Nadya Suleman and the Dark Side of Reality

Enough has been said about Nadya Suleman’s poor judgement in her choice to give birth to 14 children. In the last few years two diverse opinions were voiced. One of them was a constant presence in the headlines and impossible to ignore. It says her house is a mess. She spent $50 on a haircut. She pampers herself and neglects her children. She filed for bankruptcy. Her bankruptcy was thrown out of court. She doesn’t really like babies. Her mother is fed up with her. These are only the opinions I’m familiar with. Until now I haven’t been paying much attention.

There is another sentiment that’s quiet by comparison and is often found in the comments to online articles. People typically wonder how she’ll get by and whether someone can’t just give her a little help. I think of this as the human response.

In my opinion, the headlines try too hard. It seems their main goal has been to deprive her of the income that was beginning to come her way from donations. It wasn’t enough to demonize her, they demonized her doctor as well. Then the character assassination really gained steam. For example, there is a petition online to boycott stores that make donations to her family. It didn’t have even half of the 1000 signatures they asked for, but this is an example of a threat to the family’s livelihood.

The moment it was discovered that Nadya was single and had 14 children, which I admit is hard to defend, the attacks were venomous. She suddenly became a gold digger who cared nothing for her children. Now it has reached the point where we are being forced to watch this woman embark on a pornography career.

This problem began when Suleman’s inability to have children led to the breakup of her marriage. Besides her single state, I can’t see anything in her story that would have predicted this treatment. Her mother and father are there for her and willing to help her. Even her ex-husband wants the best for her and worries about her.

To gain perspective I want to compare another large family with the Sulemans, the family of Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar. Their source of income in their early years was an auto body business, a used car company and a towing company. Then, according to various online sites, they went to Jim Sammon’s Financial Freedom seminar and learned how to live within their means. This enabled them to sell their businesses in 1990 and buy commercial real estate, which made it possible for them to live on rental income from their investments. However, rent payments were not their only source of income. During the same period they began traveling and earning money making speeches at Christian organizations and homeschooling conventions. Then, from 1999 to 2003 Jim Bob served in the Arkansas House of Representatives. Some websites claim the Duggars built their 7000 square foot house debt free. However, the house was finished by Discovery Networks. Its decorations and furnishings were given to them by Discovery Networks and other corporate sponsors. It is estimated that the Duggars make from $25,000 to $40,000 for each episode of their reality show.

The commercial real estate market is volatile. It crashed in the late 80s, which probably led to bargain prices in the early 90s when the Duggars entered the market. However, there is no telling if it would have continued to provide sufficient income for such a large family in subsequent years. Rebuilding and selling cars is a living at best, not the road to wealth.

Nadya Suleman graduated from High School in 1993 and worked as a psychiatric technician at Metropolitan State Hospital. In 2006 she earned a degree in childhood and adolescent development. After the birth of the Octuplets Suleman was offered corporate donations but they dried up when the media coverage turned negative. Then Gloria Allred, who was supposed to be helping her, squashed her reality show prospects by publicly accusing her of using her babies to make money. I seem to remember that Allred volunteered her services; Suleman didn’t ask for her help. Allred seemed to base her indignation partly on Suleman’s poor parenting skills. We weren’t given Allred’s parenting credentials.

By contrast, the Duggars are one of a number of families with a reality show, which they were given solely because of the number of children in their family. They have nineteen at last count. I suppose if the same mean streak were to find its way into their life someone could say Jim Bob is a freeloader. His wife had all the kids. Further, the Duggars not only use their kids to make money, they throw in Jesus for good measure.

As for Suleman, apparently the pundits would rather she stayed on welfare, became a porn star and lost her house. While they proclaim concern for the children, their actions say to hell with them. I, for one, prefer not to witness the dissolution of Nadya Suleman, but I have a feeling it will make the headlines.