Reality TV: A Parenting Reality?

I love this show:
chopped
These two are by far two of my long-running, all-time favorites:

Okay, so what do any of these have to do with this blog – which is supposed to comprise of musings of a frazzled working mom?

Well it’s just that. Due to the Double F Factor as I call it -The Frazzle Factor – I often take the easy way out of parenting and watch reality TV shows…with my elementary school-aged daughter. Is this bad? I’m not completely sure but part of me sure feels guilty about it.

The demands of the working parent dictate that something’s gotta give. That something, unfortunately, is often the ability to feel completely engaged – both mentally and physically – in the moment. In other words, the sheer exhaustion that often takes over one’s life when one is balancing a job, a family and more, often gets the better of many of us. The result? A flaked out mom (or dad) on the couch, in front of the TV, watching mindless (or not so mindless) pap. Not the best “quality time” with one’s kids is it?
I often ask myself this question while the guilt overwhelms me as I spend some seemingly special time with my daughter…with the backdrop of the latest reality TV show in the background (she says embarrassingly). Okay, it does help that my daughter is a bit of a “Mini-Me” and we do have some of the same interests. One of hers just happens to be Reality TV….

Yea, not sure if I buy it either, but I have to say something to assuage my guilt.
So I’ll put the latest inquiry out there now in the hopes that I’m not alone in this particular form of parenting:

Do you watch Reality TV and similar types of shows with your kids as a way of spending time together without too much effort on your part? If so, do you feel guilty about it? Why or why not?

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89 Comments

  1. Letters From Home says

    Before my son was born I had all these thoughts on t.v. and parenting. Then I became a mom. I wouldn't worry about it too much. Unless t.v. watching is the only activity you take part of in with your kids (doubt it, or you wouldn't be concerned) then a little is all right. The reality shows you name seem harmless enough. And back in the “olden” days families often gathered around the t.v. to watch their favorite shows. We did with Donny and Marie, Dukes of Hazard, Mork and Mindy and Happy Days. When your daughter is grown is she going to remember the actual episodes, or cuddling up with her mom, munching on popcorn and the two of you laughing and talking? It's going to be the second one.

  2. Letters From Home says

    Before my son was born I had all these thoughts on t.v. and parenting. Then I became a mom. I wouldn't worry about it too much. Unless t.v. watching is the only activity you take part of in with your kids (doubt it, or you wouldn't be concerned) then a little is all right. The reality shows you name seem harmless enough. And back in the “olden” days families often gathered around the t.v. to watch their favorite shows. We did with Donny and Marie, Dukes of Hazard, Mork and Mindy and Happy Days. When your daughter is grown is she going to remember the actual episodes, or cuddling up with her mom, munching on popcorn and the two of you laughing and talking? It's going to be the second one.

  3. Samantha says

    @Letters From Home
    Hi Angii,

    You're right about the memories that occur with TV watching. When I was a kid, we used to watch Mary Tyler Moore, Carol Burnett, The Love Boat, etc. I stil remember those Saturday nights fondly, spending time with my family. I hope my daughter has similar positive memories about us, not who was the latest person voted off the island!

    Samantha

  4. Samantha says

    @Letters From Home
    Hi Angii,

    You're right about the memories that occur with TV watching. When I was a kid, we used to watch Mary Tyler Moore, Carol Burnett, The Love Boat, etc. I stil remember those Saturday nights fondly, spending time with my family. I hope my daughter has similar positive memories about us, not who was the latest person voted off the island!

    Samantha

  5. Melanie says

    I say – you gotta do what you gotta do! Besides isn't Reality TV a learning experience? It is 'real' right?

  6. Melanie says

    I say – you gotta do what you gotta do! Besides isn't Reality TV a learning experience? It is 'real' right?

  7. Samantha says

    @Melanie
    It isn't real, Melanie?? 😉
    Yes, I guess it is somewhat of a learning experience, but perhaps more of an opportunity to cuddle on the couch with my girl.

    Thanks for commenting 🙂

  8. Samantha says

    @Melanie
    It isn't real, Melanie?? 😉
    Yes, I guess it is somewhat of a learning experience, but perhaps more of an opportunity to cuddle on the couch with my girl.

    Thanks for commenting 🙂

  9. Samantha says

    @Heather
    Hi Heather,

    So true – in a way it's easier to watch a one-hour show than sit through something that commits you to more time…and some of those kiddie movies are a bit hard to swallow at times! Glad to hear I'm not the only one unwinding in front of the tube with my kids!

    Samantha

  10. Samantha says

    @Heather
    Hi Heather,

    So true – in a way it's easier to watch a one-hour show than sit through something that commits you to more time…and some of those kiddie movies are a bit hard to swallow at times! Glad to hear I'm not the only one unwinding in front of the tube with my kids!

