Parenting is hard. They tell you that before you have kids, but you don’t really understand what it means until you have a toddler shrieking and throwing blocks at you while your newborn screams bloody murder and you haven’t eaten a proper meal or slept more than a couple of hours at a time in the past 48 hours. Whew.
Because I know how hard it is, and because I have found myself screaming things at my kids I swore I’d never say, I don’t like to throw stones. My house, after all, is made from incredibly brittle glass.
With that caveat, I’m throwing a stone. A really big stone, in fact. I’m giving my first ever “Incredibly Bad Parenting Award” to the parents of the 40 kids (ages 8-15) who participated in the filming of “Kid Nation.” First of all, what would posses you to send your 8-year-old to a place that claims it has “no adult supervision” for 40 days? No amount of money could make that a good idea for me. But it gets worse. Parents signed a waiver releasing the production company from liability if the child is injured, killed, or enters into “an intimate relationship” and that parents “assume any and all risks” including “illness, sexually transmitted diseases, HIV, and pregnancy.” (see the full contract at The Smoking Gun: No Human Rights In “Kid Nation” – August 23, 2007 ). They also signed away their children’s right to privacy. They even gave the production company the right to portray their child’s life story as they see fit “with such liberties as… necessary… for the purposes of fictionalization, dramatization or any other purposes.”
Come on, people! These are your kids! It’s your job to protect and nurture them, not pimp them out to the highest bidder. I admittedly enjoy reality TV, but I expect that adults can make appropriate life decisions, or suffer the consequences. I think it’s exceptionally bad parenting, and perhaps bordering on child abuse, to put your child in a situation where they have no guidance from a caring adult. Children aren’t supposed to have the wherewithal to think ahead 20 years to their future.
I think the concept is actually quite interesting, but then again, I enjoyed reading Lord of the Flies, as well. Some things are best left in the realm of fiction.