Sunday, October 11, 2009

I love the "super nanny"

Why do I love her? Because she is the exact epitome of what not to do as parents! Let me repeat that, Supernanny is the exact epitome of what not to do if you are a parent -- I don't care how you look at it.

Let's get down to where the rubber meets the road, ummm, Supernanny. No matter what you do or recommend, you can never, under any circumstances, equal the amount of exterior encouragement that I, a father of six, receive on almost a daily basis, from those outside our circle of influence. "You have the best behaved children I've ever seen" isn't an exception, but the rule we see over and over agaiin when in public, irregardless of where we might make an appearance. People approach us to tell us this, for goodness sakes. What possibly about your approach to parenthood could at all convince me that you have a superior approach? Answer: Nothing. Not only are you British, which itself is a mark against you, but you're a woman too, which doesn't exactly make me particularly comfortable with your particular approach to child-discipline. But then again, I regard child-discipline in terms of expressly not putting so-called "child-safety-locks" on the cabinets and whatnot.

Yes, it's a "lack of committment" on my part, this tendency to parent children in a way which excludes proper parenting. But I personally challenge you to give me a better solution. Yeah; Supernanny is hereby invited to my home. She'll not only be amazed at what happens here, but her whole show will have been completely refuted. End of story.


Anonymous said...


Terry Morris said...

I can't explain the other ... post. But as you can see, I've deleted it.

My wife turned on this stupid show yesterday -- The Supernanny -- while I was on the computer. It's bad enough when the tv breaks my concentration (which does happen occasionally), but it's worse when the advice being given, the techniques recommended and so forth, have very limited and short term value only. Attempting to make these child-rearing techniques ruling principles for the household will, more often than not, result in a worse situation even than what we see going on in their absence. But then again, I cannot possibly imagine how these 'parents' have allowed their children to get this far out of control in the first place.

The_Editrix said...

Don't be so hard on the Brits and (yes, it's me who is saying this) this class of women based on a television gig. The REAL English (I tend to avoid the term "British") nannies provided stability, discipline and love to the children of the upper- and upper middle classes whose parents were very often unable and always unwilling to provide any of those. I am sure that you would agree with a REAL nanny on most, maybe all, of her concepts. The word "oldfashioned" was invented just for them.

As they cheapen EVERYTHING in the popular media, they cheapen those wonderful women as well.

Anonymous said...

Ah, "limited and short term value" is the key phrase. The job of super-nanny isn't really to raise children properly, but to demonstrate convincingly to weak-willed parents that they can indeed get their children to behave...if they're willing to stop making their children the arbiters of moral authority in their homes.

As I understand it, she (they?) must accomplish this in a very short period of time, and then air the segments which clearly demonstrate such basic concepts as "yes, sometimes you have to be the 'bad cop'" and so forth.

At the same time, the demands of 'reality TV', with its emphasis on 'dramatic' sequences of emotionally charged outbursts, does not tend to show anyone in a good light. Most particularly the viewers and producers of it, in my opinion. So I am of course relying mostly on inferences about what you might have witnessed.

Funny (well, perhaps) but true story. One time...not very recently but not ages past, I was sitting in a recliner (part of a clever couch which features two such mechanisms) as various family members and their children ate and watched a movie during the later part of an evening. Because of the additional persons, additional furniture, much of the folding variety, had been brought into the room and was being used.

Some of it was being used by children, and one particular example, a mechanically complex reclining lawn chair, was being used by a young niece and nephew simultaneously near my comfortable position. At some point, my nephew began to attempt a mechanical operation on the chair while his sister's fingers were in a location of...mechanical linkages. I estimated the mechanical advantage that his application of force would gain when applied to her fingers as being about twenty to one.

I cannot say with any certainty that this would have caused permanent damage without my intervention, emergency rooms can sometimes be very effective in dealing with such things. But on the whole, I was not eager to have the evening end on that particular note. So I immediately grabbed the back of the lawn chair with my toes and arrested the mechanical action my nephew had attempted to actuate, firmly requesting that he immediately desist.

Surprisingly, he failed to do so. He began shoving on the back of the chair with all his tiny might, attempting to overcome my restraining force. His sister's hand was still resting on the mechanical points which would transform his fairly light strength into hundreds of pounds of pressure if he succeeded in pushing the chair back up fully. And I was in a position which did not allow me to escape the recliner without letting go of the back of the lawn chair.

