Parenting Lessons From the Jersey Shore

I admit it. I love TV. 

Worse, I love reality TV.

Now, I don’t plan my life around any reality shows, except My Life on the D-List, but on lazy Sunday afternoons when the kids are napping and I have five loads of laundry to fold, a little Jerseylicious brightens my day.

Throughout my journeys to the Jersey Shore, Orange County and Miami, I always leave with a little reminder of something I need to talk with my kids about. So here are four lessons I’ve gleaned from reality TV that I wish to share with the Little Ps:

Wear sunscreen. Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino has some great abs. I know because he flashes them every chance he gets. But don’t you think he looks much older than his 27 years? Here’s the proof – compare this photo to how he looks after years of GTL – gym, tan and laundry. I definitely have no room to talk, though – my own face is lined with proof of my sun worshipping in a previous life. So, my little ones, break out the sunscreen and the hats now and use them heavily during your teen years. They will save you from skin cancer and being mistaken for an Oompa Loompa.

Don’t commit crimes. Please don’t take what doesn’t belong to you or get physical on your friends and family. First, because they’re downright wrong to do. And second, you will get caught. Most likely by using your cell phone to cover up your crime. Did you know the phone company can track back your incoming calls to the nearest cell phone tower to pinpoint your location? I do – I’ve watched every episode of Snapped at least three times and that’s what always does the perpetrator in. So, when I put you in time out for not sharing or pulling your sister’s hair, it’s not because I’m being mean. It’s because I want you to realize that bad actions have consequences.

Girls are mean. The very first post I wrote for SmartParenting was my disgust with the ladies on Bad Girls Club and how I swore I would stop watching it. Have I? Nope, I’ve already been roped into the new season and had a physical reaction 15 minutes into the show. That’s why I’m continually reminding you to be nice to the girls around you, helping you build your self-esteem and self-confidence so you don’t get wrapped up into girl-on-girl warfare, and teaching you to handle yourself with dignity if you’re on the receiving end of a mean girl. And if I catch you on Bad Girls Club 15 years from now, like Roseanne Connor I will ground you until menopause.

A camera in front of your face is no reason to act crazy. Many of the cast members of reality shows go on a series to become famous. Some of them do. Others end up as working schmoes like the rest of us, but with an audio/visual record of making out with random D-list rock stars, passing out drunk on a bathroom floor or flashing their business at a dance club. Little Ps, when mommy was in college, we didn’t have things like camera phones, Facebook and YouTube. You’re not so lucky. Just watch your back and act like a lady in public so when you do go on your first job interview, your potential employer won’t screech, “OMG! You’re the girl who did body shots off Flavor Flav!”

Yes, these are all lessons many of us parents teach our youngsters, but watching them come to fruition on reality shows only reinforces the fact that these lessons need to be repeated. At least that’s my excuse for watching marathons of The Real Housewives of New Jersey.

By Nicole Plegge, Lifestyle Blogger for SmartParenting

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Metro East mom Nicole Plegge is the lifestyle and pop culture blogger for STL Parent. Besides working as a freelance writer & public relations specialist, and raising two daughters and a husband, Nicole's greatest achievements are finding her misplaced car keys each day and managing to leave the house in a stain-free shirt. Her biggest regret is never being accepted to the Eastland School for Girls. Follow Nicole on Twitter @STLWriterinIL 

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