Did reality-TV mom Kate Gosselin fail to protect her own twin daughters by pressuring them on live television?
The reality-TV mom likely made the wrong parenting move by snapping at her 13-year-old daughters for refusing to speak during a painfully uncomfortable Today show interview on Thursday morning.
Best known as the unyielding materfamilias from Jon & Kate Plus 8, Gosselin brought twins Mady and Cara to the morning show with the goal of proving to the world that her children lead normal, well-adjusted lives.
Her plan crumbled when the girls refused to talk, and mom sharply rebuked them for their silence.
Watch the interview here, and try to think of a more awkward moment in recent TV history.
Today host Savannah Guthrie attempts to pry some insight from the twins regarding what it was like to grow up under the reality-TV glare. She gently asks, "Mady, what would you want to say about how you and your sister and your family are doing?"
But Mady isn't talking and responds with a blank stare. And Cara isn't talking either.
Sitting on the couch flanked by her daughters, a frustrated Gosselin tries to get her daughters to talk, telling them, "It's your chance, spit it out," but Mady and Cara remain tight-lipped.
And so mom, by now obviously embarrassed, presses harder, saying, "I don't want to speak for them but, Mady, go ahead. Sort of the things that you said in [People] magazine, that years later they're good, they're fine. Go for it. It's your chance."
To which Mady responds abruptly. "No. You just said it."
As the interview proceeds, Mady perks up slightly and participates, but her twin sister remains defiantly steadfast in her silence.
"The girls were clearly nervous," clinical psychologist Dr. David Gottesfeld told Hollywood Life. "It seemed as though they forgot what they were supposed to say. But a parent's job is to protect their child and if your child is on TV and uncomfortable then she should have assured them or stopped the interview."
Added Dr. Gottesfeld: "Mom had an agenda to get her message across and she was using her kids to do that."
Predictably, Jon Gosselin, Kate's ex-husband and the twins' father, was far more vocal in his assessment of the incident.
"I think it's f–-ng horrible that she'd put them in a position like this," said Gosselin yesterday. "She put them on TV for herself. She's narcissistic."
When asked why he thought his daughters refused to speak, Gosselin said, "I think out of fear, they went silent. They were never scripted before, it was a reality show – do what you want, say what you want. They were in a moral dilemma. All the stress got to them and they didn't say anything."
Running on TLC from 2007 to 2011, Jon & Kate Plus 8 documented the daily routine of Jon and Kate Gosselin and their eight children, including sextuplets.
Following five highly rated seasons, the program went downhill after Kate and Jon announced plans to divorce in 2009. Kate retained primary custody and TLC aired the spinoff Kate Plus 8 for two seasons.
And while it's likely not easy being a single mom – particularly to eight children – Gosselin is catching heat for thrusting her daughters into the spotlight, yet again, and not protecting them when they displayed obvious discomfort at the situation.
Being a mom is about the children, Kate. Think of the children.