It was a disconcertingly helpless position, arresting the full effort of a small but active boy with my toes, unable to unrecline myself without letting go, which would permit immediate and possibly severe injury to his even tinier sister. I yelled at him to stop, then shouted that he had to stop immediately or he would injure his sister.

At which, some less mechanically experienced person reprimanded me for raising my voice. I explained, loudly, that I was trying to prevent serious injury to a person who was at least a niece to most everyone present. At which point someone asked--without taking any positive action--why I was yelling instead of getting out of my chair.

I explained, briefly but still loudly (perhaps even more loudly) that I couldn't move without letting go and allowing the injury to occur. Then I suggested that someone else act to stop my nephew before he smashed off his sister's fingers. I was relieved when his father finally noticed the imminent danger of bodily injury to his daughter and physically arrested his son's inadvertent attempt to send her to the hospital.

Anonymous said...

Then I suffered accusations from several present that I had an anger management problem.

This is, by the way, not true. I am capable of expressing anger, forcefully, in situations where I judge that appeals to reason have proved ineffective but rapid persuasion is highly desirable. In my most careful review of that situation, I judge that it did indeed qualify. And a little girl did not have to visit the emergency room that night. It is true that I do not frequently get the best of my temper, the incident described was...perhaps a couple of years ago? But I do have a rather high quality temper for display when I judge it necessary.

In any case, I did apologize for not being more eloquent in my request that others act to avoid injury to my niece, but asked precisely what resort I had other than yelling, given that the unexpected and sudden nature of the threat had eliminated my options for physical action, and that nobody else was doing anything to prevent what could have been a rather less pleasant end to the evening. No answers were forthcoming to that question, but a general air of condemnation nevertheless prevailed for some minutes.

Fortunately, my family members are not imbeciles. They did realize that, however uncomfortable my yelling had made everyone, they would have been a bit worse off with a little girl shrieking in pain from a potentially maiming injury. And nobody videoed my performance and aired it on national TV with minimal context.

They also might be aware that I do occasionally permit injury or misfortune to befall others simply because I do not feel like being insistent about issuing a warning. One of my many real moral failings.

Terry Morris said...

Chiu wrote:

They also might be aware that I do occasionally permit injury or misfortune to befall others simply because I do not feel like being insistent about issuing a warning. One of my many real moral failings.

In other words, you enjoy seeing other people suffer. Sadist!

I've been asked by various people (friends, acquaintences, family members) over the course of years what techniques I use to establish discipline in my home. I always use the example of the planted pepper shaker as my example of how discipline begins in my home with a newcomer -- toddlers. Most aren't comfortable with it, but it's effective and leaves a lasting impression.

It basically works like this -- once they start toddling around, getting into everything as they invariably do, I start the process of issuing stern warnings. Kitchen cabinets are a particular favorite with toddlers (I guess they want to know what's behind door no. 1 or something. lol). Door no. 1 is the door I place my emphasis on. After giving a number of warnings, spanking the back of their hands for disobeying, carrying them off to the other room and so forth, eventually I plant the pepper shaker, loosened cap'n'all, behind door no. 1, easily accessible and very inviting to the child. Then, unbenounced to the little tyke (who's off in his own little world when he's exploring, don't ya know, but will occasionally look up to see whether anyone is watching ... if the parent has done his job to this point effectively) I stand back and watch as he goes for the bait. Sometimes he's a little hesitant, sometimes he just dives right in there, depending. But you know what happens from there.

Yes, it sounds kind of sadistic I admit. But it saves a heaping load of unnecessary trouble down the road. Besides, all of my children, without exception, were ADD before I beat it out of 'em, as I've said before.

Anonymous said...

Oh, that is soooo much better than mousetraps. Er...about which I have only just now thought. The that's good.

Terry Morris said...

Chiu, I've never quite been able to understand what would make a parent or guardian want to 'protect' the children under their care from all possible painful experiences.

Some woman told me once that I was a bad parent for not putting safety locks on my cabinet doors. Her reasoning was that there are dangerous chemicals in kitchen cabinets that can kill children. I simply asked her whether there was some law I didn't know about requiring that people keep deadly chemicals in the lower cabinets where toddlers can reach them.

Anonymous said...

Meh, putting more dangerous things on lower shelves is a generic safe handling practice which doesn't work so well when toddlers are involved.

Children in my family are climbers, by the time kids are able to stand, they can climb, be it a ladder or a shelving space. When we were kids, we could get from pretty much anywhere in the house to anywhere else without ever touching the floor. We also learned to crack safes and pick that I think about it we weren't the most well behaved children.

Anyway, the lower shelf thing doesn't always apply.