    Samantha

  11. Natalie says

    I'm embarrassed to admit how much TV I let my little ones watch. I really have been trying to allow them less, but it's hard!

    I'm a reality TV junkie, too 😉

  12. Natalie says

    I'm embarrassed to admit how much TV I let my little ones watch. I really have been trying to allow them less, but it's hard!

    I'm a reality TV junkie, too 😉

  13. Samantha says

    @Natalie
    Hi Natalie,
    I agree – it is really hard when TV often seems to be a quick and easy option. Even more so when one has a “thing” for certain reality TV shows. I guess there's comfort in knowing that others are doing the same thing for the same reasons – exhaustion…oh, and an addiction to certain shows!

    Thanks for your comment!
    Samantha

  14. Samantha says

    @Natalie
    Hi Natalie,
    I agree – it is really hard when TV often seems to be a quick and easy option. Even more so when one has a “thing” for certain reality TV shows. I guess there's comfort in knowing that others are doing the same thing for the same reasons – exhaustion…oh, and an addiction to certain shows!

    Thanks for your comment!
    Samantha

  15. Holly Ann says

    I always feel guilty about how much TV I let my little ones watch, but I also try to keep it all in perspective. My younger sister probably watched more TV than anyone I know growing up and she ended up her HS valedictorian so it couldn't have hurt that much. 🙂
    And I think previous commenters are right – your children will remember your cuddle time fondly!

  16. Holly Ann says

    I always feel guilty about how much TV I let my little ones watch, but I also try to keep it all in perspective. My younger sister probably watched more TV than anyone I know growing up and she ended up her HS valedictorian so it couldn't have hurt that much. 🙂
    And I think previous commenters are right – your children will remember your cuddle time fondly!

  17. Samantha says

    @Holly Ann
    Hi Holly,
    It seems to be more common that I thought – I guess I'm not the only one!

    When I think back to my childhood, I watched an awful lot of TV as well (though it was pretty tame stuff like The Brady Bunch and Gilligan's Island…). Even so, it didn't and doesn't diminish my view of my family life and parents. I still think of them fondly and have great memories…despite the fact that I can recite practically every episode of the Brady Bunch and the Flintstones from memory! :p

    Thanks for commenting!

  18. Samantha says

    @Holly Ann
    Hi Holly,
    It seems to be more common that I thought – I guess I'm not the only one!

    When I think back to my childhood, I watched an awful lot of TV as well (though it was pretty tame stuff like The Brady Bunch and Gilligan's Island…). Even so, it didn't and doesn't diminish my view of my family life and parents. I still think of them fondly and have great memories…despite the fact that I can recite practically every episode of the Brady Bunch and the Flintstones from memory! :p

    Thanks for commenting!

  19. Anonymous says

    I wish I could even get near any of the tvs in our house, but the kids have taken over them all and I can't tolerate to watch even one more Thomas the Train episode. My kids are watching way too much tv. Sometimes I wish I could throw out all the tvs or unplug them and say they are borken, but I cringe at what that transition phase would be like. Realistically the world is so electronic and it is next to impossible to avoid tv, computers etc. so I guess I will just get over it and hope for the best.

  20. Anonymous says

    I wish I could even get near any of the tvs in our house, but the kids have taken over them all and I can't tolerate to watch even one more Thomas the Train episode. My kids are watching way too much tv. Sometimes I wish I could throw out all the tvs or unplug them and say they are borken, but I cringe at what that transition phase would be like. Realistically the world is so electronic and it is next to impossible to avoid tv, computers etc. so I guess I will just get over it and hope for the best.

  21. Samantha says

    @Anonymous
    Agreed! There is a lot of Thomas the Tank Engine watching in our house as well! I find myself singing the theme song all the time, even when I'm not with the boys…scary.

    And you're definitely right about trying to wean kids off TV and technology in general. It's a part of everyday life these days so not sure how realistic that would be.

    Thanks for your comment.

  22. Samantha says

    @Anonymous
    Agreed! There is a lot of Thomas the Tank Engine watching in our house as well! I find myself singing the theme song all the time, even when I'm not with the boys…scary.

    And you're definitely right about trying to wean kids off TV and technology in general. It's a part of everyday life these days so not sure how realistic that would be.

    Thanks for your comment.

  23. Samantha says

    @Liz
    Hi Liz,
    Agreed! The Amazine Race is one of my all-time favourites!
    Thanks for stopping by. I'll check out your blog now!

