Parenting Lessons From Reality TV: BET's "The Sheards"
By: Aesha Adams-Roberts
I'm always on the lookout for things to help me grow as a mom. Parenting is one of the most rewarding and challenging jobs I've had, and I realize EVERY DAY that I have much to learn. I never expected to get parenting lessons from reality TV, but that's what happened when I watched online episodes of BET's newest show, "The Sheards."
The show follows two young adults Kierra, 25, and her brother, J.Drew, 23, and their parents. They're preacher's kids (their father is the bishop of a mega church) and part of a legendary musical family. Their mother, Karen Clark-Sheard, is an award-winning gospel artist who is cited by performers such as Beyonce, Missy Elliot and more as a major influence to their music. I grew up listening to Karen and her sisters (The Clark Sisters) and even sang their songs in concert with my own sisters! Kierra is an award winning gospel artist as well, and her brother is a producer looking for his big break. We get to see their day-to-day struggles with faith, family, sex, dating, and more.
As I watch this family try to instill values into their kids and help them navigate all that this world throws at them, you better believe I'm taking good notes! I'm learning from the things this family does well,as well as from their struggles.
Here are 5 Parenting Lessons I'm gleaning from BET's "The Sheards"
1) Be willing to talk about the hard things
Everyone in the family is busy traveling and pursuing their careers, but they make time to get together as a family and talk. Sure, this family time could be a result of the scripting of the TV producers, but you get the sense that the kids feel they can share their feelings with their parents, and with one another.
2) Forgiveness is the glue that keeps a family together.
J.Drew has done the unthinkable as a pastor's son: He's 23 years old and has fathered a child out of wedlock! His son is now a preschooler, so we don't get to see how the family dealt with it in the beginning. All we see now is total acceptance and love for J.Drew and his son.
3) Pressuring kids to live up to our expectations will cause rebellion
It's clear J.Drew's parents love him. But they NEVER miss an opportunity to tell him they want him to become a preacher. "You're part of a legacy," his father tells him. His great-grandfather, grandfather, and father were all preachers. "What will happen to the work if you don't do what you're supposed to do?" J.Drew has NO desire to preach. He wants to be a producer and wants to branch out from gospel music. The family fights often about it and J.Drew talks about how painful it is to feel his parents' disappointment in him.
4) Kids were born with the need to be free
Kierra is struggling to form an identity apart from her mom. She feels like as an artist, her mother's musical legacy overshadows her own. In addition, she wants to move out of her parent's house, because she feels like she can't make a decision without them. She's 25 and has a successful career, but her parents do not want her to leave! Her uncle takes her house shopping but manipulates her by showing her homes she can't afford. One can only imagine her broken engagement 2 years ago was a result of not being able to make choices on her own.
5) Parents need mentors
Karen, the mom, reaches out to her friend and mentor, Pastor Debra Morton for advice when she becomes overwhelmed at the thought of her baby girl moving out and her only son producing secular music. Pastor Debra's advice is wisdom I'm filing away for the future. "They have to find their own way. It's a sign you've raised healthy kids when they want to make their own decisions."
What I've learned is that it's my job as a parent to build a connection with my children so that they feel safe to share anything with me and to create trust by helping my kids manage their freedoms. I admit, this aspect of parenting feels overwhelming, but I'm grateful for lessons like these, even if they come from reality TV!
Which lesson resonates with you? Why? Please leave your comment below