A few years ago, the new rage that hit television prime time was families with multiple children such as the Duggars and John and Kate plus Eight or familes that had intriguing stories such as Little People Big World. I plead guilty to succumbing to the draw of these shows as I have always been keenly interested in any programs centering around family life. As a kid , I was tuned in every week to the Brady Bunch and as a young adult I could tell you what day of the week and what time the Cosby show was on. When these shows first aired, I was just completely baffled by the Duggars as here is a family with seventeen or eighteen children who lives in perfect harmony at all times. You just never see anyone punching or kicking anyone else, nobody is picking their nose, the children are incredibly helpful and obedient and seem to love nothing more that doing chores and being sweet. If you or any parent that you know is struggling with any type of inferiority feelings about how they are raising their kids, do not under any circumstances, allow them to see this show . It makes the best of parents feel like utter failures. All I can say about the Duggars is that the show is either sugar coating everything by only filming that which paints an incredibly rosey picture all the time, or if this is how the Duggars really are in their real lives, then my hat is off to them big time! They deserve all the praise in the world.

         Another show that I sometimes watched and seemed to be much more realistic to me was Little People Big World. The mom and the dad are both little people and have given birth to four children, three are average size and one is a little person, which is the term that they prefer to be called. The goal and purpose of the show I believe, was to educate and enlighten viewers of the fact that little people are normal folks, just like you and me, with normal family dynamics and my personal opinion is that the producers did a good job as a whole in getting that truth across to the viewing audience.  The family members do not seem to be putting on any sort of false airs…you take them or leave them. The kids fight, they use slang terminology, the house is quite honestly a mess most of the time ( so much so that I often thought it a shame that their beautiful home was so torn up) and both family tension and love could be seen by the viewer in most episodes. In general, I enjoyed that show.

          The last of the three shows that I mentioned initially is John and Kate Plus Eight which became a hit with the viewers for its first three seasons. This show features a young couple in Pennsylvania, she is caucasion, he is Asian, and they have eight children, a set of twins and then a set of sextuplets. The show became an instant hit I feel because it was just flat out interesting watching their family survive every day living with so many children the same age. Right from the start of the program, the mom Kate had a knack for rubbing viewers the wrong way with her outspoken and opinionated personality. She also came across as very patronizing to her husband which was not becoming , yet the show seemed to thrive in spite of these personality traits of Kate’s. However, what has transpired and unfolded with this couple over the last six months is a picture of so much that is wrong with our society today. I do not know these folks personally so I cannot speak with qualifed authority, but sadly what I perceive is that Kate could be the poster lady for a life unraveling because of the quest for fame and fortune. Even though the concept of the show started out innocently enough as a family who admittedly was using the media and the show to probably advance themselves financially, it all spun out of control rather quickly. Because of the show’s success, within three short seasons, the family was able to move from their first home which looked to be a comfortable home in a nice neighborhood to an exceptionally grand and enormous sized home on what appears to be several acres of land. That in itself is not necessarily a bad thing but the character traits of Kate that were annoying in the beginning became almost intolerable towards the last season. Then, not surprisingly, over the last couple of months, entertainment news shows, magazines, and tabloids are running headlines about the couples’ marital issues and how a break up of the marriage appears to be imminent. Then to make matters worse, this past Monday evening was the premiere show of this next upcoming season…and the majority of the show was interviewing John separately and then Kate separately as they both expounded on the problems of their marriage and their complaints about each other. I hung in there watching this sad and pitiful exhibition for about twenty to twenty-five minutes and then just sighed and turned it off. Here is yet another example of a literal real life family with eight little innocent lives possibly being destroyed all for the sake of what seems to be a mother’s insatiable quest for notoriety. With the show being the success that it was, and she being a competent individual in terms of writing and public speaking, it was not long before the show then spun into speaking engagements at churches , civic groups and the like all the way to appearances on the talk show circuit to include Oprah Winfrey. Had Kate been able to do all of this and also keep herself grounded with a healthy perspective I suppose no significant harm would have been done but tragically , that is not the case. The cost of fame and celebrity has been a high one.  We have all heard the saying that someone “is believing their own press reports” a bit too much…well Kate definitely has not only been believing hers, but acting unwisely on them as well. The truth is that nothing is worth losing one’s family over…not a T.V. show, not having your picture on the cover of People magazine, not all the money in the world…nothing is worth that loss. This article is also not just about the short comings of Kate as it has been alleged that her husband is guilty of much wrong doing as well. It is not my point to discern which partner is to blame, my main focus is to highlight what can happen to any couple and family when they lose sight of what is most important and precious to them. This family, this couple is a classic example of how this world and the temptations that it offers to folks can eat folks alive and warp their thinking in a very short period of time. The truly sorrowful part of this whole saga is that the people who are going to pay the dearest and most costly price in the long run are those eight  innocent little lives who may very well be hugely affected for the rest of their childhood  and also into their adult lives. What is most pitiful however, and very revealing and telling of our society is the fact that the ratings for this past Monday evening’s episode of John and Kate went through the roof and were the highest ratings of the show to date and I have to ask myself why that is. Here is a family unraveling before the public eye, and America cannot seem to get enough of it. It is almost as if we are addicted to dysfunction and sadness . Folks, let’s be better than that. If John and Kate are willing to sacrifice their dignity and privacy for continued high ratings, that is their business, but let’s not help them do it.  Take the high road,  push the off button on your remote and instead , say a prayer for this couple and their children. I can guarantee you that you will feel a whole lot better about yourself if you do because you will know that you just made a decision that will take you to a place of integrity, not mediocrity and that makes all the difference.