Real Housewives of Auburn

by

One of my guilty pleasures this television season is Real Housewives of Atlanta. Each Tuesday evening, we get a glimpse of the “fabulous” lives of five women who consider themselves to be among Atlanta’s wealthiest socialites. There’s Kim, who purchased a Cadillac Escalade, in cash. DeShawn hired a full-time staff of 6, including a nanny, governess, estate manager, and personal chef, to handle various duties around her home. Sheree threw herself an over-the-top 40th birthday bash, replete with a $1,200 cake in the shape of her favorite Louis Vuitton purse. Lisa took pride in selling multi-million dollar homes to athletes, music producers, and other wealthy people. And there was NeNe, who spared no expense in ensuring that she would be the hottest person at whatever social event she attended. While I can name many of the extravagant things they did, I can’t say that I ever saw them do a lot with their children. I never saw them picking their children up from school. I never saw them at a school play or taking their child to dance classes. I never saw these ladies tuck their kids in at night or cheer for them on the sidelines. Have we become a society that is so entrenched in wearing the latest fashions, buying the biggest bling, or driving the hottest cars that our children fall by the wayside and become merely another notch on our accomplishment belt?

But while that was taking place on Bravo, a much better reality show was playing out in front of my very eyes every Wednesday and Thursday night…the Real Housewives of Auburn. I saw women dressed in sweats and scrubs bring their daughters to soccer practice and games each week. I saw women drive back and forth between soccer practice with their 10 year old and swim lessons for their 15 year old. We rooted for each other’s child whenever they scored a goal, blocked a goal, or just got an opportunity to kick the ball. We shared stories about how long the girls had been involved in extra-curricular activities, how we handled grades, differences in siblings, and the importance of being involved in our children’s lives. While it’s apparent that we weren’t rolling in the dough like the Atlanta housewives, we did have one thing in common—we were all committed to ensuring that our children had as many opportunities as we could give them to maximize their potential. Decades of research has linked parental involvement with higher grades and test scores, fewer instances of violent behavior, decreased use of drugs and alcohol, and increased motivation and self-esteem. As a single mom, it is not always easy to balance work and family. I have seen many a day when my daughter asked me to attend an event and despite how tired I was, or how many other things were going on, I made sure that if it wasn’t absolutely essential for me to be elsewhere, I was there to support my daughter. I have attended plays, soccer games, classroom presentations, and concerts. I have shown up at every parent-teacher conference, I have volunteered to read to my daughter’s class, and I even manned a booth at the annual Spring Fling, all to ensure that I am an active participant in my child’s life. For me and the other 7 women who gathered each Wednesday and Thursday night, the focus is on our children, not us.

So perhaps throwing extravagant social events or being able to keep up with the Jones’ is someone else’s reality, but it isn’t mine.

Eugenia Parrett, M.S.

Alabama Community Healthy Marriage Initiative

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