Monday, December 29, 2008

Adventures in parenting...

At my mothers' home on Christmas, we were flipping channels searching for something to entertain us. (She has cable and we don't so everyone loves to go to her house and veg-out on the couch to channel surf. Might I add, that's one reason we don't have cable or satellite at home!) I don't care for many of the reality TV shows - some are really graphic and some just make me wonder what happened to make those people act that way - but I found something that looked very interesting. It's called "My Super Sweet 16 - Exiled" on MTV.

For those of you who don't watch MTV and haven't heard of "My Super Sweet 16" here's a synopsis - parents that have more money than they know what to do with spend thousands or hundreds of thousands of dollars on Sweet Sixteen parties for their daughters. Some of these parties include renting out night clubs or exclusive restaurants and getting rock stars to play, etc... I think that the more "over the top" the party is the better, according to MTV.

So now those smart MTV executives have come up with a new reality show that follows up on the girls that have been included in the "My Super Sweet 16" show. "Exiled" takes those same girls and gets their parents to admit the kids have been spoiled rotten and, since the parents now have no clue how to get the kids to stop mooching off of them, send them overseas to a third world country to learn appreciation for what they have.

Here's the link if you care to watch it:

We caught part of the 1st episode with Amanda. (Mom came in and took the remote stating, "I don't like reality TV shows." Promptly turning it to the show with the 7 babies (or is it 8?). To which I say, "Mom, don't you know THIS is reality, too?" She replies, "Yes, but they're cute.") So, today I found out that I can view it for FREE on-line. Yes! If it's free it's for me!

The long and short of it:

Amanda is a spoiled brat who has now graduated high school, drives a brand new BMW, won't get out of bed for anyone or anything other than partying, won't get a job and smarts off in a very bad way to her dad at the drop of a hat. Her dad finally decides that he's had enough and rather than trying to rectify the situation he caused, finds someone else to take care of it. MTV swoops in to save the day by offering to send her to a nomadic tribe in central Africa.

Amanda learns that she'll be shipped off the following day to Kenya and from Kenya journey a day's ride to the tribe. She immediately pouts and then starts packing - high heels, hairdryer, makeup - you get the picture...

After arriving and starting on her journey she soon puts two and two together and realizes she probably won't have electricity where she's going. Amanda arrives at the camp and starts her "real life" adventure. They journey 20km to retrieve drinking water, herd cattle, slaughter their dinner, battle demon ticks in the bush and resurface their cow dung houses!

In the end, Amanda participates and comes to realize how well she has it in the States.

My thoughts -

Mind you that through it all she never curses and doesn't react in the nasty way she does to her father. Perhaps if he had demanded or expected respect from Amanda to begin with she wouldn't have had to journey around the world to discover that she was out-of-control.

I watched this not to make fun of her plight, as I'm sure some will, but to appreciate the way she was raised and how she decided to deal with it. I'm very proud that Amanda learned from the situation and matured in it. She had to have a good foundation to achieve that growth. It goes to show that sometimes as parents we can start out with the best of intentions and end up far off course.

Parenting has a constant need for checks and balances, like any relationship. We can't set a course and leave the rest of the trip up to cruise control. We have to get in the trenches and get down and dirty when the need is there. Sometimes we have to jump on and ride the roller coaster, even though we have high blood pressure or are pregnant. You never know what's going to happen next. That's part of the adventure of parenting!

More importantly, we shouldn't expect someone else to come in and save the day. It is not the grade school teachers responsibility to teach your child manners, it's yours. It is not the middle school teachers responsibility to teach your child about the differences between male and female, it's yours. Don't expect your child's first employer to explain the importance of punctuality and that a hang nail is not a reason to call-in to work. These are simple life lessons that are part of becoming a parent. If you're not up to these challenges - don't have kids.

Quotes that I believe apply to parenting:

"It's the toughest job you'll ever love." Peace Corp ad campaign

"What a long strange trip it's been." The Grateful Dead - Truckin'

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