‘Toddlers and Tiaras’ appearance spurs child custody dispute
The parents of a five-year-old girl were divorced years ago. As part of their divorce settlement agreement, the girl’s mother was granted primary child custody. Since then, however, the appropriateness of the mother’s parenting has come into question — not just by the girl’s father, but also by many others as a result of the TV reality show “Toddlers and Tiaras.”
The little girl appeared on the show last year wearing a Dolly Parton outfit. What outraged the girl’s father and many viewers was that the child was the sense that the little girl had been inappropriately sexualized, considering that her outfit contained breast and backside padding. The world took notice, and the little girl landed on the front page of People magazine in a rather negative spotlight article called “”Gone Too Far?” which criticized her mother.
The girl’s father has since been questioning whether his daughter’s best interest is the truly focus of her mother’s childrearing. Having concluded it is not, he has recently filed for a change in primary custody.
A court-ordered psychologist has recommended that the father take over as primary residential custodian, but that the parents temporarily share joint parenting responsibilities. This recommendation is based on concerns surrounding the sexualized nature of the girl’s costumes and body presentation, including the Dolly Parton costume and another described as a “sexy police officer.”
It appears that the mother will vigorously contest the proposed child custody change. She has accused officials in rural Campbell County, Kentucky, of being biased because her ex-husband’s family is “very political and very, very well-known and very, very wealthy.” She also points out that he has a history of alcohol and drug-related arrests.
Ultimately, she believes the girl’s participation in “Toddlers and Tiaras” and beauty pageants in general as a matter of taste.
“I shouldn’t be at risk of losing my child simply because she participates in a hobby that some people don’t like,” she told reporters.
Certainly the country will be watching as this case unfolds because it could set an important social precedent about the appropriateness of young children’s participation in beauty pageants.
For those of us who don’t involve our children in such activities, the case still hits home when we consider how different parenting styles can affect the parents’ relationships with their children, especially if the parents are divorced or are in the process of seeking a divorce.
Source: Fox News, “‘Toddlers & Tiaras’ mom could lose custody of daughter because she puts her in pageants,” Meaghan Murphy, Aug. 17, 2012