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 reality show features families in crisis. Kids are shown acting out against their parents and siblings -- physically and verbally. Strong language, some physical intimacy between teenagers, discussion of violence, sex, and adult relationship problems all crop up. Also, conservative values play a role in the focus of the series.
What's the story?
Unlike many reality shows designed to help families in need, TLC's SHALOM IN THE HOME has a true expert at the helm: Rabbi Shmuley Boteach is a family counselor, scholar, and best-selling author of 15 books on families and relationships. And in addition to his professional credentials, Shmuley emits a warmth for people and an enthusiasm for life that encourages the families he counsels to open up and search for solutions to their crises. The rabbi travels to families' homes with his Airstream trailer in tow, where he camps out for a week while observing them with hidden cameras and counseling them in the trailer. He finds innovative ways to break down communication barriers and sometimes employs confrontational-but-respectful tactics to shake family members out of their patterns.
Is it any good?
Shalom in the Home is pretty realistic about its ability to affect change in such a short amount of time. Much like Dr. Phil, Rabbi Shmuley must get to the core of the problem in such a short amount of time that he forces participants to practice what he's taught before they've necessarily bought into the idea. But sometimes this leading hand is just what participants need to believe change is possible.
While episodes conclude with optimism, the endings aren't as neatly tied up as they are in Supernanny-type shows. And overall, a lot more real emotion and progress seem to emerge throughout the process. Shmuley, an orthodox rabbi, emphasizes traditional roles for and characteristics of men and women, and this approach may turn off some viewers. But overall, he's worldly and open-minded enough to appeal to a broad audience.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about their opinions of marriage. What does marriage mean to young people? Do they think they'll get married someday? Do they believe in sex outside of marriage? When is divorce necessary? Is marriage a right for people of all sexual orientations, or an institution reserved only for heterosexual couples? Also, what do families think of Rabbi Shmuley's characterization of men and women? Are women always nurturing and tender? Are men always strong and good leaders?