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Let the judging begin: Reality show features 'extreme' parenting

Jan. 24, 2013 at 11:58 AM ET

For many of us, reality TV is a guilty pleasure. We escape from our daily lives as parents and indulge vicariously in a little outlandish behavior on the small screen. But, pretty soon, the guilty pleasure will be all about parenting, as Bravo TV has announced its newest show, “Extreme Guide to Parenting.”

“Whether you have kids or you're stuck next to the screaming child on a plane, judging other people's parenting is a guilty pleasure. We all love to do it,” said Eli Lehrer, Vice President of Development for Bravo in a news release. “The series explores all manners of eccentric ways parents raise their kids, and we’ll let the viewer be the judge of how they’re doing.”

(Disclosure: Bravo TV is a division of NBC Universal, the parent company of TODAY.com.)

Each episode promises to feature two different families who practice very different parenting techniques. They've lined up all of the usual suspects: attachment parents who breast-feed past the age of four (guess they’re mom enough), the free-rangers who let their kids wander at will, competitive Tiger moms, helicopter parents and more. We’ll get to watch – and judge them all. But should we?

Though the statement from Bravo promises the somewhat dubious opportunity to judge other parents, it did make a point of saying that all of these parents love their kids. If these parents genuinely love their kids and are trying to do the best for them, should we be judging them as a form of entertainment? Do their outlandish techniques (and willingness to go on TV) make them fair targets?

Do you think there’s any chance we’ll have a better understanding and greater appreciation of different parenting styles after seeing them in action? Or, will the show just up the judgmental ante and make it even harder for parents to see eye-to-eye?

Dana Macario is a Seattle-area mom who wouldn’t give up an episode of Downton Abbey for a show about extreme parenting, but is curious to see what some of these philosophies look like in practice.


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