How To Know You’re a Bad Parent: Get Asked to Be on TV

Want to be seen by the masses as a terrible, misguided/deluded parent? Then get yourself on British TV!

This week alone we British viewers have been able to throw scorn on the following:

– Monday: mums obsessed with raising their daughters in a superficial world in Blinging Up Baby.

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Never mind if she wants to move, just as long as she looks pretty, hey.

Cue dummies pimped in Swarovski crystals, 4-year-olds with hair pieces and fake tan and tears over a beauty pageantry performance involving a Hooters-themed costume.

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There are no words.

– Tuesday: precociously intelligent children compete to see whose the most precociously intelligent in Child Genius.

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Cue parents with various strategies for success and tears over their failure to remember more than 78 playing cards in sequence.

– Thursday: dads obsessed with guns encourage their kids to fully embrace the Second Amendment by teaching them how to put a bullet in things in the name of family bonding.

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Cue 4-year-olds crying that they don’t like shooting after getting a rifle for their birthday, Barbies tied up like extras in Fifty Shades of Grey before being riddled with bullets and tears over a dead child.

Ok, these are examples of extreme parenting and everyone involved clearly loved their child, even if they were absolutely nuts determinedly focused in their approach. I’m sure the psychologists who earnestly raised their daughter like some experiment subject – all organic juice blends, morning meetings and carefully selected sentence structures – truly believed that they were doing all they could do to raise a child to hit above her weight academically and to have psychological well-being. (Although I have to admit I desperately wanted the kid to rebel and in as passive-aggressive a way as possible tell her mum to fuck off).

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I’m sure the paraplegic ex-serviceman truly believed that his daughter would bond over firearms the same way he had with his dad, although possibly counselling for him rather than firearms for her would have been a healthier choice.

I’m sure the mum from Essex truly thought her daughter was happiest being a mini version of herself, although I wanted to shake her to make her realise that what’s ok for a grown-up doesn’t necessarily make it appropriate for a child.

Things that seem to be ‘wrong’ in the eyes of TV producers therefore include:

– Being posh/well educated/high achieving as a parent and allowing this to influence how you raise your child. In Child Genius this means lots of shock at kids having access to Dickens and speaking with a posh accent.

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– Being from a rough background as a parent and allowing this to influence how you raise your child. In Blinging Up Baby this means lots of shock at kids having access to Rhianna videos knowing how to twerk.

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‘Oh, honey, you look just like Miley in Wrecking Ball.’ She’s four! You really DON’T want her to be anything like Miley!

– Being precocious. Having a talent is seen as weird. The Child Genius parents who stand back agog as their kids spout Nietzsche, let alone spell it, come across ok. It’s then their children who are held up as being freaks, like some form of televisual bullying.

– Encouraging said talent. Being a pushy parent is the ultimate in bad. Whereas for parents of normal kids nagging, coercion and shouting are normal tactics for getting through the day, use these tactics in relation to their area of talent and you’re the worst parent ever. Kids are fickle, but it’s mum/dad who looks bad when they change their mind.

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When blonde poppet on the right didn’t want to go on the stage at the last minute, Mum did not come across well.

– Being pretty and vacuous, concerned only with pop culture.

– Being out of touch with pop culture, unconcerned with looking good.

– Being only concerned with shooting things.

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– Niche spending on children. Whether it’s a crystal-encrusted frou-frou dress and oversized flower headband for baby or My First Shotgun in camouflage pink, if it’s bought online then it’s BAD.

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Ok, in fairness it’s not exactly GOOD.

As a one-off, as a ‘normal’ parent, it’d be a chance to wipe the brow in relief aware that you might mess up, but you’ve at least got some perspective. But such has been the breadth of ‘OMG! Look how badly they’re handling this parenting malarkey!’ this week it’s felt as if every parent must be screwing up. Television as Philip Larkin. To mis-quote him:

They fuck you up, your mum and dad.
They might not mean to, but you do.
They fill you up with the faults they had
Then stick you on BBC2.

Want to know you’re doing all right as a parent? Do you have a film crew following you? No? Then you’re doing just fine.

If you do have a film crew following you though, you may want to re-consider your parenting techniques. Or lose the crew and disillusion yourself that you’ve still got perspective. If the nation isn’t judging you to the extent that you’ve gone viral then surely you’re all right. Right?

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13 thoughts on “How To Know You’re a Bad Parent: Get Asked to Be on TV”

    1. To my shame I watched them all, but couldn’t decide whether I should feel better about my parenting in comparison (hopefully I’m less ‘focused’/derangedly obsessive and pushy) or worse (maybe I am guilty of stuff that would make jaws drop, but I’m also blinkered against it, because surely these parents didn’t think they’d come across as bat-shit crazy). If someone ever wants to put me on TV then I’ll know I’ve definitely screwed up!

    1. Haha. Is it down to editing…or pure disillusion? Surely no one would go on TV with the intention of looking like an awful parent who makes consistently bad choices. And to greater or lesser extents we probably all make some bad decisions when it comes to raising our kids (otherwise what are THEY going to blog about when they’re old enough? It builds character, right?). But these parents’ choices are definitely more extreme. I’d guess when it all comes back to bite them on the bum that’ll be more extreme too.

  1. I am often told that I have no right to comment on parenting as I have no kids, but whenever I watch those shows, I wonder if those parents should really have children!!! But then, that’s being judgmental! 😛

    1. I just don’t understand why the parents get their families to go on it! Surely they know their methods are going to be judged? Do they think they’re going to provide the nation with an epiphany? Can they really be THAT deluded? Surely as soon as they’ve got a film crew in their face they should realise they need to re-evaluate their stance? I’ve yet to see a programme where as a viewer you think ‘Oh, aren’t they just doing a terrific job?’

  2. This is great GSM…here we have “Honey BooBoo” -trailer trash at the beauty pagent, Hollywood Hillbillies – the Clampetts come to life, and Kate Plus Eight. She has twins and sextuplets. It used to be Jon and Kate Plus Eight, but they got a divorce, and…well…she had to make a living somehow.

    1. Haha. Yes, we have Honey Boo Boo on satellite (but Husband cut me off). It’s compulsively awful, isn’t it?!
      As kids we grow up and have a memory of cringeworthy moments. How hideous must it be to know all of those moments have been broadcast?

      (Blogging about those moments is obviously different, because, err, ummm, it just is. I guess it’s filtered through stories and words and self-edited, not through the prism of a filmmaker with an agenda. And if it done with love and humour rather than for the sake of judgement then that’s ok?)

    1. It’s the glassy-eyed smiles and over abundance of everything but taste, I think. Scary. As. Hell. Surely theres a pageant kids horror film just waiting to be made. They are the new clowns.

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