Hey Internet, How About We NOT Be Dicks to Children?

New_Jersey_Counties_by_metro_area_labeled.svgI take a lot of crap for the fact that I religiously watch The Real Housewives of New Jersey. I’ve been watching it for years. Yes, I think it’s ridiculous, and no, I won’t stop watching it because it’s not high-brow enough. You take your mindless entertainment and I’ll take mine (and can we please agree that everyone knows that no one in the entire history of the Real Housewives franchise represents actual real housewives, but we can know that and still enjoy the mindlessness of it?).

So all day, I’ve been reading articles and following along with the fraud trial and sentencing involving Teresa and Joe Giudice, who have been cast members since the show’s first season.

The story has been trending on social media all day, and as such, there is no shortage of people pointing fingers and passing judgment all over the damn place. It’s really irritating me. Really irritating me. To the point where I thought, “Ok, I’m not going to get up on a soap box about the Real Housewives of New Jersey.”

And then I thought of the Giudices’ four daughters, ages 5-13, and I thought: I have a soapbox. It’s called a blog. And so I apologize, but I’m about to get a little righteous. Because what is happening to those girls tonight is not okay.

Let me be clear about something: I am not defending Joe and Teresa Giudice. I’m also not condemning them or wishing them an eternity of suffering. I’m not God and therefore not in a position to do that. They messed up. What they did wasn’t right, and they deserve to be punished for it. Hopefully they have learned their lesson and when they both return from serving their respective prison sentences (hers 15 months, his 41 months), they will be better people for it.

But that’s not what this is about.

The eldest of their four daughters, Gia, is 13. Think about your life when you were 13 for a second. That’s when everything started getting crazy and confusing and you weren’t blissfully ignorant of the world around you anymore. You knew what was happening, and it kind of sucked sometimes. A lot of times.

In the midst of going through what is undoubtedly a tumultuous time in her life anyway, this poor girl has to go to school and take crap from people criticizing her family just for being on a reality show. She probably has to take crap from people who repeat what they overhear their parents saying about her parents’ charges and trial and sentencing.

And today she was faced with the fact that both of her parents will be going to prison.

Can you imagine what that poor girl must feel like?

This morning, prior to the sentencing, she tweeted:

And the internet, being the internet, started with the attacks. ON A 13 YEAR OLD GIRL WHO HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH HER PARENTS’ CHOICES.

Sadly, this is but a fraction of the people who felt the need to feel … what? better about themselves? … by bullying children. Comments were also left on their daughter Milania’s Instagram account (but were later removed). It was expected that Joe and Teresa’s jail time would be staggered so that one of them would be able to stay with their girls while the other was in jail. That was said to be common in cases like this, and thus not special treatment for them by any means.

And yet I still saw someone saying, “They have plenty of other people who can take care of their kids. Send them both to jail.”

And more people echoing that sentiment.

Yes. Because it’s not traumatic enough to have one parent absent from your life because they’re in prison. Let’s just divide the girls up so that they don’t even have each other and ship them off to different family members just to send both parents to prison at the same time.

Many of the people who haven’t made direct attacks on the children aren’t totally innocent either, though. How would you feel if you logged on to Twitter or Facebook (the minimum age is 13, so let’s assume that Gia has an account) and saw that your parents were the top trending story and there were a whole bunch of people who had never met you or your family saying things that amounted to “LOL good! I’m glad they’re going to jail!”

It’s also being a dick to kids when you publicly run their parents through the mud, so to speak.

I’m trying to wrap my mind around how people can believe this is acceptable behavior. How can they say the girls deserve this? How can they know for sure that these girls are spoiled brats who deserve to be taught a lesson with their parents’ jail time? We only see how Bravo has decided to edit them. We see what Bravo wants us to see, and, as many of these same people point out, it’s not “real.”

And anyway, I’d love to meet someone who wasn’t an obnoxious brat at least sometimes when they were a kid. I still am sometimes. We all have our moments. Yeah, these girls have, up until now, grown up living lives of luxury. I grew up in a tiny house, the oldest child of 3. When I was 13, I was responsible for taking care of my siblings (one of whom was 3) and my elderly grandmother (who lived with us in our tiny house) in the evenings while both of my parents were working retail jobs at the mall. I still talked back to my mom. I still got grounded. I still got my ponytail pulled sometimes. And I still thought I needed to have a lot of material things to fit in.

That’s not necessarily being a spoiled brat. That’s being a kid who hasn’t yet realized the world doesn’t revolve around you.  (Although I will acknowledge that some of the things Milania says would not fly with me, but she’s not my kid and it’s not my place to judge how her parents deal with that or say they’re bad parents because of it. Because again, we can assume Bravo does quite a bit of editorializing.)

I know I’m being preachy, and I’m sorry. I’ll return to something better next time. There will be a pretty small audience for this post, but I was too appalled at the way people are treating this to keep my big mouth shut. Kids never deserve to suffer for what their parents do, and they really don’t need to have people on social media criticizing them like it’s their fault. They also don’t need to deal with a million strangers saying cruel things about their family. You don’t have to feel sorry for Joe and Teresa. But think of their girls.

TL; DR:  Don’t be a dick to children.

image source: Wikipedia

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