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#1
Old 01-03-2008, 12:53 AM
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Supernanny 1/2/08 (or, The Worst Parents Ever)

I don't usually watch this show, and I certainly don't usually start threads about it. But today's episode was just disturbing. It also had my irrational prejudices running into overdrive.

From what I could tell (tuned in a little late), dad had some long always gone from home job, and mom was a photog. (Which means she should have some flexibility in her schedule, right?) But there were five kids: two teen girls and three young boys - probably in the 3-7 year old range. Here's the twist: dad was gone 24/7 pretty much and mom delegated the childrearing responsibility to the teen girls. They disciplined, fed, soothed, and otherwise took care of their brothers. I'm not sure what the mom did when she got home besides bitch about how hard it was to be a mom.

For all the talk about how shitty teens are nowadays, these girls did every-f***in'-thing in the house. They both looked way too skinny and had those dark circles around their eyes - the combination of stress and no sleep. Of course dad was distant and domineering. Way to push your daughters towards Porn Valley, asshole. (Nanny made the point that was their opposite sex role model, so I guess they'll be doing S&M porn.)

What made me uncomfortable was once again I saw the same family dynamic:
  • Large number of kids had by parents who have demanding jobs/careers/no interest in being involved parents
  • Dad who sees his job as solely providing financial support to the family and nothing else
  • Kids homeschooled (in this case, they were taking on-line classes)
All of this made me think they were of some deep religious belief. You know, with condoms, the pill, and buttsex so readily available, I can't fathom how two parents who had children already would start the cycle again so late. (I could be wrong here. Also, I guess the family could be blended and the teens were from a previous relationship, and the younger boys the offspring of this new relationship.)

And then there's the homeschooling bit. As a former public schoolteacher, I have a bias towards educating children outside of the home - it is a rare bird who has the capacity to present diverse perspectives and teaching styles that I believe is so essential to kids' development. It's almost as if everybody who appears on this show thinks they can do a better job than public (or even parochial) schools but they are so woefully pathetic as teachers, if they exert any effort at all. Yeah, your kid would know where to score some weed if they went to school with... you know, other kids, but they probably wouldn't need copious counseling when they start their own families.

Anyway, the show left a horrible taste in my mouth, and it had me thinking bad thoughts about people who have a lot of kids and homeschool. Of course that's irrational; I'm sure there are people raising large families who do a fine job. But it seems for some people homeschooling is a way to essentially keep the kids out of school and from having a life... and having indentured servants in the house gratis. Anyone else see this trainwreck?
#2
Old 01-03-2008, 01:04 AM
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I saw it. I think the family was original, no steps, and I didn't detect any religiosity to it. But I do know that something like 80 percent of homeschoolers are fundamentalists. You're right, the families are very similar with the dynamics. I've found that most of the time, the moms seem to have mental disorders such as depression (IANAD) and they usually seem very emotionally disconnected from their children. When Jo forces them to interact in playing with their kids, you can see a lot of the moms faking it- they are used to being closed off and angry. It's okay if they fake it at first, though, if the lesson soaks in and they practice, it will be natural eventually. It's really too bad there's not a nanny like that for every family.
#3
Old 01-03-2008, 01:25 AM
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Yeah, Alice, I wasn't sure if the family was fundie or religious. I just thought "what would possess people to make the bizarre life choice of having 5 kids (maybe it's my bias, but in this day and age more than 3 is a lot), and homeschooling them? Hell, if you're a lazy parent, public schools are the way to go, and you can indoctrinate them after school!

I always think of the woman in Houston... Andrea Yates?... when I watch these shows. For whatever reason, I get the sense that the husbands are controlling and essentially tell the wife "we're having a big family and you're going to raise them, while I infuse cash into the household 80 hours a week."

The emotional disconnect could be because the mom didn't want the kids in the first place. Did they ever explain the arrival of the 3 boys? (I think two were twins.) Again, I'm suspecting dad wanted to have a boy.
#4
Old 01-03-2008, 10:22 AM
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My thought was they were "homeschooling" those girls not for religious reasons, but so they could stay home and take care of the kids and the house. I think CPS should've been called in. There's no excuse for making your children indentured servants. I hate to say it, but my thought was, if she's making the girls do her motherly chores, and housekeeping chores, is there any reason she isn't making them sleep with the father, too?

