Your Teen had the opportunity to interview Matt Roloff, the father on the TLC “Little People Big World.” Matt and Amy Roloff are both little people who are parents of four children, three of average size and one little.
Interview with Matt Roloff, star of Little People, Big World
Q: Is the world different for your kids than it was for you?
Roloff: I would say there is more tolerance and inclusion; all the hard work that so many people and organizations have done toward promoting inclusion and diversity has had some positive effect. And I think the show, if I might say as humbly as I can, has contributed in some small way to that progress.
Q: How has the show had an impact?
Roloff: I do think that being a little person is an unbelievably visual metaphor for all people being different. And if you can get your head around somebody that is half your height being “equal” with you in terms of interacting with you and adding value to society, then you can get your head around pretty much anybody. Hopefully our show has opened people’s hearts and minds.
Also, we get stories from little people who say that the show changed their life. One boy who used to be teased and ridiculed says that everything changed because of the show. In fact, he told us he had a date for prom. And more than one person has told us that they were considering an abortion because the fetus had dwarfism but after watching the show, they decided to have the baby. As much as we were endeavoring to inspire people, we were constantly inspired.
Q: Did your family mind the cameras?
Roloff: There were times when they want d to turn the cameras off. Our production company was very good at understanding that we are a real family living a real life. When the kids said, “I have had enough,” the production company was always good about that.
Q: What are the extra challenges that come with raising a child who is a little person?
Roloff: There is no doubt that going through life as a little person is challenging. Is it more challenging? Maybe not—who is to judge. But it definitely has challenges that are associated with self-esteem and acceptance. I think the term resiliency is a built in guarantee when you are a little person. If you try to accept yourself, you are going to have more resilience than your average peer.
Q: How did you develop such confidence?
Roloff: I attribute a lot to my parents. The kids at school called me “shrimpy,” and my dad would say, “Well, you are” and walk away. Years later, I learned that he had tears dripping down his face. But the message that he sent to me was, “Wait, I am small.” His response gave me strength.
Q: Have you passed your attitude to Zach?
Roloff: All kids are different. Zach is not quite the optimist by nature as I am. He is more like Amy. Zach has fallen down but he has been completely surrounded by a positive, inspirational, be-all-that-you-can-be attitude. Zach loves soccer and he wants to play and be a coach. He coaches kids in soccer and he has figured out how to use his skill and his ability in a very special way. We encourage our kids to be all that they can be in the path that they choose.
Q: Is it hard to balance your attention toward all four children?
Roloff: Amy and I have always believed that, to the best of our ability, we put our attention where it’s needed when it’s needed. There were times when we gave Zach more attention because Zach needed that for self-confidence. Zach’s personality is more like Amy’s and Jeremy’s personality is more like mine. If Amy gave Zach more attention while I gave Jeremy more, it was because of personality and not because of height
Q: Where are your teens today?
Roloff: Jeremy left for college. He packed up his bags and drove to California. As he drove down the driveway, I thought, “Oh man, what did I do right, what did I do wrong”—everything from money management to whether he has the right spirit to make friends. He is a really good kid with strong faith and a good sense of who he is.
Zach is in his second year of community college. He lives at home and works not quite full time. He has a steady girlfriend and she is just adorable and we love her to death. Zach has some cool plans that are very different than Jeremy’s.
Molly is 18. She is in her senior year of high school. She is phenomenally academically gifted, more than anyone in the family. We think that Molly can get accepted—I don’t want to sound too braggy here—to pretty much any college but I am excited to see where she will end up. Amy and I express opinions but she knows that our opinions are just that—just opinions— and that she is free to make her own choice.
Jacob (the baby of the bunch) is doing very well in his new school this year and working hard on keeping his grades up. He keeps busy playing recreational soccer and making new friends. We are very proud of our youngest!