Their Bad Mother

Their Bad Mother

Jon & Kate Plus The Rest Of Us

Here’s the thing about parenting: it’s hard. Really. It’s hard. Oh, sure, it has its easy moments – and the reward is immeasurable – but end of the day it is a whole lot of hard work and it’s hard work regardless of whether you have four or two or even just one child.

But if you have eight children? All of them small? My head kind of explodes at the degree of difficulty involved in that kind of work.

Which is why I have trouble condemning Kate Gosselin for being a little bit screechy. I mean, I get screechy – I get screechy far more often than I’d care to admit – and I only have two children. I’m pretty sure that I would lose my mind if I had eight.


(Yes, I know that the Duggars have – what? – eighteen. But their’s is a whole different system of organization: the Duggar kids are not multiples and so there’s a generous spread in their ages, and Duggar mere and pere take full advantage of this spread. Parenting in the Duggar household is run on a sort of middle management model, whereby the older kids become middle managers as they mature and take on responsibility for caring for their younger sibling while their parents oversee their work in a sort of chief executive/supervisory mode. If I had a troop of underlings, I too could raise eighteen kids. Not that I’d want to, but still.)

Where was I? Right: the seeming impossibility of raising a whacking brood of multiples. I don’t know how anyone does it, but I imagine that doing it has to involve the parents – or at least one of the parents – being a bit of a hard-ass. Somebody has to be in charge. Somebody has to shout to be heard above the din. Somebody has to be able to get everyone to quiet down and settle down and listen. And I imagine that that looks a little more like a military operation than it does a teddy bear picnic. So, yeah, when I said last week that there was maybe something to learn from Kate? I think that this was it: that sometimes we have to recognize when life calls on us to be a little tougher, a little harder, a little less likable. Raising children sometimes requires that of us, regardless of how many children we have. The example of Kate – of Kate and Jon’s situation – can, perhaps, serve to remind us that sometimes, as parents (as mothers) we have to buckle down and be the tough guy, even if we don’t like what that might look like.


Although maybe it shouldn’t look so much like what it looks like for Jon and Kate. I don’t know. Those are some pretty extreme conditions.

I’ve watched a little Jon & Kate since last I wrote about this. It’s fascinating and horrible in equal measure: these two people have a tremendous load to carry, and it doesn’t help that they’ve chosen to broadcast their effort to the world, and watching them struggle to work their way through the very difficult work of raising a truckload of small children while the world watches their every move makes me cringe. And, yes, watching Kate struggle to keep her temper or struggle to communicate with her husband or struggle to just be calm also makes me cringe. When she fails in these struggles, it’s hard to watch, because I recognize the struggle, and because I – and imagine many of us – worry that we, neither, would be able to hold it together.


I watch Kate and I think, she’s doing the best she can. I watch Kate and I think, she’s failing. Which is entirely unfair, in a way, because who am I to judge? But it’s also not unfair, because she (and her husband) are putting their parenting and their marriage on display, inviting us to judge, and who among us can resist such an invitation? Especially when it allows us to reassure ourselves that at least we do not yell at each other, at least we are not shrill, at least we are not falling apart.

But we should – shouldn’t we? – remind ourselves: there but for the grace of God and fertility and television cameras go we.

And: let we who are without such parenting or marital sin cast the first stone.

And: be us not so proud.

Parenting is hard. Marriage is hard. We all stumble sometimes. We all struggle. That our stumbles and struggles are not caught on television cameras is something for which to be thankful, but it does not absolve us, it does not make us perfect.

Just a thought.


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posted June 5, 2009 at 12:11 pm

Well spoken.

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posted June 5, 2009 at 2:23 pm


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posted June 5, 2009 at 3:34 pm

Very well said.

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posted June 5, 2009 at 4:01 pm

Yes, parenting is hard. It can be particularly difficult for multiples. As a practical matter, triplets were about the largest group that had any reasonable chance of survival before modern medicine, so we never developed any good ways to handle something that isn’t naturally occurring.
I wish Jon & Kate and the kids all the best, the kids in particular since they had no say about this interesting experiment in parenting.

