A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this is the type of reality show in which "cast members" take the time to sit and tell the camera what they think of one another, including offering opinions on whether Dad is "boring" or why Mom favors the youngest brother. During these segments, family loyalty takes a time out. The featured vacations are more luxurious than most families can manage, and the families clearly get some special treatment because of the Travel Channel's involvement.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
THE KIDS ARE IN CHARGE gives children the responsibility of packing and planning activities for their family vacation. Their success in creating the ideal trip varies, as do their parents' reactions to their choices. Watching Mom and Dad react is the most entertaining part of the show for older kids (grade school and up). But adults may shake their heads at what some parents on the show have to put up with -- like a mom whose \"luggage\" for three days in Boston consisted of two sweaters and a large selection of handbags.
Is it any good?
On THE KIDS ARE IN CHARGE, The Travel Channel (which appears to be picking up the tab) offers the kid planners a menu of choices for each day, some of which might not be available to the average traveler on a budget. The show would be better if the viewers -- and sometimes the kids themselves -- were shown the parameters and given more guidance. Handing an 11 year-old $600 for the day without telling her that the main activity she's chosen will cost $380 (leaving less than half of the budget for the rest of the day's costs, including meals, transportation, etc.) is a recipe for disaster, and not realistic.
It's voyeuristically fun to watch the chosen family squabble and work their way through the days, but it would be even more fun if viewers knew how they were chosen -- and if the kids were allowed to experience some of the anxieties and pressures of really being in charge (and learn how to deal with them). As it is, Kids Are in Charge is reality candy -- sweet but ultimately unsatisfying.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about what the kids did right and wrong, planning-wise. Do you think they spent their money wisely? When you're packing for another member of the family, is that a good time to play a joke and leave them with no clothes? Were the kids fair to one another when they had different days to be in charge? How about to their parents? Do you think the parents would have done things differently? Families can also discuss vacation choices and trade-offs. Who pays for choosing the "sweet" suite over more ordinary rooms? Is it clear to kids (on the show and off) that making that kind of choice can limit what you can spend on other things?
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