Duggar husband Derrick Dillard has returned his Instagram account to public view, and it already appears to have been a mistake. Within days of his re-emergence, followers have already found reason to be concerned about his posts — and the safety of his son.
The family has recently returned to television for three special episodes, collectively titled Jill And Jessa: Counting On, and in those episodes, the Duggars took the opportunity to respond obliquely to some of the public criticism that roared through social media in the weeks before the episodes aired.
For a single example, Jill and Derrick Dillard were accused of lying about their mission trips, with a specific focus on a series of posts on the Duggar Family Official Facebook page which first showed the pair being thrown a going-away party, then showed Derrick, nearly two weeks later, in a vehicle with his 15-year-old brother-in-law. People questioned whether this demonstrated that the couple were lying about leaving, or faking their trips altogether. Some viewers wondered if the party was staged to “prove” that the family was really going on mission trips.
(Dates are circled in red on the images below, showing first the going-away party, then Derrick still in Arkansas.)
In the second Counting On special, A New Chapter, Jill Dillard addressed that accusation in a sidelong manner, by stating several times that the going-away party had been scheduled for days before they were due to leave.
Though the family addressed a few rumors and criticisms in that manner through their TLC specials, it’s becoming clear that the negative response from much of the viewing audience is getting to some of them.
Several members of the family have used social media posts to demand more respect from the public, and some posts appear orchestrated to try to shame the detractors and make them step back.
However, Jill’s husband, Derrick Dillard, seems to have taken the negative publicity harder than most of the others. Granted, he was at the center of his fair share of the criticism — he was called out for referring to caring for his son as “babysitting,” for a video that showed him aiming a sled at a cat (even before Josh Duggar’s crimes and indiscretions became public), and of course, for his part in the mission fund controversy.
During the height of the criticism, he appeared to have been driven into hiding — he made his Instagram account, where much of the criticism had been commented, private.
The disappearance didn’t last, though. After the last episode of Counting On aired, the Duggar husband returned his account to public visibility.
It’s unclear what prompted the decision. Perhaps Derrick thought the worst of the negative publicity would end with the show, or that showing new photos of his son would soften audiences for the rumored spin-offs yet to come, or he just missed the comments. Whatever his reason, it didn’t take long for followers to find a reason for concern.
That came in the form of this post.
Followers have already expressed concern about the photo for a range of reasons:
- There appears to be an uncovered electrical outlet behind the baby.
- He appears to be on a tiled floor, with only a blanket under him, in December, in warm-weather clothing.
- His left eye shows what might be bruising.
- The simple fact that he’s sitting still on a blanket evokes questions about whether the couple is “blanket training” — a form of discipline in which a very small child is physically punished for moving out of a small space.
Jill and Derrick have not stated specifically whether they use blanket training, but Michelle Duggar has endorsed the disciplinary method, and specifically a form of it outlined in a certain parenting book that Christianity Today reports has been linked to several families facing charges of child abuse, and even death of children at the hands of their parents.
As for the other criticisms, there is plenty of room for interpretation — it’s not unusual for babies at the crawling-and-pulling-up stage to suffer bruises from their own efforts to become mobile, it’s impossible to know what the temperature is in the house, and even if it is an uncovered outlet behind the child, one snapshot doesn’t tell whether Israel is ever left unsupervised in the room, or whether there is usually a cover on the outlet. (It’s a safe bet there was at least someone in the room with him when the photo was taken.)
None of the concerns expressed by Duggar detractors in this instance is a clear case of abuse. All are simply things that many see as red flags, particularly combined with the family’s reputation and previous statements about their child-rearing techniques.
Many members of the family have been quieter than usual on social media since the news about Josh first broke, and, while there was already much criticism of the Duggar disciplinary methods and political efforts, it has multiplied with each new revelation this year. Particularly for Jill and Derrick, there’s no sign that it is abating.
There’s no official statement about why the Duggar husband’s Instagram went dark to begin with, or why he returned it to public, but if Derrick Dillard had hopes of escaping public criticism, he may have re-emerged too soon.
[Image via TLC]