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 show will likely be more interesting to them than to kids. Parents on the show sometimes lose control and yell at or spank their kids after minor (throwing toys) or major (hitting siblings or parents) mischief. The parenting lessons advocated on the show are based on a traditional philosophy and may not be aligned with all families' beliefs or practices.
What's the story?
In this Fox reality show, families in crisis are paired with an experienced British nanny, tasked to solve their parenting problems in one week flat. NANNY 911 initially shows video clips of the family interacting at home -- the kids fighting, making messes, and disobeying, and moms and dads losing patience. When the nanny arrives, she at first simply observes, noting the major snags, usually centered around scheduling, eating, sleeping, and discipline. For example, Nanny Yvonne scoffs with disdain as she watches the Delaney family eat dinner on the sofa, sleep together in one bed, duck when the littlest one flings poop out of her diaper, and share the house with a 150-pound pig. She institutes a strict policy that includes eating dinner together at the table, setting specific nap- and bedtimes for the kids, and kicking the kids out of the parents' bed. The transition is not always smooth, as shown when the 17-month-old cries in her crib at naptime and, against the nanny's rules, the mother rescues her from the crib.
Is it any good?
The show always ends with the house a little cleaner, the kids better behaved, and the parents relieved to see new parenting possibilities. The show is marred by the frequent repetition of video clips -- for example, a scene of the Delaney kids drinking out of the cat dish repeats at least four times during their episode -- and the show is clearly edited to highlight the most dramatic changes, ignoring other relevant issues.
While Nanny 911 features plenty of children, the main audience is parents. Children might enjoy watching the kids getting into mischief and might learn a bit from the nanny's new rules, but the biggest message they'll encounter is that of being critical of another family's lifestyle -- a message encouraged by the nanny's barely disguised scorn.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the behavior they see on the show and discuss whether they have similar issues. What problems have families encountered in the past, and what solutions have they come up with? Do you think the nanny's solutions will work in the long run? Does it seem realistic to solve problems so quickly?