How would you feel if you were in DaddyOFive's shoes? I asked this question on a Facebook post and for the first time, I got a number of reactions in the comment boxes: "I wouldn't be in his shoes ... his shoes don't fit well, as they come with tears of my own children ... They need to be arrested ... He's a sociopath."
Inasmuch as I wanted to remain neutral on the issue whether DaddyOFive was committing child abuse or not, watching all the saved incriminating evidence made me feel sick. Yes, DaddyOFive's pranks are quite sickening. Mike Martin, DaddyOFive himself, wouldn't have deleted all of his family's YouTube video episodes if they were entirely blameless.
As a parent who has also had years of training in human and family development studies, I can detect blaming, shaming, control and manipulation in DaddyOFive's pranks. All of which are elements of a dysfunctional family cycle. It's sad and I couldn't believe how they became popular. It's a good thing, though, that their popularity made it possible for the abusiveness to be exposed.
A prank is a prank! But it's supposed to be a trick that is intended to be funny and not causing harm or damage. Granted that DaddyOFive's depictions of a dysfunctional family were all fake, still, their pranks were abusive. You don't do unhealthy pranks on children who couldn't yet understand the effect of the abuse.
Back to my childhood, I wouldn't forget a bit of a traumatic experience when I was younger than Cody (the poor 7-year-old victim of DaddyOFive's pranks).... My big sister brought me Cheese Curls from her school. I was so happy and excited to eat, but to my dismay, my sister did this prank of giving the Cheese Curls to my playmate. Not knowing what I did to be deprived of the cheese snack, I cried so loud for neighbors to hear. But no Cheese Curls was handed back to the poor little girl.
Of course, I never knew the impact of that experience as a child. One silly conflict with my husband, however, when we were a new couple unfolded where I was coming from. Hubby brought home a pack of Snickers. So I knew it that one bar was for me. As I cheked out the ref the following day, I got so upset that the chocolate bar was gone! Hubby had eaten that last bar of Snickers.
I was 27 then. But it seemed that I had the emotional maturity of a preschooler. I was so mad -- I freaked out like a little child -- all because of the one bar of chocolate that had disappeared. Well, what would I do when the same feeling of deprivation with the gone Cheese Curls resurfaced, this time, with the consumed Snickers bar?
I don't know about Cody. His destroyed Xbox and iPad may have been replaced. The repeated pattern of blaming, shaming, control and manipulation the child had to wrestle with, nonetheless, naturally disturbed and alarmed anti-child abuse viewers.
The good news that the Martins made a public apology and are now under coaching and family counseling should help the couple come to terms with what's wrong with their parenting. How I hope they will see how unhealthy pranks can be damaging to kids to the point of inhibiting their emotional growth.
For all we know, loving parents surely want their children to grow up emotionally. If the Martins are the loving parents they claim they are, they will make things right and strive to be the wholesome empowering family that's worth more than a million views.