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Super-sized Duggar family returns for a new season of '19 Kids and Counting'

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On April 1, the super-sized Duggar family returned to TLC for the premiere of the eighth season of “19 Kids and Counting.” Jessa Duggar and her new beau, Ben Seewald, took center stage as America's favorite family enters a brand new stage of their super-sized lives.

The stars of the April 1 premiere of “19 Kids and Counting” were Jessa and Ben, who met in church and began texting each other, after asking for permission to do so from their parents. Michelle Duggar stated in earlier interviews, “They share very similar beliefs. It has been fun to watch them.” Other rejected suitors have called in the past, but Ben made the selective cut. “He’s the first one Jessa has shown interest in that has a spiritual focus and legitimate calling about ministry work,” Jim Bob told "People." He added, “When a guy is pursuing your daughter, you want to check him out and see if there are any red flags. With Ben, there haven't been any. It appears like a match made in heaven."

On the April 1st season premiere of “19 Kids” and Counting,” Ben went through the Duggar family security gates to ask for Jim Bob and Michelle’s permission to court Jessa. After granting their permission, Jim Bob stated, “He will make a great partner in life.” Realizing the seriousness of his request, Michelle added, “If this is the one, it could end in marriage. After a quick side hug, Jessa and Ben announced their courtship to the family. “He brings out the best in me,” Jessa said on Tuesday’s premiere. Grandma Dugger talked about Ben and stated, “He has a good heart and Jessa loves him very much." According to Hollywood Life on April 1, all members of the Duggar family are excited about Jessa’s courtship. Zap2It noted that Jessa is the first Duggar daughter to be officially involved in a relationship.

Jessa, who is strong-willed and not afraid to speak her mind, considers Ben a good balance to her outspoken manner. After clearing some trees on the family’s property, Ben tried to recite all 18 names of Jessa’s brothers and sisters. Meanwhile, Jessa tried her hand in the kitchen. “I need some practice in the area of cooking,” she admitted.

After spending time in the Duggar’s household, Jessa and Ben flew to his hometown (with pilot John-David) for a reciprocal visit with his parents. Ben, who is one of seven children, seemed more relaxed in his own home environment. While Michelle stayed at home with the younger Seewald children, Ben’s parents focused their attention on Jessa and her relationship with their son. Beforehand, Ben’s sister gave her stamp of approval on Jessa by saying, “I think that their personalities would work so well together.”

While on a double date with Jess and his parents, things went quite smoothly for Ben. Jessa admitted that she was nervous, but she needn’t worry. Ben’s mother exclaimed on air, “He’s just taken with her!” His dad added, “I am extremely pleased. I don’t think Ben could have done any better.’

In addition to Jessa and Ben’s courtship, the new season of “19 Kids and Counting” will explore a changing family dynamic as the Duggar children continue to grow up. The four eldest Duggar girls – Jana, Jill, Jessa and Jinger – have written a book, “Growing Up Duggar,” which released nationwide on March 4, 2014. The autobiography shares never-before-told stories of life in a large family, the qualities that the girls are looking for in a man, their passion for making a difference in the world, navigating the difficult years from being a little girl to becoming a young lady, their dreams for the future and more.

The 2014 season of “19 Kids and Counting” includes ten new episodes that will air at 9 p.m. EST on Tuesdays on TLC through June. According to the official “19 Kids and Counting” Facebook page on March 31, the new season could feature courtships, marriages and babies. Notice the plural for all the above. In a teaser preview, TLC hinted on Monday that Jill could also become involved with a new courtship.

Unlike in seasons past, cousin Amy Duggar will not be a part of this season of “19 Kids and Counting.” However, she has really big news that will break sometime in May, so be sure to stay tuned. On April 1, Amy asked on Twitter, “Who’s watching the premiere of the NEW season on 19 Kids and Counting tonight?” She was dating Matt Sample, a former baseball player from the Arizona Diamondback, but it looks like their relationship went south recently. On March 27, Amy tweeted, “Don’t stress over what could have been. Chances are if it should’ve been, it would’ve been.” However, don’t fret for the hugely talented Amy. She will be back and with a vengeance very soon.

Below are details about the next new episode of “19 Kids and Counting” on TLC:

Tuesday, April 8: “Double Dating Duggars.” When Jim Bob & Michelle take new couple, Jessa & Ben, out on a double date, they discuss the importance of boundaries. Anna builds a playhouse. Jill and her buddy group make the Duggars' favorite snack. And the family may be in for more changes.

More about the Duggar family from "19 Kids & Counting"
The super-sized Duggar family includes mom Michelle, dad Jim Bob, plus children Joshua, Jana, John-David, Jill, Jessa, Jinger, Joseph, Josiah, Joy-Anna, Jeremiah, Jedidiah, Jason, James, Justin, Jackson, Johannah, Jennifer, Jordyn and Josie. The family resides debt-free in Arkansas and stars in a weekly reality TV series on TLC called "19 Kids & Counting."

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