Joshua Young & His Love For His Father

Joshua Young has been acquitted of tampering with evidence and participating in the murder of his stepbother, Trey Zwicker. During his interrogation, Joshua Young told investigators that even though living in foster care was good, he would prefer to be with his father. “I mean I love my dad more than anybody in this world. And, I’d rather be with him than anybody in this world. My life is much better with my dad.”

“So, your life was better getting arrested in Alabama?” the detective asked. “Being with my dad, it’s all worth it,” Young said.

It is difficult to imagine why Joshua Young would prefer to be with his father, Joshua Gouker or “Big Josh.” When Big Josh was asked on the stand if he loved Joshua Young he could not definitively answer yes.

Big Josh is a monster. He killed a child because “it felt right. ” Few people could kill so easily, especially a helpless child. He is an extremely violent individual with a history of robbery, domestic violence, inappropriate sexual behavior, assault, and murder. He drank and smoked weed with his children. In the history of parenting, he would rank among the worst.

For many of us, it is unfathomable that Joshua Young could love Big Josh. Would you love him if he were your father? Probably so.

Until a certain point in our lives many of us see our parents as God-like, people who can do no wrong. We look up to them, we want to be like them, we worship them no matter how terrible they may seem to others. Children simply don’t know any better. It’s not until they mature and move away from their family of origin, that they realize just how terrible their parents might have been.

Joshua Young lived in chaos. His life was plagued with trauma and instability. He found his mother dead on Easter Sunday, in April 2010, of a drug overdose. His father is a psychopath who murdered a child and thinks it’s “no big deal.” But Joshua did not see what we all can see so easily; he does not possess that level of maturity. All he knows is that Big Josh, his only surviving parent, made him feel loved, cared about and protected.

Joshua Young will be returning to live with his foster parents. With intensive guidance and assistance, love and support, maybe–just maybe, he can turn his life around. There is still hope. He still has a chance. However, at the age of 17, it might be his last chance.

15 thoughts on “Joshua Young & His Love For His Father

  1. Dr. K. – I agree with your assessment of Josh Young. His life has been chaotic since day one I believe. Finding his mother was probably so traumatic for him and although he was thriving in the foster home for 7 months, what young man at the age of 15 wouldn’t want to be with his father, his only surviving parent? His need for love in a world that has dealt him this hand would over-ride any misgivings about how horrible his Dad really was. It is my understanding that he was with his father for only 2 months before Big Josh brutally murdered Trey. Again his life was chaotic living for this time with his father, but for him, he was with his father. He made bad choices, most importantly confessing to something he did not do, but if it may have brought him the love from his demonic father, it was worth it to him. The foster family seems committed to helping this young man and hopefully will get him to the people who can help him work through all that has gone on in his relatively short life.

    • Joshua never confessed. Big Josh got Cassie and a few others to SAY he told them he did it, as part of Gouker’s “blame the kid” plan. If you study the evidence, as jury did, you see that there is only hearsay from people having sex/fear with Big Josh. They would not even talk to police without his guidance. Joshua’s big mistake was thinking his dad was worth loving, before he figured out what was happening to him. Big Josh brought him to be interrogated, gave permission to go without an attorney. Shameful, and cops should not have fallen for it. Bad prosecution.

  2. It’s been my experience that children begin to recognize parental character flaws at least by the time they’re 8-10 years old… and that’s when the idolization of less-than-perfect parents should begin to fade away (particularly if they are exposed to “normal” families via friends or other relatives). I’m not saying the children stop loving their parents, just that they begin to see dysfunction at a much younger age than we tend to think.

    Why would a 15-year-old boy, son of a drug addict and a convict, have an oddly-positive image of his parents? Why? Why? The only answer that comes to mind is that he sees their lives as being, in some sick way, glamorous. To me, that indicates a budding personality disorder in the child that I find frightening.

    • Linda – there are statistics that people look to all the time. This young man, by age 15, had a hell of a life. He knew nothing else but probably saw “normal” families around him. I believe he wanted that normal family but never got it – even found his mother dead of an overdose. Statistics are often gained by looking at the norm and Josh’s world was by no means the norm. He wanted and probably still does somewhere deep inside, a happy, non-dysfunctional family. There is no age of maturity or age of wanting love and I hesitate at putting someone like Josh into that pigeon-hole. I also think that your last comment is something that Josh is going to have to fight for a long, long time and hopefully he will get the help to get through it. I will give the young man a chance and choose not to label him.

    • We’ll be hearing about young Josh Young in the future and it won’t be because he won a civics award. He’s his father’s son. He’s already learned the art of convincing most people he’s such a good boy who just needs a little boost from society and some chicken soup.

