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The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

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Outside the box: Parenting 101

The question of whether people are born with certain tendencies spawns another possibly unanswerable question: Are people born knowing how to be good parents?

If you’ve watched TV at all during the past week, you’re probably wondering the same thing. Trading Spouses juxtaposed a “wondermom” with one of the worst parents in the world, while Super Nanny provided us with images of 4-year-old twin girls calling their mom a “buttpie” and slapping her across the face while the dad watched helplessly.

At first I was critical of the shows and whether they were actually portraying reality. Was this really what was going on in our world-moms who don’t have the faintest clue as to how to raise their kids and dads who didn’t help with the parenting at all?

So I thought about people I know. I have several friends who are excellent parents. I also have several who are terrible. One has a 5-year-old daughter who never sees her father. That’s because my friend is still angry at the father for cheating on her while they were together. Now that father has two separate families-and more child support payments than he can handle.

Another person I know just gave her baby up for adoption in October. She said it was because she wasn’t ready to “settle down” with a family even though she was financially stable, had finished her schooling, and had a steady job. But then I heard last week that she is getting married this spring (not to the baby’s father). I guess she reconsidered settling down-but not after she had made a decision that would affect the life of her child permanently.

I have another friend whose father cheated on his mother multiple times. Although my friend has accepted it, his family was destroyed: his parents are divorced, he and his siblings had to seek counseling and they all have reservations now about getting married themselves.

I could go on and on, but I’m more interested in the one trait that all bad parents share: selfishness. Whether it’s cheating on a spouse, having sex without thinking about the consequences, or keeping a child from seeing a parent because of anger, it’s the child that is the most affected.

So are people born knowing how to be good parents? No. But it takes a certain amount of reflection to realize that certain actions do create bad parents, and that these actions must be avoided or remedied.

So if we need TV shows to point out exactly where we’re failing, fine. Super Nanny told the parents of the twin girls that they both couldn’t work full-time jobs and raise three kids, that it was OK for the dad to show emotion (he proudly told Super Nanny he hadn’t cried in umpteen years-which is not a good thing to teach his son) and that the parents had to work together to discipline the girls.

Perhaps these shows will inspire us to work together as a community to raise our children. You know the saying, “It takes a village…” So maybe now it takes a few TV shows instead of the village. The media already provides us with recipes, home improvement tips, even college courses. So why can’t we have Parenting 101 run on prime time every night?

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