I have just been inspired by Jon Gosselin.
Jon Gosselin is of course the other half of Kate Plus 8, the popular reality show that has lately seen ratings plummet as the real life antics of Jon’s infidelities cause his marriage to disintegrate.
Admittedly, Jon doesn’t have a good track record, starting with the obvious worry that he chose to make money featuring the sweet faces of his eight children (and their sometimes not-so-sweet behaviors) on a weekly show.
Some would call that exploitation. But for the past few years, viewers have been willing to be a part of that user relationship. Everyone has been watching these ordinary parents do one extraordinary thing: survive parenting despite being sleep-deprived, short on lap space, and tight on square footage, and doing it all while on camera.
Then, the reality got too real.
Viewers saw Jon partying, shots of him going clubbing, the dating before divorcing, and then of course the media talk show circuit where he publicly complained and aired the marriage’s dirty laundry.
Now, Jon and Kate are essentially single parents.
Single parenting — a place people don’t often look for inspiration — is a place where Herculean feats are accomplished without much fanfare, certainly without a TV crew or free trips to Hawaii and likely without the benefit of strangers sending gifts to children when mom or dad are tight on money during the holidays.
Here is a guy who is at rock bottom. He loses his marriage, his job, his income. He is an out-of-work dad in the middle of a divorce and he has eight kids to feed and love. Losing what little privacy he has not already sold, he’s on the bottom of the rotten-daddy and rotten-husband heap and yet, in a shining moment, like a missing diamond ring trapped in the dust at the bottom of the vacuum cleaner bag, we see a glimmer of responsible parenting from Jon.
Jon is not just playing a dad on TV — he is being a dad on TV — because beyond single parenting, Jon is experiencing a loud wake-up call about responsible parenting and is suggesting the eight kids should not be on the show, as it may be detrimental to their well-being.
He’s gotten serious. He is being father-like, mature even, when he wakes up long enough from his fake family life on screen and responsibly suggests that no amount of money is enough payment to justify having their little lives, their tantrums, their pain, featured on television as they struggle through the mess their parents have made.
Average mom here, I recognize that I have kids who throw fits, kids who are disrespectful, kids who know how to push my buttons to the point of parental madness. After making so many parenting mistakes, after being at the end of my rope, losing my temper umpteen times, and clearly misplacing the Child 101 Instruction Manual, Jon makes me realize that it is never too late to be a responsible parent and try again to get it right.
About Annita Wozniak
Annita Wozniak grew up in a large, imperfect family in the Midwest. "As adults we have the power to build children up or tear them down," she says about the challenges of being a responsible parent, "and we never know when what we say is going to be a defining moment in a child's life." Woz is a writer and child-grower living in the Midwest with her husband and their three inspirational children. She is always learning. You can visit her website at annitawoz.wordpress.com