World's Strictest Parents

TV review by
Melissa Camacho, Common Sense Media
World's Strictest Parents TV Poster Image
Unruly teens get an eye-opening reality check.

Parents say

age 13+
Based on 15 reviews

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 13 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

Positive Messages

The show makes it clear that boundaries are needed for teens, but the messages get muddled as that point is made, with extreme parenting styles clashing for maximum drama. Teens theoretically come away from the experiment with a different perspective about their parents and their own behavior (which includes sneaking around, lying, being disrespectful, drinking, and more).

Positive Role Models & Representations

The teens' biological parents sometimes come across as having iffy parenting skills and/or lacking the backbone to stand up to their kids. Host families sometimes seem to take their rules to the extreme for the sake of the cameras -- or to create more drama. Some of the kids come from single-parent homes. Not a lot of diversity among the featured families.


Lots of arguing between teens and parents. Some teens get into fights with other teens, leading to pushing, shoving, and punching. One teen jokes about torching his host family's house.


References to having sex.


Audible language includes words like like "hell" and "pissed," while words like "f--k" and "s--t" are fully bleeped.


Some of the kids have iPods and iPhones.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

A lot of teen cigarette smoking and drinking (beer, wine, hard liquor). References to marijuana use.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know although that this series -- which follows unruly teens who temporarily move in with a strict family -- is very clear about the need for boundaries for teens, it sends some confusing messages about parenting, bouncing between extremes (too lax on one end, overly strict on the other). The troubled and/or spoiled teens are shown drinking, smoking, lying, sneaking around, and disrespecting adults. There's also some strong language, though the worst is bleeped. Parents who watch with their kids can discuss some of the reasons behind these behaviors; check out our tips for these conversations.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byrakshq August 30, 2016

A Hideous Reality Show

First of all I am a supporter of Anonymous (google it if you haven't heard of it) This show has an agenda to legitimize and justify child abuse. I cannot... Continue reading
Adult Written byhumanforsale October 12, 2009
After watching one episode where the kids are made to cut grass in the rain, paint a utility shed in the rain. It is sad that a parent would put their children... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written bythrashcritic March 20, 2021

Why does this even exist?

I think this show is a complete insult to all children. Believe it or not I don't even agree with strict parenting period. I've studied a positive dis... Continue reading
Kid, 12 years old February 20, 2021

Sometimes this show is absolutely ridiculous

A mixed bag really. Sometimes teens who need straightening get good families and succeed. Sometimes the teens need therapy more than discipline. Sometimes the f... Continue reading

What's the story?

WORLD'S STRICTEST PARENTS follows the journey of unruly teenagers who are sent to live with strict host parents for a week so that they can look at life from another perspective and reevaluate their behavior. The teens -- who are used to spending their time drinking, smoking, fighting, and undermining their real parents -- are forced to adapt to a new life full of rules, chores, and punishments. But while the teens' new guardians are strict, they also take the time to get to know the kids and help them understand how their negative behavior is impacting their lives. At the end of the week, the teens and all their parents get together and talk about what they've learned from the experience.

Is it any good?

The series (which is based on a British series of the same name) tries to send some positive messages about curbing inappropriate teen behavior and setting limits. But some of the take-aways are a little confusing. The show fails to hold the teens' biological parents accountable for failing to establish and enforce rules. And there are times when the well-intentioned host parents appear to be playing to the cameras, especially when they talk endlessly about the multiple ways that their "new" kids are breaking the rules and will be punished.

While it seems like all of the adults involved are trying to do the right thing, it's obvious that for some of the teens, the entire experience is just a temporary bandage covering deeper psychological issues. Still, overall, World's Strictest Parents attempts to address teens' need for clear and consistent boundaries to guide them and to help them see that their negative behaviors can lead to some very serious consequences.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the behavior of the kids on the show. Are they just "rebelling" against their parents, or are they exhibiting signs of deeper problems?

  • What are some of the real-life consequences of drinking and/or smoking at such a young age? Is the show's solution a realistic way to address behavior like this?

  • Can reality shows really help people improve their lives? Can people truly change after just one week of living a different life?

TV details

  • Premiere date: September 1, 2008
  • Cast: Gary Mavers
  • Network: CMT
  • Genre: Reality TV
  • TV rating: NR
  • Last updated: March 20, 2021

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