5 Weird Shows to Watch as a Family to Make You Better People

by | Jul 30, 2019 | Uncategorized | 16 comments

Merchandise is Here!

Looking for some fun new shows to try out while your kids are home from school this summer?

Or maybe you and your husband are looking for some new TV shows to watch without all the unnecessary drama or trashy plot lines but, frankly, Netflix seems to be all out.

It’s Rebecca here on the blog today. When I was growing up, we didn’t really watch TV. But since my mom was a speaker by the time I was in Jr. High, going on tour with her was doubly exciting because it meant we got to watch TV together in the hotel room before her talk!

And we realized something as we were watching these shows: they were starting important conversations that were really hard to have organically. In hotel rooms we got so hooked on the show What Not to Wear that we started watching it on YouTube on Saturday mornings. And we would talk about how to make good clothing choices, and how to look like you respected yourself, and how to give the right impression to others. It was great!

Now, most of the shows we watched back then are horribly out of date now, 10 years later. But since so many families do watch TV together, we thought why not give you some ideas for some great shows you can watch that won’t just pass the time or help you have a few laughs, but may actually help the people watching become better people along the way?

So much entertainment these days is just a time-wasting exercise. So I hope this helps give you some ideas of what you might be able to swap so that your down time is relaxing but also inspiring!

All of the shows we have included here provide really positive messages overall. But of course, before showing anything to your kids it’s always wise to go over the material yourself first so you can make sure that it fits with your family’s individual philosophy when it comes to what content you watch at what age.

With that said, here we go: 5 TV shows to watch as a family that aren’t just entertaining, but can also help you become better people:

1. How Clean Is Your House

Kim and Aggie travel across the UK to help home owners with absolutely terribly filthy and cluttered homes clean up. The term “bum fodder” is used quite frequently.

More than just being a show about the shock value of how dirty these homes are, what we love about How Clean is Your House is that Kim and Aggie really show a redemption story for each of these people. The messy homeowners aren’t ridiculed the whole show–they’re given the chance to start afresh, they’re encouraged to keep it up, and they’re given the tools they need to do so. Plus, as a viewer, you learn a TON along the way! I’ve been making Kim and Aggie’s cleaning solution recipes the entire time I’ve been married and swear by their all-purpose natural cleaner.

How Clean is Your House is off the air now, but many full episodes can be found on YouTube if you want to give it a search!

The benefits of How Clean Is Your House:

  • Starts easy conversations about what you want the house to look like/level of cleanliness.
  • Teaches the importance of regular cleaning since the bacteria counts are scary!
  • You absolutely CANNOT watch this show without the insatiable need to clean a bathroom afterwards. So you’ll get some cleaning done!
  • Is a great educational tool in how to clean–gives kids and spouses with less experience practical training in different cleaning methods while still being incredibly entertaining.
  • A hopeful message of teamwork–no matter how big the mess, if we all chip in we can tackle this together!

2. Tidying Up with Marie Kondo

(I promise not all of these are about cleaning.)

Marie Kondo wrote a book called The Life-changing Magic of Tidying Up that went absolutely wild. People loved this book–it combated both the consumerist lifestyle that is sucking the joy out of everyday living for so many while also not going to the far extreme that a lot of minimalist books and blogs tout.

So when she was given the chance to create a Netflix series where she helps people walk through the tidying concepts in her book, it’s no surprise that the series blew up too!

While How Clean is Your House is really about cleaning itself, Tidying Up tackles more of the issues around clutter, consumerism, and our general lack of regard for the belongings we have. Kim and Aggie will teach you how to scrub a toilet–Marie Kondo will show you how to properly fold your clothes and organize your dresser drawers.

The great thing about this show in particular is how family dynamics are discussed so openly. It’s clear that each person needs to take responsibility for their belongings, and families where only one person does all the tidying are quickly shown that it is not sustainable in the long-term! Yes, there are some weird elements–you do not have to talk to your clothes or bless your house or any of that. But they do treat faith well, and I dare you to watch episode 3 (I think that’s the one with the Christian widow) without bawling.

Benefits of Tidying Up:

  • Provides very easy-to-follow, practical instructions for how to keep a house tidy.
  • Emphasizes the need for the whole family to be involved!
  • Teaches responsibility for taking care of your items and being grateful for what you have.
  • Makes tidying seem like less of a chore
  • Combats consumerism and the cluttered lifestyle that we often have in Western society by emphasizing gratitude and mindfulness instead of hoarding and convenience when it comes to our belongings.

3. Supernanny

We’ve written about Supernanny before, but this is a truly, truly great show. Jo Frost, a woman with over 15 years of experience as a nanny when the show first aired, is called in to help desperate parents get a handle on their children’s behaviour. She handles tantrums, hitting, biting, swearing, and more. But what we love about Supernanny isn’t that she gets the job done–it’s that the goal isn’t just to stop the problem behaviour, it’s to bring the family closer together and help them connect emotionally on a deeper level.

