Friday, February 6, 2009

Nanny 911

If you haven't seen it yet, "Nanny 911" is a reality show featuring British nannies who spend a week with a family with unruly children, trying to bring order to things.

It is absolutely amazing to me how clueless the parents are in this show. In some cases, the dad is the clueless one; in others, the mom. Often it is both. Peering in to these homes is like watching hell on earth: kids shrieking, smashing things, biting, kicking, and parents acting, in many cases, far less intelligently than their own toddlers.

What's funny is my kids will sit and watch this show for hours. They've never seen kids like that. We even ended up making up our own "Nanny 911" game, where I roll up a newspaper (so it's sort of floppy), and then I start snarling and drawling with a Bible Belt twang like the clueless parents on the show, and the kids start running around screaming, and I run after them trying to swat them with the rolled up newspaper. The cool thing is that because it's loosely rolled, it doesn't hurt at all, but it does make a giant "thwack!" sound. And the more I run after them, the more they scream and run around laughing and pretending to be the outrageous brats on the actual TV show.

I am not, and never have been, really capable of understanding why any adult would allow a three year old to bite them, kick them, and in effect, completely dominate them. Why have kids if you're going to have a miserable time with them? Why become a slave to anyone, let alone a three year old? The whole point of having children is to have a great time with them, establish and enjoy those intimate bonds of love and connection with them, and prepare them for responsible adulthood. That preparation means having fair, sensible expectations, articulating them effectively, and then holding children accountable for their decisions. My previous two sentences are really the whole key to parenting, I think.

Anyway, maybe I shouldn't judge the parents on "Nanny 911". No doubt they are doing the best they can...still, I just don't...get it.


rachael said...

Oh dear here is a topic that I could go overboard on, but I will try to keep it short.

I agree with you on the key to parenting, very well summed up.

Its the holding them accountable that parents today have a hard time with. The follow through. For a number of reasons, often selfish.

I remember once when my oldest child was 3, we were at a playground and his little friend was having a tantrum over not getting ice cream. She would not stop crying, and Mom must have told her at least 15 times 'if you don't stop right now, we are going home.......'

Next thing you know, Mom is GIVING the little tantrum thrower the ice cream to shut her up. Oh yes, and they stayed, and the little girl, full of ice cream, went back to play with her friends. She was pretty nicely rewarded for her tantrum don't you think?

The Mother rolled her eyes at me and said, "I just don't know what to do".

I told her that she should have followed through, and packed her daughter up and gone home when the child didn't stop her hysterics.

I guess Mom didn't want to incovenience herself though, she said she didn't want to go home yet.

So, I told her that most kids 'get it' pretty quickly, and if she would just follow through, and do what she threatens to do, when she says she will do it, then the child will learn to respect that.

Its not hard to figure out, If Mom keeps ending the fun by packing up and taking the little tantrum thrower home, then the child has no choice but to learn to mind.

I only had to pack up my son and take him home early once. Boy was he MAD at me for doing that, but I didn't care. I only needed to threaten him after that, he knew I meant it, knew I would do it.

It seems tougher to do the right thing because its uncomfortable, incovenient, or makes the child mad at the parent, and parents don't want that.

I think its ultimately so much easier on the the child (and family) when they are held accountable. They don't think they want them, but they need those boundaries.

Anyways, toddlers aren't so tough, they are small and easily stuffed into a closet**. Its the teenage years ahead that terrify me.

** no hater mail please, I'm just kidding of course, I would never stick my kids in a closet, especially when a good old fashioned box will do.

bryn said...

No, I totally think that those parents totally deserve to be judged. Judge away!

Tal said...

They deserve to be swatted!

Tyson said...

Love the photo. I keep coming back to it to get a laugh.

Kris K. said...

I've always said that one of the biggest mysteries in life is that we have to take a test to get a driver's permit, but there is no test for having children.

Love your children enough to want them to be good people. Love them enough to set boundaries, enforce the rules and give them a sense of responsibility.

Love them enough to laugh with them, cry with them - laugh at them, and laugh at yourself.

Parenting is the hardest job in the world. But people have got to be up to the task.

Tim said...

the sins of the father are past from generation to generation. Those parents didn't just decide to do be like, they were taught by their own parents.

ginamarie said...

I had to watch YouTube to even see what Tal was taking about...

Shit, don't even get me started on what I think of humankinds parenting in general. It takes so much maturity, effort, and sanity to reach a civilized version of guiding our young members in a loving, attentive, well adjusted and structured way which promotes individuality and self-love. First prequisite of course is that we're not neglecting of abusing.

But we far I believe, engage in more controlling, negative parenting, programming parenting, making absolutes, , creating guilt, shame, broken hearts. Even in "non-religious" contexts. Still learning here as a parent...doing pretty good overall, but not always pretty. (ahem) Thank goodness admittance and apologies go a long way. Love my boys!

I still give parents ALOT of credit even thought I feel like this.

Those screaming kids...I don't know it makes me on one hand say intolerably "HELL, NO"! but at the same time feel a deeply troubling "something needs to be healed."

ginamarie said...

sorry, typos, Forgot to spell check, but thing y'all can figure it out. :)

Tal said...


I'm not sure at all that the "Nanny 911" parents learned how to be rotten parents from their own parents. There are plenty of great parents from lousy homes, and plenty of clueless parents from great homes.

rachael said...

Tim, respectfully, thats such a sad view, I don't believe that we should accept that we are doomed to just blindly follow our parents examples no matter what.

I do agree with you that children learn what they live, but, in knowing that, aren't we obligated to learn to parent better than our own parents did?

It seems to me that our understanding about what it takes to successfully raise emotionally healthy children has been rapidly evolving, and with that evolution the rules have changed within the societies we live in. What was once tolerated, is no longer acceptable. We know better now.

There are no excuses when you really look at it. Its tough for ALL of us, we ALL grew up in a much different environment than we are expected to create for our children today.

I think some people are just having children without really thinking about it, because it's the thing 'to do'. Sadly, those people suddenly realize that its 'hard work', and they just check out of the parenting job.

I agree with Kris, you should have to take a test before having kids.

Ginamarie nicely put, totally with you, esp on the points; we are always learning, none of us are perfect, & good communication and apologies to our children, go an awful long way.

& yes, the photo is really very funny...

~Jen~ said...

I have a 15 yr old daughter, and her being little was easy compared to now...parents who parent (or don't parent) like that are doomed for more of the same only way worse. I can not imagine the life I would be living now if I did not have boundaries while she was growing up.

Rachael is right...I only ever had to leave a full grocery cart in the store once and walk home early due to my daughter being a turd..only once.

ginamarie said...

Tal: "I'm not sure at all that the "Nanny 911" parents learned how to be rotten parents from their own parents. There are plenty of great parents from lousy homes, and plenty of clueless parents from great homes."

That is a very good point.

For example, I didn't have a lousy childhood, but of course there were hurts. Those can get imprinted on you in a way that you you empathize so much with the consequences of those actions [of your parents] that you do NOT or TRY TO NOT to repeat it with your own children.

smile said...

I nominate the octuplet lady for clueless parent of the week!...month!...year!
Seems she didn't want to waste the leftover fertilized eggs from her previous IV procedures...
So now she has 14 kids (that she probably can't take care of)!

Pretty sad mess.

Anonymous said...

"So now she has 14 kids (that she probably can't take care of)!

I believe the first 6 are under 9 years old! So, 14 kids under nine
being raised by a single parent? WOW.

I read an article today about a couple who had to go through test after test to ADOPT. You know, because they want to make sure a child has a good home.

Go figure.

ginamarie said...

that was me above

^ ginamarie