12 Ways TV Parenting Isn’t Based on Reality

12 Ways TV Parenting Isn’t Based on Reality

Why does parenting on television look nothing like it does in real life?

By Leah Maxwell

Television and movies can sometimes be as informative as they are entertaining ... unless you’re talking about parenting, which is, to put it kindly, a steaming hotbed of inaccuracies and flat-out made-up nonsense. Are there not parents on the writing staffs of these shows who are familiar with the tantrum that lasts longer than a full episode, including commercial breaks? We asked moms what TV parenting moments make them roll their eyes so far back into their heads they can see backward, and if you’re a parent who didn’t get her kid from central casting, you’ll find plenty to nod along with.

1. “On TV, a kid will happily walk out of the carnival/zoo/park clutching their giant winner stuffed toy, NOT screaming ‘I DON’T WANNA GOOOO!’” -- Erin J., Memphis, Tennessee

2. “TV families have long, leisurely homemade breakfasts before leaving for school/work. In my house, you’re eating a waffle on a school day? It’s a [frozen one].” -- Anna O., Cannon Falls, Minnesota

3. “There are never any up-all-night rotavirus episodes on family television. To pretend like there’s no barf?! That’s a lie.” -- Jamie D., Chicago, Illinois

4. “Women who throw up exactly once, to let people know they’re pregnant. Then they feel great!” -- Marcy R., Beaverton, Oregon

5. “After a heartwarming conversation with the kid, any problems or misbehavior are instantly solved.” -- Katie Z., Rockford, Illinois

6. “So often, a baby is born on a show and then it’s just never around. Which is the opposite of reality. I don’t expect writers to include all the nonsense of infant parenting (diaper explosions! late-night nursing! crying jags!), but the baby should at least be visible.” -- Jennifer L., Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

7. “Parents are walking around doing the action and the kids stay in one place like set decorations. In real life, children are either on you or trailing you around the house. If they’re in another room, they’re yelling for you.” -- Whitney M., Berkeley, California

8. “Why do the moms always look so fresh, rested, made up, hair done, and perfect? I mean, I get it. No one in Hollywood wants to appear on screen looking tired, lumpy, with spit up in their hair and yoga pants that haven’t seen the inside of a washer in three weeks, but come on!” -- Donna M., Austin, Texas


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9. “TV people always just put an awake baby in bed and it goes quietly to sleep. In my experience this happens ... never.” -- Krista R., San Francisco

10. “A pregnant woman’s water breaks and contractions start immediately. Nope.” -- Sarah W., Vacaville, California

11. “Maybe it’s just me, but I find the homes and cars of TV families to be waaaaay too clean and organized. My house only looks like that if I’m about to throw a party, and my car hasn’t looked that nice since I bought it!” -- Jessie G., Boston, Massachusetts

12. “People with kids never struggle to find childcare, and they are all the time away from the kids unless the kid is being hilarious. And why do all the children’s outfits match? Of course, because it is fake.” -- Heather F., Berkeley, California

What aspects of TV parenting make you want to throw a sippy cup at the screen?

Leah Maxwell is a book editor, freelance writer, cereal addict, wife, and mom to two young boys. She has been blogging at A Girl and a Boy since 2003.

Image ©iStock.com/ImagesbyTrista

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