Octomom and Jon & Kate+8=People Who Love to See Parents Fail

Posted June 5, 2009 by

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Octomom just signed a book deal, a documentary deal and finalized plans for a line of diapers while seeking to trademark the word “Octomom”.

Sounds like she’s got it covered, right?

‘Cept Not!

I have no interest in Ms. Suleman, or Jon and Kate Plus 8, for that matter. I don’t even want to click on articles written about them lest the web record my click and count it as proof that the world really does want to know what their life is like.

Why is it any different than any other parent who is repeating the colic, the diapering, the crazy hours of cuddling in the wee hours, the spit up, the diapering, (again!?) and the endless laundry, dirty dishes and dreaded circles around our eyes? We are all walking, blabbering, mental health cases when our children are under the age of one.

I don’t want to read about the challenges of mothering x 8.  These reality show celebrities (if we can call them that) might even have it easier, getting all of the hard work of the first 5 years over without stretching it out over 18 or 20, and of course, being paid a lot to let us watch it all unfold on television. They’ve got endorsements and fame and fortune…right? (Heck, I might even be a little bit jealous.)

But I have to ask, what kind of person is going to watch the Nadya Suleman reality show about raising her children? We’ve got that in Jon and Kate+8, and look how well that worked out — the dating drama, body guard, dance club entertainment piece. They just moved into a large house that voyeurs must have paid for and we’ve never even really heard what Jon does for a living. Nadya Suleman’s got a new house and now she’s ready for the cameras to roll and see what a great mom she is.

But the sad truth is, I think that most people really don’t want to see her succeed. They want to see collapse, remorse, confessions, failure. They are hoping to see her try (and fail) to hold on to her sanity. And moms out there, we know how hard it is to do that even in the privacy of our own play rooms.

But shows have already been done in the last few years about families who had so many children but they knew just what to do.  Remember “17 and Counting”? They now have 18. The family hand-built a new home with the girls were all dressed in jean skirts and looking just like mom. Boys and girls, hammers in hand, went to work and installed a commercial kitchen, laundry and generally built a bed and breakfast just for their family. That same year, TV crews filmed a show about them shopping at the local grocery for enough food to feed a small army. When they got home the kids willingly helped unload the groceries, stacked the pantry shelves neatly and no one even pushed or shoved! Either some careful editing was done or there is something extraordinarily effective going on in that family. Competitive mothers everywhere were startled to even ponder how parents of 18 kids managed that feat.

But who is watching the “18 Going on Yawn”?  No one. And I’ll tell you why. Not enough drama. Mom and Dad are too nice and have it too together.

Isn’t it strange that good parenting IS NOT INTERESTING? To me, that’s the real shame here.


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

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  1. Annita Woz Report

    This from NPR’s website…

    This article essentially says that after the season premiere, 30 million people watched and then weeks 2,3,and 4 showed dramatic decline in watching the show leading the author Linda Holmes to declare that we may watch over the fence to see the what the neighbors are up to, but we can and will turn away for other more interesting events.

    what a relief!

  2. Wendy Report

    I don’t want to see Jon & Kate fail, and I don’t read the tabloids for their gossip. I watch it to see how other parents handle their children, good behavior or bad. I’d watch a show where kids behave well to see what the parents were doing right. I like the nanny shows as well. We all need help/skills parenting our children.

  3. Marge Harvey Report

    My daughter and I loved to watch Jon and Kate plus 8, at first it was cute watching the kids, and listening to Jon and Kate talk about parenting. When I first started hearing about their marital problems and now the tabloids have them plastered all over, half of what they say is probably not true. But knowing that they are having marital problems takes away some of the fun of watching the show. It is rather sad seeing the parents not together like they were at first, and knowing the pain that the family is going through. It is the only reality show I like watching, because it is the closest show to reality out there. We still watch it, because the kids are so cute.

  4. Annita Woz Report

    My kids actually like to watch the Gosselin’s show more than I do.

    They love to see the kids, and I admit, they love little Maddy who seems to always be in the throes of an issue or a meltdown. They think the Gosselins are good parents who handle her tantrums effectively by sending her to her room or putting toys up high when the toddlers are fighting over them.

    The other thing they like to see are the babies and the grand scale of traveling in the huge bus, the long dinner table, the scenes where everyone is just playing and having fun. They think that the Gosselins are always doing such fun things with their kids and they are always on an adventure and those trips they take are the best part of the show. They kind of wish they were in that family!

    This is comletely unlike when we watch SuperNanny together– when they are glad they aren’t in those families and they actually recognize naughty behavior. THey don’t pick up on the fact that the parents are not disciplining them, but they have an aha moment when the SuperNanny comes in and tells them that kids cannot behave that way. We have a lot of discussion during SUperNanny but not a lot of discussion about anything other than material things with the Gosselin’s show…

    My kids think that the Gosselin kids don’t know they are on TV and that someday when they are older they will be embarrassed by all that they said and did on the show when they were little. They feel sorry for them on that topic, but seem to accept that since thay have all the “stuff” that it might be ok.

    All John and Kate’s kids know, all the Nadya Suleman kids know, is the life they have, right now. Just like any other kid, they will just accept this as their life. Sadly, that is exactly what kids think when they are in abusive homes, exactly what they think when they are poor or rich. “This is my life and it must be like this for every kid, right?” Then when they grow up= poof! reality.

  5. Louise Sanborn Report

    These parents say that they’re doing this for their children, but what kid really wants to have a camera in their face 24/7? This whole saga can’t help but remind me of the Dionne Quints from Canada. Born in Ontario in 1934, these five girls were treated like a sideshow. People paid an entrance fee to see them in “Quintland”, an artificial environment where the children played and grew up in front of throngs of crowds each day. And sadly, each of the girls had problems as they grew older — and how could they not?

    Yes, the children of Octomom and the Gosselins are growing up in front of TV cameras, which is slightly different than Quintland — but not much. I believe that these parents really need to think about the possible ramifications for their kids.

    In their book, We Were Five, the Dionne sisters wrote: “There was so much more money than love in our existence. It took a long time to realize what it did to us all.”

  6. Worried Mom Report

    I’m with Anita. I have no desire to see “John & Kate Plus 8,” which I have never seen, or the Octomom shows. Why? Who cares about the drama in another family? If I want good drama, I will watch a well-written, well-constructed family drama on television or the big screen, not a so-called “reality” show. There are questions whether Octomom’s babies were specifically conceived so she could get a reality show. If true, how exploitive is that?! Pennsylvania authorities are now investigating John and Kate to see if they are exploiting their children, who had no say in whether they wanted to be on television or not. Children should be able to grow up without their privacy being invaded, possibly against their wishes. Children should be raised for their own well-being and contributions to society, not their parents’ financial well-being.

  7. bonnie Report

    I personally enjoy John and Kate plus eight. I like to see how they speak to their kids instead of yell at them or hit them. They stay matter of factly and have a tremendous amount of consistancy. Maddy on the other hand is a very unhappy child in the reality tv world. She just wants a normal family life like before when all of the people and cameras were not there. They seem to be throwing her needs to the side for their own gratification nowdays.



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