Published DateBy Tom Eastman
MADISON — If the key to good drama and TV programming is provided by contrasts, then Thursday night's scheduled broadcast of the latest “Wife Swap” show on ABC-TV ought to be a doozy — and it will feature a local Madison family when it's aired at 8 p.m. on Channels 8 and 9.
The show will feature Madison's free-spirited Dayna and Joe Martin and their four children, who swap mothers with a more strict, authoritarian family from San Diego, Calif.
“The show is called 'Wife Swap,' but it really should be called 'Mom Swap,' because that's really what they do — they switch moms for two weeks,” said Dayna in an interview Wednesday on the eve of the show's scheduled airing.
The reality show's website, http://abc.go.com/shows/wife-
“A strict disciplinarian trades lives with a woman who believes children should be given freedom.”
“I can't wait to see it, because other than the first night, I wasn't here — they sent me to San Diego, and the mom from San Diego came here,” said Dayna.
Swapping mothers — and lifestyles
A former employee of the Eastern Slope Inn, Hooligan's and Barnaby's, Dayna, 40, is an author, conference speaker, birth doula, and advocate of radical unschooling.
The more strict, featured California mother is a hair dresser, and a fitness and Zumba instructor.
Under the show's format, the two mothers switch families and work lives — and adapt at first to one another's lifestyles and rules. Then the change is made after the first week, and that's where the tension builds, hence the show's heightened drama.
“The first week,” notes Dayna, “the [California] mom followed my rules with my family in Madison, and I did the same with her family in San Diego. Then,” said Dayna, “the second week, the rule change takes place, and my family had to adjust to her rules here, and her family had to do the same in California under my rules. So, it gets really intense and hard core, and viewers get to see that.”
The production crew came to the Martins' home for two weeks in late October and early November, and also filmed the footage in California.
“They were at our home 12 to 14 hours a day. They were great to work with,” said Dayna.
They shot footage at a few local businesses, including a segment at White Mountain Tattoo, where son Devin, 14, was filmed getting a septum piercing.
Other members of the Martin family include daughters Tiffany, 11, and Ivy, 8, and son Orio, 5.
Joe, 42, has a recycling business. He worked at Horsefeathers for 17 years.
“We met at Kennett High when I was 15 and Joe was 17,” notes Dayna, “so we are high school sweethearts.”
Asked for more details about the California swap family, Dayna declined, saying that viewers will just have to see the show.
She and Joe had originally planned to view the program at Horsefeathers Thursday night, but after conferring with her family, all agreed it would be best to invite a few friends over to their home to view it in privacy.
“That's what the kids wanted for us to do, so we agreed to do it this way as a family decision,” she said.
Dayna describes radical unschooling as a movement which allows children the freedom to experience the joy of learning on their own terms.
Her book, “Radical Unschooling: A Revolution Has Begun,” focuses on the evolutionary aspect of parenting and human consciousness.
“Unschooling,” she writes on her website, www.daynamartin.com, “includes trusting your child in what they choose to learn. Radical Unschooling, which expands unschooling philosophy to parenting, means you extend that same trust to other areas of your child’s life, like foods, media, television. (It) requires thinking outside the box and a huge dose of courage.
“Parenting,” she adds, “is supposed to be joyful, and it can be when we learn to connect with, rather than control, our children. We were raised in a different era, where the majority of the parenting focused on obedience and doing what we were told. Once you understand that there is a more respectful, fulfilling way to live in harmony with not only our children, but also with others, you are well on your way. Just learning that a new parenting paradigm exists is often the first step in someone’s journey to a new awakening.”
In addition to “Wife Swap,” Dayna and Joe have been featured on “The Dr. Phil Show” (2007). In October 2008, the Martin family appeared on Fox News to promote radical unschooling in a segment with John Taylor Gatto. In January 2013, Dayna and her son Devin appeared on the “The Jeff Probst Show.”
As for the “Wife Swap” program scheduled to air April 11, Dayna said it ranked right up there.
“It really was an incredible experience, bigger than anything we have ever done,” said Dayna. “My kids learned a lot. I also I feel like our message of freedom and respect for children will come through.”