Parents' Guide to

Parents Just Don't Understand

By Emily Ashby, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 8+

Reality show lets family members walk in each other's shoes.

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What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.

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Is It Any Good?

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At first glance, this reality series sounds like an invitation for kids' complaints about the underappreciated grown-ups in their lives, but parents in the audience will be pleased to know that's not the case. Yes, each story begins with a tween bemoaning the details of his or her rough life (feeling overly scheduled, excessive responsibilities at home, and so on) and parents responding with varying degrees of incredulity. But, rather than harp on contention, the show's focus quickly evolves to conflict resolution. Each party makes a to-do list for the other (and gets in a few digs about how easy swapping roles will be), and, from the moment the alarm rings the next morning, the "Freaky Friday"-inspired experiment begins.

Naturally the results are often comical -- usually related to mild catastrophes for one party or the other, of course -- but the process also has some really hearty messages that remind families how important it is to talk about problems and to listen to each other. Many of the scenarios will sound familiar to parents and kids in the audience ("I have too many chores" or "You take me for granted," for example), so the lessons the participants learn will have relevance for viewers as well. The content of this well-constructed show even manages to outshine the sporadic presence of Fatone, who lets the parents and kids have the center stage while he assumes a counseling role of sorts. The bottom line? Broad-spectrum appeal is a challenge for most reality shows, but Parents Just Don't Understand is a fun and meaningful pick for families.

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