    Samantha

  24. Samantha says

    @Liz
    Hi Liz,
    Agreed! The Amazine Race is one of my all-time favourites!
    Thanks for stopping by. I'll check out your blog now!

    Samantha

  25. Ahava & Amara Life Foundation says

    I don't see anything wrong with watching certain reality t.v. series with your children if they can actually learn something. You can take the time to not only cuddle with them but create a discussion based on the topic as well.

  26. Ahava & Amara Life Foundation says

    I don't see anything wrong with watching certain reality t.v. series with your children if they can actually learn something. You can take the time to not only cuddle with them but create a discussion based on the topic as well.

  27. Samantha says

    Hi Ahava,
    Good point – some shows are great opportunities to open up a dialogue about certain topics, for sure. I guess the trick is finding the shows that will provide you with both entertainment and an educational aspect as well.

    Thanks for commenting!

  28. Samantha says

    Hi Ahava,
    Good point – some shows are great opportunities to open up a dialogue about certain topics, for sure. I guess the trick is finding the shows that will provide you with both entertainment and an educational aspect as well.

    Thanks for commenting!

  29. MissMOE says

    Yup, we watch reality tv! I remember feeling so guilty when one morning my two year old woke up asking to watch Survivor! After that I made sure she was in bed before I participated in my guilty pleasure. We do watch The Amazing Race as a family. And now I indulge in that guilty pleasure–Survivor– with my teenager! I'm a new follower from MBC. Feel free to check out my blog.

  30. MissMOE says

    Yup, we watch reality tv! I remember feeling so guilty when one morning my two year old woke up asking to watch Survivor! After that I made sure she was in bed before I participated in my guilty pleasure. We do watch The Amazing Race as a family. And now I indulge in that guilty pleasure–Survivor– with my teenager! I'm a new follower from MBC. Feel free to check out my blog.

  31. Samantha says

    @MissMOE It's funny that as young as two they already know what they like! It seems like The Amazing Race is an all-around favourite for families regardless of age. I'll stick with that one but have already given my daughter the Survivor bug so not sure I can cut her off now!
    Thanks for your comment 🙂

  32. Samantha says

    @MissMOE It's funny that as young as two they already know what they like! It seems like The Amazing Race is an all-around favourite for families regardless of age. I'll stick with that one but have already given my daughter the Survivor bug so not sure I can cut her off now!
    Thanks for your comment 🙂

  33. Karen Dawkins says

    My kids are 16, 13 and 6. We do watch reality TV with our teens, particularly Amazing Race. We don't watch the Bachelor type shows, though or anything on Mtv. I guess we're a little picky about the “reality” we watch. The teens are also USA junkies — and have hooked us on Psych and White Collar.

    We look forward to watching the shows together and the conversation and popcorn that go with it.

    Our six year old is not ready for that stuff yet. She heads off to bed after a good story and some of her own mommy-daddy time.

    I think if you're open to discussing the show and/or other discussions that come up during the show, they're not bad. If you see behavior you don't want your child to repeat, use the show as a springboard to teaching values. We have stopped watching shows that started pretty mellow and got more controversial (or focused too much on things we don't value).

    Happy memory making!

  34. Karen Dawkins says

    My kids are 16, 13 and 6. We do watch reality TV with our teens, particularly Amazing Race. We don't watch the Bachelor type shows, though or anything on Mtv. I guess we're a little picky about the “reality” we watch. The teens are also USA junkies — and have hooked us on Psych and White Collar.

    We look forward to watching the shows together and the conversation and popcorn that go with it.

    Our six year old is not ready for that stuff yet. She heads off to bed after a good story and some of her own mommy-daddy time.

    I think if you're open to discussing the show and/or other discussions that come up during the show, they're not bad. If you see behavior you don't want your child to repeat, use the show as a springboard to teaching values. We have stopped watching shows that started pretty mellow and got more controversial (or focused too much on things we don't value).

    Happy memory making!

  35. Samantha says

    @Karen Dawkins Hi Karen, it seems to be a common thought – that these shows could actually be a starting point for further discussion, something I hadn't really considered before. It's a great idea, assuming that the shows are relatively tame and family-friendly…
    Agree as well that some shows are definitely NOT for kiddie consumption. Those ones don't get the time of day for the most part.
    Thanks for commenting!

  36. Samantha says

    @Karen Dawkins Hi Karen, it seems to be a common thought – that these shows could actually be a starting point for further discussion, something I hadn't really considered before. It's a great idea, assuming that the shows are relatively tame and family-friendly…
    Agree as well that some shows are definitely NOT for kiddie consumption. Those ones don't get the time of day for the most part.
    Thanks for commenting!

