Young Children of Misbehaving Reality Stars Will Have Tough Times as Teens, Experts Say

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Published March 09, 2011

| FoxNews.com

If Charlie Sheen’s toddler twins Max and Bob didn’t have enough skeletons in their toy closet to haunt them well into adulthood, their mom Brooke Mueller could be adding even more.

Mueller is filming a reality television show with none other than Paris Hilton, which promises to document her side of the nasty custody battle with her media-crazed husband, Charlie Sheen.

But Max and Bob aren't the only tiny tots whose parents are famous for airing their dirty laundry on television. They will join a generation of reality show offspring whose parents' misbehavior, fights, slurs, substance abuse and generally reprehensible life choices have been documented for them, their friends, colleagues and spouses to watch in re-runs and on the Internet into perpetuity.

For example, “Teen Mom” star Amber Portwood’s two-year-old daughter Lea obviously has no clue that nude pictures of her mother were released last month. The real harm will be done in 10 years when Leah does a quick Google search to see R-rated photos of her mom and the well-documented video footage of Portwood’s domestic assaults on Leah’s father Gary Shirley, says clinical psychologist Dr. Jeff Gardere. He tells FOX411 that the future effects on young children whose parents today make fools of themselves on TV will be threefold.

“First the children may emulate the parents’ bad behavior because they see how much attention they got for it,” Gardere said. “Second they will become very embarrassed at the parents’ misdeeds which will create a rift in the parent child relationship. Third, it will get in the way of a healthy maturation process for the child who does not have positive role models.”

Portwood is one of the original four women featured on the MTV series that chronicles how teenage mothers deal with having a baby. Part of their documentation includes Portwood’s continued verbal and physical abuse of Shirley, often in front of their daughter.

“Leah will be able to actually watch her mother attack her father at some point. She will see endless amounts of footage of her sitting in a corner or wandering about as her parents engage in yet another screaming match,” says HollywoodLife.com senior editor Chris Spargo, who reports on “Teen Mom.”

Fifteen years from now, the teenager Mason Dash Disick, son of reality television stars Kourtney Kardashian and Scott Disick, won’t just have to deal with his friends asking to hang out with his hot cougar aunt Kim Kardashian. He will also be confronted by his dad Scott’s lousy behavior, including a violent alcohol-induced outburst where he punches a bathroom mirror, all of which is documented on several E! reality shows, “Keeping Up With the Kardashians,” “Kourtney and Khloe take Miami,” and now “Kourtney and Kim Take New York.”

“The camera being present and the parents poor behavior being documented makes for a future screwed up teenager,” says parenting expert Ellen Rittberg, author of “35 Things Your Teen Won’t Tell You So I Will.”

The older children of reality show stars, like Danielle Staub's teenaged daughters, who in the Season One finale of “The Real Housewives of New Jersey” watched cast member Teresa Giudice scream at their mom and call her a “prostitution whore,” don’t have it easy either. They are living this ratings grabbing debacle. But the children who are too young to know what is happening now, will be much more blindsided when they are able to go back and rewind the tapes.

“At the tender age of two, children can realize there is instability, tension and anger in their life, and that is unsettling for them, but they don’t know exactly what is happening,” Dr. Gardere says. “The young ones will have to experience it like it is the first time when they watch later.”

How can these youngsters best handle the unsettling footage later in life?

“The kids need to be told that their moms and dads were induced by the promise and possibility of fame and celebrity money," Rittberg said. "They need to be taught how to seek positive role models in the absence of good parental role models."

 

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