Nieces and Nephews Jersey Shore-Obsessed? Listen to This.
So your nieces and nephews can’t wait to fill you in on the shenanigans from the last episode of one of the biggest pop culture television phenomena to hit the airwaves: “The Jersey Shore.”
What’s an auntie to do?
I’ll admit the russet-colored, hair-gel-and-teasing-comb enthusiasts are fascinating. So much so that they made the coveted list of Barbara Walter’s Ten Most Fascinating People of 2010 and were featured on her TV special of the same name.
But what is an auntie to do when her little darlings can’t contain their obsession with the hedonistic high jinks of these self-proclaimed Guidos and Guidettes?
Avoid the soapbox shuffle about "GTL"
First, resist the urge to do what I’ve come to call the soapbox shuffle.
It is but it’s not impossible.
As an Italian Auntie, my own cup of opinions runneth over and I struggle to shun the seduction of my own soapbox too. In moments of temptation I am mindful that if I stand a chance at offering a counterpoint to the “GTL” (gym, tan, laundry) lifestyle, I need to modulate my indignation, bite my tongue and, instead, say, “Tell me all about it.”
Aunties as influencers
As aunties, we have the distinct privilege of being confidAunts, surrogate parents and best friends to our nieces and nephews. Those roles come with tremendous opportunities for influence. When opportunity comes knocking, even if couched in an enthusiastic litany of the tomfoolery of outrageous reality TV stars, swing open the door, offer a warm welcome, and keep in mind that a self-righteous posture is the kryptonite to open communication.
Tips to get them to hear your cultural counterpoint
So when you hear about Snooki’s arrest, or the fight between Deena and Samantha, pause and take long, deep breaths…and listen.
And keep listening, which is earning you a shot at the brass ring: a chance to offer an opinion your nieces and nephews might just buy into.
“Earning the right” to ask a question is a technique often used in therapy. Any words of wisdom or valuable feedback we as therapists might have to offer will fall on deaf ears if we don’t first earn the right to offer it. How do we do that? We listen attentively first. I’ve adopted this same tactic with my nieces and nephews and I assure you, it works.
Some other tips to keep in mind when trying to stack the odds in your favor that your advice will be well-received (especially when it comes to offering cultural counterpoints) are:
-Listen--doing so earns the “right” to ask a question.
-Share your thoughts.
-Ask for feedback.
When discussions about “The Jersey Shore’s” GTL lifestyle reach a fever pitch, it’s tempting to reach for the vestments and shout from my bully pulpit, but I’ve learned the best approach really is LSAR (listen, share, ask for feedback, repeat).
Today, it’s “The Jersey Shore,” but who knows what pop culture juggernaut will rise from the ashes next? Regardless, this Auntie is armed and ready, with two big ears and one big heart.
Published: February 8, 2011