Nicole "Snooki" Polizzi via her Twitter Feed

Our Story Begins:
Who is YOUR Parenting Icon?

Everywhere I look this week I’ve been inundated by Snooki.

That’s right, I said Snooki.  I didn’t/don’t watch Jersey Shore.  Yet, for some reason this week, the story came flooding out that Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi is “now a health and parenting icon.”

I certainly don’t claim my house is bereft of unscripted television.  My oldest, Abbi, watched the fashion shows Project Runway and America’s Next Top Model.  I will admit to a small amount of guilt at poking fun at Tyra Banks.  Still, that’s what we watch these shows for, the ability to say, “There but for the grace of God/Vishnu/Yahweh/the little blue guys from the Twilight Zone go I.”

So as I struggle to make ends meet, eat dinner every night and try to sew a decent moral fabric for my kids as I juggle work and home I see this and it angers me.  To…no…end.

Here’s why: it’s not jealousy.  It’s really not.  Even though I give all of you a snapshot of my life, a singular look at my week, or even a short blurb of my day at my own blog, I don’t give you the worst, sordid details of my life.  While I mentioned that I’d had a few dates in the last year, I will not mention the names of the women who accompanied me nor will I detail the events of those evenings.  Those are private moments that are ours alone, be they personal, funny, romantic or tragic.  My point is that I don’t play out the drama of my life in order to showcase drama in my life.

Related Post: Our Story Begins: Dad’s Dating AND Raising Kids?  Yep…Here’s Why

But Snooki . . . dear Lord;  Where do I start?

The now parent of a 1-year-old has yet to face the massive parenting challenges many of us do.  She’s not married yet, true, but she’s engaged, presumably he helps out.  The articles talk about how Snooki gets $75,000 just to appear somewhere.  That’s more than many people make a year.  Help is a checkbook away.  She’s apparently worth a cool $4 million.  She gets more than six figures for each episode of her MTV show.  First: if I had 4 million I wouldn’t be working this hard, let’s be honest.  Second: the lesson she’s taught girls across the country is that, from her perspective, you should get plastered, get in fights, get arrested, be near or totally naked on-camera and then when you get pregnant stop all that and make a ton of money off the reputation.

Related Post:  Our Story Begins: The Breakdown Moment

Also, to sprinkle the blame around, my own industry – the media – didn’t help things any.  Nearly every single headline on her newfound parenting prowess, from the one on Fox News to the San Francisco Examiner used the exact same wording: “Snooki becomes a health and parenting icon.”  That, my friends, screams that a PR firm wrote a press release, sent out their spin doctoring and media outlets, desperate to fill time in the 24-hour-news cycle, bought the message hook, line, sinker, and vodka tonic.

My kids don’t have a mom; I wish they did still, but I fill those shoes the best I can.  I have a parenting Icon.  I have a couple, in fact: my own mother and father.  They’re both very private.  Still, I knew, always, that they loved each other.  They said it, they showed it, and they showed us every day.  They read to me.  They played with me.  My folks raised three boys who all have different talents, loves, and lives.

“Snooki” is no icon.  She is only a year into this endeavor, one many of us struggle with ourselves and have done so for years.  While her change to be more “Mom” than “booze hound” is admirable, using it to sell her reputation, yet again, is more portrayal than parenting.

No, I’ll stick with my icons . . . they’ve been there for more than forty years and haven’t failed me yet.

What about you?  Agree or disagree?  Who is your parenting icon?  Who do you respect and go to when you wonder if you’re doing it right?


Dave Manoucheri is a writer, journalist and musician based in Sacramento, California.  A father of four, two daughters and twin sons, his blog, Our Story Begins is a chronicle of their life after the loss of his wife, Andrea, in March of 2011. Follow him on Twitter @InvProducerMan.