AND COUNTING offers TV viewers a look at the daily life of the Duggar family of Arkansas, which has already achieved some fame, including appearances on The Today Show. Managing their clan of 19 kids -- whose names all begin with J -- presents Jim Bob Duggar and his wife Michelle with their own unique challenges, all of which they approach with faith and traditional values.

Is it any good?


Despite the fact that they severely limit their children's access to TV, the Internet, and other mainstream media, the Duggar clan has become quite famous thanks to their voyeuristic reality show. 19 Kids and Counting contains lots of positive messages about family, faith, and love, thanks to Michelle and Jim Bob's gentle, but firm, approach to parenting, and the children's willingness to help their parents and each other without being bratty or disrespectful. The series also showcases the unique steps the family takes to keep the household running smoothly, as well as some of the family and faith-based activities they participate in.

While they don't discuss all the specifics of their conservative Christian beliefs or their participation in the controversial Quiverfull Movement (which views having large families as a way of promoting their faith) on camera, later seasons of the show stirred up some controversy thanks to Michelle's high-risk -- and highly-publicized -- 19th and 20th pregnancies, one of which resulted in a miscarriage. As a result, one can't help but wonder why they are putting themselves, and some of their more personal moments, in the secular limelight. But if you can get past this, the show is certainly a peek into a different world.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about why the Duggars were asked to appear on a mainstream TV reality show. Why do you think the Duggars agreed to be on a TV show, despite the fact that they do not allow cable access in their home?

  • Do the Duggars ever fully explain why they have chosen to have so many kids? Why do you think they are willing to share some of the highs and lows relating to some of the latest pregnancies with the public? Why do some people find this controversial?

  • How do the Duggars compare to other large families featured in the media?

TV details

Cast:Jennifer Duggar, John Duggar
Genre:Reality TV
TV rating:TV-PG
Available on:DVD, Streaming

This review of 19 Kids and Counting was written by

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  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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What parents and kids say

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Teen, 13 years old Written bybubbleboy June 15, 2009

Just SO Irritating

Sure, this show is perfectly clean and there is little to be concerned about when letting your children watch it, but this family has serious issues. The show shoves the family's ultra-conservative, unrealisitic values in your face and never lets up for a second. These children will have serious trouble interacting in the real world. They raise them as if in Utah in the 1950's! No television, no internet, no KISSING until marriage! I'm not usually one to judge, but these children will be ultra-screwed up! And I haven't even started on the homeschooling. Their children learn from COMPUTERS, and they have little contact with their peers, completely destroying their social interaction. In a recent episode, the older children go to a public elementary school, and we learn that the family DOESN'T DANCE as a rule! WHAT?! I'm sorry, but this show just gets under my skin.
Adult Written bygoddessangel July 1, 2009

