MTV has done it again. First it was The Real World, the first reality show allowing us to be flies on the wall as groups of twenty-somethings lived in cool cities, and had a lot of sex and drank a lot of booze. Now they have come up with a very original show (I'm being facetious) about teens having a lot of sex and drinking a lot of booze. Full disclosure here, I have not seen the show yet, but I have seen a number of clips and I feel pretty confident that I get the drift.
Parent groups are up in arms, as are advertisers feeling that the graphic portrayal of these kids is not only over the top, but that they are using actual 14 and 15 year old teens as the actors. Usually these kinds of shows depicting the "secret life of teens" (again I am being facetious, how secret can their lives be when they are all over the TV) use "kids" who are well into their twenties and know the difference between acting and real life. Using "real teens" does cross the line. These kids don't have the experience, and ability yet to separate fiction from real life, and putting 14 and 15 year olds in very provocative sexual situations, and pretending to be extremely trashed on a regular basis seems extremely irresponsible.
Ok, enough pontificating, the point here is that judging by the numbers of kids who watched SKINS last week, your teen might be among them. And the prediction is that the number of kids watching this show will grow exponentially as the buzz spreads. The show airs at 10 PM so even if you have forbid the watching of this show, it is likely that your teen either stays up later than you and will watch it anyway, or will watch it at a friends house who has DVR'd it. Though I am disgusted with this show, the devil you know, I think applies her. Asking to watch this show with your teen is alway preferable, but your request may be denied. Plan B, watch it at another time or in another room. In the car, having coffee, at the dinner table, these are all good times to talk about the show with your teen. Try being less judgmental about the awfulness of the show, and instead try to focus more on the characters and the behaviors of the teens. How must it feel to have to be at that party? How hard it must be for that boy or that girl dealing with the pressure of that sexual situation? These are good times to use your I Get It moments as in: "I get that you might be in situations similar to these kids, maybe not this extreme, but kids getting so drunk they pass out, and kids getting into sexual situations because they are so drunk they don't know what they are doing and end up feeling so ashamed the next day. I'm guessing if kids felt like they had an out to some of these situations, they might not get into them. You know if you are ever in situation like this, you can always walk out the door, text me, and I will meet you around the corner so no one will see you, or you can just walk around a party with a beer or glass but not drink it, or tell kids you are on allergy meds and can't drink, or your parents have noses like blood hounds. I can help you. I just want you to be safe. I love you."
Helping your kids to stay safe, and to make good decisions is your job. At the risk of being repetitive, your kids do not have experience in dealing with most of these situations and get themselves into trouble because they don't know what to do. That's why they need your help. Just threatening to punish them, ground them, take away their phone and computer does not help them in the moment when they are faced with some tough decisions. Giving them game plans do. If watching SKINS with your teens opens up opportunities for problem solving, so be it. Make some popcorn, curl up on the couch, and away you go!