Friday, August 04, 2006

How to raise a child/Save a marriage

The other night I was up too late, watching stupid TV, and I saw two shows back to back that made me realize that we know a lot more than we think we know. First, I watched Supernanny, and then I watched One Week to Save Your Marriage. The moral of both shows, it seemed, was communication, consistency, kindness, and fun.

If you haven't seen Supernanny, you should probably watch it at least once (and once is enough, really, because it's always the same). Just so you can laugh and feel all superior, because these kids are such beasts. They hit their parents and call them names. They beat up on each other, and destroy things. They sulk and scream and take 4 hours to get out the door in the morning, and 4 more to get to bed at night. Somehow they never seem to be only children...maybe the parents can manage better if it's two adults against one hellion. There's never any real discipline in these houses, just some attempts through yelling and screaming, and once in awhile, a family who spanks. But never any consistancy, the kids get away with SO much before the parents even attempt anything at all. So, the kids are out of control, the parents are stressed and freaking out and completely overwhelmed, and in comes the Supernany to help out. She gets down to the kids level when she talks to them. She enforces her rules. She is quick with the praise for good behavior. The parents never think it will work with their kids, and it ALWAYS does. I don't agree with 100% of her methods, don't think getting into a battle with your toddler about staying in a 'naughty chair' is the most effective method of parenting, but you know what? She's mostly right. She preaches consistency, kindness, and support. She says that both parents need to be involved, and consistent with one another. By the end of the show, everyone is relieved and peace reigns in the home. (I do sometimes wonder if the parents keep it up for more than a few weeks after taping....)

OK, so that's over, and I'm not tired yet, just finished my book (FINALLY) and I don't feel like reading my next one yet. So what's on next on the boob tube? TLC's new show One Week To Save Your Marriage. The premise is that they get a couple on the verge of divorce, but who might like to try one last time to save their marriage. They bring in a marriage counselor, and she camps out in front of their house in a mobile home, with cameras all over the house so she can watch them, 24/7. She runs back and forth between the mobile home and the house whenever they get out of control, in her jeans and high heels, which is annoying, and happens pretty often. The episode I saw was the premier episode, I think. The couple just bickered and bickered, and the resentment level was VERY high. The man never seemed to help with the household chores or the childcare, and who can blame him, because in his wife's eyes, he never did anything right, and she wasn't above calling him names. They were so out of touch, emotionally, that at one point she opened up enough to let herself cry in front of him, and he tried to comfort her...she said, "Don't touch me, you'll make me barf." Yeah, nice. They hadn't slept in the same bed in 6 years, since their child was born. The daughter and mom slept together, while dad gets the sofa. What a mess. So, in comes the therapist, and tells him to start helping more. Start listening to her issues, and addressing them. She tells her to let him help, and to stop being so critical. She makes them do role reversal exercises, and they have to go out on the street and tell strangers what they love about each other. He had to romance her, rather than just be her friend (and with friends like that, who needs enemies?). She had to be open to the romance. Of course, it's TV, and mostly it's common sense, but it worked. And you know what, sometimes we know things intellectually, and still, in our hearts, we don't KNOW them, don't practice what we preach. So, because I know you're just DYING to hear her tips for a better marriage, I've got some that I lifted from the TLC website for you.
Short-term Strategies: Things you can start doing right away
  • Be kind to each other.
  • Appreciate your partner's strengths.
  • Put yourself in your partner's shoes every once in a while.
  • Figure out what you want.
  • Ask for what you want in a way your partner can hear you.
  • Develop real intimacy by letting your partner enter into your private world.
  • Don't be so fast to blame - being right is less important than learning how to come to an agreement.
  • Remember, the more you give the more you get.
  • Perhaps most important of all, know that we all have the power to move our relationship into a better place.
  • Some of these sound kind of fruity, like "let your partner get into your private world", but I think a lot of couples who are having problems have shut each other out of their deeper thoughts, so this is probably decent advice. Actually, for all my scorn and saying 'we already know this stuff', It all seems like pretty good advice. I didn't see ALL of this being taught on the show, but it's only an hour, and they did cover a lot of it. These were the short term solutions...see the website for long term goals as well.

    So, now you can have a happy, healthy relationship, AND well-behaved, beautiful children. Thanks, J! Thanks, boob tube!

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