In fact, when I was studying child development in psychology at university, I was frequently given Supernanny clips to watch as examples of how to properly discipline children. Best homework ever!

Supernanny has created a youtube channel where they are posting past episodes which, even though they’re from a while ago, still hold up today! In fact, Connor and I are watching it together as we prepare for our kid that’s coming in October and it’s helping us have a lot of great conversations about how we want to parent as a team.

Benefits of Supernanny:

  • Positive message about the importance of family, open communication, and emotional vulnerability with each other.
  • Fantastic low-stress way for parents to talk through parenting strategies they would like to implement more.
  • Can be an easy way to bring up problems with the children’s behaviour in a non-accusatory way (E.g., “I’ve noticed that Ryan sometimes has tantrums the way that Dennis did in that episode, especially after coming home from school.”)
  • Provides opportunities for children and teenagers to get into their parents’ heads and understand the importance of discipline, boundaries, and respect for each member of the family.
  • Starts conversations with children about what behaviours are acceptable and unacceptable and why they are that way.
  • Shows teenagers the importance of finding a partner who would be a good parent!
  • Helps parents talk through marriage issues that may be impacting their parenting style.

 

What if I told you that not all teenagers rebel?

And what if I told you that a lot of typical parenting advice makes rebellion more likely?

I interviewed 25 young adults, trying to figure out what made them rebel or not.

4. It’s Me or the Dog

It’s Me or the Dog is a fun show about dog training. If you’re a family with pets and you’re having a hard time getting everyone on board with the responsibility, this one is for you!

When Connor and I adopted our rescue dog Winston, he came with a lot of issues. Watching It’s Me or the Dog has actually really helped us curb a lot of his anxieties, teach him to obey, and give him more confidence!

The Lindenbach family–with the baby bump just a LITTLE visible.

A lot of families are torn apart by pets that just don’t behave well. It adds stress, one family member feels like it’s all on their shoulders, and spending time altogether is less fun when there’s a dog who might nip or bark without provocation. This is a great show for anyone with pets, and especially for families who are considering getting a dog in the future but want their kids to understand how big of a responsibility it is. You can watch it on their official YouTube channel!

Benefits of It’s Me or the Dog:

  • Emphasizes the need for the whole family to be involved (kids have to take care of the dog, too!)
  • Shows the need for discipline and repetitive practice to train a dog to behave well–no more laziness!
  • Teaches life lessons in the importance of sticking with a plan, addressing problems early, and putting in hard work so later you can reap the rewards.
  • Helps couples talk about how they can create a more peaceful home environment if pets have gotten out of hand or have become barriers to intimacy (it happens more often than you may think!)

5. The Big Family Cooking Showdown

Somehow the Brits just do reality shows well! In this show, three members of a family form a team to do cooking challenges. Some of the challenges are set by the hosts, and sometimes they’re invited to make their own family recipes. What’s fun about the show is that you learn a TON about cooking, but also about how to make do when you only have a few ingredients available. And kids will see what good cooking looks like–and may even be motivated to make some meals themselves, and set the table so the presentation is awesome!

You also see families operate under stress, and you learn about family dynamics, what to do if one person seems to be dominating all the others, and how to speak up. Plus the whole reasons that these families are on the show is because food is a central part of their family life. It’s comforting. It’s something that brings them together. That can start great conversations about what kids would like mealtimes to be like, or what food defines your family.

This one’s fully streamable on Netflix.

Benefits of The Big Family Cooking Showdown:

  • Shows kids how food is actually cooked, and how you can cook from scratch from just raw ingredients
  • Teaches about frugality and creativity with food
  • Helps kids see how food can be a part of your family traditions and your family culture
  • Starts conversations about resolving conflict and family dynamics when under stress

I truly believe that many of my own convictions about life came from the conversations we had after watching these shows as teens.

Katie and I both had very firm ideas about what’s okay to wear and what’s not, without getting into weird purity culture conversations about modesty, because we watched What Not to Wear with Mom and just talked. Both of us have very firm ideas about parenting (and I became a better baby-sitter for it!) because we watched Supernanny so much, and it’s helped me feel more prepared for our own baby (and Connor and I are binging it together now so he sees it!). And we honestly did learn most of our cleaning techniques from How Clean is Your House.

Yes, some of these shows invariably show family groupings that you may not be comfortable with, but watching them also is a way to start those conversations about how we can approach families with different lifestyles. 

Besides, they are VERY fun to watch. So give it a try! You just may find some interesting conversations starting, too.

Let me know–do you have shows you like to watch with your kids/teens? Or maybe something you watch with your husband? Or do you have opinions about any of these shows? Let’s talk in the comments!

