The hot new reality TV show "Nanny 911" has been joined by a similar nanny-to-the-rescue show called "Supernanny." These shows depict families in which the children are extremely out of control, rebellious, spoiled or otherwise quite a handful. The nannies come in for a week (from sunrise to bedtime each day), helping the family get back on track by teaching the parents effective parenting skills and modeling these skills firsthand with the children.
I have to admit to having only seen one episode of "Nanny 911," but, speaking as a parenting educator, I was impressed. The nanny sent to the rescue knew her stuff. She taught the parents to set limits, how to discipline using logical consequences and how to be firm and calm at the same time. She was good enough--and here's a huge compliment coming--to have been an Active Parenting leader. In fact, at one point, as the passive father is learning to be more involved, these words appear on the screen: "Father is becoming a more active parent."
Although I'm not a big reality TV fan in general, I think these two particular shows can be of real value to a lot of parents. They provide useful information and teach good parenting skills. Let's face it--if it works with these dysfunctional families, these skills will probably work for you, too!
And here's the good news: you don't have to be on a reality show to learn effective parenting skills. Parenting classes are available all over the country. You can watch the videos, consult with a parent educator, and share ideas with other parents just like you. To find one in your community, check with your child's school guidance counselor. Many classes are also listed on our web site.
But however you decide to improve your family life, please keep making the effort. Parenting is not the only influence on a child's life...but it's the one you can do the most about.
Dr. Popkin is a former child and family therapist in Atlanta. He founded Active Parenting Publishers in 1983 to help parents raise responsible children who are able to face life's challenges. His free, online "What's Your Parenting Style?" quiz is a popular way for parents to spot the strengths and weaknesses of their style.