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I’m Not Extreme Enough for Reality TV

This week, Bravo TV premieres yet another new reality show. Shocking, right? As you might guess from the name, “Extreme Guide to Parenting,” this latest show is focused on families — in particular, extreme families. However, the real reason I’m interested is because I was approached last year to be on the show. I had to decline, because in addition to believing that being raised in front of cameras in following our every move is probably not a great environment for my kids, I’m just not extreme enough.

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What’s considered extreme? First of all, you have to have a name for your style of parenting: conscious-attachment (Gwyneth, is that you?), helicopter, eco-kosher/shamanistic. This is how the press release describes the Adler family, featured in the first episode:

“Mom Shira believes in an all-natural approach to raising her children, especially her 10-year-old indigo son Yonah to help treat his overactive personality.”

The publicity blurb for my family would read something like this:
“Mom Grace believes in forcing her children to change out of their pajamas before noon and to finish at least one chapter book before the end of summer vacation.”

That’s just for starters. One mother uses a furry puppet to ask a child, “What color is your vulva?” Then there are the two dads (the “Guncles” from Oxygen’s “Tori & Dean: Home Sweet Hollywood”) who bicker about which designer their toddler daughter should wear.

I don’t know how I would name my parenting style. Because I am Asian, a casting agent might think I could fit nicely into the role of Tiger Mom: flash cards, piano practice, lots of guilt ... and never any fun. But a few hours spent shadowing us around wouldn’t yield much usable footage. We own no piano or violins, the few workbooks we have are crumbling away in a drawer somewhere, and my kids’ main goal is to achieve the wraparound (their term for a day spent in pajamas from waking up in the morning, until bedtime that night). The publicity blurb for my family would read something like this:

“Mom Grace believes in forcing her children to change out of their pajamas before noon and to finish at least one chapter book before the end of summer vacation.”

Not to worry. It looks like the producers found their Tiger Mother and her cub after all. This is how they describe Austen:

“At the young age of four, he plays five sports, knows the U.S. Presidents and can write his name, but that’s not enough for this over-achiever mom.”

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Since common sense and just-trying-to-survive parenting doesn’t quite have the in-your-face appeal of some of the other child-rearing philosophies, I’m pretty sure our family would have never made the cut for the show. Don’t get me wrong, I’m guilty of watching reality TV, too. I just prefer to enjoy it from the other side of the camera.

"Extreme Guide to Parenting" premieres on BRAVO TV, Thursday, August 7 at 9:30 EST/PST and 8:30 CST.

Image via BravoTV

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