twitter facebook stumble upon rss

Reality TV, Kids and Dangerous Endeavors

sign up for the momlogic newsletter Tweet This

Dr. Michelle Golland: The Sunderland family has found themselves in a firestorm -- or, more accurately, a big storm in the Indian Ocean that could have taken the life of their daughter, Abby. They have been criticized by many people for allowing and encouraging their 16-year-old daughter to try to break the record for being the youngest person to sail around the world.

Abby Sunderland

I believe that enabling a minor to voyage alone for months in hostile seas (especially considering the emotional impact of being isolated for that period of time) is simply neglectful parenting. My other concern is the question of whether or not the Sunderland parents were hoping to profit from putting their child in harm's way. (There have been rumors of a reality show ....)

Of course, we as parents make judgments all the time for our minor children. You must make judgments that seem reasonable given the skill sets of your child. In my opinion, given the possible pressure of financial gain, it is unreasonable to place your child's well-being at this level of risk. Fortunately, we are welcoming Abby home alive after her harrowing experience at sea -- and not looking for her body somewhere in the Indian Ocean.

The New York Post reported that Marianne and Laurence Sunderland had signed a contract with Magnetic Entertainment which is no longer in effect. They had been shopping a show about the Sunderland family. As we all know, the reality-TV genre is always looking for the latest, quirkiest and most compelling new families to build shows around. Some examples: "Jon and Kate Plus 8," "9 By Design," "19 Kids and Counting" and on and on.

What was the reality-show concept for the Sunderlands? How they as parents have created such ambitious kids. One family with two kids sailing around the world solo does seem compelling. Marianne said, "At the time, [a show] seemed like a good thing. Everyone we were working with was super friendly and seemed to have plans for a good show." Apparently, Magnetic Entertainment was unable to sell the show -- although there had been some filming prior to Abby's departure, and she does have a lot of footage she captured herself during her adventure.

At this time, the only one who plans to cash in on this dangerous endeavor is the one who was actually in harm's way: Abby herself. She is planning on writing a book about her experience at sea.

There is a fine line that many reality-TV parents seem to be skating, and that line is the emotional abuse of their children. The clearest case of this is Richard Henne and his "Balloon Boy" concoction (although many of us were horrified as we watched Jon and Kate's marriage disintegrate right before our eyes while sadly witnessing the damage being inflicted upon their eight small children).

Although the law varies from state to state, emotional abuse or maltreatment is defined as a pattern of behavior by parents or caregivers that can seriously interfere with a child's cognitive, emotional, psychological or social development. Emotional abuse includes severe and repetitive ignoring, rejecting, isolating, verbally assaulting, terrorizing and neglect of medical, psychological or educational services.

It also includes exploiting or corrupting a child, as happens when a child is taught or encouraged or forced to develop inappropriate or illegal behaviors. (The latter may involve self-destructive acts on the part of the parent, or the parent being involved in illegal activities.) It is this type of emotional abuse that I believe the Henne parents are guilty of.

The power of money can cloud parents' abilities to truly decide what is in their children's best interests. The fact that the Sunderlands were having financial troubles may have been on the minds of their children, too. The physical and psychological danger of taking on an extreme endeavor (such as sailing around the world alone at age 16) would need to be weighed carefully in the face of the parents' desire or promise of a show, a book or any media exposure that could create financial gain for them or their children.


next: Seventeen Magazine Became Teen's Bible for 30 Days
73 comments so far | Post a comment now
russian mail order brides January 21, 2011, 2:20 AM

When are you going to post again? You really inform a lot of people!

barriere January 21, 2011, 3:53 AM

It also makes old hacks feel happier.

That is the factor this impressed me the most.

Jeane Bahr January 29, 2011, 7:22 AM

Very helpful info. I’m fortunate I found out about this web site accidentally. Just book-marked it ^_^

best way to get rid of mice in house January 30, 2011, 4:24 AM

After I open up your Feed it appears to be a lot of garbage, is the problem on my part?

wedding color themes 2011 January 31, 2011, 8:32 AM

You know that children are growing up when they start asking questions that have answers.

Tonita Tell January 31, 2011, 1:38 PM

Keep the posts coming. I enjoy following this site. Thanks for your insight.

pet supplies February 2, 2011, 3:09 AM

I love your wordpress layout, where did you get a hold of it?

see this February 3, 2011, 12:17 AM

When are you going to post again? You really inform me!

pet meds February 4, 2011, 1:19 PM

After I open up your Feed it seems to be a ton of junk, is the problem on my side?

jam a sous sans telechargement February 10, 2011, 6:24 AM

militia medcraft recall foxes nicoli onanie sweetener contempo leegant

cheap homecoming 2011 dresses February 17, 2011, 9:14 AM

Every great advance in natural knowledge has involved the absolute rejection of authority.

cora February 21, 2011, 5:15 AM

tangier xtrx zodiacs compatibility uniformed hystery neighbour leo tozoku d8cd98f0

externes Bleaching February 21, 2011, 9:58 PM

Brilliant, thanks, I will subscribe to you RSS later!

snowmobile February 23, 2011, 8:30 PM

Gracias por compartir su maestría en esta área. Hay mucho Info inútil en esto que flota alrededor y aprecio su trabajo duro.

chocolate covered espresso beans February 28, 2011, 2:11 PM

This really solved my problem, thank you!

Enfant forum March 5, 2011, 9:07 PM

A formidable share, I just given this onto a colleague who was doing slightly analysis on this. And he in fact bought me breakfast as a result of I discovered it for him.. smile. So let me reword that: Thnx for the treat! However yeah Thnkx for spending the time to debate this, I feel strongly about it and love studying extra on this topic. If potential, as you turn out to be expertise, would you mind updating your weblog with extra details? It is highly helpful for me. Big thumb up for this weblog put up!

traffic school online california March 5, 2011, 10:14 PM

This site has got some very helpful stuff on it. Thanks for helping me!

Jann Morgandi March 7, 2011, 7:41 AM

Keep your posts coming. I enjoy following your articles. Thanks a bunch.

click March 8, 2011, 9:56 PM

Brilliant, thanks, I will subscribe to you RSS later.


Back to top >>
advertisement