Jill Duggar Dillard and her son Israel have been one of many subjects of speculation regarding the Duggar family, which also includes the way they raise their kids, their religious teachings, and their disciplinary methods. While a lot of their practices (such as requiring courting couples, even as adults, to have chaperones, and forbidding front-facing hugs until after marriage) are controversial, a particular issue has been the Duggar family’s support of physical punishment.
The controversial part isn’t just that the Duggar family believes in spanking, which would be controversial enough in an age where many families consider it necessary, and others consider it abuse. However, Michelle Duggar has specifically endorsed books by Michael and Debi Pearl, whose teachings include hitting a child with a piece of plumbing pipe. The Pearl’s books have even been implicated in at least three deaths. ABC reports that the Pearls response to this was to say it was “absurd” to connect their book to the abuse.
After Josh Duggar’s police reports were released, Gawker noted that aside from the descriptions of sexual abuse of underage girls by the teenage sibling, the reports contained something else of note, which was the kids mentioned being punished with “a rod.” This is also what the Pearls call the plumbing pipe.
With that in the immediate history, it’s small surprise that when Jill Dillard began posting photos of her son Israel with bumps and bruises, rather than assuming these were the results of typical childhood play, Duggar viewers leaped to a different conclusion.
In particular, a series of photos and videos that Jill and Derick Dillard posted of the Duggar grandson appeared to show a dark or swollen area around his eye.
Viewers questioned what was wrong with Baby Dillard, with some assuming the couple was abusing the infant, and others offering the defense that Jill Dillard’s son may have simply crawled into the corner of a table or fallen.
However, no answer was forthcoming from the Duggar family.
Since then, illness and unsafe conditions have been a theme for the couple who left the Duggar home to act as missionaries in Central America. TLC even released a video of Jill saying she feared for Israel’s safety when she left the house.
Later, the Duggar family would sit with Jill while she and Derick told further stories for another Counting On clip, centering around the dangers of life in Central America.
Meanwhile, Derick Dillard’s health has been a constant matter of question and speculation. He has denied that anything serious is going on, although his health concerns were featured on a Counting On episode.
Now Jill Duggar Dillard has answered some of these questions in a new blog post, in which she addresses the whole family’s history of illness while outside the U.S., and she finally tells viewers what was going on with Israel’s eye.
“The first few days we were here, amidst the settling in and busy schedule, Israel and I (Jill) were battling coughs and colds and Israel developed a low-grade fever, which we quickly noticed was as a result of an eye infection (he first had this at the beginning of our last time here when he was only 8 months old). Thankfully it hasn’t been as bad as the first time!”
This appears to explain why Israel Dillard’s eye was swollen and dark or reddish through several photos over the end of 2015 and beginning of 2016.
Jill Dillard goes on to get ahead of any eagle-eyed viewers who might wonder about bumps or redness they see in photos in the near future: she describes how the toddler had already suffered ant bites and burned his hand when he “…decided to test out the instant hot water dispenser and quickly learned it wasn’t a toy.”
As for the Dillard family’s health care, Jill talks more about the way they protect themselves.
“We frequently pray for protection from bacteria, accidents and other things that would complicate things or send us running to the doctor.”
It’s not clear why Jill Duggar Dillard didn’t shut down gossip about Israel’s safety sooner by answering this question a year or so ago, but now that she has offered a simple explanation — an eye infection — she’s also revealed a lot more about her concerns for the baby’s health in Central America.
[Featured Image by Jill Duggar Dillard/Instagram]