Patriarch in “Sister Wives,” Kody Brown, is a controversial figure who lost three of four wives by 2022, and is no longer emotionally or physically close to many of his 18 children. His children mostly complained about having little time with him since he picked favorites and rarely babysat them, leaving them to their mothers or babysitters. We compiled a list of several ways Kody Brown let his children down.
- 1 The patriarch has a long history of unfair treatment
- 2 Kody did not babysit his children
- 3 He initially refused to accept Mariah’s sexuality
- 4 Robyn’s children get preferential treatment
- 5 Gwendlyn accused her father of abuse
- 6 Kody did not take Truely’s kidney disease seriously
- 7 Kody did not co-parent Truely equally
- 8 He segregated his family during the coronavirus pandemic
- 9 Kody was absent during his daughter’s back operation
- 10 He made his son Gabe cry on TV
- 11 He wanted to silence his children
- 12 His children’s age is the key problem
- 13 Kody has lost his connection with most children
The patriarch has a long history of unfair treatment
Although Kody has many positive sides and has kept his wives and children independent, he sometimes cares too little. Furthermore, he’s displayed selfishness and always considered what would fit him instead of sacrificing his time and energy for his family.
For example, at least one child felt let down because he did not understand their sexuality at first. Kody also tried to censor opinions that did not fit the conservative image he was portraying. Fans also remember that he preferred that one of his daughters remain in pain so that her surgery fitted his schedule. Kody also wanted everyone but himself to adhere to strict COVID-19 rules, and used the pandemic as an excuse to be absent from the lives of most family members.
Kody did not babysit his children
One of the earliest forms of evidence Kody was not there for his children was their early childhood. He openly stated that he felt his wives should be watching the children; if they were unavailable, he hired a babysitter. Kody explained the decision through financials, clarifying it was easier to pay someone $20 an hour to do the job instead of losing $200 an hour he could earn through his business.
Robyn, with whom he lives and has the youngest children, admitted to having a nanny so that she can do her work, presumably with the My Sisterwife’s Closet online clothing line and jewelry boutique. Based on Gwendlyn Brown’s comments, his adult children do not know what Kody does for a living, so they couldn’t understand why their father was not home as they grew up.
He initially refused to accept Mariah’s sexuality
When Mariah, who is now transgender, uses they/them pronouns and goes by Leo or Leon, revealed she was lesbian in January 2017, Kody reacted harshly. For one, thanks to his conservative views and the family’s former religion, Apostolic United Brethren (AUB), Mariah’s biggest fear was to be gay; hence she pushed the self-realization down. When she worked up the courage and admitted the truth to Meri and Kody, he stated ‘he was happy Mariah finally knew herself, but unhappy that she was gay.’
Meri was a tad more supportive but equally stunned. Yet Robyn and Janelle showed compassion, celebrated her bravery, and tried their best to assure the biological parents that nothing would change besides not getting a son-in-law. Interestingly, that happened in a way; Mariah’s fiancé Audrey Kriss came out as transgender in December 2021, and both had gender-reaffirming operations.
— 🌟Sooo Declasse🌟 (@Christinadjb) June 28, 2022
Robyn’s children get preferential treatment
A recent reminder of the uneven dedication of Kody’s time, energy, and resources came from his daughter Gwendlyn’s commentary. She has a YouTube channel under her real name, Gwendlyn Brown, and posts reaction videos to episodes of recent “Sister Wives” seasons while sharing her opinion or providing behind-the-scenes information. In one of those, fans could hear about her negative experiences growing up, and were proud that she spoke out.
Gwendlyn became emotional when watching episode 10 of season 17, focusing on how Kody treats his children with Robyn. She remarked on how much she wanted an active father as they have, but clarified that she was happy for them, and wanted to see them more often. Furthermore, she spoke about her experience, noting that her father was never there to hear about her day in kindergarten, advise her on making friends, and be involved in other things a father should.
