The Increase in “Brat-Camp” Style Documentaries
By: Beth McHugh 2009
Even a decade ago, there were few signs of reality TV shows dealing with out-of-control teenagers giving the finger plus a mouthful of verbal abuse to anyone who came near them, but in particular, their parents.
Now they are popping up on our screens regularly, under a variety of names but all with the same goal – to tame these overgrown two-year olds. So, what is happening to our children to turn them into such unpleasant creatures?
First we have to consider the ratings that these types of shows pull. Television executives are well aware of the increasing number of seemingly out of control teens and young adults and so will pour money into programs such as these. If nothing else, it reassures many parents that “at least my child isn’t as bad as that”.
Yet, there does seem to be an epidemic of “bad behavior” going on. There have always been out of control children, but perhaps not in quite such large numbers. The latest program advertisement I saw involved the parents moving out and a team of experts moving in in an attempt to change the behaviors of these teen “monsters”.
Mostly the methods employed do work, indicating these teens are not monsters at all. Rather there is an unwitting lack in genuine love as shown by the absence of strong boundaries as set by the parents. Thus there is little respect for others, which then has the domino effect of not allowing teens to have respect for themselves.
Most of these teens don’t actually like themselves so it is small wonder that no-one else much does either. Give them a firm set of guidelines and a real interest in them and you can observe the changes remarkably quickly on most of these unhappy youths.
Respect is important for these teens and comes in many forms. Many parents who must daily confront these unhappy and unpleasant individuals lack the skills both to respect themselves and their children. This does not mean they are necessarily deliberately doing this; if a parent does not respect themselves it’s going to be mighty hard for them to teach self respect to their children.
Having strong boundaries within the family unit is a form of respect and it cuts both ways. Parents can demand respect from their children but they must earn that respect, it is not a given. Parents need to also display appropriate respect towards their children as individuals in their own right.
Hopefully the plethora of these reality TV shows, which are often quite
heartwarming at the end, will be yet another vehicle to help struggling
parents deal with their struggling offspring. And despite their often
brazen bravado, these offspring are indeed struggling to cope with their
lives, no matter what they say to outsiders.