World's Strictest Parents

Common Sense Media says

Unruly teens get an eye-opening reality check.





What parents need to know

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

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.

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.

Parents say

Kids say

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.

Families can talk 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

Cast:Gary Mavers
Genre:Reality TV
TV rating:NR

This review of World's Strictest Parents was written by

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  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Parent of an infant, 10, and 15 year old Written byygonzalez May 9, 2009

A little too much

I believe there's too much drama to actually believe these kids are taking it serious, I don't believe phycological issues and drug problems can be solved in 1 week..where are the parents during these sessions? if these issues started at home shouldn't the parents also be accountable for their kids and involved in this whole experience, do they really think sending their kids off to live total strangers for a week especially not being professional phycologist or therapist will solve their issues at home? Another thing that bothered me was that these so called strict parents (some not all) talk negatively about the biological parents, I don't know about those parents but that would really set me off, how will that help these kids? who do these people think they are to make themselves look like their teaching lessons and then they are speaking negatively about the kids parents.
Teen, 13 years old Written byink January 24, 2010
Adult Written bylobokoa June 9, 2009

Not in a week

My wife and I have been foster parents for 20+ years and we have even found one week to be enough time to turn teens the way this show does. We have always used the same positive techniques but it takes months to years to make a behavioral change like that. I do feel that the show is a positive step forward for most viewers. We take in teens that have been sexually, physical, emotionally abused for years, I would like to see your view on those teens.


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