Can seven-year olds be assholes? You bet.
Do parents sometimes talk about how their kids can be total assholes with their friends? Most likely.
Should parents — especially those with a decent-size platform — talk publicly about how their kids are huge assholes? Of course not.
But that’s exactly what “Real Housewife” Brandi Glanville did, and she’s not sorry at all.
For those not in the know (aka not addicted to Bravo’s “Real Housewives” series), Glanville “stars” in the Beverly Hills version of the show, dragging out her drama for all the world to see. Glanville’s ex-husband, Eddie Cibrian, left her for the country singer LeAnn Rimes, and the two women regularly make spectacles out of themselves via super passive-aggressive Twitter feuds. Fun!
Glanville doesn’t use any sort of filter while talking, both on the show, on her podcast, or in interviews. Recently, she let her feelings on her 7-year-old son be known during a taping of her podcast:
“My son’s name is Jake: He’s 7, he’s a complete asshole, but we love him. Oh man, he’s a dick, seriously.”
Glanville also joked (maybe?) that she tells Jake to “go fuck himself” and called him a “fucker.”
Now here’s the thing: seven-year-olds can totally be assholes. So can two-year olds and 13-year olds for that matter. Anyone, anywhere, at any age, has the ability to be an asshole. It happens. And when an adult acts in a totally dickish manner, we sometimes call him or her out. In my mind, that’s okay: adults have the power and ability to then defend themselves and their dickish behavior. Maybe they can even explain why they were acting like that. But kids?
I’m really hoping that Jake doesn’t listen to his mother’s podcast (not that his ignorance of what she said excuses it on any level). But what if he had heard it? How could a seven-year-old respond? The power dynamic between parents and children is much different than two adults, and even if he had stood up for himself, it might just lead to more “wow, what an asshole” commentary from mom. There’s also a world of difference between complaining about mothering — something we all do from time to time — and labeling your child in a pretty harsh way in an arena where he can’t defend himself. Besides, calling your kid out as an “asshole” just for laughs is kind of a cheap ploy.
I get that being a parent is hard. I totally understand that kids can act like tyrants or do things that make it feel like they’re personally out to get us. And while we can certainly vent and complain in the privacy of our partners or friends, there should be a line for parents when it comes voicing those criticisms publicly. What happens in just a few years when Glanville’s son is Internet savvy and decides to Google his own name and TMZ articles galore pop up about what a little asshole his mom thinks he is?
As somebody who writes about parenting, I constantly questioning where that line is. Would my son be comfortable reading what I’ve written about him? For the most part, I’m not an overshare-er: I’ll at times use a brief anecdote to make a larger point, and will even occasionally ask my son if I can write about something he’s done/experienced, because he’s at an age where he can give consent. I try to be conscious of the fact that my words can make an impact. I think really hard about what sort of impact I’d like to leave, especially when it relates to my son.
As of now, Glanville has laughed off her comments and says she isn’t sorry about what she said. I guess I’m not that surprised. After all, we’re talking about a woman who stars in a reality series franchise best known for drunken tirades and table-flipping. Though, it’s a wee bit ironic, coming from a woman who once proclaimed, “nobody insults my children!”
Apparently, that’s nobody … except Mom herself.
Avital Norman Nathman blogs at The Mamfesto. Her book, The Good Mother Myth: Redefining Motherhood To Fit Reality, is out now. Follow her on Twitter.