Okay, so I admit to regularly watching Supernanny. I’m not overly proud of this, but I’m also not particularly embarrassed by it. It just is what it is.
Every week I watch families with insane discipline issues (99% of the time easily traced back to the parents). It’s very easy to diagnose from the comfort of my own stable home. The editing makes it even easier to see what the issue is, even without experience. It’s designed so that most people can understand what’s going on (kind of like newspapers which are written on a 3rd grade reading level in order to appeal to the masses). This isn’t rocket science. As such, I don’t usually go into a tizzy while watching. There’s a reason these people are on Supernanny: either they’re bad parents, they truly want help and don’t know where they’ve gone wrong, or they’re looking for the paycheck the show provides (or a combination of the three).
The episode I watched tonight (TiVoed from last week, I think) truly took the cake. In this episode there is a mother who is 25 and living with her two boys (6 and 4) in her parents’ home. The grandmother stays home with the children all day while mom goes off to work. When she does get home from work she appears not to do much more than send text messages, play video games, mess around on the computer, and watch television. She lives rent-free. When Supernanny (Jo Frost) was going through the routine with the family, she asked who would be the one to get the boys up and ready for the day. After a very long silence (with grandma clearly waiting for mom to step up) the mom’s response was (through the power of TiVo, these are direct quotes):
Mom: “I dunno.”
Supernanny: “What do you mean, you don’t know? Who do you think should be doing it?”
Mom: “me, but I want to sleep, too. [nervous laughter]”
Supernanny: “Excuse me?”
Mom: [more nervous laughter] “I do like my sleep [even more nervous laughter] but I have to, so…”
Supernanny: “These are your kids, right?”
Cut to the trip that Supernanny planned to take this girl (I would call her a woman, since she’s 25 years old, but her actions clearly prove that she’s still a girl) to a shelter for homeless families with the expectation that she could teach a lesson about having proper gratitude for the fact that her parents have given and appear to be continuing to give her so much. In her follow-up interview she had this to say about going to the shelter and talking to the director about the services offered:
“I didn’t really know why Jo wanted me to sit there and listen to what this lady had to say. I didn’t know what the point was.”
When asked if she wanted to take a look around, she shrugged her shoulders as if to indicate that she didn’t want to tour the shelter.
Supernanny: “What, you’re not feeling it?”
Mom: “I don’t care.”
Mom: “I mean, we can, it doesn’t matter.”
[Seriously–she actually said this. She was sitting in a homeless shelter where she could very well be living if it weren’t for the extreme generosity of her parents and she not only was too dense and/or too self-absorbed to understand why she was there, but she couldn’t even act interested long enough to tour the place. Then–the real kicker–she pulled out her phone while the poor director was trying to tell her about how important this program is and started TEXT MESSAGING. Right there while the woman was trying to talk to her. SERIOUSLY.]
Mom: “I know that people don’t have as much as me, but I didn’t think it was necessary for me to have to go the homeless shelter.”
[Really Mom?! Really?]
Then Supernanny took her outside and spelled it out for her and called her spoiled and told her that she’s not at all grateful for what she has. Supernanny was much nicer than I was being while watching the thing.
Later on, Supernanny had her write down things about her parents for which she’s grateful. Her mother actually cried because her daughter never thanks her for anything. Matt and I don’t believe spanking is an effective form of discipline–but if I had a grown daughter who was acting like that I’d want to lay her over my knee for sure.
P.S. I would like to take this opportunity to publicly thank my parents, my grandparents, and my Mo and Pok for all they’ve done for me over the years. No one should have to go on Supernanny to have their children and grandchildren say ‘thank you.’
I’m glad I got that off my chest.