The Brangelina Baby
What it means for you and your family.
Mommy, what's the Brangelina baby?
It's a question no parent is ready to answer, but one that is being asked by younger and younger children. As parents, it's our job to help them.
Understanding the Warning Signs:
How can parents know if their children aren't coping well with the Brangelina baby? Stay alert. Monitor your kids' television viewing, Web surfing, and glossy celebrity-weekly reading habits. Also, look for nonverbal signs: moodiness, anger, silence, anxiety, regression, nightmares, bed-wetting. These may be indicators that your child is struggling with the Brangelina baby.
Common Questions, Compassionate Answers:
Why can't I be the Brangelina baby? The first thing many kids want to know about the Brangelina baby is, "Why not me?" Research indicates that children as young as 3 months old are sensitive to their own status. And even the dimmest children know that the Brangelina baby is receiving a lot of attention and praise. Older kids might look at the photos of the Brangelina baby and wonder why they were featured on so few magazine covers or news reports at the time of their birth.
Parents should patiently explain that all babies are special. The Brangelina baby might seem like the most important baby in the world, but it wasn't so long ago that everyone was talking about Violet Affleck, Sean Preston Federline, Apple Martin, or what's her name, Brian Benben and Madeline Stowe's kid. Make sure children understand that they are special, too, albeit in a much more narrowcast market sort of way. Not every baby needs to be on the cover of OK!, but if your child feels excluded, experts suggest using computer-imaging software to mock up "pretend" magazine covers featuring your kids. Eye-catching cover lines like, "America's Favorite Plate Cleaner Comes Clean: 'I Love Broccoli!' " will help stifle any anxiety.
Is the Brangelina baby better than me? The only way to answer this is directly and honestly. Tell them: Yes, the Brangelina baby is better than you. But Mommy and Daddy, Grandma and Grandpa all love you very, very much. Less than they love the Brangelina baby, but with as much of their hearts still available.
I hate the Brangelina baby! You'll hear this one a lot. While jealousy is a natural feeling for children, parents should discourage outright hatred of the Brangelina baby. If anger persists, impose a short "timeout." Experts recommend at least two days—no talking, no instant messaging, no blogging.
Can I be friends with the Brangelina baby? No. He/she doesn't care about you. You cannot even look directly at the Brangelina baby. Explain that photos of the Brangelina baby are shot through special lenses, and that prolonged exposure to the Brangelina baby will make your child go blind.
Matt Haber writes for lowculture.com and is co-writing a children's book about free-market capitalism.
Photograph of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie on the Slate home page © Walter Bieri/epa/Corbis.