'19 Kids and Counting:' Teens Don't Date, They Court

Kimberly RipleyLife4 Comments

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The 19 Kids and Counting kids learned early on that when they became teenagers they couldn't date. Instead they could court a close friend of the opposite sex--with the intention of that courtship leading to marriage.

Three of the 19 Kids and Counting crew have found those rules of courtship to work perfectly for them. Josh Duggar, the oldest of the nineteen offspring of Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar, met his wife that way. They've been married for a few years now and have a family of their own. Jill Duggar, who was courted by Derick Dillard, got married this past June. And daughter Jessa Duggar just announced her engagement--yes, following a courtship--with beau Ben Seewald.

"Courting is getting to know each other in a group setting, both families spending time together and the couple setting goals together to determine if they are meant to marry. With dating, a couple will often pair off alone and that sometimes leads to a more physical relationship," Jim Bob Duggar explains.

Jim Bob also believes that all of the physical aspects of a relationship should be saved for marriage. Jill was and Jessa is allowed what he called 'side hugs' with her special man, however. Jim Bob also encourages weekly dates and asking lots and lots of questions--both the courting couple and their families involved, of course.

People may balk at this, but it's how most Amish communities have conducted 'dating' for centuries. Ben Seewald doesn't seem to have a problem with it--and he just asked Jessa Duggar for her hand in marriage.

"The Duggar family gets asked a lot of questions. A lot of times we take it as a lesson, and we ask other people who are older and wiser than us to share wisdom with us about relationships. It's an important thing," he said recently.

Courtship worked for Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar before they tied the knot. They have been married for thirty years.

What do you suppose would happen if teens everywhere--and adults, too--starting courting rather than dating? Might it lower the rate of divorce in this country? It would certainly be an interesting notion on which to conduct an experiment--don't you think?

The new season of 19 Kids and Counting starts on September 2nd. It will be interesting to see, in light of Jessa Duggar and Ben Seewald's engagement, if there might be a second wedding in the Duggar household before the end of 2014. What's your best guess?

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Kimberly Ripley

Kimberly Ripley is a freelance writer and published author from Portsmouth, New Hampshire. A wife, mom of five and ‘Nana’ to Lilly and Aiden, she loves cooking for her big family and watching HGTV in her spare time. Kim is guilty of starting way more home design projects than she can finish. Visit her at Twitter and Facebook.

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