This blog is my place to vent and share resources with other parents of children of trauma. I try to be open and honest about my feelings in order to help others know they are not alone. Therapeutic parenting of adopted teenagers with RAD and other severe mental illnesses and issues (plus "neurotypical" teens) , is not easy, and there are time when I say what I feel... at the moment. We're all human!

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Real reality TV

Yes, I know I watch way too much reality TV. Don't judge me!

Have you seen the show World's Strictest Parents? It comes on CMT (country music television). I don't like country music (and no one in the family is allowed to listen to anything but Christian music), but for some reason CMT plays great shows like Nanny 911, Extreme Home Makeover and of course World's Strictest Parents.

I let my kids watch these shows on CMT because the commercials aren't as inappropriate as ABC Family (which I think is ironic). ABC Family advertises for a lot of shows like Degrassi which appears to be almost soft porn, and American Teenager which is about a very young high school student who gets pregnant. There's worse stuff on cable and if people want to watch that, or let their kids watch that, that's their choice, but this channel advertises itself as a Family channel. My kids get so upset because the channel often plays good family friendly movies, but they aren't allowed to watch them because I won't let them watch the commercials.

So I've been avidly watching this new show, World's Strictest Parents, hoping for tips and ideas for handling teens and good parenting. The premise is that they place two rebellious teens (drugs, alcohol, illegal and destructive behavior, sex, cussing and major disrespect) with conservative families that are strict with their biological children. The kids stay in the home for a week and are expected to abide by the new family's rules. Most of the family's search the kids, remove cigarettes and alcohol, force the kids to remove piercings, and not allow inappropriate clothing.

Consequences for the teens' misbehaviors vary, but the ones on farms usually involve manure in some way. The kids always end up sneaking away to smoke or drink and get caught early on - frequently ratted out by the host family's children who are horrified by the disrespect. It seems like the kid's always have a change for the better at the end of the week, but it seems to be based more on the new parent's consistency, willingness to seek out and sympathetically listen to the kids, and spend time with the kids than any major change that we could insitute here. Not that those are't good things, but we already do that.

Even though there is a lot of cussing (bleeped out) and attitude, I've been letting my kids watch the show (mostly Bob since she's only one who can sit still for more than two minutes), foolishly hoping that the kids will get the idea that our rules aren't that strict and it could be worse.

Now that I've seen a few shows though, I find myself not as interested. They really don't show any discipline techniques and the teens aren't RAD, emotionally disturbed, mentally ill, abused kids who have been in the foster care system for years.

Considering that none of these families appear to get any training at all and the kids seem to be total messes at the beginning, I'm always surprised that the kids always seem to have this huge change of heart by the time their parents arrive.

Now I find myself wishing they would combine this show with Nanny 911. I like Nanny, but it's almost always younger kids. I like World's Strictest, but only the teens change (then they go right back home to the family and friends that "allowed" them to become like this). It wouldn't even matter to me that a new show would probably have to be generalized to teens living with birth families versus the more challenging special needs kids and kids from foster care.

I like watching Wife Swap too. Which takes two extremely different families and switches the moms. The new mom has to spend one week doing things exactly the way the original mom did, then she gets to make her own rules and her new family has to follow them. Homeschooled kids going to public school and playing video games, slacker kids and husbands getting jobs and doing chores, military families holding peace rallys and all their kids being forced to get rid of all their violent toys, socialites living in the projects and cleaning toilets, blue collar moms getting spa treatments while nannies and au pairs raise the kids. I figure my kids probably already feel like their lives are like Wife Swap though, but for them Rule Change Day never comes.

So my dream show would be some variation of all of these. First your kids are sent away for a week or so to somewhere that really knows how to work with special needs teens to give them an "attitude adjustment" ala World's Strictest Parents. During that week, the parents are sent to observe and participate in a family that are therapeutic parents ala Wife Swap. Then it's followed up with a specialist coming to your house to give you hands on training in learning how to handle the kids and their specific needs (think Katherine Leslie or Nancy) ala Nanny 911.

Here are some show name possibilities:

Therapeutic Family Swap

Reality Parenting 911

Extreme Family Makeover

Tame Our Teen
World's Most RADical Parenting

What do you think? Should I approach the networks?

1 comment:

Kristina P. said...

I haven't seen either of these!

And I could not agree more about ABC Family. I was watching The Notebook on it, and apparently, they edited nothing. Wow!