Selling Yourself

I find something unbelievably sad about the fact that Bristol Palin is going to be on Dancing With the Stars. Whatever my differences of opinion with her mother and concerns about whether an abstinence message is appropriate or effective for teenagers, she seems like a decent kid who got herself in a situation she didn’t particularly want to be in, and has been used in unfortunate ways by her mother and her on-again, off-again boyfriend ever since. She also seems to have worked hard to take care of her son, and that’s admirable. But I find the idea of parents who turn to reality television, or write tell-alls, or whatever, as a significant means of supporting their children truly depressing.It’s got to be a shock to end up with eight children, but is putting them on television, after which your marriage breaks up and you’re investigated for violation of child labor laws really the best way to provide for them? If you’re committed to raising your kid in a stable environment, and the place you’ve chosen to make your home is Alaska, is it a great idea to uproot yourself for the salary you’ll make from a competition reality show? Is the financial gain actually worth it if you have to expose yourself and your child or children in ways they can’t actually consent to or fully understand? I tend to think adults have the right to expose themselves, or to sell as much of themselves, as they want and at whatever price the market will pay for. But I don’t think money is the only thing children need. Kate Gosselin will probably set a better model for her kids and provide them with a healthier environment by going back to work and busting ass to raise additional money she needs to care for them than she will by continuing to put them in television specials. Given his father’s unattractive predilection for celebrity, Bristol Palin’s son will probably be better off the further his mother stays from Hollywood. Easy money’s attractive. But it’s not a village, or even a single stable home environment.