If the second season of Parental orientation seems a bit more judgmental than season 1, it could be because this season the parents are going for a “best in show” parenting style.
While contrasting parenting styles are compared, perhaps harking back to the original title “The Parent Jury,” host Ally Langdon explains that there were format changes the second time around.
“I guess we made it a little quieter in places and obviously added more parents,” she says TV tonight.
“There are 12 groups of parents and they pass the challenge in groups of 4. Then there are two evenings where the same four groups of parents are all under pressure. Then the other eight parents agree and vote on who they think wins the day, or whose parenting style resonated with them the most, and which of that group then moves on to the grand finale. At the end there is a fantastic challenge that three groups of parents and children take on.
“There are no scores, but it’s one where every parent looks at what works for them. They choose which of the parenting styles out of all those challenges, he handled it best. Obviously, a lot is influenced by your parenting style.
“It’s not really a competition as such. I don’t think any of the families came in with this idea of ”winning”. Everyone who wants to share their parenting styles and tips. But everyone is also open to being the best parent they can be.
Alongside parenting expert Dr Justin Coulson, the series includes parents considered Outback / Spiritual / Gentle / Unstructured / Road School / Influencer / Stage / Slow / Honest / Lighthouse / Team and American.
“You have your kind parents. You watch them when their children have big emotions. I think they’re really wonderful to watch, they let the process unfold and they’re incredibly patient. I don’t have the patience to be a kind parent, but I like how they do it. Other parenting styles are probably a little stricter,” she continues.
“Everyone stands up for their parenting style pretty well and often there are these moments where parents say, ‘Look, maybe I need to change. I thought what I was doing was great,’ but you can see from how the challenge unfolded that maybe we need to change the way we parent.’ I think everyone leaves the experiment as better parents.
The challenges were re-filmed before the show, which are discussed and contrasted in the studio. Friction sometimes arises between those who disagree on the best approach to handling children.
“Every parenting style has its moment when it’s really the center of attention. But it’s not bad. Most criticisms or comments are based on parenting style… But it comes on, because everyone passionately believes in what they are doing.
Without conflict there is no drama, right?
“No, it’s boring, isn’t it? It’s boring when everyone says ‘Well done’ and pats each other on the back,” agrees Langdon.
“These parenting styles are really being challenged.”
This season looks at growing up children in the digital age, including the rise of influencer parenting, the dark side of online gaming and the internet, effectively handling tantrums and sibling rivalries, fighting bullying, discussing health education and the promotion of success in children.
Langdon says only once did a group of parents choose to stop a challenge, which prompted some comment when it was explained in the room.
“There’s a point with our ‘slow parents,’ where they choose to stop a challenge midway through. This was then explained to the room, all the reasons why… that kind of went to their parenting style. It was also interesting to see how the room dealt with that. There were some who really felt for them. …and a bunch of others saying, ‘Wait, you’ve entered the experiment, you know the kids are safe. They are actually not alone. They have a film crew with them. Why not let them do a little bit more?’” she explains.
So, without a “reality TV award,” what do parents gain? Is their motivation to be challenged about their parenting skills, to share their methods for the greater good, or to have 15 minutes of TV fame?
“That’s not the sense I get from any of the families. I think season 1 really resonated with people and they wanted to come on the show and share, but also learn.
“What’s really interesting about the room is that whenever Justin Coulson speaks, I’ve seen other parents lean in and absorb whatever information or wisdom he has to share. I’m quite distressed they didn’t do the same thing when I spoke! she laughs.
The original series developed by Eureka and Nine was a hit with US network ABC even screening their own adaptation in December known as The parental test.
As for her own parenting, she shares with reporter Michael Willesee, the Current deal the host admits there’s always room for improvement.
“I’m so inconsistent. Luckily, the kids have my husband who is a little more consistent than me. I’m strict one day… no television. But the next day out, I didn’t sleep during the night, or I’m distracted from work, so “It’s okay (to watch)!” So mine needs some work and more consistency,” she admits.
“I grew up in the country, so I was raised in a ‘free range’ style. I have two small children and I live in the city so although I would like to be a little more relaxed, the children are small, there are busy roads, traffic everywhere. You need to keep a closer eye on them.
“But I think my style will change when they get a little older. I believe in a routine. I think maybe just working with 60 minutes and then certainly doing mornings for three years the kids have a fixed time to go to bed, they eat their vegetables every night. This is considered maybe a bit old school in some ways. There are definitely rules, but you also try to make sure there is a lot of fun in there.
Parental Guidance screens 7pm Sunday, 7.30pm Monday and Tuesday on Nine.