February 16, 2012

How to Talk to Girls About Reality TV (2 PICS)

Lisa Bloom is a women's issues writer whose recent article on "How to Talk to Little Girls" went viral thanks to an appreciative Facebook following. She's an attorney and television personality whose most recent book, Think, tackles the negative effect celebrity culture can have on women.

The typical American teenager watches 3 hours, 20 minutes of TV daily, and reality shows have been girls' hands-down favorites for over a decade now. If you're having a hard time getting your daughter away from treacly dating contests, backstabbing housewives, and boozy Jersey brawlers, you're not alone. But how do you talk to her about the shows when telling her what you really think – that they're dropping her IQ into the toilet and turning her into a shallow, narcissistic mean girl – seems ill-advised? Here's the script:

Hey, what are you watching?  

The first step is to watch with her, and engage. Sit down quietly and observe in a calm, nonjudgmental manner. What does she like about this show? Why'd she choose it? Listen to her point of view. The more you respect her perspective, the more you'll have a chance of getting her to respect yours.

Does she care what you think? Very much so. Researchers periodically ask kids who their #1 role model is. Actresses and athletes and pop stars get a few votes, but every time, hands down, it's you: parents.

Maybe she's watching to laugh at the shows. Hey, that's a start. Some kids stick to one network. Maybe you just need to broaden her range. Learn to differentiate between the shows. Not all reality programming corrodes your daughter's brain. Talent contests like American Idol, The Voice or Dancing with the Stars showcase the rewards of hard work and sometimes, stirring performances. The Amazing Race is a travelogue that spurs interest in the world outside our borders. Watched in moderation, no harm done. 

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