I'm one of five kids. It's not an impossible task, and it's not wrong to expect the kids to pitch in. But abdicating all your parental roles to two girls who should still be parented themselves is just wrong.

StG
#5
Old 01-03-2008, 10:28 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hippy Hollow
Large number of kids had by parents who have demanding jobs/careers/no interest in being involved parents
That's the main one, and it has nothing to do with religion. As I often say, some parents give more thought to buying a car than having a child.
#6
Old 01-03-2008, 12:26 PM
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I saw it, and didn't pick up on any religious aspect of it. And it wasn't really a traditional homeschooling scenario, was it? They said something about an online charter school, as opposed to the parents doing the homeschooling. Regardless, the parents were assholes. Note to Mom: Your responsibilities to your children are more important than your dreams. My wife and I agreed that the only reason the older one hadn't run away yet was that she didn't want to leave everything on the younger one.

Did anyone watch the episode immediately before that one? Where the parents were convinced that the best way for their 15 year old daughter to achieve success in life was to win beauty pageants, rather than learn to read? She's a total lock for implants and porn once the pageants dry up.
#7
Old 01-03-2008, 12:37 PM
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I saw it and couldn't believe it. Those girls need to get out of that house as soon as possible. The 14 year old still has a chance, but the 17 year old seems completly broken down. And that asshole dad was convinced that the girls weren't doing enough! I think the mom was speaking for herself as much as her daughters when she tearfully told him (at Supernanny's urging) that the girls are afraid to disagree with him on anything. What a messed up situation. I hope those parents are shamed into shaping up after seeing the episode on TV. Maybe a friendly aunt/uncle/cousin will step in and get those girls out of there.
#8
Old 01-03-2008, 12:40 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by muldoonthief
Did anyone watch the episode immediately before that one? Where the parents were convinced that the best way for their 15 year old daughter to achieve success in life was to win beauty pageants, rather than learn to read? She's a total lock for implants and porn once the pageants dry up.
The ep I saw immediately before was the overprotective family with the grandma where they took their toddlers "camping". No beauty pagents.
#9
Old 01-03-2008, 12:50 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pashnish Ewing
The ep I saw immediately before was the overprotective family with the grandma where they took their toddlers "camping". No beauty pagents.
Whoops. You're absolutely correct. I was referring to Wife Swap, which in this case had another set of absolutely horrible parents.
#10
Old 01-03-2008, 12:53 PM
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It usually does.
#11
Old 01-03-2008, 02:01 PM
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I thought CPS ought to have been threatened here. Those little boys were only 3 & 4 (the older two are twins) and their teenage sisters are basically raising them. There was nothing I could detect that suggested homeschooling for religious reasons, but as muldoonthief & StGermain said. It seemed instead that they'd pulled the girls out of school and "homeschooled" them in order to avoid having to pay for a babysitter for the little ones. The worst of it is one of the girls reported that their parents had already told them that they were only going to "change" as long as the cameras were rolling. I don't doubt it.

I only hope that now that this episode has aired, their school system will insist that the girls can no longer attend online because surely the lack of time to do school work violates laws regarding how homeschooling is supposed to work and force the family to send them to public school.
#12
Old 01-03-2008, 02:03 PM
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I didn't see the show, but based on what you all have said, why on Earth did the parents sign up for the show in the first place?
#13
Old 01-03-2008, 02:09 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dolores Reborn
I didn't see the show, but based on what you all have said, why on Earth did the parents sign up for the show in the first place?
I didn't see this ep, but I've seen others, and my guess is it's pretty much the same: everyone thinks they are the hero of their own story, and that Suppernanny is going to swoop in and support them and congratulate them on what a great effort they're making and castigate everyone ELSE for being the asshole. Problem is, in a family like that, everyone's the asshole (and I'm not even excepting the kids - innocent as they are, they've already learned to be assholes.)
#14
Old 01-03-2008, 02:21 PM
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The girls sent in the tape requesting help. The sad thing is, they weren't asking to have all their duties taken from them - they just wanted things to get a little better. They seemed to have been indoctrinated into thinking that this was their responsibility. When the nanny asked what they'd like to see changed, one said "I'd like my dad to see we're doing the best we can and not yell at us so much" and the other "I'd like to be able to see my friends sometimes."

