Octomom: Behind the Scenes
Nadya Suleman, aka Octomom, has 14 children. She also has financial troubles and a rocky relationship with her mother. But we knew all of that already. What we don't know is what life is like in the Suleman household on a daily basis.
Thanks to FOX and RadarOnline, now we do. "Octomom: The Incredible Unseen Footage" took us inside Nadya Suleman's home and life. In a two-hour special that culled film and interviews shot over six months, we saw Suleman interacting with her children and her parents, and trying to explain how she wound up in this place.
So what's it like being the Octomom?
How Does She Do It?
Nadya Suleman captivated us when she gave birth to octupluets -- but then we found out she had six other kids at home and we could not look away.
Jason Mitchell, BuzzFoto / FilmMagic
Suleman, who once said that she would like to be a reality-TV parenting expert, talked about her personal parenting philosophy.
"You just have to show them what to do," she said into the camera. "You don't reprimand a child, no matter what age, and say don't do that, stop doing that ... You have to show them what is appropriate. You know that -- or people should know that." She laughed. "You have to model healthy behavior. You don't just punish; that's superfluous, I think. That's to no avail."
Not terrible advice, except for the fact that it's not working at all for the Suleman kids.
On an outing to the park, two-year-old Caleb, one of Suleman's twins, slapped her; she put him in a time out. He immediately stood up, called Suleman a "bitch," (twice) and walked away to play on the playground. In the background, we heard Suleman say, "Why is this happening?"
Later, Caleb slapped the camera and called the reporter a "bitch." Suleman put him in time-out, but she's giggling as she does it.
On an outing with her older children, two of them hit her; her 8-year-old had a tantrum about his ice skates. Suleman sighed and rolled her eyes.
"I'm not the best parent in the world," Suleman said. And son Elijah, 8, piped up: "Yeah, you're not the best parent."
We can judge Nadya Suleman for her parenting skills, but she's not doing anything that other parents aren't doing. There are plenty of kids out there who misbehave because no one tells them not to. What sets Suleman apart from her parenting peers is not that her toddler hits or swears; it's the way she cultivates the media's attention, even when it means risking her children's health and well-being.
Suleman blames the media -- specifically, the tabloids -- for making her life chaotic, but she allows cameras into her home while simultaneously pushing her neighbors away. She has installed security cameras and a gate at her house, but it appears that it is the neighbors, not the paparazzi, that she is warding off. She will not let her children play with the other kids on her block, and she accuses one neighbor of looking over her fence.
"I catch myself living in fear, to a certain degree," she says. What she fears, though, is that the neighbors will come into her house and film the children.
Suleman's fame is of course a fluke; until her octuplets arrived, she was just another single mom. But Nadya Suleman was fully aware, even before her babies were born, that being the Octomom was her road to fame.
How do we know this? Because last night, FOX aired never-before-seen footage of the octuplets' birth, shot in the delivery room by a cameraperson hired by Suleman herself. The footage is shocking not because we see anything horrific in the delivery but because the woman with the camera engages in a battle with the delivery room nurses over who has the most right to be in the delivery room. A nurse tells her, "I'm trying to ensure the safety of everyone in this room," but the camera keeps rolling.
It's amazing that Suleman has that record of her children's birth -- after all, cameras are typically prohibited in operating rooms -- but what is more amazing is that she chose to have a camera crew in the delivery room in the first place. As much as we might want to believe that she puts her children's health and safety first, that bit of film, that ongoing argument between the cameraperson and the nurse about who had more right to be in the OR at that moment, leaves us wondering: Was Nadya Suleman really thinking about her children, or was she already counting on the TV deal for the film of their births?
It is impossible to feel badly for Nadya Suleman; after all, she brought this on herself. But it is equally impossible not to wonder what will become of her children. The most heart-wrenching moment in the FOX special came when Suleman admitted, "I screwed myself. I screwed up my life, I screwed up my kids' lives ... I have to put on this strong facade and I have to pretend like I don't regret it. I can't regret it now because I love them, they're here ... What was I thinking?"
We're all wondering that, honestly.
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.