There, I said it. I think everyone needs to back-off reality TV personality ( I refuse to follow the words “reality TV” with the words “star” or “celebrity”) Kate Gosselin for taking a gig on Dancing With The Stars. She is a single mom with 8 kids and an ex-husband who is not exactly Mr. Child Support. That mom has got to work. And Dancing With the Stars is as good a job as any!
I have spoken/written about Kate Gosselin exactly once on The Chaos Chronicles. Back before the big divorce, I tuned in to see what all the fuss was about on Jon & Kate Plus 8. Lots of friends had told me how much they enjoyed the show. I had stayed away because I grew up in a house with 8 kids. I didn’t need a TV show to help me relive my childhood as the family punching bag and the target of taunts and unflattering nicknames by my older siblings. No hard feelings, but why go back there? As an observer of culture and the media, I did watch a couple of episodes to understand the attention.
Here’s what I said at the time: Kids shouldn’t work. That’s the parents job. And kids shouldn’t be on TV because that is not normal or healthy.
I’ve never mentioned Kate, Jon, the divorce, the hair extensions, the law suits, or the unending media coverage again. I have no feelings about Kate personally. Nor do I want to speculate about her motive for taking this job: money or fame.
But I have stick up for Kate now. She is taking a lot of heat for even being on Dancing with the Stars! ( As opposed to taking heat for her actual performance last night which was… painful.) “Go home and take care of your kids,” is the frequent blog comment attached to any article about Kate and DWTS. At the doctors office today, I whipped through about 8 celeb culture mags and the hate pouring down on Kate is thick. But, what is she supposed to do? She is a single mom with 8 kids and I think in the case of single parents “taking care of your kids” means going out and getting a job. She may be the most notorious single mom on the block– oh, wait, that’s Octomom!– but she still has to work to earn money to afford 8 kids. (Again, I speak from experience; 8 kids gets expensive even if you don’t have an extravagant lifestyle.) My guess is that a short-lived cable show has not rendered Kate “set for life,” probably not even set for one year of life with that many kids.
Kate knows what she has to do: she’s gotta put on her dancing shoes.
I’m always frustrated by the attitude that working is always an “option” for mothers. Actually, in this economy, it’s a necessity for a majority of mothers, whether they are married or not. As economist Elizabeth Warren points out in her fantastic book The Two Income Trap, a common misconception about working mothers is that they trade off time with their kids to afford luxuries like fancy cars and vacations. No quite, says Warren who has done the research, instead of simply the mudslinging. Parents are working to afford housing in a safe neighborhood with good schools. Where’s is the fault in that? And, if you are a single parent, work is not optional at all, even to afford the most basic housing and educational needs.
Sure, it would be easy to point fingers at Kate and say that you should only have the kids you can afford- but frankly, it’s a little too late for that discussion. Though one worth having in your own home if your thinking about going big with your family! In the meantime, there are 8 kids who are going to have lots of financial needs over the next decade.
I will always support the idea that a parent has got to do what they have to do to support a family. (Except, of course, illegal activity or anything involved in the manufacturing of collectible plush toys that people put on their dashboards.) So I say, dance, Kate , dance.
But don’t get used to the warm weather, Kate. Because after that waltz, you may be back in the Granite State shortly. As a DWTS watcher, I believe Kate shares the same issue as former contestant Heather Mills: a divided voting block. When people don’t like you, they don’t vote for you. Ask Heather.
Embracing my Chaos, Lian