It was amazing that the girls were basically doing everything (but laundry) in the house, and yet their dad thought they should be doing more. And sitting there, not feeding themselves or the little ones because "Mom said she'd bring dinner". They had no idea how long she'd be, but they sat on the couch waiting. Then mom brought burgers and a jug of tea an hour late.

The kids seriously needed to be taken away.

StG
#15
Old 01-03-2008, 03:15 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dolores Reborn
I didn't see the show, but based on what you all have said, why on Earth did the parents sign up for the show in the first place?
Probably for the money.
#16
Old 01-03-2008, 09:26 PM
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That is just so sad.
#17
Old 01-03-2008, 09:33 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hippy Hollow
I just thought "what would possess people to make the bizarre life choice of having 5 kids (maybe it's my bias, but in this day and age more than 3 is a lot), and homeschooling them?
I find this casual dismissal both arrogant and insulting. While these particular parents may not have made the wisest choices insofar as parenting, there is nothing per se bizarre or outrageous about having three -- or five -- children.
#18
Old 01-03-2008, 11:44 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bricker
I find this casual dismissal both arrogant and insulting. While these particular parents may not have made the wisest choices insofar as parenting, there is nothing per se bizarre or outrageous about having three -- or five -- children.
It seems I wasn't as clear as I could have been. I'm speaking specifically about these people. There's nothing wrong with having lots of kids. But if you don't appear to be the most dedicated parents (as these tools so aptly demonstrated) why have a large family?

The eldest two kids were teenagers. The boys (I thought there were three, but maybe there were four) were probably between the ages of 3 and 7. All I'm saying is that having more than one very young child and not being willing to make the sacrifice - actually, that's not the word I want to use... commitment to caring for them (whether it be by taking time away from the workforce, finding employment that allows flexibility, or just investing in childcare) seems unfathomable to me.

And homeschooling to me suggests more work, not less. So if these specimens weren't aiming for parent of the year-type intensity, they set their lives up to be quite full and complicated.

Last edited by Hippy Hollow; 01-03-2008 at 11:48 PM.
#19
Old 01-03-2008, 11:47 PM
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I have a lot of friends with 4, 5 or more children. Most of them are better housekeepers than I am. I'm the oldest of 5 myself and had a very nice childhood, thank you very much. (I have an older friend who raised 10 children. She loved it, and is now running a day care because she likes it. She's the best person I know with small children. She is not a fundie, not depressed, and an amazing woman.)

I did not see this show, so I can't comment on it. I can tell you that Wife Swap recently sent out requests for applications from homeschooling families, and no one in my homeschooling group would touch it with a barge pole (we got a direct appeal to the group). I suspect that any family that signs up for these things isn't any too average, and they probably select the ones that will make the biggest splash. So while I'm sure that what you saw was terrible, it's also way out into the extreme. You also can't assume that they are fundamentalists or religious at all.

And of course I have lots of homeschooling friends too. Some are evangelicals. Some are not. Most choose to homeschool because they like their children, enjoy being with them, and have somewhat different ideas on what constitutes a good education than the public school does. Sometimes that means Latin and lots of history. Sometimes it means a lot of time in the creek or helping to build the family's new straw-bale house. The vast majority of homeschoolers want to give their kids the best they can, which would be why they take on such a difficult and time-consuming--but usually rewarding-- task.

