Some Duggars left IBLP, but is Jessa Duggar estranged from her family because of her different lifestyle choices?
In Shiny Happy People: Duggar Family Secrets, a docu-series on Prime Video, we get a first-hand account from Jessa's sister, Jill Duggar Dillard, and other former members of the Institute in Basic Life Principles cult about the experiences they endured when following the ministry. Ultimately, the accusations they come forward with paint a very different picture from the organization that claims to "help people find Christ and the timeless values of the Bible."
Although the controversial leader Bill Gothard stepped down in 2014, IBLP still remains active, and its fundamentalist theories are still practiced: no pants for women, no TV, no rock music, and the list goes on. Given Jessa's activity on social media—or lack thereof—people suspect that she is no longer in line with the family's belief system, but does that mean she's not in contact with anyone in the Duggar clan? Here's what we know.
Is Jessa Duggar estranged from her family?
While she might not be estranged from her family, Jessa Duggar does tend to keep a low profile compared to some of her other siblings in the reality-show family.
Jessa Seewald (née Duggar) shares four young children with her husband, Ben Seewald, and they seem to be pretty busy keeping track of her clan, and understandably so. Those who follow Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar's website noticed that the duo and their kiddos weren't making regular appearances on the family blog, whether it was for the 2021 holiday get-togethers, 2022 fall festivals and so forth. Additionally, Ben seemed to hint at disagreements between his in-laws, and Jinger Duggar even alleged in her book that her brother-in-law was the reason she reexamined her faith.
Then, turning our attention towards Jessa on her Instagram page, we noticed a few interesting tidbits that suggest she's not following the conservative lifestyle: she's wearing jeans, as are her children, and the kids are often seen running around and playing, a bit different from the reserved family time we witnessed on TLC's 19 Kids and Counting.
In April 2023, shortly before Shiny Happy People dropped, Jessa took to Instagram to share a family photo at her sister Joy's baby shower, seemingly indicating that they're all able to come together and celebrate, even if there are differences.
"The older everyone gets, the busier life gets—which means it’s always extra special when we manage to get all 9 of us sisters + mom together again in the same place at the same time! Last week was golden," she captioned the group photo.
Since then, the buzzy doc Shiny Happy People: Duggar Family Secrets premiered on Prime Video on Friday, June 2, and it's pretty clear that some of her siblings, particularly Jill, are keeping an arm's length from their relatives. Jill, the only member of the immediate family to appear on screen in the docu-series, was joined by her husband Derick and gave an honest account of where they stood.
“There’s been some distancing there. We’re not on the best terms with some of the family," Derick said. For her part, Jill alleged that "everything within the family dynamic has shifted—and not for the better."
Jessa Duggar has yet to comment on the project. Seemingly, she has pursued a different lifestyle than most of her relatives, yet she remains quiet when it comes to specific dynamics. For their part, Jim Bob and Michelle released a statement saying, "We love every member of our family and will continue to do all we can to have a good relationship with each one. Through both the triumphs and the trials we have clung to our faith all the more and discovered that through the love and grace of Jesus, we find strength, comfort, and purpose."
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Shiny Happy People: Duggar Family Secrets is now streaming on Prime Video.
Need a TV show recommendation? Maybe a few decor tips? Danielle, a digital news writer at Future, has you covered. Her work appears throughout the company’s lifestyle brands, including My Imperfect Life, Real Homes, and woman&home. Mainly, her time is spent at My Imperfect Life, where she’s attuned to the latest entertainment trends and dating advice for Gen Z.
Before her time at Future, Danielle was the editor of Time Out New York Kids, where she got to experience the best of the city from the point of view of its littlest residents. Before that, she was a news editor at Elite Daily. Her work has also appeared in Domino, Chowhound, and amNewYork, to name a few.
When Danielle’s not writing, you can find her testing out a new recipe, reading a book (suggestions always welcome), or rearranging the furniture in her apartment…again.
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