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posted June 5, 2009 at 6:27 pm

We don’t get the Jon & Kate show over here, but I’ve seen a lot of stories about it. Without having seen the show, I agree with your part re how hard it must be and how sometimes you have to be the ‘tough’ parent to get your family through.
But I do worry about the effect on the children, essentially growing up on television and in the public eye without a vote… I suspect they’ll pay for this down the line as many child stars do.

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posted June 5, 2009 at 7:17 pm

I once saw an interview Oprah did with John F. Kennedy, Jr. prior to his marriage. Pictures of him and his girlfriend arguing ended up in the tabloids, and Oprah asked him about it. His response was, “How would any of you like for your last fight to have been covered in the newspaper. While I know Jon and Kate chose this and profit from it, I still can’t imagine how hard it must be to go through life under such scrutiny.

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posted June 6, 2009 at 8:37 am

Sorry, but I think you can do a good amount of screeching and still not screech and treat you husband like one of the kids. Kate is a control freak to the nth degree and is one person who should have nevr had so many children…she can’t let loose and let them or her husband be themselves. They sre being used now for what they can give her, a great life style. I think the kids and Jon should come first, obviously they don’t.

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posted June 6, 2009 at 9:41 am

Jon is so cold hearted towards Kate. He has lots of support and encouragement from others to be this way. After all he is the one that is passive and soft spoken. The TLC choice is much better then “octo-mom” on welfare.. At least we do not have to support Jon and Kates kids. But, we should support Kate. She needs a kind word from Jon. And, until then she needs kind words from all of us.
Blessings to all, Candace

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posted June 6, 2009 at 2:15 pm

I have to say I think that this family is doing the best they can. Yes they made the decision to make their lives and the lives of the ones they love public, but with that being said I watch and pray for this family daily. I want them to be a family unit not divided. I do think that Jon and Kate each need sometime to them selves from time to time. Remember that everything you read or see on the news is not always real. The media is the one tha needs to be judged here not Jon and Kate. Anything like the stuff I have seen and read should not have been displayed for all to see, hear or read. I’m married and I sure I’ve had a fight or two that I said or did something that I regreted later. I’ve even gotten up on the wrong side of the bed and had a day that I regreted and I can bet the ones around me regreted also. That is because I’m human. I hope that everyone will pray for this family to surive together. This is something that they need to work on together. I can bet that everyone reading has failed to make the correct decision or put the right person or thing first when needed, oh well lets start today and let the yesterdays go. This will give them a new start.
May God bless them and be with them.

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posted June 6, 2009 at 2:52 pm

I do not necessarily think that Jon and Kate are bad parents EXCEPT in the aspect of wondering if their arguing that goes on in front of the camera also goes on in front of the kids. I firmly believe in the saying that the best thing one parent can do for their children is to visibly love the other parent. To let their kids see love. I understand that with 8 little ones that there is going to be noise and sometimes you have to get above the noise. The thing that really bothers me is the way Kate treats Jon in their interviews. She corrects his grammar, gripes about the way he breathes, interrupts him constantly. I mean is it really that important??? I do feel that she is a control freak to the point that she is raising 8 little control freaks. She and Jon have both acknowledged that they are very different and have different styles of parenting. I just feel that Kate feels that everything has to be her way ALL of the time. I mean does it really matter which shoes the kids wears in the yard? I would think more important would be that you children be able to look back on their childhoods one day and go “Geeze that was fun!”

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posted June 6, 2009 at 9:45 pm

Just imagine…without the TV cameras and celebrity, Kate would be lost amid piles of diapers, with absolutely no life! (I felt that way with two!) My experience with suburban Moms is they are commonly control freaks. Kate is no different. Suburban Moms are often judged by whether their kids are wearing the right shoes, because there are such materialistic values.
In this unique situation with 8 kids, there is a fine line between having control of a mob of kids and their having control of you. I suspect Kate doesn’t know where to draw that line. She’s human. She possibly picks at Jon because he can find that line instinctively, and she’s reassuring herself and onlookers that he has other flaws. She forgets to give him credit for the humility he maintains, the fact that it hasn’t gone to his head.

