A reality show with a title like World’s Strictest Parents has two strikes against it: it’s a “reality show” and the title bespeaks of extreme freakish behavior. But the reality is, World’s Strictest Parents is a breakthrough from which we can all learn a thing or two.
A show that originated in the UK, the American version, as seen on MTV, features two “troubled” teens going to live with a family with “strict parents” for one week. The teens–one male, one female–don’t know one another and come from families where their parents have reached their wits’ end managing their rebellious kid. Think: How did my sweet little girl turn into this monster who says, Mom, fuck off!
The “troubled” teens are similar in that, at home, they lack things such as enforced rules, consequences for bad behavior, the notion that bad behavior includes saying, Leave me the fuck alone! and walking out of the house. Many of these teens smoke, drink, use drugs and love to skip school and party!
“No back talk, no attitude, no complaining, no rolling of the eyes.”
Most sane adults over age 35 would tell you: these kids are heading down the wrong highway in life … unless you want to end up a statistic, as my parents would say. But the “troubled” teens are clueless. They know it all, and no one can tell them any different. Anybody else remember those days? lol
Cue the world’s strictest parents to save the day. Send these bad-ass kids off to Brady Bunch Camp–21st century-style–and behold the transformation. By the time they reunite with the folks, the exorcism is complete, and the teens have rekindled the better version of themselves that says, “I love you, Mom and Dad, and I wanna help out around the house (and stop sneaking out and partying every night).”
What does the trick? Better parenting–not by better people, but by parents who have better tools.
For the “strict” parents, parenting is a full-time, hands-on job, on which they remain vigilant and consistent. Their kids have house rules, chores and consequences for disobeying. Expectations!
“Maybe it’s not so bad having a strict, loving parent to keep you on the right track.”
The “strict” parents explain to their kids they’re doing this out of love, to better prepare them for the real world, which has rules, chores and consequences for disobeying, whether you like it or not.
The “strict” parents are consistent. They check rebellion at every level, no back talk, no attitude, no complaining, no rolling of the eyes–you know, the stuff that gets you fired from your job, if you get the job at all?
The “strict” parents hold their kids accountable. Lying has consequences, often physical work. That’ll make you think twice. These parents don’t back down or give in–you know, the way a prison guard won’t give in when you’re doing time for drug possession?
The “strict” parents do charity work with their kids, so their kids learn the value of helping others (instead of always thinking, me, me, me!), so their kids see how some people are less fortunate (and maybe it’s not so bad having a strict, loving parent to keep you on the right track), so their kids see how they might end up if they keep skipping high school.
The “strict” parents have fun with their kids, usually a reward after a hard day’s work around the house (as a team). This helps kids learn there’s a time for work and a time for play.
The “strict” parents take time to explain themselves to their children in calm, rational voices. No screaming. No violence. No abuse. As a result, the teenage kids of the “strict” parents seem far from “troubled” and much better equipped for the road ahead. They also seem like the kinds of kids who would never dream of saying, fuck off! to their parents.
While on furlough from home, the “troubled” teens receive a letter from their parents, and hear for the first time how much they’ve hurt their parents with their foul language and disrespect.
Most of the teens are shocked, as if it had never occurred to them they might be sending daggers through their parents’ hearts with each flippant remark. That alone is enough to break any last resistance. Honesty. Another useful tool in parenting. We could all learn a thing or two from the world’s strictest parents.