As I scrolled through my Facebook news feed this morning, I saw the now infamous BBC interview clip featuring Robert Kelly posted dozens of times over so I clicked.
Mr. Kelly, an expert in US foreign policy in Korea and an associate professor of Political Science at Pusan National University in Busan, was being interviewed live from his home office by the BBC to discuss the South Korean leader’s impeachment. Within minutes, his little girl, age four, wearing a bright yellow sweater, barged happily into the room and started dancing.
Mr. Kelly kept talking, not realizing she was there, when the BBC interviewer said, “I think one of your children has just walked in,” as Mr. Kelly froze. He then moved his arm to push his daughter gently back as baby brother came rolling along in his walker. Mrs. Kelly must have turned her head for a split second and, with no lock on the office door, the kids were on live TV for the entire nation, and now world, to see. The daughter attempted to peel the wrapper from a cheese stick while her dad was repeatedly asked the same question by the interviewer. Panic time.
Next up was Mrs. Kelly who grabbed both kids and dragged them out of the room as quickly as she could. Her stress was palpable. Was it the way she would normally handle her kids? No. Was it the way he would handle his kids? No. But when you’re on live TV you don’t have the benefit of 20/20 hindsight or the time to calmly explain that daddy is busy right now and we’re going into the other room. It ended with Mrs. Kelly on the floor trying to close his office door with one arm.
Most people posting this video see the humor recalling times we’ve all been in a similar predicament with our kids but never on live television. However, there are a growing number of posters saying this is demonstrated child abuse and another example of how children aren’t fully integrated into our society and that being present in the workplace should be OK.
I beg to differ.
As a mom of four boys ranging in age from 4–15 I also work in the field of journalism and I could appreciate the dad’s dilemma all too well. There is a time and place for integrating one’s children into our work and the reactions by some over this video shows the shift that “anything goes” is the way to go.
Would it be OK for a surgeon to let her kids barge in on a surgery? A therapist to allow his kids to hang around during a session with a client? Of course not. This man is an expert in his field and though the BBC probably understood what happened, it may affect his being invited for an interview again. It’s not because people don’t love and respect kids, it’s about reliability and professionalism. There is a time and a place and this was not the time nor the place.
Could they have handled it more smoothly? Yes. Should they yank or gently push their kids? Probably not. These kids were very young but the larger issue that has been raised about children and their integration into every aspect of our lives is a huge point of discussion stemming directly from this video.
There are many circumstances where people bring their kids places and never give one thought about how it may affect those around them. This is a growing trend. When eating in a restaurant as a kid, my parents taught us manners. No baseball hats at the table and do not, under any circumstances, turn around and bother other patrons. Now when I go out to eat, kids in the booth behind me are touching my hair and clothes, standing on the booth seat staring at our table while the parents do nothing and think it’s cute.
My boys are very loud. We don’t allow them to play in the yard on the weekends until 9 am so as not to bother sleeping neighbors. We teach them to respect others and think of their neighbor when they’re out in the world.
When my kids were younger they were noisy and distracting during our weekly church worship services so we would often sit in the cry room and participate from there. Now I see parents ignoring their kids who are kicking pews and making a ruckus directly affecting other worshipers. Yes, we want them to be a part of the experience, but it’s learning how to behave and act in those circumstances and deciding when it’s the right time to bring them (or participate in a different way) that’s key. This perspective taking is often lacking, leading to a complete breakdown of social awareness and manners in our society. Kids don’t belong in a workplace every single second of the day.
We all feel for these parents. It was a glimpse of real life which we can all understand. I’m sure they explained to the daughter why she was removed from the interview. She is four and my son is four and he understands that when mommy is working or doing an interview he sees me after it’s over but it doesn’t mean that I don’t respect, care or love him. Same for Mr. and Mrs. Kelly though an office door lock is highly recommended.