Welcome to Plathville season 4 is steadily progressing towards its season finale. By now, most viewers will be familiar with Kim and Barry Plath's separation, which has been a major storyline in the new season. Kim and Barry are the parents of the Plath children - Hosanna, Ethan, Micah, Moriah, Lydia, Isaac, Amber, Cassia, and Mercy. They are also parents to Joshua, who passed away in a farming accident in 2018. Over the course of 4 seasons, viewers have become familiar with the Plath's way of the life. The deeply religious parents, homeschooled all of their children and denied them access to TV, pop culture, electronics, and even sugar, and isolated them from the outside world.
The children grew up doing farm work, with few friends and little knowledge of the outside world. Hosanna married prior to the premiere of Welcome to Plathville and has refrained from appearing on the show. However, the other three oldest children, Ethan, Micah, and Moriah, rebelled against their parents' rules and have gone on to live a more secular lifestyle, causing tension in the family.
Kim, especially, clashed with the three oldest, causing Ethan and his wife, Olivia, to go no-contact with her because of her constant meddling in their relationship and disagreement with their lifestyle. She even practically kicked Moriah out of her house to go live with Micah before Moriah was even 18, because of Moriah's "worldly lifestyle." Fortunately, though, she was able to reconnect with Micah and Moriah and now has a stable relationship with them.
However, Kim's extreme strictness and religious views have definitely made it all the more surprising that she was the one to instigate her separation from Barry.
Kim and Barry's separation, explained
Many viewers have had their own interpretation of Kim and Barry's separation. Some believe that Kim's separation is an empowering and inspiring story of a woman demanding to be respected and going against her beliefs to look after herself. Others have been critical of how she virtually abandoned her children once she realized she was unhappy, spending hours away from home while the youngest girls made dinner and Barry, solo, explained their complicated situation to the kids.
However, what people really need to listen to, is Kim's actual story, because it's the perfect example of Christian parenting hypocrisy. Before we get started, let me just put a disclaimer in here, that I'm not judging Kim at all for separating from Barry. She is entitled to separate from him, leave him, and divorce him. There is no shame in a woman choosing to end her relationship or marriage, AT ALL. What I'm merely pointing out, is how hypocritical Christian parents tend to be in forbidding their children to do the very things that they themselves have done, or end up doing, anyways.
Why Kim Plath is a hypocrite
In episode 10 of season 4 of Welcome to Plathville, Kim sits down with Lydia to discuss her marriage problems. Kim quickly becomes offended when Lydia doesn't express complete sympathy for her. Lydia discusses how marriage is a covenant between two people that no divorce papers could ever nullify. She also states that the power of the Lord could heal Kim and Barry's problems in a split second, and that Kim should maybe give it just a little more time.
Lydia, who is only 18-years-old, is merely repeating everything she has been taught since she was a baby. Upon learning of their parents' separation, all of the Plath kids have repeated these childhood "lessons" that they learned from their parents at an incredibly young age - marriage is forever. Divorce is a sin. A woman needs to respect her husband. If you're unhappy in your marriage, divorce is not an option. Suck it up.
Kim spent the past 20+ years of her life ingraining and pounding those ideals into the minds of her young, impressionable daughters. There is no doubt that she would've viciously attacked, judged, and maybe even disowned, any of her daughters in the past, if they had pursued a divorce. However, as soon as she personally feels unhappy, she gets to backtrack, take back her views, and expects to be accepted and understood whole-heartedly by her children. It's very clear that she's offended that her young, confused children aren't responding with 100% sympathy to her. When a child breaks a Christian parent's rules, morals, or ideals, it is the end of the universe as we know it. When a parent decides to go against their own rules, morals, or ideals, they expect zero consequences and to continue being accepted, praised, and loved.
The hypocrisy doesn't end with divorce
Separation/divorce isn't the only ideal that Kim has proved to be a hypocrite on. Kim has been open about her "wild" college years in which she did far beyond what any of her allegedly "rebellious" children have done. She drank alcohol, experimented with drugs, drove drunk, and passed out on random peoples' lawns. Yet, when her married 21-year-old son ordered a beer at a family dinner, the expressions on Kim and Barry's face were enough to kill. The fact is, Kim and Barry didn't grow up on a farm, isolated from the rest of the world, denied an education, prohibited from eating sugar, and prohibited from utilizing technology. Not only that, but they certainly weren't little saints who never drank, engaged in premarital sex, or experimented with drugs.
