We had an exceptionally late night last night, which is usually recipe for a disastrous following day, so I was not surprised when I picked up all the children and they were each in an unpleasant mood. As I tried to coax and urge them to be happier, the more angry and despondent they got. And in the end, we were all grumpy. I wish my patience level had been higher this evening. I wish we had smiled more. I wish we had laughed.
I’m not sure if you have seen/heard of the mom and dad that were taking videos of the pranks they played on their kids and posting them to youtube. When I first ran across the story the other day it caught my attention… according to the article that I read, they had lost custody of two of their kids. When I read ‘prank’ I didn’t necessarily assume something malicious, but there was a link to watch a video and against my better judgement, I clicked on it. The two adults in the video had poured ink on their nine year old son’s carpet and called him into his room and berated him for having done it. They yelled at him, cursed him out, and belittled him, while he stood there desperate to defend himself, but helpless to do so. Video after video showed these parents doing the same kind of things to that little boy and his sister over and over again. If the boy didn’t look terrified, he looked resigned to his fate. At one point the little girl cried out, “I’ll never have a normal life!!!” The father laughed at her and continued to degrade her. One of their pranks was to tell the little boy that they were going to adopt him out. In another, they smashed his xBox to see what his reaction would be. As the little boy cried, curled up in the fetal position on his bed, his father laughed in the hallway as he brought the boy a new xbox. He then yelled at the boy for not enjoying the prank. The whole family went to Disney world but left the little boy behind because he did something they didn’t like. As the boy walked out the door with the family dogs to stay with his grandparents, the father lavished affection on the dogs and coldly turned to the boy and said, “You better be good.” No goodbye. No I love you. In one video the father pushed the boy into a bookshelf and the boy stood up bloody.
The amazing thing to me is that their channel has 700,000+ subscribers!! Over 700,000 people who thought this type of behavior was acceptable and did not condemn the obvious child abuse taking place in front of the camera. The only video on their channel now is a half hearted apology (more upset about consequences than the trauma they caused to their children.) They cry about how hard their lives have become and how scared they are of getting hurt. And in their eyes I see the same fear I saw in their children’s, that they exploited on a daily basis. But for them I feel no pity.
When I closed my eyes last night all I could see was that little boy’s face. I’m glad they are away from those sociopaths, but I pray they are somewhere safe.
As I stared at my overly emotional children this evening, I thought about those kids. I thought about how truly horrible their upbringing has been and how they will carry those emotional scars all their days. How will they learn to trust when the very people that should have protected them instead tortured every moment of their lives? While we all grow up to be flawed adults, their demons will be very difficult to shake, and perhaps impossible without a strength outside of their own.
I’m so very grateful I didn’t grow up in a home like that, but rather one with two loving parents. And as parents ourselves, even on our worst days, our family never looks like that. Of course our children won’t get to adulthood without some kind of real or perceived damage from their childhood, because it happens to us all. But as parents it is our responsibility to create an environment where children can be brave, loving, and vulnerable. They should be able to trust us with their good days and their bad ones. They need to be allowed to make mistakes in the safety of their home and family so that when they get out in the real world mistakes don’t destroy them. They need parents to nourish them physically, emotionally, and spiritually so that their self worth does not dance and twist with each passing breeze, but rather holds tightly to the anchor they discovered in their youth. In our home, I pray that anchor is a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. I want them to see that even though we are flawed, even though we stumble daily, ‘our hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.’