Supernanny Jo Frost has a new daytime talk show on ITV which aired for the first time yesterday (April 28th). It’s called Family Matters and is a mix of chat and video clips showing problem families at large. I like Jo Frost’s no-nonsense approach and only manage her level of capable brusqueness after a large glass of vino so I dutifully (cough) tuned in to see what snippets of parenting nous I could glean.
|Supernanny Jo Frost on her daytime talk show, “Family Matters” on ITV1|
The show featured two case studies of children who were clearly strangers to the word ‘no’ and for whom the naughty step was still under construction. Case number one featured three year old Kyle who lived in a house where dust was the enemy and Kelly Hoppen the only welcome guest. Poor Kyle and his eleven year old sister who was kept hidden in a bedroom upstairs, was prone to tantrums due to being unable to complete with a range of ornaments and exhibited all the emotional control of Damien from the Omen. His parents were more concerned with channelling their inner fabulousness than doing anything as messy as colouring -although I’m surprised Kyle wasn’t able to recite the full range of Pantone colours. His aunt was wheeled in to sniff into a tissue and to hint that perhaps the parents might be better off, you know, doing some parenting rather than interior decoration and cushion plumping.
Case two featured four boys, two of whom were twins and again, none of whom were familiar with being told no – although they were apparently fully IT literate and had an iPhone. Dad worked seven days a week and came home to hide. Mum shouted. All day. Mother-in-law was wheeled on to purse her lips, fold her arms and utter useful mother-in-law type phrases such as “I think your children are really spoiled” and to wear the facial expression of a woman whose immediate response to any kind of challenge would be to suggest an arm-wrestle.
Jo, remarkably, took quite a back seat in all this, taking the role of mediator and prompter. “What do you think you could do better” she asked, along with other questions such as “how did that make you feel” and the show’s catch phrase – “Do we have a game plan”?
Like most daytime TV shows, however, the format relies on creating a judgemental atmosphere and, although at the moment, far less confrontational than Jeremy Kyle, I’d say the potential for running round corridors and storming off is there. I think it will be extremely popular with parents who can at least watch and say “see, I’m not that bad a parent really” which, let’s be honest, is really why we watch – we want to benchmark our own performance (which those less confident of us consider as fair to dismal) and see how we compare. There might be a set of ‘rules’ for romance and sexual relationships but I’m not sure anyone’s written the ‘rules’ for parenting yet. (And no, I don’t count the military manoeuvres of Gina Ford et al as sensible parenting rules).
I think the show needs a lot more talk from Jo Frost because if anyone can give us a set of rules, she can and this was the element that I thought was sorely missing from the “Family Matters” format.
So, in the meantime, “do we have a game plan”? Um – over to you Jo.