Friday, October 11, 2013

What Are We Teaching Our Children?

Debora L. Griffin - Wife, Momma, Domestic Goddess and Jewelry Artist. Sharing everyday experiences, parenting while re-purposing and up-cycling unique handmade jewelry pieces. 
These are my opinions.

For whatever reason, my husband LOVES to watch the train wreck of Mommas on Toddlers and Tiaras. He is so entertained watching grown women make idiots of themselves.  Because I love him and wanted to be with him, I sat in the room with him and watched with growing horror.  I couldn't believe not only how some of these women act, but also what they were teaching their children.

These women (I could say parents or families here because sometimes it is the whole family but for brevity I’ll leave it at women, that’s 99.9% of what you see on the show) have sexualized their children beyond belief.  It’s not enough that they are putting makeup on them to “make them beautiful” and that toddlers look like a 20 year old. Or that they are buying hair pieces for a 3 year old to wear, or even that they spend a truck-load of money for “flippers” (fake teeth to improve the smiles) and sparkly beautiful $5000 gowns.  No these women have to go on and sexualize them through their stage movements, dance and their theme outfits. 

Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman

Madonna theme outfit

Instructions at dance practice or stage performance practice or whatever you want to call it might include “shake your booty,” “flirt with the judges,” “show your sexy eyes,” “give me a real shimmy now” and the killer for me “sex it up some.” 

You heard me…”sex it up some.”  To a three year old - “Sex it up some.” REALLY?  REALLY?


I think it’s time for a disclaimer here.  My daughter participates in pageants.  She has participated in 3 school pageants over 3 years.  So at 13, 14, and 15 years of age, we bought her a formal (well, actually she bought it.  She saved enough money to buy it herself, I’ll tell you more in a later post) searched for that perfect Sportswear Outfit, put on a little extra makeup and let her strut her stuff across that stage.  Basically, she has fun playing dress up with her friends.
E. in Blue - Miss Congeniality

So you can see we are not against pageants - not at all.

But what these crazy mommas on Toddler and Tiaras are teaching their daughters just astounds me.

Even at 3 these pageants could be beneficial.  It could help a child feel comfortable in the limelight.  It could help her overcome shyness…or if she’s really a stage hound, it could give her a venue to perform a talent in front of a willing and appreciative audience.  As children get older pageants can teach poise and self-confidence, and perfect talent skills.  They can teach children to deal with stage fright, organizational skills, planning skills, time management, even some beauty tricks that the average female may not know.

But WHY OH WHY do we have to make it about being sexy?  Why does a 3 year old need sex appeal?  WHYYYYYYYY?

There were some other values being taught to the children that concern me too.  i.e.
  •  You have no value if you aren't pretty;
  • Do whatever it takes to win;
  • Belittle your opponent;
  • Complain if you don’t win;
  • Acting like a “diva” is acceptable, nay, expected;
  • No one else in this family is as important as you;
  • It's ok to treat your mother with disrespect when you aren't getting your way;
  • Screaming at people is acceptable;
  • Pitching hissy fits is acceptable;
  • Throwing things – acceptable;
  • Ripping costumes – acceptable.  

enough said

screaming at mom

hissy fit


This list goes on and on.  Some of these behaviors were prevalent because the child was tired and didn't WANT to do the pageant at that particular moment.  I get that. But at 3 years of age, I can definitively say…MOMMA put her there.  MOMMA entered her in a pageant.  MOMMA is responsible for the behavior and the training of the child thereof.

What ever happened to?
  • Beauty is from within;
  • Play fair;
  • May the best man (child) win;
  • Learn from your mistakes;
  • Act like a lady;
  • Treat others with compassion;
  • Be respectful;
  • Speak kindly to others;
  • We’re in this together;
  • You break it you pay for it (or in the case of a 3 year old…you’ll do without)?
Tolerating unacceptable behavior as a parent is just raising the next unproductive, uncontrolled, undisciplined adult, because you are telling them in the moment THOSE are the values you accept – live even.

As we got deeper and deeper into the show I started questioning…why would these mothers do this?  Why would they let their children act so disrespectfully?  Why did they act like children themselves? Why was having their child look sexy important to them?  It made me start thinking about some of the issues these mothers may be dealing with.

But this is a parenting blog so I’ll stick to that.

Parents – what you teach your children matters.  What you teach by example is often more important that what you teach by instruction.  Whether it is a pageant, sporting event, field trip or just every day life, these are all teaching moments.  And it is in these moments that your child learns about themselves, develops their self esteem, their self worth, their value, compassion for others, kindheartedness, self control, selflessness, self-reliance, sensitivity to others, teamwork, strength, thankfulness, thoughtfulness, loyalty...  Again, the list can go on and on.

Teach your children positive values.  Don’t blow it.

PS...not all of these pictures above show toddlers...but they are representative of what I saw on the program last night.  Below are some photos submitted for Miss Photogenic...I believe they are all toddlers - touched up.

PPS...I realize the producers choose the worst behaved child and weirdest mom...makes for "good" TV.

Now just a little pageant humor...or not.

Debora L. Griffin - Wife, Momma, Domestic Goddess and Jewelry Artist. Sharing everyday experiences, parenting while re-purposing and up-cycling unique handmade jewelry pieces.


  1. Debora, I so agree that what we teach our children totally matters! - Trish

  2. Children soak up all that they see, hear, and how they are made to feel, great post!

  3. Great post, Debora! I can't even believe the crap that's on TV these days, let alone this childhood pageant stuff. I think you make great points here!