'Real Housewives' Taught Me How to Fight In Front of My Toddler

I’m going to admit to a terrible truth. I have spent the past week watching every last episode of The Real Housewives of New Jersey and DC. It started innocently enough. I was surfing the web late one night when, crippled with insomnia, I started craving a dose of crap Internet television to aid me in my quest to slumber. Soon what started as a minor curiosity spiraled into a majorly obsessive thirty-hour binge fiesta.

Thirty hours, people! That’s nearly a full-time job.

What happens to an insomniac working mother of a toddler after she’s spent that amount of time with the Housewives? She begins to evaluate her own conflict management skills.


I’ve wanted to write a post about how to fight fair when your toddler is looking on for quite some time. The problem is, my husband and I can be equally hopeless when it comes to re-enacting the sort of positive communication we’ve both read so much about. Rather, we occasionally reenact scenarios more likely to be seen on Bravo.

Not the sort of example I want to set for my 21-month-old son. In existential terms, he gets more or less the same couch potato treatment from watching us mime “communication” that I get from witnessing “reality” on television. Therefore, the best way for me to justify my television sabbatical with the Salahis and Menzos is to think of it as an intensive communication effectiveness seminar.

Here are my top three takeaway lessons.

Lesson 1: Whenever Possible, Restrict Battles to Banter
Let’s face it, there are times that we find it … challenging … to communicate effectively with our partner or husband, particularly when he or she does things that annoy you. As such, when your audience (that would be your toddler) is in view, do your very best to battle out marital issues with wit, dignity and, whenever possible, British sarcasm, like Cat.

Lesson 2: Before You Deflect, Use Caution
Deflecting emotions before being fully self-expressed can result in a catastrophe of Danielle Staub like proportions. We all need to let off emotional steam every now and then. Show your kid that it’s normal to vent. After that, deflect at will with something lighthearted, like ham throwing.

Lesson 3: If Everything is Not Okay, Don’t Smile Maniacally Like It Is
real housewives of dc salahiFamed party crasher Michaele Salahi could smile her way through a nuclear war. It’s weird, and sends the wrong message to everyone around you. If you’re trying to gracefully bow out of an argument, sensitive legal situation, or publicly humiliating grocery store meltdown, smiling like you’re on candid camera is sadistic, strange, and confusing for partners, viewers, and toddlers alike.

What other lessons might reality television teach us when it comes to fighting fair in front of toddlers? Maybe no matter how bad things get, never resort to this:

teresa real housewives of new jersey table flip



All images via Bravo

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