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posted June 7, 2009 at 6:25 pm

First off, I would like to say that I think under that family’s circumstances, Jon and Kate are doing an awesome job. As stated by some, I too would be a lot more stressed out by 8 children instead of the 2 I do have. I already can freak out. It is about losing control. That’s where I think Kate does an awesome job. She tries to create control by being what everyone calls a “Control Freak.” How else would she make our simplest tasks like feeding, bathing, dressing, etc. happen? You all have to remember that she has 8 kids! Two sets of multiples! I have a 1 and 5 year olds and to have more than one of either them (yes, I do love my children) I would go crazy more than is acceptable by critics. And just a question… who made us all critics?? Why not watch the show to see how to raise 8 kids or to see the different interactions between a family that large? Why do you have to point fingers at two parents trying their hardest and say “Nope, that was the wrong way to do it!” Unless you have two 8 year olds and six 5 year olds, you can’t truly know how hard it is. Plus, try having a finger pointed at you all day everyday and not fall. We all fall and make mistakes (and no I am not saying any of the alleged cheating, if there was any, is right), but no one sees you fall. Next time you make a mistake imaging millions of people looking at you and calling you a bad mom, dad, husband, or wife. And all these people that are so upset that she is mean to Jon! You don’t even see all of their lives. You see the “good” stuff, the moments that keep us watching! You really are going to tell me that you never yell at your significant others?? Doubt it. Human nature! Stop watching every Monday if it is going to upset you! But, don’t start yelling or saying rude things to your husband!
Plus, just because they have chosen to do a show does not make them bad parents. You can’t look at them and say “Well, they chose to do this show.” Its not their fault that people out there can’t keep their mouths shut and look at their own lives. They need to see whats wrong with them….and yes there is many many things we can all change. Do you think that people that are reading the Bible and see the humility that Jesus faced, look up at God and say “well, you sent Him hear.”
Give people a break in every walk of life! You don’t know how they feel or what is going on behind the scenes.

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posted June 8, 2009 at 12:13 am

If the basic premise of talking about Jon and Kate is to say, parenting and marriage are hard and sometimes we all fail, I agree, but I also think that goes without saying. I’m not sure there’s much meat for discussion in that statement.
I have a strong suspicion that the show is not put on by TLC simply for that premise. Over the years, it has been increasingly edited to show Kate as the harrigan and Jon as the misunderstood, well-meaning dad because that’s what (in part) generates discussion and viewership.
In my own opinion, the difference between being a hard-ass and being inconsiderate towards your spouse is important. Being a hard-ass means setting rules and requiring them to be followed. Being inconsiderate means constantly deriding your spouse (Kate through overt comments, Jon through mumbled critiques) in “private” or public.
For years, Jon and Kate have used the show as a means to speak to church groups and now to secular audiences on how to cope with such large families, how to be healthy, organized, etc. In short, they present themselves as family/parenting experts, albeit through experience and not education. And now, instead of hunkering down and dealing with the notion of exploiting their children for monetary gain or working to salvage their relationship, they are fighting it out through the gossip magazines and creating a truly cringe-worth spectacle.
Do I judge them? Yes. Not for making mistakes with each other. Not for being the hard or the soft parent. I judge them for recognizing they have a problem and refusing to act upon it, for whatever reason.

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posted June 8, 2009 at 8:11 am

The previous comment about how important it is to show love to your spouse was headed in the right direction. Criticizing your spouse, talking for him/her instead of encouraging him/her to have a voice, and controlling your spouse’s actions are troublesome behaviors. I think part of the reason the Duggars are successful in their endeavors of parenting is because they love and respect each other. If you watch their show, they clearly are supportive of each other and make their relationship a priority. Children learn to love from their parents…the Duggar children have great role models for this as Mr. and Mrs. Duggar love each other and it comes through on camera. I suspect the producers of TLC picked up early on Kate’s negative behaviors and capitalized on them by showing them in their full glory on television…Kate blindly followed, as evidenced in her remarks over the years that indicate she really doesn’t care to hear the feedback they receive from those closest to them…their families and friends. She has said often if someone doesn’t like what they are doing, then “too bad.” It is difficult to see the forest for the trees, and often feedback from others outside your situation is crucial. You will also notice that Kate’s family members have made comments that reiterate this fact. The sadness in this is that everything is on camera and recorded forever for those children…much fodder for future therapy. Mandy’s last statement in her comment is correct – judge them for recognizing they have a problem but not acting to remediate it until it’s too late. One could add to this that their lack of ability to really sit down and contemplate what it means to put your life on display to millions and how this will impact your children later in life is up for fodder as well.

