I saw Supernanny on Channel 4 last night and as I watched the clueless couple and their offspring fighting tooth and nail I got that lovely warm ‘at least I’m not that hopeless at parenting’ feeling. I often tune in to ‘corrective’ reality TV programmes like Supernanny to make myself feel better about my parenting abilities, wrinkles, dress sense and so on. And there are lots of you out there who do the same if the ratings are anything to go by. For sure you can pick up the odd useful tip – God knows when Supernanny first aired ‘naughty steps’ sprang up everywhere in my neighbourhood – but mostly we watch to feel good about ourselves and either mock the poor suckers on the telly or experience the ‘there by the grace of God go I’ feeling.
Last night’s couple had two boys who were allowed to fall asleep on the sofa in front of the telly each evening. In this information abundant age it amazes me that some people simply haven’t worked out that a solid bedtime regime is good for kids, not to mention how good it is for parents who get some grown up time and with it a chance to hold onto their sanity. Do these people not talk to their own parents or friends with children for tips and handy hints? Do they not read the exhaustive manual that came courtesy of the health centre before baby was even born covering all manner of topics from tooth care to childhood illnesses and immunisation? Of course they don’t, but just about everyone I know does. Where do the production companies who make these programmes find their subjects, for they are nothing like anyone I’ve come across at the school gates? And that’s the key… On the whole those who appear on reality TV programmes are nothing like those who make or watch the finished products. Telly people even have a code when selecting participants… they are never PLUs – People Like Us. So there it is. Programmes made by the supersmug for the supersmug. Mind you, my seven year old kicked off big time this morning and boy did I struggle to bring him under control… not feeling quite so self-satisfied now. Must refer to that manual.