Are Super Parents Needed to Raise Decent Children?

by michael on March 27, 2011

I had never heard of the television series, The Supernanny. I had never watched an episode and, until moments ago, I had never read a reference to the show. Surfing the Internet, I found this article Supernanny State written by Ryan Hansen.

Evidently, according to Hansen, some years ago, a television program, Supernanny, was hosted by world renowned childcare specialist Jo Frost. Frost spent a number of days working with families who were struggling with a wide array of family issues, from absentee fathers to disciplinary inconsistency to sibling rivalry to just plain spoiled children.

Almost universally, most of these and other issues are compounded upon each other, one causing the next in a vicious snowball of dysfunction tumbling wildly out of control down the road to familial ruin.

Frost writes that Jo implements solutions mandating drastic changes in habits and behaviors. Hansen writes that Jo’s success rate is tremendous.

The secret—hardly a secret, it seems to me—to Jo’s success breaks down to two primary factors:

First, Jo has vision—the ability to see through the madness of surface symptoms and identify the core issues and quotes Thoreau’s reference to “branches of evil” and describes Jo as “one who is striking at the root.”

Second, Hansen writes that Jo is unyielding. “With adequate time to expose the roots, she formulates a plan for the parents to implement, and although the protests are often loud and even violent, she will not relent from holding the entire family to her expectations.”

Hansen then laments that “It’s a sad state of affairs that viewers are attracted to conflict. The sheer number of so-called “reality” shows, each with its own version of manufactured drama, attests to our morbid desire to watch other people behaving badly.”

Hansen writes that Jo typically finds that, “after years of parental inadequacy, at least one of the children has become so accustomed to having everything their way that the moment that security — let’s call it an entitlement blanket — is removed, they quickly leap past unreasonable and explode into irrational, sometimes even violent rebellion. They yell, threaten, kick, spit, swear and scream and do everything else they can to try to flex the muscles they thought they had built through years of dominant will. In their immature, dysfunctional little minds, they are perfectly justified in their behavior.”

Hansen opines that “It’s an affront to decent, well-mannered people everywhere to watch little princes and princesses weep and wail, no longer be allowed to toss trash wherever they want, beat their siblings whenever they want or disrespect their parents however they want.”

The transition from chaos to order is not an easy one. Parents falter in the “epic battle of wills that ensues from the instigation of discipline where previously there was none.” In the end, however, when the parents remain steadfast and confident, they win and the family re-grains, or gains for the first time, what Hansen describes as “peace.”

“It doesn’t always come quickly and certainly not without a fight, but once the parents finally decide they aren’t going to give in to the unreasonable, excessive and selfish demands of tyrant children, it’s amazing — and very gratifying — to watch the children discover that they aren’t so tough after all; those mighty muscles they thought they had turn out to be more their parents’ weakness than their own strength.”

For whatever reason or reasons, the show is not on TV anymore, evidently by Jo Frost’s own choosing. Hansen ends her article with a reference to and seeks to make an analogy to some political movements in our country.

Such a topic and such an argument go beyond the purpose of my blog and thus I do not adopt or endorse or make an opinion on the validity of the analogy. I do believe in and I do endorse the theory and methods used by Jo Frost to reign in rude and even worse behavior in order to achieve peace in the family and to raise moral and respectful children.

Read the entire article, aware of my personal caveats.

More later.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Julia March 28, 2011 at 9:31 pm

I love Super Nanny. Jo was terrific. The show gave parents hope that no matter how out of control things are in your home, you can make changes and bring order. It was authentic in that it showed genuine conflict that the parents had with each other, the reflections to them were often hard to see and hear and their resistance to following Jo’s suggestions was real. She pulled no punches and she hit at the heart of the matter in a very direct way.

Jo’s way of making change is very close to my own way of helping families. Children’s behavior is their way of expressing the feelings that they don’t have words for. It’s up to us as parents, caregivers, teachers, grandparents, to figure out what they are trying to say to us, then deal with those issues in order to bring about real change. And that was one of Jo’s messages, you can create a plan to discipline and manage behavior (which is necessary), but unless you deal with the underlying causes of the behavior, you won’t see fundamental change.


Kelenna June 27, 2011 at 2:08 am

I can’t believe I’ve been going for years without knwinog that.


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