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posted June 8, 2009 at 11:26 am

THANK YOU for this article!! It’s about time someone finally stands up for Kate. I honestly think she is trying to do what is best for her children – though I do think season 5 should be the end. To those of you out there who think parents should not argue in front of the children – you have never had a disagreement with your kids around?? Really?? How do they learn to communicate with others that have different opinions than theirs??
Anyway, I agree with you wholeheartedly, Candace.
Let’s all say a few prayers for this family and hope they make it thought the rough spots together. I don’t know about any of you, but I have fallen in love with those kids!! Let’s hope they stay happy.

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posted June 12, 2009 at 11:26 am

I truly think we have become too quick to judge in our society. We seem to revel in it. Thank you for this post. I completely agree that we need to sit back and think about whether we do have the right to “throw stones” at others. None of us are perfect and being on TV seems to have become some sort of excuse for us to judge our fellow man too harshly. Like there isn’t a real person with faults and feelings behind that celebrity persona.

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posted June 17, 2009 at 2:18 pm

Dear John and Kate, and veiwers,
I believe that John and Kate are the doing the best they can. Yes,I uphold John and Kate to the highest level of respect and dignity. Yes, I am not judging them. I support them hundred percent on the parenting techniques, and level of ability to raise the children they have. I believe Kate is a wonderful mother, and John is a wonderful father. As I see the media involved is not right, and there unrightful opinions is just an opinion like we have all one. I am so happy to watch John and Kate plus 8, it makes my day, and I see a mother and father who love there children very much, and also , husband and wife who love each other. They need to go back where they first fell in love and rebuild that relationship. They still have it there but need to rekindled that part of there marriage and themselves.
I love you John and Kate plus eight, so never quit trying and diong what you do. Raise your family and follow your heart. Be strong and let the media, and people say they want to. Because in your heart you are family, and parent, and raising 8 beautiful children.
So remember loves builds a family, and families can stay together no matter what people think.
I am praying for you John and Kate and plus 8. Don’t give up let Jesus heal the broken strings, and let him help you through this tough time.
God does answers prayers, and Jesus is always with us, we have angels all around us.
Love you John & Kate, plus 8.
Many laughs, love, and strength sent your way. Please keep the show running and be yourselves.
Tina-from Michigan

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Rick Garner

posted June 23, 2009 at 5:02 pm

With Jon and Kate Gosselin seeking a divorce, what can you do to help them? Check out:

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posted July 1, 2009 at 11:46 am

Let’s not forget that Kate insisted that their show be real, uncut, the good, the bad, AND the ugly. When we compare them to the Duggars I’m not sure we’re comparing apples to apples. We don’t know what ended up on the cutting room floor.
My biggest criticism is for the fertility clinic that implanted all those embryos. I went through an IVF cycle about a year and a half after Kate, I’m significantly older than Kate, they implanted THREE embryos. To me, that as many as she had implanted was medical malpractice and is at the root of all of this. My two kids (and husband) provide more than enough stress on any given day, I can’t imagine what eight would do. The fact that they’ve held it together this long is commendable.
I hope they seek counseling both in and out of their church. I hope they find their way to common ground and get back to the important work of raising their children, without the cameras if necessary.

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posted November 7, 2009 at 6:18 pm

Kate If you are reading this you are doing an awsome job!! stay strong and leave it all in Gods hands. There are many bumpy roads in being a single parent but you will one is perfect> you and your beautiful children our always in our prayers God Bless

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