  37. Irene says

    My six year old (and sometimes 4 year old) watches Dancing With the Stars with me…it makes if fun actually, and I enjoy that 'quiet' time together.

    I found you on Totally Tuesday Blog Hop!!

  38. Irene says

    My six year old (and sometimes 4 year old) watches Dancing With the Stars with me…it makes if fun actually, and I enjoy that 'quiet' time together.

    I found you on Totally Tuesday Blog Hop!!

  39. Jessica says

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  40. Jessica says

    I am blog hopping today and I am VERY happy to have found your blog.

    Please come by and (if you aren't already) follow either or both of my blogs:

    So Stylilized is where I am currently offering FREE Custom Blog Designs: http://sostylilized.blogspot.com

    Jessicas Lil Corner is where I blog about family and life at http://jessicaslilcorner.blogspot.com

    Hope to have you stop by and follow.

    Happy Tuesday!! :0)

  41. Samantha says

    @Irene
    Hi Irene,
    Dancing With The Stars is a big time favourite with the little ones. My daughter loves it as well. Other than some of the more racier moments, it's a good show, high entertainment value, great for mother/daughter time. Thanks for stopping by 🙂

  42. Samantha says

    @Irene
    Hi Irene,
    Dancing With The Stars is a big time favourite with the little ones. My daughter loves it as well. Other than some of the more racier moments, it's a good show, high entertainment value, great for mother/daughter time. Thanks for stopping by 🙂

  43. MommyKat says

    Thanks for pointing me towards your blog on Twitter; I'm following now! For me, parenting doesn't involve reality TV, but unwinding sure does! Dragon's Den and Hell's Kitchen are my must-see shows and a guaranteed way to relax after a hectic day with hectic little boys! 🙂 Hope you can stop by http://www.mommykatandkids.com too! 🙂

  44. MommyKat says

    Thanks for pointing me towards your blog on Twitter; I'm following now! For me, parenting doesn't involve reality TV, but unwinding sure does! Dragon's Den and Hell's Kitchen are my must-see shows and a guaranteed way to relax after a hectic day with hectic little boys! 🙂 Hope you can stop by http://www.mommykatandkids.com too! 🙂

  45. Samantha says

    @MommyKat
    Hello, Kathryn from a fellow Canadian 🙂
    I love Dragon's Den and Hell's Kitchen as well…though the latter is a bit to “spicy” to consider watching with my daughter due to Gordon Ramsay's choice of language! That said, Dragon's Den would probably be tame enough, though I'd have to explain Kevin somehow to my girl…;)

    You've got the right idea in enjoying the shows on your own. Must try some time!!

    Have visted your blog as well and am following 🙂

  46. Samantha says

    @MommyKat
    Hello, Kathryn from a fellow Canadian 🙂
    I love Dragon's Den and Hell's Kitchen as well…though the latter is a bit to “spicy” to consider watching with my daughter due to Gordon Ramsay's choice of language! That said, Dragon's Den would probably be tame enough, though I'd have to explain Kevin somehow to my girl…;)

    You've got the right idea in enjoying the shows on your own. Must try some time!!

    Have visted your blog as well and am following 🙂

  47. Anonymous says

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  48. Anonymous says

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  49. Cathy says

    Okay so I thought I posted a comment to this post already but I don't see it here so I'll do it again.

    I am not a fan of reality TV. But, there is one exception. Check out my post on “Lessons Learned from Reality TV”. http://www.alliwanttosay.com/2010/11/lessons-learned-from-reality-tv.html

    It's all about the World's Strictest Parents. It's a hoot. And I love watching it with my kids so they can see how bad things really could be for them.

  50. Cathy says

    Okay so I thought I posted a comment to this post already but I don't see it here so I'll do it again.

    I am not a fan of reality TV. But, there is one exception. Check out my post on “Lessons Learned from Reality TV”. http://www.alliwanttosay.com/2010/11/lessons-learned-from-reality-tv.html

    It's all about the World's Strictest Parents. It's a hoot. And I love watching it with my kids so they can see how bad things really could be for them.

  51. Samantha says

    @Cathy
    I'm afraid and intrigued by what “The World's Strictest Parents” may hold! Gotta find this show and watch it for pointers. You're right – maybe if kids saw the consequences of their actions or the worse case scenarios in terms of what COULD be for them, they might straighten up!
    Thanks for your comment.

  52. Samantha says

    @Cathy
    I'm afraid and intrigued by what “The World's Strictest Parents” may hold! Gotta find this show and watch it for pointers. You're right – maybe if kids saw the consequences of their actions or the worse case scenarios in terms of what COULD be for them, they might straighten up!
    Thanks for your comment.

  53. Anonymous says

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  54. Anonymous says

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