When Snooki Is Their Reality

Carlo’s Bakery (Cake Boss) recently opened around the corner from me. My kids love the show, so I bought my daughter’s Communion cake there a couple of weeks ago. I knew it would add to the specialness of the day. I met with Frankie, who spent a long time with me planning the perfect treat for my Lorelei’s Blue Luau Party (see my post on personalizing a party to better understand what a luau has to do with the Eucharist.)

A couple of hours before the party, the bell rang and a few moments later my kids ran to me as if Sting had just walked into my house. “Frankie brought the cake!” “Mom! Frankie is HERE!” It was so fun to see their excitement at the sight of a celebrity in our home, and I will never forget Frankie taking the time to come himself. But, it got me thinking …

We know kids will imitate what they see on TV. Remember those kids who laid down in the road because they were copying the scene from The Program? One of them paid the ultimate price for this stupidity, but the movie was defended because it is, after all, just a movie. No one thinks they can fly just because they saw Superman.

Enter Reality TV … now what? You and I, hopefully, can watch Real Housewives and know most of it is put on for the show, and if it isn’t, these are not people we want to exemplify. These are people we laugh at. These are shows we use to give us a break from our own reality. These are characters who make us feel good, because, by comparison, we are saintly.

But what about the kids? The label “Reality TV” tells us this is real life. People actually obsess over their 5 year old’s lipstick and spend whole days focused on, what is it? … tanning, working out and partying, or something just as superficial. Suddenly, we can’t say, “What you see on TV is pretend. Real people don’t behave this way and real people don’t get away with stuff like this.” It is scary for me to see how these “real” people behave, but more frightening they may be modeling behavior for my kids.

I think we need to be more alert about what our kids are watching. I won’t let my kids watch Toddlers and Tiaras and Dance Moms even though I haven’t seen a full episode of either. The premise of these shows is absurd, and I don’t want my kids getting used to them — as reality or as entertainment. These days, it is much harder to see the differences.

I’m going to stick with Food Network and screen the rest very carefully. It is hard enough to check my own behavior around my kids. If their other influences are Snooki and Bethany, I see a lot of detention in our future.

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Author: Karen Latimer

Karen is a Family Doctor, mom of five and founder of Tips From Town.

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