Update: On August 30th, 2023, Ruby Franke and Jodi Hildebrandt were reportedly arrested on two counts of aggravated child abuse.
Another child of a family vlogging channel has opened up about her tumultuous relationship with her parents and growing up online.
Shari Franke, daughter of Kevin and Ruby Franke of the 8 Passengers YouTube channel, shared why she no longer speaks with her mother after Ruby became heavily involved in a personal improvement group called ConneXions.
In a new interview on the Into the Light podcast, Shari explains that her family became involved in the group when she was in the 10th grade. When she went away to college, Shari began questioning the group’s extreme beliefs.
“Some things within my family were happening that I started to question like, I don’t know if this is okay,” she says. “I didn’t know where to draw the line between life coaching and the gospel.”
ConneXions claims to offer a form of healing “that psychotherapy cannot offer you,” with a woman named Jodi Hildebrandt at the helm. Ruby has since become the face of the group alongside Jodi, where the two create content about “mental fitness” and “living in truth” centered around disciplinary principles. Members can also pay for 1:1 mentoring sessions with the women as well as group trips.
The “truth” principles taught by ConneXions are considered extreme and unrealistic by many. In their Tactics of Deception YouTube series, Jodi and Ruby preach that to “live in truth”, you must love these principles more than your own children. And if your children do not abide by these principles, then they don’t love you unconditionally.
“I don’t want anyone in my life who’s not going to be loving. So if my child will only love me if I give them what they want, then that’s not real love,” Ruby says.
Jodi responds, “This takes a very strong soul because most of us are not even willing to consider not having our children in our lives and I hope that you’ll reconsider.”
As it turns out, Ruby is now experiencing this ex-communication with one of her children first-hand.
During the podcast interview, Shari went on to say that she decided the ConneXions coaching was too extreme and was worried about going against her family.
“It got to the point where I was like I can’t keep pretending like everything’s fine,” she says while explaining that she has since removed herself from her nuclear family.
Despite separating herself from Kevin, Ruby, and her siblings, Shari says she has a strong bond with her mother’s side of the family, who do not support ConneXions as they have seen how the group can be isolating.
Shari also spoke candidly about her experience growing up on YouTube, saying she came to understand that the family’s income was dependent on their video output but that she found the judgmental comment section difficult to deal with.
The Franke family commits themselves to ConneXions full-time and no longer vlogs for the 8 Passengers YouTube channel.