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NOT Keeping Up with the Kardashians

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It would appear that the Kardashians, for reasons that have thus far eluded me, are worth keeping up with. Apparently the various dramas and sub-dramas of this family's life are fascinating enough to warrant an entire hour of entertainment, often piggybacking onto yet another hour -- so we can keep up with them even better!

From the TV guide:
Kourtney warily forgives Scott for his violent drunkenness at Kim's birthday party and takes him back, just in time for their son Mason to be born; Kim recovers from her fainting spell and learns to organize her professional life.

Far be it from me to decide what is and isn't entertaining; as some say, every head a planet. But for those of us with children, this program (and many like them) begs the question, "Is this something I want my kids to watch?"

My client Jeannette* and her husband had been struggling with the Kardashian issue; their thirteen ("almost fourteen!") year old daughter was hooked on the show, but they winced whenever it came on. But heck -- it could be worse, they thought, and at least Caroline* watched it in the living room, often with mom or dad around.

The other night, the Kardashians came on and Jeannette decided to watch it with her daughter to see if it had any redeeming qualities. "In all honesty," she told me, "it isn't completely awful...but as I sat there and watched first one episode, and then another, I realized that I couldn't pretend it was okay. But oh...I dreaded facing the adolescent hurricane that would surely erupt if I told Caroline she couldn't watch it anymore."

Still, Jeannette was resolved to stand in her parenting truth, and a few days later, she approached her daughter saying, "There's something I'd like to talk with you about, sweetie."

Now, I will briefly toot my own horn by saying that Jeannette told me that she softened Caroline by the Act I and connecting strategies she'd learned from our work together. "It was kind of miraculous," she told me. "I started by acknowledging that I knew how much she liked the show, and then I asked her if part of the appeal was that one of the girls was into modeling -- one of Caroline's dreams at the moment, and she admitted it was part of the pull. I told her that her dad had offered to help her find other shows about modeling that might be more appropriate, but that we had decided that she wasn't going to be able to watch the Kardashians anymore."

"To my utter amazement -- I mean my utter amazement -- Caroline simply said, 'Okay, Mom' and walked off to do something else! I was waiting for the storm -- and it never came!"

As we talked about her success, Jeannette emphasized something that parents underestimate time and time again. "In retrospect, I think what made the conversation work was that I did what you call coming alongside my daughter, rather than coming at her. And maybe more important: I was clear! She didn't sense that I was indecisive or waffling, even though I was being understanding and kind."

Kids want parents who are willing to parent. Sure, they want what they want, and sure they often pitch a fit to see if we'll cave in. But when we're clear, and we convey both understanding and strength, it becomes easier to stay true to what we know is ultimately in their best interest.

Maybe the Kardashian's can take a page from Jeannette's book! But then again, it would probably make for less drama, and then who would watch their show?

At her mother Kris' encouragement, Kourtney tells Scott that she's not going to expose their baby to his father's drunken debauchery, and isn't willing to even discuss reconciliation until he gets himself into rehab or AA...

* Not their real names

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