The Problem With ‘Supernanny’ Wasn’t Her Accent

Heaven help me, I thought we were rid of that “Supernanny” ridiculousness. Jo Frost quit and I was thrilled to see the end of a terrible television program. Then, Lifetime decides to resurrect the program. They are currently looking for an American who has, “a tough, but loving, philosophy to caring for children” and the “ability to determine the roots of highly emotional relationship problems within families in desperate need for help.” And you should determine what those problems are and how to solve them in less than 60 minutes. Please allot 15 minutes for commercial breaks.

Listen, I have no problem with parents learning to discipline their children. I believe that’s extremely important, actually. I think there are lots of parents who would benefit from parenting classes, where you can learn about child development and how to set goals and boundaries for your children. The families who go on television shows like “Supernanny” obviously have some serious issues that need to be addressed. I truly hope that these families get the help they need.

But not from a reality TV show. Not from a program that generalizes and forms opinions based on a single day in a family’s home. Not from a television personality who is more concerned with camera angles and catch phrases than your family’s well-being. These types of productions make parenting and family relationships into a cut-and-dry system where one parenting behavior is bad and produces bad children, while another technique is good and gives the world another angel. As recent studies have suggested, different types of children need different types of parenting and instruction. Each family has their own unique circumstances that they need to adapt to.

These types of television programs also promote the misguided belief that each and every bad choice from a child is a direct result of improper parenting. As a person who made plenty of mistakes as a teenager but had truly amazing, caring and inspiring parents, I will never support a system that says that every action I take is a reflection of my upbringing. My parents taught me much better than some of the choices I made. I’m not saying that parents should be excused from all responsibility. Their job is to raise their children to be productive and responsible members of society. But the simplistic correlation between a bad parenting choice and a certain bad behavior from their child is ridiculous. Life is just much too complex. A family’s relationship is too complex.

Even the instructions given to parents, which is paraded around as entertainment instead of knowledge to apply to their lives, is ineffective in the long run. There’s a reason that there’s no single instruction manual for children. They’re always growing and changing, just likes the struggles nad situations faced by parents. By giving them written instructions on how to deal with a certain behavior, instead of teaching them how to parent effectively through any situation, you merely give them a cheat sheet for the next couple years or months. One-time instructions do not foster family development and connections.

I agree that these families need help. A program like “Supernanny”, no matter where on earth the nanny is from, is simply not equipped to provide it. And none of us should be pretending that is.

(Photo: ShareTV)

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