One of the many controversies surrounding the Duggar family, “blanket training” is a method of controlling children from a very young age. It involves placing temptations in front of a very young child, then hitting him for succumbing. The Duggar family has been criticized for using this, among other methods promoted by Michael and Debi Pearl, on their kids.
Okay, quick run-down if this all sounds confusing. Michael and Debi Pearl are the authors of a book called To Train Up A Child. Among other contents, it includes advice for spanking children only a few months old, using plumbing pipe as a “rod” to spank with, and blanket training. The methods in it have been implicated in deaths of children — Babble has a rundown of three cases here. The Pearls say this is just because people misuse their advice.
What does this have to do with the Duggar family? Michelle and Jim Bob Duggar have promoted the Pearls’ book, and cite it extensively in their own books. The Pearls’ ‘rod’ appears in the police report that was released in 2015, alongside details of Josh Duggar’s own acts. Gawker quotes an unnamed Duggar child answering a police question about spanking: “They have a rod.”
As for blanket training, it’s a method to teach kids to stay still. Michael Pearl’s book directs the parent to place a child on a blanket with tempting toys out of reach and hit his leg with a switch if he moves toward the toy.
The Duggar Family Blog openly describes Michelle Duggar using the method, albeit by a different name. The blog also asserts that she uses a modified version with no toy. In her book, The Duggars: 20 and Counting, however, Michelle Duggar calls it blanket training. Her description also includes a toy the child is not allowed to leave the blanket to retrieve, lest he be “corrected.”
Now that the Duggar family is promoting the Pearls’ appearance at Fort Rock Family Camp, the business owned by Joy Duggar Forsyth’s new in-laws, viewers are wondering again which of the married Duggar couples will raise their kids with blanket training, and the Pearls’ other methods.
A series of screenshots posted to the Pickles and Hairspray Facebook page, which follows the Duggars, shows Austin Forsyth’s parents telling a correspondent that they support the “child training” described in the book, although they say they don’t use all of it. Since that seems to confirm that Joy’s husband was also raised on these methods, some viewers speculate that Joy and Austin will blanket train (and use the Pearls’ other methods) too.
However, Jessa Duggar Seewald is often praised for an apparent gentle parenting style, and, while she hasn’t spoken openly about blanket training, there’s no indication she’s carrying on Michelle Duggar’s disciplinary tradition.
Then there’s Jinger Duggar Vuolo. As the Duggar who seems to have moved farthest from her family in ideology, she definitely keeps fans guessing. It’s not clear at all what her parenting style will be.
The Duggar most associated with blanket training, however, is Jill. Married to Derick Dillard, Jill makes headlines for their social media life regularly. Photos Jill has posted of her kids net a constant stream of questions from her followers. They’ve wondered about Israel having a black eye, a few times, and about a few images of him wrapped tightly in a blanket in apparent distress.
Though the images have been deleted from Instagram, In Touch has archived copies. The Duggar grandson appears to be swaddled in a blanket too tightly to move, in two separate images. Viewers have considered this evidence that another generation of Duggar kids would face the Pearls’ disciplinary methods.
However, in a new Instagram post, Derick Dillard denies it — he says his family has never blanket trained.
One Instagram follower left several comments that described blanket training, the Pearls’ book, Michelle Duggar’s own comments about blanket training in her books, and brought up the aforementioned photos of Jill and Derick’s son screaming while swaddled.
Derick responded with a long comment, calling the assertion slander.
“Your ‘facts’ are lies and slander….as for the book you’re talking about, I have never read it, nor do I know what it says about child abuse. My family has never blanket trained. Please understand what facts actually are before you make misplaced accusations under a post that has nothing to do with what we’re trying to celebrate here. Thank you.”
He did not deny that the Duggar family uses blanket training, however, only denying it for his own household. He also did not directly address commentary about the deleted photos of his distressed son. Though this is actually not part of what is defined as ‘blanket training,’ one of the children who died when his parents followed the Pearls’ book was a 4-year-old who suffocated to death while wrapped tightly in a blanket, WRAL reports. Pearl has denied recommending this as discipline for older children.
At this point, no other Duggar family has denied using blanket training on their children, but there are three Duggar grandchildren expected this year who will be their parents’ first child, so it remains to be seen whether these couples will follow in the family tradition.