Any boy looking to date a Duggar girl should be prepared to take it very, very slow. During the season premiere of 19 Kids and Counting on Tuesday, April 1, Michelle and Jim Bob Duggar laid out the rules of courtship for their 19 children -- two of whom, 20-year-old Jessa and 22-year-old Jill, recently began relationships with prospective mates.
"As far as our kids dating, we believe a lot of times if you're alone with the person, it can create desires that can kind of get stirred up, and you don't have any accountability, and [that] can kind of lead to some hanky panky," Jim Bob explained on the show. And hanky panky is a big no-no.
"Courtship is really getting to know each other for the purpose of possibly getting engaged and getting married," the father of 19 said. Added Jill, who is courting 25-year-old Derick Dillard: "The main difference between courting and dating is setting boundaries for yourself so that you don't cross over those."
Those boundaries, for Jessa and her beau, Ben Seewald, 18, include no holding hands, no kissing, and always having a chaperone (usually one of the Duggars' 10 sons). So how do they show affection? With "side-hugs" when they say hello or goodbye. "Obviously we're saving our first kiss for marriage," Ben said. "It's pretty basic."
Michelle and Jim Bob, who are devout fundamentalist Independent Baptists, also require that their daughters' suitors include them on any text messages. "It's neat to see their conversations," Jim Bob told Today.com.
Jim Bob is very hands-on when it comes to his girls' love lives. In fact, he told Today.com that he fields letters and calls every week from guys who want to date his daughters. "The girls have always said they would send any guy who was interested in them to Dad," Michelle said. "That's a good thing -- that is such good protection for them."