12 Facts About The Bates Family That'll Surprise All 'Bringing Up Bates' Fans
While the stars of UPtv's reality show Bringing Up Bates are perhaps best known for their super-sized family of 19 and strong religious beliefs, there are actually many other facts about the Bates family fans may not know. For example, did you know they're business owners and can sing pretty dang well?
Before going deeper into their fascinating lives, let's do a quick debriefer on the famous brood. At the helm of the family are Gil and Kelly Jo Bates, who reportedly met while attending the same college. After getting married in 1988, according to Cheat Sheet, the two have since welcomed 19 children together over the past 30 years. What's more, as ABC News noted, Kelly Jo had been pregnant for 22 years straight. As for work, Kelly Jo is a stay-at-home mom, while Gil has his own tree cutting business in Lake City, Tennessee.
Since welcoming their first child in 1988, the Bates family has continued to expand. And over the years, the family has shared their lives — pregnancies, marriages, and more — with their Instagram followers and viewers of their reality TV show. To help you get better acquainted with the Bates brood, here are 12 interesting facts about Gil, Kelly Jo, and their 19 kids.
1. They All Live In The Same Part Of Tennessee
The couple has called Eastern Tennessee their home since getting married, according to CBN. Although two of the older Bates siblings — Tori and Michael — did move away from their family's compound at some point with their spouses, according to the Knoxville News-Sentinel, they've since returned to be with their family.
"The couples getting married and moving to different states is tough because you go from seeing them every day to just a few times a year," Lawson explained to the Knoxville News-Sentinel. "Having them back in East Tennessee is something everyone's excited about."
Kelly Jo and Gil love where they live. Gil told The He Said, She Said experience that his favorite thing about living in Tennessee is the mountains, the weather, and the people. "I like the spirit of helping each other," he said. "I really love the people of Tennessee."
2. They Own A Boutique
In April, sisters Carlin and Erin, and their sister-in-law Whitney, opened the Bates Sisters Boutique, which sells a number of comfortable dresses (some of which are maternity friendly) as well as kids clothes. Opening the boutique was a "shot in the dark" for the siblings, as they previously told Knoxville News-Sentinel.
"We had been tossing around the idea of starting a dress boutique for maybe like, at least a year and a half," Erin explained during a recent episode. "So Carlin was at my house one day and Whitney was there too and we were just talking and she was like, 'You know what girls? If you don't start a dress boutique, I am going to start it.' And we were like, 'OK, we'll do it with you.'"
3. Kelly Jo Has Given Birth More Times Than Michelle Duggar
The Bates family has the same amount of members as their close friends, the Duggars. But, interestingly enough, Kelly Jo has actually given birth more times than Michelle Duggar, according to People. This is because the Duggars have two sets of twins, and the Bates family has no multiples.
4. They're Musically Inclined
5. They Shot A Pilot For TLC
Before Bringing Up Bates aired on UPtv for the first time in January 2016, the family had already tried their hand at reality TV. In 2012, TLC aired an eight-episode series called The United Bates of America starring the Bates family, but the show never went beyond that, according to TV Insider. (You can still watch the pilot on YouTube.)
6. They Were "Reluctant" To Bring Cameras Into Their Home
Despite starring in two different reality shows, Gil told the Christian Examiner that he prayed before putting his family in front of TV cameras for the world to see.
"We as a family were very reluctant and hesitant to even consider allowing cameras into our home," he told the publication. "We actually were approached to ask if we could consider it, and we really wrestled with, number one, how we would do it, and number two, how it would affect our family. It really seemed impossible ... We ventured out reluctantly. We just try to be real."
7. They're Devoted To Their Faith
8. They Don't Use Birth Control
Gil and Kelly Jo do not use birth control, according to CBN, and view every child as a blessing, as Gil told Christian Examiner in 2016: "My wife one day said, 'I think God wants us to trust Him on having children.' I said, 'Wait a minute. We could have 20 kids. You just can't do that.'...But then I read through the Bible, and I saw that God called children a blessing. I was kind of looking as children as a hinderance instead of a blessing."
9. They're Not Strict About Dress Code
10. The Kids Have Attended College
The family places a strong emphasis on education. In fact, the older Bates siblings have attended college throughout the years, according to Knoxville News-Sentinel and in 2018 Tori, Trace, and Josie Bates graduated from Crown College of the Bible in Powell, Tennessee.
11. They Have Several Sweet Family Traditions
Even with 19 kids and hectic schedules, holiday traditions are still important in their family. For example, they celebrate Christmas, according to CBN, and like to decorate the house for the season, with plenty of mangers.
The family members do not exchange presents with each other on Christmas, according to International Business Times. While their children get presents from outside family members on Christmas, they wait to exchange gifts within the family on Valentine's Day, according to CBN. They call this holiday "I Love You Day."
"Our reasoning was based on the fact that the children received the gifts from their grandparents and relatives on Christmas, and we didn't want to overwhelm them with so many gifts at one time that they became less grateful or that it diminished the excitement that they might have for the gifts others gave," Kelly Jo told International Business Times in 2015.
12. They Know How To Work With A Budget
Due to the sheer size of their family, they know a thing or two about budgeting and they try their hardest to stick to it — especially when it comes time to planning the weddings for the Bates kids. For example, the family is intent on buying the things they need, not the things they want, and frequently shop at thrift stores to save money. "I'm a real penny pincher," Gil told ABC News in 2011. "I'm probably worse than a penny pincher."
The Bates family really is quite fascinating and these facts only skim the surface. To learn more about this interesting brood, Bringing Up Bates airs on Thursdays at 9 p.m. ET on UPtv.