In the clip from footage taken for her Lifetime reality series, Bristol's three-year-old son, Tripp, wanted to go swimming. She told him that he couldn't because "there's a bunch of drunks down there."
Tripp, Bristol's offspring, was less than pleased at having been denied permission to swim.. Trip hit his aunt while announcing that he hated both her and his mother. Willow told Tripp he was going to have soap put into his mouth. Tripp called her an inappropriate word.
The word may have been "faggot." Bristol alleges that it was "fuck it." In syntactical context, "faggot" would have made more sense, but it wouldn't exactly have been the first time a three-year-old committed an error in syntax. Furthermore, it wouldn't have been the first time a member of the Palin clan of any age -- never mind. What I was about to write wasn't very nice. I'll quit while I'm ahead.
Bristol and Willow giggled. Bristol tried to tell the child, "God is watching you" through her giggles, but her manner seemed facetious even as she said it. There seemed to be only the most cursory attempt on the part of Bristol to conceal her amusement at her child's unfortunate choice of words. Both Bristol and Willow told the child to go to time out. He didn't go to time out. Neither Bristol nor Willow physically took the boy to the chair in which he was told to sit. Neither did Willow produce the soap that she said was going to be put in his mouth after his first inappropriate words to his aunt and to his mother. I'm not suggesting that to have put soap in the child's mouth would have been a good thing, but I am asking why Willow brought it up in the first place if it were nothing more than an idle threat? The clip ended shortly thereafter with a voice-over from Bristol conceding, "I'm doing a terrible job disciplining Tripp." [Duh!] "I know he's going to continue to push the boundaries."
As to whether Tripp actually said "faggot' or "fuck it,' I'm not convinced it matters nearly so much as Bristol and even some of her detractors seem to think. Yes, the use of "faggot" is particularly hurtful and is offensive to the LGBT, PFLAG, and other supportive and sympathetic segments of society (I wasn't even trying for alliteration here), but both words are atrocious additions to the vocabulary of a three-year-old.
Bristol's first parenting misstep [her first misstep in this particular clip; it's doubtful that it was anything close to her initial misstep as a parent] was telling her child that he could not swim because of the drunks in the area of the pool. Why would a three-year-old need to be told that he couldn't use a pool because drunk people were using it? Why does he even know what drunk people are, unless he's seen them up close and personal in real life? Either take him outside and let him swim in the pool for just long enough to tire himself out so that he'll rest well, Bristol, or simply tell him no and give him something else to do.
Meanwhile, Bristol's sister and Tripp's aunt Willow attempted to interject her own authority into the mix. This, too, was inappropriate. Willow should have allowed Tripp's mother to deal with him, at least until the point when he hit Willow. I get that Willow has been involved in Tripp's upbringing from practically the very beginning, and when she's caring for him in the absence of his mother, she should have every right to apply reasonable discipline when a situation warrants it, but stepping in when his mother was present was in effect undermining her, albeit unintentionally. In the end it didn't seem to matter, as both Palin sisters served as the epitome of a "how not to" example of disciplining a toddler. Both appeared utterly clueless when it came to handing out and enforcing appropriate consequences.
In a later interview, Bristol tried to excuse her child's language, while saying she did not approve of it, by blaming it on the "adults" who are frequently around Tripp. Why is Tripp allowed to be in the presence of adults who use inappropriate language in his presence on a regular basis. I will say here that my own father has a vocabulary that would rival that of the average longshoreman (Do longshoremen really curse profusely, or is that an unfounded stereotype?), but that he censors himself in his work life, in the presence of people he does not know well, and especially in front of all children. I was surprised to learn at around the age of fourteen that my father even knew any swear words, and he's practically the King of Expletives.. A responsible parent does not use profanity around his or her child except in the most extenuating of circumstances (a heavy object dropped on one's toe comes to mind here), and restricts his or her children's access to others who are unwilling to do the same. Self-respecting adults -- even teenaged barely legal adults -- filter the words that come from their mouths when children are present. Bristol's explanation for Tripp's knowledge of whichever F'-bomb he actually uttered speaks abysmally of both the character of the adults to whom Tripp is exposed and of her own parenting practices.
So many issues have gone unaddressed and questions have gone unanswered, at least to the public, by Bristol. Under ordinary circumstances, I would applaud her refusal to answer to the charges and to keep some vestige of her personal life to herself . . . except that she chose to open her life, as though it's a public library book, for cameras to film and for all the world to view in the form of a Lifetime channel reality show. She aired her highly compromised parenting skills for anyone and everyone to see. People who saw it are going to ask questions. Bristol can answer the questions or ignore them, but they're not going to go away.
Bristol might say I'm in no position to criticize her because I haven't walked any distance at all in her shoes. Becoming a parent at the age of eighteen is far from easy, which is why I have no intention of following in Bristol's footsteps in that regard. I'm not critiquing her choice to have sex, and I'm not promising I won't do the same at some time in the next few years before I'm married. I am saying, however, that I will use the most reliable forms of birth control on the market before I have consensual sex. Parenting on camera, likewise , is not an easy task. That's why I'll never do that. We've all seen enough of "John & Kate + 8" and similar programming to know that reality television seldom brings out the best either in children, parents, or families. It's all but impossible that I will ever be extended the offer of participation in a reality series with or without any future children I may produce, but in the event that the inconceivable actually occurs, I won't take the offer. With very limited exceptions (the Osbournes come to mind here), few have gone into reality television and emerged still in possession of their souls.
Bristol expressed displeasure with the "liberal" media for "politicizing" the actions of her three-year-old son. Perhaps "politicizing' is in the eye of the beholder. Certainly the media had a field day with the incident. What Bristol seems not to understand, though, is that by contracting with Lifetime network to star in her own reality show, she opened herself up to public scrutiny of her parenting skills -- parenting skills which arguably failed to hold up under the microscope of public scrutiny.