Alice the Goon, just FYI it is no longer true that "something like 80% of homeschoolers are fundamentalists." It's still a good chunk, but the movement's been going mainstream for some time now and the percentages are evening out every year, though it's hard to keep track accurately. Of the ones I know, (and this is wildly guessing) probably 40% (maybe less) are evangelicals, 30% hippies, and 30% something else. That's if you count the people enrolled in IS courses through the schools, which is a big chunk of local homeschoolers. Granted, I live in Northern CA and hippies are thick on the ground around here.
#20
Old 01-04-2008, 12:07 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hippy Hollow
And homeschooling to me suggests more work, not less. So if these specimens weren't aiming for parent of the year-type intensity, they set their lives up to be quite full and complicated.
"More work" depending on how you do it and how you define "work". My best friend is a hippie homeschooler. She and her daughters are never up before 10 AM and never asleep before midnight. They work very hard sometimes, and not at all for weeks on end. Some of their classes are taught by licensed teachers or homeschool group parents, not all by Mom. They tested recently and are above grade level in all subjects. But if you ask any of them, they say it's far less work than going to school - in total number of hours devoted to study and in terms of forcing themselves into someone else's schedule and timetable.
#21
Old 01-04-2008, 12:24 AM
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I was really perplexed by the whole show.

There were a lot of things that didn't add up for me. Jo started crying over these poor girls who don't go to school but then suddenly they're making a home study area up there? Where was the discussion about why they aren't at school? Of course that's just too boring for us so we'll never know. It's irritating to me that the show tried to have it both ways! First they portray it as slavery but then the happy ending is that the girls have some time to themselves all alone in the attic every day!? If they're out of school because of their parents greed or ignorance then putting them in the attic is not really solving the problem and if they're out of school for a more understandable reason then don't skip that part just to get us all worked up and pissed off.

However apart from all that I cried my way through the show because of that daughter who fainted. She was completely carrying the whole emotional burden for everyone else. When she was saying goodbye to Jo I just thought if I were Jo I'd email that girl every day forever just to make sure she eventually gets out of that role in life.

It was funny that they were named Brittany and Moriah. At first I thought maybe there was going to be a Beyonce too.
#22
Old 01-04-2008, 08:23 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pokey
I was really perplexed by the whole show.

There were a lot of things that didn't add up for me. Jo started crying over these poor girls who don't go to school but then suddenly they're making a home study area up there? Where was the discussion about why they aren't at school? Of course that's just too boring for us so we'll never know. It's irritating to me that the show tried to have it both ways! First they portray it as slavery but then the happy ending is that the girls have some time to themselves all alone in the attic every day!? If they're out of school because of their parents greed or ignorance then putting them in the attic is not really solving the problem and if they're out of school for a more understandable reason then don't skip that part just to get us all worked up and pissed off.

However apart from all that I cried my way through the show because of that daughter who fainted. She was completely carrying the whole emotional burden for everyone else. When she was saying goodbye to Jo I just thought if I were Jo I'd email that girl every day forever just to make sure she eventually gets out of that role in life.

It was funny that they were named Brittany and Moriah. At first I thought maybe there was going to be a Beyonce too.
I didn't see it like that. I think Jo was working withing the confines of what she was presented with. If the girls were to be home schooled, it could work, if they are given the time and the right space to do their work. The issue was they were being "home schooled" but all they were really doing was watching their three brothers (3,3,4). The new schedule gave them time specifically designated for school when some else had to be watching the kids.

Frankly, I found this episode disturbing. The utter disconnect with the parents and hopelessness of girls was sad to see.

Last edited by IvoryTowerDenizen; 01-04-2008 at 08:24 AM.
#23
Old 09-06-2012, 09:04 PM
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supernanny

Sometime in the last year that episode was aired and it has haunted me since. I prayed that someone from Social Services saw it and investigated that family. The girls were being used as slaves and the "homeschooling" was just an excuse to make that happen. Near the end of the episode the family posed for a picture so the mother could do her "I'm a photographer" thing. That was chilling to me. The family was so messed up and the mother was just invested in making the world think they were a happy family. She'll be old and on her death bed looking at that portrait and remembering what a happy family they were. Clueless. I have no sympathy for an adult who brings kids into the world who doesn't want to bother parenting them. Maybe she wanted to appear normal. Maybe she thinks she's a good mother.
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