Gwendlyn also revealed that the entire family moved from Las Vegas, Nevada, to Flagstaff, Arizona, in 2018 so Kody’s adopted son with Robyn, Dayton Brown, could attend Northern Arizona University. Kody, at the time, stated that they sought a change of pace and had financial reasons, such as the rising mortgage and housing prices. Furthermore, he was deeply involved with the driving lessons Breanna, his adopted daughter, took around October 2021. In contrast, he never helped Savanah, his biological daughter with Janelle, who was simultaneously trying to get her driving license.
Gwendlyn accused her father of abuse
Things took an even darker turn when Gwendlyn accused her father of physical abuse growing up, while watching the episodes. Viewers heard from Kody in the show that he threw her in the air to scare her from doing things he disapproved of. However, they didn’t know his spanking would leave bruises when Gwendlyn was a kid. She thought it was an excessive way of disciplining the children, and noted that it left her emotional scars.
Moreover, she revealed that her father was verbally abusive, and had yelled at her the same way he yelled at her mom when she divorced him. Gwendlyn ended her observation by saying that her father’s true side was coming out after three wives and their children started leaving. For example, according to her, it was becoming apparent that her father favored his sons over daughters. Now that they’ve separated, his sons are no longer in his good graces, and are seeing how it feels not to be preferred by him, which was ‘exciting in a bad way’ to her. Gwendlyn added that Kody was more frustrated, because most children are opinionated adults who recognize and reject his efforts of manipulation, which worked when they were kids.
Kody did not take Truely’s kidney disease seriously
Fans are split on whether Kody’s treatment of Truely’s life-altering condition was worse than how he acted before Ysabel’s operation. However, they agree that he was irresponsible in both cases, and should have stayed by their side instead of sticking by his convictions.
In the sixth season’s episode 15, entitled “While the Wives Are Away…” and aired in August 2013, Kody’s wives left on a San Francisco trip, leaving him to care for the children. Truely started showing signs of being seriously ill, and began crying, felt restless, and was cross-eyed. Thankfully, her older sister Aspyn was there to keep an eye on her, and even stayed awake the entire night to ensure the condition didn’t worsen. In contrast, Kody took some children to the swimming pool, had fun bowling, and planned to shop for a car to gift to Mariah.
Luckily, when her mom Christine returned to Las Vegas, she realized the seriousness of the situation, and doctors diagnosed Truely with acute kidney failure and severe dehydration. Although their prognosis was grim, informing the parents she may not survive, Truely recovered after 11 days in the hospital.
While the timing may have been unfortunate, doctors suggested things would have improved if Kody had ensured his daughter drank enough water while she was ill. After his spiritual divorce, he admitted that he thought Christine partly hated him because Truely almost died, and she felt he was negligent. Although the statement suggested he was self-aware, Kody still took no responsibility for his inaction, which upset some viewers.
Kody did not co-parent Truely equally
Another reminder of him being physically and emotionally unavailable happened in November 2021. After Christine divorced him after 25 years, he insisted on a 50/50 custody agreement so they could parent Truely equally, otherwise, the state would legally take her. Although he hired lawyers, his later comment that men lose in the divorce world insinuated that he lost the case.
Christine was confused by his demand, because according to her, Kody only spent three out of 800 days with Truely while they were together in Flagstaff, Arizona, one for hiking and two for kayaking. In other words, he likely wanted to look good in front of the TV audience, and could have been there for his daughter through the two and a half years if he’d wanted. Truely confirmed this a little later, saying ‘it never really went beyond a shallow conversation’ about her leaving for Utah, despite his public requests for staying in touch.
Another proof of Kody playing favorites came during the COVID-19 pandemic, which was the topic of season 16. Under the guise of following government instructions, Kody developed a strict protocol. He instructed his three wives and their children to remain separated in their houses and recreational vehicles (RVs) while he spent the entire time quarantined with Robyn and her kids.