Interesting show for adults, but the family is like a little cult

As an adult I actually like this show a lot and watch it religiously – pardon the pun. I guess without violence, alcohol/drugs, consumerism (other than what I consider to true belief and use of a product/message) or sex, it won’t corrupt your child in traditional ways. Since they live in normal society (most of them), their uber cult-like Christian (someone here said they were Mormon, but I was not aware of this) values are unlikely to rub off on your kids unless that’s your goal. It’s certainly not like Jon & Kate plus 8. At the same time, I think there are better things for your children to be watching. A * marks the start of a paragraph because sometimes this site runs everything together even if you put in breaks. * At first, they seem like the ideal Beaver Cleaver family. After watching the show for about a year and then doing some online research, many things began to bother me. Education is one of them that seemed good or even great on the surface. Upon closer inspection, I have no idea how these kids could actually attend and keep up in a regular (non-bible) college. Reading more about them (FAQ section) of their website was creepy. I found these two statements (J-O-Y- Jesus first, Others second, & Yourself last!) and that the kids are in a “constant training process” very disturbing. I’m sure lot’s of you will think this is a good thing, but I strongly disagree. I think it’s wrong to feel like you’re a 2nd (or 3rd) class citizen or that kids should be trained like dogs. Maybe it’s the wording – TEACH, not train. You can read more about my beliefs in the last paragraph below. This reminds me of my nightmare Christian school days where statement like that God was responsible for whether or not we got a good grade test. Is it just me, or whether or not I got a good grade is based on if I studied and/or learned the material? If I didn’t know the material (possibly prayed beforehand) and got a good grade, then it was a miracle and I should thank the some higher power for it, but otherwise it had nothing to do with God. Take the opposite way; I should blame God if I didn’t do well, even if I studied. However, there is nothing wrong with praying (nothing is wrong with using a positive thinking crutch) for help to steady nerves. * You can view a sample of their educational materials in a 60+ page .pdf file at http://ati.iblp.org/ati/about/curriculum/wisdombooklets/ . It is 90% God, 10% actual real subjects like math. Of the dozen word math problems, every single one has Bible connection. The one I read in particular focused on death and mourning. In addition to this, they read the Bible together 3x a day and memorize passages. While I am not a huge fan of what the haughty experts consider classic literature (I think any book you can understand and enjoy reading is a good book), I think not letting your kids reading anything but the Bible or religious propaganda books is wrong. I don’t believe that you can really choose to follow a certain religious path unless you know about other beliefs, such as studying about other religions or reading books with different viewpoints. You would never know light if you spent your life in a box. They can’t have a conversation that doesn’t involve God or other moral propaganda. They are like their own mini cult. Even the Amish allow their kids to explore the world before choosing to become a baptized Amish adult. BTW, I am normally a big fan of home schooling, even if it is mostly for religious reason. However, I am against in this case when I don’t feel the children are getting a good education. My Christian school education was not nearly as intensely religious as theirs was. * As for the person who said they don't interact much with other kids, they do, but only within their small world. They go to home school conferences, church and I think that they can chat with about school subjects with other kids that take in their class online. I was shocked to learn that they don't dance as well. In the Bible's famous passage - "a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to throw stones etc..." They stand still in time. It also really bugs me that the mother insists that she lost a baby because she was talking birth control pills and sinned against God. * One thing I find myself wondering what they will do if (or more likely when) one of the kids decides to rebel. Will they do what another large family did and stop communicating with them so as not to negatively influence the others? They seem like they would not, but if they do, it would be so sad because most of the closest friends are their brothers and sisters. I find it interesting that they don’t seem very strict, just wary of outside influence. I’ve seen what strictness does, it alienate kids and makes them want to rebel. This approach seems to work much better. They use a brainwashing technique and keep them in a bubble, insulating them and undermining regular societies normal. * To see where my viewpoint come from, here is a little background on me. After doing lots of research on various religions, beliefs and viewpoints online, I am proudly Neo-Pagan. I was raised protestant Christian, later I became atheists- belief in no God/Divine, and then I was agnostic- belief in the Divine, but not the Bible or a specific religious path. My values and beliefs come from a variety of different religions, but primarily Wicca. I believe that the Bible was written by man (not God) and has stories based on historical fact and embellished or purposely changed to serve the needs of those in power. I also believe the Bible is a kind of like Aesop’s Fables, with stories that are meant to teach moral values. I believe Jesus was a great prophet, but not the son of God, anymore than we are all silvers of the Divine. I don’t have anything against Christians (or other religions) per se, but I do have major issues with those who try to force their values on others or impede my ability do as I wish as long as I don’t harm anyone. These are things like assault or murder. This is anything from not watching a certain TV show or wearing sexy clothes to obtaining a legal partnership (I’m not gay, in fact I’ve been married for 12+ years) with someone of the same sex.
Teen, 15 years old Written byOGORMAN February 3, 2011

I encourage you to watch just one episode.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with this... I won't say show because it's not, it's their actual lives. Michelle and JimBob keep their 19 children firmly focused on a good Christian lifestyle and respect and trust in others. I can't miss a single episode! If I did, I don't know what would happen... my world would probably crumble down around me. The kids are all so sweet and funny in their own ways. I encourage everyone to watch just one episode, that's all, and then I can guarantee you'll be hooked. Best TLC show ever! Just for kicks and giggles I'm gonna name all of the kids: Josh, Jana, John-David, Jill, Jessa, Jinger, Joseph, Josiah, Joy Anna, Jedidiah, Jeremiah, Jason, James, Justin, Jackson, Johannah, Jennifer, Jordyn, and Josie. (Yes I just did this without any help whatsoever, and yes they are in order from oldest to youngest.) There is also Josh's wife Anna and their children Mackynzie, Michael, and Marcus; Jill married Derrick and they are expecting their first child; and Jessa is now engaged to Ben Seewald. I'm so excited for all the big moments coming next in their lives!! Comments? Questions? Concerns? Email me: ogormanscommonsense at yahoo. :)
What other families should know
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Great role models


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