Jill Duggar Dillard is still promoting her book, Counting On, which came out in mid-September. We’ve previously covered excerpts involving Jill and husband Derick discovering the benefits of therapy and Jill standing up to her controlling dad, Jim Bob, by telling him that he treats her convicted pedophile brother better than he treats her. It’s been a lot and while I still think she still has work to do on herself (don’t we all), I’m really happy that Jill has begun thinking for herself and become her own person who cuts her hair, sends her kids to public school, and <gasp!> wears pants.
Jill recently sat down for another interview to promote Counting On, this time with ET. She spoke about growing up on TV, her own personal journey of growth, and deprogramming from her cult family. Jill also shared the impact that thinking for herself has had on her relationship with her parents and gazillion siblings.
Growing up, Jill said she “never thought” her role in the family would shift “from the people pleasing, sweet Jilly Muffin to finding my voice, and standing up for myself and other people.” In doing so, Jill said, she went “from the golden child to the black sheep.”
“Looking back, I would have never imagined that I would be where I am now. That is not where I wanted to be,” she said. “… But you have to make a decision at some point: Are you going to cower to that or are you going to rise above it and just keep just pressing on?”
With the “great support” of her husband, Derick Dillard, Jill stepped away from her famous family’s teachings, even appearing in the Prime Video docuseries, Shiny Happy People: Duggar Family Secrets, to speak out about her “cult-like” upbringing. That decision greatly impacted her relationship with her family, no one more so than her dad, Jim Bob.
“My relationship with my father, there were very hurtful things that happened and I’ve chosen to forgive him and to hopefully move on with better boundaries and better rules in place… so that hopefully that level of control and hurt won’t be allowed to happen again,” she said. “I feel like I didn’t have very good boundaries. I didn’t know what that could look like.”
While “things have not changed entirely” with her dad, Jill said he now understands that she and Derick are “serious about boundaries” and respects that.
“My relationship with my dad on a daily basis, we don’t have a whole lot of one-on-one contact at all right now, but we see each other at weddings or funerals or occasionally if there’s a family function that we might choose to go to,” she said. “That’s what we’ve kind of had to put in place just to keep things healthier.”
As for where she stands with her mom, Michelle, Jill said she tries “to keep my mom out of the middle of it.”
“As we’ve processed and really lived our story, the more I felt like… [she doesn’t] have to be the go-between between me, my dad, whatever. She can just be Mom or be Grandma,” Jill said. “… It is very separate. I try to keep it that way, because I think it’s healthier right now. I think it’s happier. It makes us be able to actually see each other.”
Jill noted that she last saw her parents several months ago, admitting that the interaction was “hard” and “not comfortable.”
“I don’t think it’s comfortable for them either. It’s sad,” she said. “You want everything to be perfect. You can hang out sometimes and have surface-level conversations, which is what I am actually wanting right now… because that’s easier. That is where we need to be right now.”
While Jill said she’s not “resentful” about the situation with her parents, she noted, “I would say that I’m sad about the way that the relationship is and that I’m sad about certain aspects of my relationship with my parents, but I’m hopeful moving forward. Not naive, but hopeful.”
Then there’s her siblings, some of whom she communicates with via a group text. Ahead of the release of her book, she sent her adult siblings a letter, in which she explained her reasons for speaking out, and was “pleasantly surprised that most of my siblings were saying, ‘I would love to read your book.’”
“I love all my siblings,” Jill said. “I hope that they know that I love them.”
Even so, Jill said she “didn’t write the book to try and change my parents” or her siblings, but rather as “our story to help other people who I had talked to, who felt validated, who came away saying, ‘I felt the same feelings of isolation and I felt like it bred this control aspect that’s not healthy and I feel validated in that.’”
“I think it could be helpful for some of my siblings to read and to hear our perspective on our story that may have been filtered. I think that it could be helpful for them to hear our story, but then also I think it could be freeing for some of my siblings,” she said. “… I think if that helps them, and frees them, and gives them their voice, and it empowers them, then I think that’s amazing. I would love for all of them to read it.”
[From ET Online]
When it comes to her family, I think Jill is doing the best she can with the hand she was dealt. She sounds even more well-adjusted in this interview than she has in previous ones. Most young adults want that autonomy of thinking for themselves and I think there are people of all ages who crave the approval of their parents. Given Jill’s insular upbringing, it must have been a tough realization that in the fundamental Christian world that she grew up in, one is directly tied with the other. I wonder if she understands the way women are perceived and treated in that world. As for her siblings, I thought she explained herself to them directly in a matter-of-fact, well-thought-out way. It would be nice if she reaches one or more of them and convinces them to leave the cult, too.
I also hope she realizes that while Jim Bob may be laying low and respecting her and Derick’s boundaries right now, abusive a-holes like JB don’t give up control over the women in their lives that easily. It sounds like she realizes it, though, when she says she’s “not naive, but hopeful.” Hopefully, she’s continuing with her therapy and building up the tools she’ll need when he inevitably tries to break those boundaries again.
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