Although viewers commended his worry for the health and safety of the Brown family, they found it hypocritical that he could leave home and go somewhere while he forbade others to do so. Additionally, fans were disappointed that he chose his adopted children at the expense of his biological offspring, during a complicated medical situation that worried everyone.
Kody was absent during his daughter’s back operation
Kody disappointed Ysabel, perhaps irreparably, with how he handled her operation to treat scoliosis. He knew the procedure was on the horizon for years, and the pandemic struck when it was happening. Although Kody seemed genuinely concerned about the family, stating that more people than Ysabel depend on him, his comments showed his heartlessness. Kody first tried to get her to reschedule, failing to acknowledge that she was hurting and that the operation would alleviate her pain and improve her quality of life. Besides asking her to prolong her pain for his convenience, he refused to spend any time with her in the six weeks she had to recover afterward.
As if intentionally adding insult to injury, Kody went to a different state to be at a friend’s wedding a few weeks after he declined his daughter’s request. Viewers saw this as insensitive and selfish, noting that he risked his family’s health more than if he had been with Ysabel, since the wedding was full of people. Ysabel received a final slap when he later failed to show up for her first day of college, after she moved to North Carolina. In a December 2021 confessional, she said that ‘his priorities are a little screwed up’ and that she felt upset and frustrated, especially since he consistently said his family comes first, yet he doesn’t prove it. In most recent episodes, Ysabel clarified she is ‘not close at all’ to him anymore.
He made his son Gabe cry on TV
Another pandemic-oriented problem arose when Kody demanded that his son Gabriel Brown, 21, stop seeing his girlfriend in person at the beginning of the pandemic, ostensibly to avoid spreading the disease. He also threatened to stop seeing his other son, Garrison, unless he followed his rules. When Gabriel found those demands unreasonable, Kody suggested that he should move out.
Thankfully, the tension between them died down when the spread of the virus slowed. Sadly, Kody did something hurtful again. When he called Gabe on his birthday, his son expected a happy birthday wish. However, Kody began to ramble and started sharing his experience with the coronavirus, never acknowledging Gabe’s birthday. His son was understandably hurt and began crying, vowing not to talk to his dad as often.
Although Kody later apologized and proposed the two go to therapy, season 17 showed Gabriel saying that they mostly stopped communicating because his father was tired of putting effort into their relationship. Kody seemed regretful and tried to find out what went wrong, but eventually concluded that Gabe was gaslighting him.
He wanted to silence his children
Another bombshell dropped on 12 January 2023, when Paedon Brown appeared as a special guest on a three-hour interview with John Yates on YouTube. He discussed many family problems and personal interests. Still, he caught people’s attention when he mentioned that their father tried to use the law to silence them.
Paedon claims that Kody tried to negotiate children’s contracts with TLC, and added clauses that prevented them from sharing negative opinions about him. However, he also praised Kody’s parenting in other areas. For instance, he never pushed children toward a particular religion or polygamy. That was important, because Paedon had known since he was 7 that he would be monogamous.
His children’s age is the key problem
According to Gwendlyn, the gist of the issues between Kody and his children came from his insensitivity, physical and emotional distance, and lack of control. She stated that the problems boil down to him being someone who imposed his will for years while his kids were easy to influence. However, his rein started slipping as they reached adolescence and adulthood, and he disregarded them one by one. Yet, he remained loving and present with Robyn’s children, and wasn’t afraid to show it.
Kody has lost his connection with most children
Since more children are speaking up, moving away from home, and spending time with their mothers and biological siblings, Kody’s relationships with them are deteriorating. Christine found the love of her life, Meri and Janelle seem happy single, and their children also seem more comfortable being away from the stress and drama of the TV show. Even Robyn’s children, whom Kody appears to love the most, weren’t entirely on board with being adopted. Only Breanna and his biological children, Ariella Mae born in 2016, and Solomon in 2011, share a deeper bond with Kody, which may be temporary for the reasons Gwendlyn observed.