Fans of TLC’s “19 Kids and Counting” marvel at Michelle Duggar’s calm manner and positive outlook. What were Michelle’s childhood and teen years like? How did she become the Michelle Duggar we’ve come to know today? Here are some answers, based on the Duggars’ book, The Duggars: 20 and Counting!: Raising One of America’s Largest Families–How they Do It.
Michelle Duggar’s Childhood
Michelle Ruark was born September 13, 1966, in Springdale, Arkansas. She was the youngest of Garrett and Ethel Ruark’s 7 children; her 5 sisters and brother were named Pam, Evelyn, Carol, Freda, Kathie, and Garrett Jr.
Michelle was quite a bit younger than most of her siblings, and by the time she was in elementary school only she and her sister Carol were still living at home.
Didn’t Attend Church
It may seem hard to believe considering the Duggars’ current Christian lifestyle, but as a child Michelle Duggar didn’t go to church. At 15, a friend talked to Michelle about Christ and invited her to a crusade at church. Michelle attended, accepted Christ, and never looked back.
Michelle was a cheerleader throughout most of junior high and high school, until she resigned as a senior. She attributes this resignation to personal conviction and Bible study. Ironically, her cheerleader status was one of the things that originally attracted future husband Jim Bob Duggar. Jim Bob, whose family had always been church-going, was visiting potential church members with a friend. The friend mentioned, “Hey, there’s a girl who goes to my school who just became a Christian. She’s a cheerleader.” Jim Bob responded, “That’s all I needed to hear.” The pair visited Michelle’s family home, and sparks flew – at least for Jim Bob.
Jim Bob Enters the Picture
Michelle wasn’t too impressed with Jim Bob at first, but Jim Bob was totally taken by Michelle. Shy by nature, Jim Bob took a year to ask her out. That was May 1983, when the couple attended Jim Bob’s high school banquet. This time, Michelle was more interested. She remembers going home after the date and thinking, “Lord, if this isn’t the one You have for me, I can’t imagine anyone better.”
Michelle and Jim Bob Duggar Get Married
Jim Bob and Michelle married a year later, July 21, 1984. Michelle had graduated from high school 3 months prior to the wedding, and she would not turn 18 until September of that year. Jim Bob was 19. Neither Michelle nor Jim Bob attended college.
The Duggars’ early years of marriage formed the basis of their frugal living. Jim Bob worked at a grocery store, and soon began selling used cars. Michelle added to the family income by substitute teaching. On the advice of their family physician, the Duggars had no TV and no pets during their first year of marriage.
You may be surprised to learn that the Duggars did not have their first child, Josh, until almost 4 years after their marriage. But once they began, there has been no stopping since. The Duggars have always said that their desire is to accept each child as a gift from God – and they have done this, now 19 times.
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