So I am currently watching the Channel 4 show “Child Genius”, which is a documentary following some of the children involved in Mensa’s “Child Genius of the Year” competition. I used to watch Child of Our Time with Professor Robert Winston, following a group of children born in the year 2000 to see how they progressed, and I thought this might be somewhat similar.
I wasn’t wrong, but if there is one thing I have learnt across the two episodes of “Child Genius” it is that while there are plenty of genius children about the place, there are equally as many awful parents out there.
Now, a quick disclaimer: I do not have kids, I don’t have may friends with kids, I don’t have nieces and nephews, I don’t have any kind of child psychology qualifications, or any other childcare qualifications.
Disclaimer out of the way, I’m sure that anyone watching the program will know I’m talking about one set of parents in particular: Shoshanna and Sasha, who’s child is Aliyah. Now, I know that they are both child psychologists or whatever, but there is a damn good reason most people don’t parent their children specifically to win competitions. The thing which distresses me about their parenting style, which for the uninitiated involves her revising at all hours of the day, having family meetings which include an agenda and minutes, and refusing to indulge in really any childhood enjoyment at all.
Now, lets take a step back. These are people who insist their parenting is the best way, yet Shoshanna happily comes out with such quotes as “I don’t think I could parent without neurolinguistic programming”. If you’re worrying about these things, frankly, it’s no wonder that your parenting sucks. Most parents don’t go in with any kind of expertise, and no matter how many times this ridiculous woman insists that most people make a poor job of parenting, the majority decidedly prove her wrong. It makes me sad to watch Aliyah because despite having parents who are psychologists, she’ll need therapy at some point to deal with the scars from their overly radical efforts to make her into a genius.
However, even the complete barmyness of Shoshanna and Sasha does not compare to the sheer terrible parenting of one of the fathers, who had two kids involved, Hazelle and 8-year old Tudor. Let me just say that again…8-year old. After the child buckled slightly in the competition (not even enough to forfeit his place) the father’s response was to openly and in front of the kids describe how disappointed he was, and how maybe he’d not raised the children he thought he had.
Programs like this are obviously designed to highlight different parenting styles, and to be somewhat controversial to boost ratings, but as I mentioned in my post about America’s Got Talent a few weeks ago, putting these kids on TV and exposing their parent’s flawed methods is unfair. I’m a huge fan of developing and celebrating gifted children, but please, World, this is not the way. Let’s stop now.