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Bethenny Frankel Talks Divorce, Corporal Punishment and Body Image

bethenny frankelOn today’s episode of TV’s hot new daytime talk show, Bethenny host Bethenny Frankel features a lively discussion about corporal punishment and the public shaming of children. I attended the taping of the episode along with other bloggers from sites like The Stir and TV Guide, and we were invited to sit down with Frankel in her “red room” post-show, where she discussed dating, divorce, raising children and her thriving career. If you catch (or depending on what time it airs your area, caught) the episode, you’ll see me share my thoughts about why hitting children isn’t good discipline, something I’ve written about for Babble frequently over the years. Frankel agrees. She and I agree on a lot of things, actually, as I learned during our blogger breakout session. Here’s a mini-transcript of some of our roundtable conversation:

Parents magazine: What is your best advice for single moms?

Frankel: Prioritize. You don’t really have a lot of free time, so you have to be organized and efficient and quality time is the most important thing with your child. You have to sleep, because when your kid gets up at 7 o’clock … I don’t have a nanny, so the minute I get up it’s game time until 8 o’clock when it’s bedtime, so I try to get sleep so I feel good all day and it’s quality time and we do great things together. I’m lucky, because I only work three days a week; it’s intense, I get here early, but I leave at 3:30. I do two shows a day, which is really difficult, but I cram it all in so the other time is free time. That’s why you really have to rest, because the minute I stop working I don’t get to to relax. There’s no manicures.

Then I asked Frankel if we could go back to the topics from her show, and how she feels about physical discipline and public shaming.

Frankel: I think that you can reason with children. They feel your energy, you have to be calm and direct. I would never, ever resort to laying my hands on anyone.

Babble: I agree. I think one of the reasons people resort to discipline measures they might not be proud of is because they’re frantic.

Frankel: Yes, yes. And I’m not.

Momtastic: What is your tactic for disciplining?

Frankel: Just consequences. If I say no, and my daughter disobeys me or she cries, it’s okay – you can cry. People cry. Let her go through it. You can’t take the path of least resistance. Because a lot of times when a kid’s crying a parent just wants it to stop, so they’ll just give them a toy or give them a treat. I’m willing to sit through it, even in a restaurant, even if someone else is there. Not like a crazy tantrum because I’m not going to ruin someone else’s meal, but I’ll let it go for a second and then it does end. You have to be patient about it, I think.

Health magazine: How do you teach your daughter about positive body image?

Frankel: I don’t think it’s a teaching thing, it’s a living, breathing thing. I hear moms saying “I look fat in these jeans” or “I was bad” or “I’m going on a diet.” All of those are cues children hear from a young age. There’s none of that in my house at all. There’s no noise about exercise or working out or any of that stuff. [My daughter] just eats what she wants. Kids and eating is a stressful thing.

Health magazine: Yeah. There was that mom Dara-Lynn Weiss who wrote about putting her daughter on a diet

Frankel: I happen to be lucky that my daughter isn’t someone who is obsessed with food. There are children who are starving and their moms are going, “You just had a cookie, you just had four donuts,” and parents get stressed out, but that’s about not having all that stuff in your house. If you have manufactured processed foods and they get used to that, that’s the slippery slope.

During the episode, Frankel featured the model behind this viral video that exposes Photoshop as it’s used to create an unrealistic beauty ideal, so I asked Frankel how she reconciles her “just be yourself” message for women with the need to get sponsors who want to sell us makeup.

Frankel: I’m not saying go out every day like I look in that briefing (wearing no makeup). I feel better when I put some makeup on …. I put on a cute outfit, I’ve got my heels on, I’ve got some makeup on, you feel put together. So that’s something to still aspire to. They’re not gonna sell any less makeup because at some point I’m not wearing it. I’m not promoting never wear makeup, I’m promoting feel good about yourself, be confident. But I’m really talking more about the fact that what makes a woman attractive, probably the least of it is what you look like. It’s getting you in the door and then that’s it. But men don’t stay with women who are hot who have nothing else going for them.

We all chatted a bit about how Frankel uses technology and the web, and I was charmed to find out that she’s only online “for princess videos,” but she does send her own tweets and “loves Facebook.” Since Frankel and I are both divorced single moms, I thought I’d ask her to talk about “the difficulty of divorcing in public.”

Frankel: Divorces are like ice cream. There are a lot of different flavors … some can be amicable, some can be very peaceful and easy, and some can be really brutal. And I honestly did not have any idea how difficult, to say the least, it could be. Doing it in the public is very frustrating in ways, because people don’t know the whole story. I’m pretty straightforward, [but] people probably know about 10 percent of the story. And I can’t share the story, and it’s intense, so that can be a little frustrating, ’cause I’m the one who’s out there, and I’m the one who can be polarizing. But not everything is what it seems.

***

For Frankel’s funny take on dating after divorce, check out Maressa Brown’s coverage of our “red room” roundtable on The Stir. And to see Frankel with me and all of the blogger guests she invited to the show, click through this fun collection of GIFs. Before we left, Frankel gifted us with a bottle from her new collection of Skinnygirl wines, which you can learn about here. (The Chardonnay was delish!) To find out when Bethenny airs in your city, visit her website.

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