So, what gives them the right to judge their kids for doing any of those things? Now, I'm definitely not saying they should hand over alcohol or drugs to their kids and tell them to do whatever they please because they made mistakes when they were young. However, they should offer mercy, understanding, and forgiveness because of the mistakes they made when they were young. They know nobody is perfect, they know young people will have a wild phase, and they know they'll turn out all right in the end. Yet, they choose to pretend that they are perfect people. They choose to destroy their relationship with their oldest son because his wife introduced their adult, 21-year-old son, Ethan, to alcohol and soda. They chose to kick out their 17-year-old daughter because she wears make-up and short skirts. They chose to prohibit their teenage daughter from texting a boy because she was doing it too frequently (despite the texts being harmless). They even choose to keep their older children away from their minor children, because they'll somehow corrupt their younger children.
The wider issue of Christian parenting hypocrisy
Meanwhile, the Plaths are not the first, nor will they be the last, religious parents to engage in extreme hypocrisy. We have the YouTube vlogging family, Yawi Family/Tannerites, with parents, Johnny and Sarah Tanner, who got pregnant out of wedlock at 17. Yet, now that they're raising their 7 kids strictly in the LDS church, they'd likely disown one of their children if they got pregnant out of wedlock. There's Michelle Duggar who admits to attending public school, cheerleading, and never being expected to help out around the house, who now homeschools her kids, expects her daughters to raise their younger siblings, forbids them from receiving an education, and won't let her daughters wear pants, much less a cheerleading outfit. My own parents fit into this mix. My siblings and I were homeschooled and prohibited from attending public school, leaving the house, or dating at, basically, any age. Meanwhile, they engaged in premarital sex, drank underage, went to public high school, and had completely secular upbringings.
My mother and father were so obsessed with threatening all of us kids that premarital sex was the vilest sin in the world that I am not joking when I admit I had a genuine, numbing fear of getting pregnant like the virgin Mary when I was kid and not being able to convince my mother and father that I was a virgin and for them to spare my life. Then, less then a year after my mom died, my 50-year-old father had impregnated a 25-year-old he wasn't married to and expected none of us kids to question him or judge him for it. Meanwhile, if I had gotten pregnant as a young, hormonal 16-year-old, I shudder to think what might've happened to me.
Then, we get into the real gritty, real disgusting hypocrisy. Like, the hypocrisy of Josh Duggar telling his elementary school daughter she's sinning if she wear jeans, while he receives and views child pornography, is active on cheating social media networks, and assaults women he paid to have sex with him.
So... yeah, Christian parents who are completely and totally, unfathomably, hypocritical, is a sad reality. There are so many children who grow up in abhorrently restrictive isolated environments and live in total fear of going against their parents' rules. They fear being punished, disowned, or maybe even physically attacked, by their parents for not obeying their every rule. Yet, more often than not, their parents have already broken every. single. rule. they've set for their children.... and then some. In 20-years, Lydia Plath might be in an abusive relationship that she refuses to leave because her mom's ideals, threats, and twisted beliefs are still reverberating in her head. Meanwhile, her mother, Kim, now happily divorced from her own husband, enjoys cocktails at a bar without a care in the world.
It's not right. It's not right to make your teen literally fear for their lives if they engage in premarital sex, knowing full well you did it at their age, even as you vehemently deny it. It's not right to tell your daughter that she has to stay married and suck it up if she's unhappy, when you know if you're husband lifted even his pinky finger against you, you'd be high-tailing it out the door. It's not right to punish your child for dressing "immodestly" when you've had five extra-marital affairs and view pornography on a daily basis.
No one is fooled that these strict, religious Christian parents are perfect. They need to stop pretending. They need to stop trying to rationalize punishing, shaming, and disowning their children for things they, themselves, did. Admit that you made mistakes, admit you weren't perfect, admit you're no saint, and admit you turned out alright anyways. So, when your child makes a tiny, perfectly human mistake, remember all the countless sins you've committed and, instead of being a hypocrite, offer just a smidgen of mercy.