  3. I remember the story of a little boy named David who was set on fire by his dad in the 1990s or so. At the hospital, he kept crying that he wanted his dad.

    Attachment to a parent is a survival instinct that needs to manifest in such a strong way so that children do not separate themselves from the person who is normally the source of safety and resources. The instinct protects children from being seduced by some prettier looking mother substitute or nicer father substitute, because by nature the real parent is the one that would do everything necessary for the child to survive. If the parent fails to live up to their responsibilities, nature still makes the child see them as the parent they desire, cry for, want to be with.

    Most people who have enough nurturing in childhood outgrow the distorted idealization of their parents. But many who don’t get their childhood needs met don’t outgrow needs that were not fulfilled and continue to believe that an abusive parent was good to them. It’s not necessarily a sign of them embracing a criminal parent’s lifestyle or values, in my opinion.

    Age 17 is very young in terms of brain development. Josh is still young enough that he may some day outgrow this distorted view of his dad.

  4. I’m with you on this one, Nern, and good on you for not labelling the boy, as plenty will. Many will be judgemental, and probably unfairly so. I did not follow the trial to any extent, but gained a reasonable appreciation of the environment in which this boy was raised. He has been acquitted by a court of law and must now move on with his life, and apparently – unlike most who have been dealt the sort of hand he has in life – he has the support of a foster family which, hopefully, will provide him with positives, not negatives, and boy, will he need support. There will be no shortage of negative influences from others.
    Dr K., your last paragraph hit the nail on the head. Though his foster family may not need the wisdom of Solomon or the patience of Job, they are going to need a fair slice of both if they are to overcome the family influences that this boy has previously encountered.
    Through years of experience working in boys homes and a prison, I have seen so many young boys progress from poor influences and ‘graduate’ to major crime. The type of influence and support they required to prevent this from happening simply wasn’t available to them, and the institutions they were placed in just provided them with a free education in criminal practices.
    I sincerely hope this boy can turn things around for himself, and am heartened by Maria’s observation that he mouthed the words ‘thank you’ to the jury at the moment of acquittal – a huge positive for this boy.

    • Maria Cristina and Don O. – I am pleased to hear your comments. I choose to see the positive angle in this case and believe with the right nurturing and professional help, Josh Young WILL live a productive life. He is young and I believe there is hope for him. He is not cut from the same cloth as his father and agree that just by saying thank you shows this.

      • I hope you folks are all right and I’m wrong. I think he’s got his father’s genes, including the head genes. Toss in the environment as an added bonus, and there you have it.

        I think he knows when to ‘be angelic’.

          • Uppity – I apologize if you misunderstood my meaning. In re-reading what I said about opinions, I can see that it would be confusing. What makes the world go around is the right for everyone to have their opinion even if it differs from another. I respect your opinion and meant no insult at all to you.

  5. I’ve been involved in very few cases of domestic violence where the abused didn’t want to be immediately involved with the abuser. Despite DV workers at all levels ready, willing and able to help, the vast majority immediately say they want to be right back with their abuser, with their abuser suffering no consequences as a result of the abuse. This is so prevalent that most states rewrote their DV laws so that there’s a mandatory arrest, so that the victim has no ability to press or drop charges against his/her abuser.

    In most DV cases, we’re talking about two full grown adults (and usually some kids observing at the very least). It takes a lot of time, and a lot of effort for the abused to break away from his/her abuser.

    In this case, we’re talking about a kid, a kid brought up in abuse, neglect, and a household full of addiction. The kid loves his father – what kid doesn’t? What kid who really doesn’t love his father is willing to admit it?

    I’ll agree with Maria’s attachment theory application on this one as well. If you can’t expect an abused adult to break away from his/her abuser, how can you expect a child reared in such an environment to break away? To really admit that he’s unloved, and that the object of his love isn’t worthy of his love?

    It’s going to take a lot of time and a lot of energy and resources, but the kid’s 17: he’s not his father. He doesn’t have to be his father. He doesn’t have to be his mother. But, he has a lot of growing to do, and an immature, growing, developing brain to do it with. There’s hope. Foster parents, lots of counseling, and his own adaptability, and there’s room for plenty of hope.

    Never curse a child to the fate of his/her parent. We’re talking a child, a child still growing, still changing, still discovering who s/he is. Write off such a child, and all you’re going to do is make that abandonment injury much worse. After all, when your parents abandon you AND society writes you off, how the heck can you learn about love? Why would you want to contribute to society?

  6. What a troubling case of events. It really makes you wonder if Josh felt more comfortable in an order of chaos since he felt most at ease with “Big Josh.”

    Also…sometimes it is hard to see the flaws in the ones we love most..we’re so willing to look past mistakes and abusive behavior.

Leave a Comment