Regular readers of this blog will know how much my teenage daughter and I love watching certain reality tv shows together (or ‘crap tv’ as I’ve heard it described…) Apart from the fact that it’s such fun and we get addicted, it’s the opportunity for conversation that I value most. There are things that come up which we might not talk about otherwise, and it’s the really popular trivial shows which seem to provide the most fertile ground for that.
I do watch serious educational telly with my daughter too sometimes. The Ascent of Woman for example, was really excellent, but it didn’t facilitate discussion much beyond ‘Wow! Look at what women have done!’ So, much as I hate the term ‘teaching opportunity,’ in this post I am unashamedly going to put reality tv lessons on the curriculum.
I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here is the show in question; it has always been a great source of discussion about human behaviour, and the present series does not disappoint. This week there was a “situation.” I won’t go into details, but the man was wrong and the woman was right, the man insisted it was the woman’s fault and embroidered it further, the woman took on complete responsibility for the mistake, blamed herself, felt terrible and went away for a little sob. But she was right all along!! My daughter and I were outraged.
Those of you who are watching I’m a Celebrity (there must be some of you..) will know that there have been plenty more examples of outrageous behaviour to spark heated debate across the living-rooms of the UK during the present series, but this was the one that I felt a personal investment in; it was familiar to me. I have experienced this and I don’t want my daughter to make the same mistakes as I did.
My hope is that she will be capable of standing up for herself in situations like this as she grows up. I would like her to be able to calmly say “No, I think I’m right. I’m sure you did say x and not y. I may have mis-heard but I really don’t think so” and maybe “oh well, it was just a mistake whoever made it. It doesn’t matter.” Anything but completely give up her own judgment as soon as a man confidently tells her she’s wrong.
“That is so typical!” I spluttered “he immediately thinks he’s right and she automatically thinks she’s wrong!”
And then I stopped. Just because I did this when I was a young woman doesn’t mean my daughter will. I’m pretty sure she’s got a lot more confidence than I had at her age and she doesn’t need me to instill life lessons that she’s clearly perfectly able to pick up herself just by watching telly. It’s the very times that something is really important to me that I have to check myself and remind myself that less is more when it comes to influence; when you want someone to think for themselves you really have to leave space for them to do it.
I also don’t want her to think that by pointing out something typical it means that I think all men are horrible, although to be honest I don’t imagine she would think that really. She’s got three older brothers and, like any self-respecting child, she probably thinks I show favoritism to her siblings.
“But Mum, he actually LIED about it to everyone!” was my daughter’s last indignant comment before she went to bed that night.
“I KNOW!” I said, secretly feeling grateful to I’m a Celebrity for allowing that little scene to play out in our living room and making my daughter aware of something in a far better way than I ever could.