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 emotionally rich documentary series tells children's life stories in their own voices. The kids come from many different backgrounds and live in very different situations. One girl has same-sex parents; another child has cerebral palsy; one kid was adopted by a parent of a different race; and another is a musical prodigy. Some of the kids face major difficulties, and watching them describe and undergo these challenges can be heartbreaking. Expect tears.
What's the story?
In the cable documentary series MY LIFE AS A CHILD, kids tell their life stories with poignant detail and earnest emotion. For the project (which was co-produced by TLC and BBC Productions), 20 children between the ages of 7 and 12 got video cameras and were asked to film their day-to-day lives over the course of four months, offering intimate glimpses into lives touched by poverty, genius, disability, difference, and everyday kid stuff. Each segment in the six-part series profiles three kids, such as Joshua, a 7-year-old African-American boy living in urban Baltimore. He stares out the window at older kids playing basketball, knowing he can't join them because it's too dangerous on the streets. He splits his time between his single mother's home and his grandmother's, where he stays during the week so he can attend a better school, but the agony of leaving his mother each Sunday night brings silent tears to his eyes. Much of the show consists of the kids speaking directly to the camera -- sometimes in their home with the camera on a tripod, sometimes as they walk the sidewalks in their town or city while holding the camera (be ready for lots of up-the-nose shots!), and sometimes filmed by their parents or other unknown people.
Is it any good?
The kids' raw footage has been assembled skillfully (sometimes scenes run accompanied by a voice over from what was probably an entirely different shot). But the result doesn't feel fake, like many other reality shows do. And each child's story -- whether it's affected by a distinct challenge (like a physical disability) or is about a rather "normal" life -- shows that kids everywhere, and in every circumstance, crave love and attention, thrive with encouragement and support, and feel losses very deeply.
Families might enjoy watching My Life as a Child together, though teens and adults will find it fascinating even without a child to share it with. Kids who do see the show may have lots of questions after certain segments, such as the one that profiles Madison, a 7-year-old girl with two moms. These should provide great teachable moments.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the lives of the kids on the show. Who do you relate to the most? Whose life seems the most different from your own? Did you learn anything you didn't already know by watching these kids talk about their lives? Kids, how would you answer some of the questions asked of the children on the show (like "what is family?")? What would you put in a movie about your own life?
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