Television At Its Best: World’s Strictest Parents

I am not an MTV fan but they have one of the best shows on television in their World’s Strictest Parents program and the network deserves credit for showing this program.

At the first of each program a teenage girl and boy are shown interacting with their parent/parents in a very disrespectful way. The teenagers in a lot of the programs have been raised in one parent homes and are used to having their way.

One girl was given a car even though her behavior didn’t warrant it and she also made a list of things for her mom to do for her instead of the other way around.

Sent to Another Family For a Week

Then a teenage boy and girl who have been behaving badly are sent to live with a family that has strict rules and each family member has their own chores to perform daily. They spend five days with their new temporary family.

Usually the teenagers are sent to a farm or ranch. Their mom and dad for the week have a very structured life since there are many chores to be done.

Lay Out Ground Rules

Their temporary parents for the week lay out the ground rules telling the teenagers what is expected of them and asks them if they have any contrabrand such as cigarettes in their luggage. If they turn over the contrabrand to the parents there are no consequences but if they don’t tell them they have it and are found out they suffer the consequences.

Bad language is not tolerated and one teenage boy on a program yesterday had to haul 20 hay bales a 100 yards when he used bad language.

Started Week With Only a Mattress

The strict parents yesterday took everything out of their bedrooms and left them with only a mattress but after their behavior changed later in the week they set up their bedrooms for their last night at the ranch.

The teenagers yesterday helped clean out a bunkhouse for a lady that had eight kids so that some of the girls in that family would have a nice place to live once it was cleaned. This taught them to enjoy helping others.

In other shows a different set of teenagers have worked in a soup kitchen feeding the homeless and were told by the homeless in one on one situations what it was like to be homeless making the teenagers more recognizant of the fact that their lives were easy compared to the homeless.

Some Teenagers Off to Bad Starts

There have been some programs where it looked like there was no way the teenagers would finish the week being a different person and eager to go home and show they can respect their parent or parents.

One set of teenagers got off to a bad start by driving the truck of their strict parents for a joyride. When they came back they were punished by having to work very hard on a tedious project that took many hours.

Most Have Changed By End of the Week

Despite their rough start both teenagers left at the end of the week with great attitudes and respect for their strict parents for the week and the parents they were going home to.

Of all the shows I have seen only one boy has not been changed by the experience and left early in the week but he wasn’t willing to give the strict parents a chance to help him become a productive citizen. The girl that had started the week was thinking of leaving but stayed and by the end of the week she was enjoying working on the farm and became close with her temporary parents.

Talk to Teenagers on the Side

On each show one of the parents takes one of the teenagers aside and then the other parent will do the same with the other teenager. They talk to them about life and what the teenagers need to do when they get home with their parents and how they will treat them.

On the fourth day the parents will give the teenagers letters from their parents. By this time the teenagers have been on the farm or ranch long enough to appreciate their parents and are touched by the letters they receive.

The fifth and final day the parents come to the farm or ranch to pick up their teenagers and bring them home. First they have a meeting with the temporary parents who tell them how their teenagers did during the week and how much they have changed.

When the teenagers run to the vehicle when their parent/parents arrive shows how much they have changed and how they want to show respect to them and try to help their parents instead of letting the parents do all the work.

Good Television Does Still Exist

FCC commissioner Newton Minow may have called television a vast wasteland many years ago but shows like World’s Strictest Parents show that good television does exist today. This program not only changes the lives of the teenagers on the program but it has to have an effect on teenagers and their parents who watch the program.

We may not know the outcome from the viewers watching the program but it has to have a positive influence on most teenagers and their parents and teaches priorities of what is really important in life.


Author: Andrew Godfrey

Retired from newspaper work after 38 years. Had served in the Army in Hawaii and Vietnam in the 60's. Am now retired and living in Sulphur, Louisiana.

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