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Sheila Wray Gregoire

Author at Bare Marriage

Sheila is determined to help Christians find biblical, healthy, evidence-based help for their marriages. And in doing so, she's turning the evangelical world on its head, challenging many of the toxic teachings, especially in her newest book The Great Sex Rescue. She’s an award-winning author of 8 books and a sought-after speaker. With her humorous, no-nonsense approach, Sheila works with her husband Keith and daughter Rebecca to create podcasts and courses to help couples find true intimacy. Plus she knits. All the time. ENTJ, straight 8

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16 Comments

  1. Becky

    I’m going to have to check out that dog show, since we have a 9 year old dog that’s had some behavior issues lately (mostly peeing on the floor almost every time we leave the house) that is driving us crazy! Not to mention hard to clean up while 8 months pregnant. I’m selfishly glad it’s on YouTube, since we’re probably the only family around that doesn’t have Netflix at this point. (My husband can’t get hockey on there, so we have to stick with cable for now.)

    The odd show we’ve been getting into as a family lately is American Ninja Warrior. Neither me nor my husband are what would be considered athletic, but we were looking for something safe to watch with our 4 and 2 year old boys that isn’t a ridiculous preschool cartoon. The positives are that they do highlight a lot of stories about working through adversity, and it teaches a lot about being a good sport because we regularly see competitors cheering on people who could potentially beat their time and knock them out of the next round. Of course, the downside is that this has done absolutely nothing to discourage the kids from jumping all over the furniture, because now it’s their ninja warrior course!

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      HA! I’m picturing your kids jumping on the couch now. I can see how that can be a challenge. 🙂

      Rebecca’s 9 year old dog peed a lot when they got him. Maybe she’ll chime in here?

      Reply
    • Rebecca Lindenbach

      Yep dog peeing has been a problem with us, too. When we adopted Winston we had been falsely told that he was fully house-trained. Nope. Not even close.

      But we found similarly that even after he was housetrained, he peed whenever we left. We eventually found out this was a separation anxiety response. It took us around 9 months (because he was abandoned like 3 times so he’s got major confidence issues) but now he very very VERY rarely pees where he’s not supposed to. Pretty much, all we did was:
      – Ensure he was taken on a long (30+ min) walk before we leave him alone
      – Practice him being in separate rooms from us throughout the day (he used to be glued to my side)
      – Made the coming and going process much less stressful (no saying goodbye, no excited hellos–just put him in his bed and then left)
      – Pee-pad trained him so that when he is home alone if he has to pee or gets anxious he has a place to mark that he’s allowed to mark on.
      – Bought the right cleaners and started deep-cleaning the floors every two weeks with an enzyme cleaner to make sure there were no remaining smells to trigger him to pee

      And that did it for us. I don’t know what your dog’s root cause may be but also if you’ve had the dog since a puppy and this is only happening now it may be worth doing a urine test with your vet to make sure there aren’t any medical factors. Our guy was 7 and our vet ruled that out for us, so I imagine by 9 it’s likely something that should get checked out.

      I hope it gets better for you guys!! That is frustrating for sure! (Also the America Ninja Warrior show is a great one, I agree!)

      Reply
      • Becky

        I think a huge part of the issue is that he just gets lonely. My husband had him and a second dog when we met, but we had to put the older dog to sleep about a year ago due to cancer. Getting a second dog right now is not a good option, though. We’ve had to be out a lot lately due to lots of pregnancy appointments and me still working one afternoon a week and trying to take the kids on occasional outings, and I do take him out to make sure he does his business before we leave. But he is due for a checkup, I think, so we’ll have to see what the vet says. Thanks for the advice!

        Reply
    • Kya

      We also have an older dog with some anxiety issues. They were pretty mild when we got him, when he was maybe 9, but he’s around 14 now and his anxiety has definitely increased and is really starting to cause some problems. We used to be able to take him everywhere with us, and we can’t anymore because he can’t be left in the car without starting to chew and destroy things. We even used to bring him to work with us daily until about a month ago, and he was an angel! But now he starts to bark if left alone for any length of time, which is inevitable at our job. I don’t have any idea what has caused the change, but maybe the show will give us some ideas! (And we don’t have Netflix, either–luddites unite!)

      Reply
  2. Courtney Janssen Grieve

    Admittedly I haven’t watched new episodes of the show (if there are any) but I feel like Supernanny is a bit outdated in terms of parenting strategies. The main example being timeouts. I think the research is coming in strong against them for the most part?

    Reply
    • Rebecca Lindenbach

      Yeah research still likes time-outs the way Supernanny does them. 🙂 A lot of the research against time-outs included discipline where parents would lock kids in rooms for like an hour as a punishment which is, frankly, just not the same thing.

      My profs less than 5 years ago were recommending her practices!! Obviously there are lots of different discipline techniques that are backed by research, but time-outs done her way are still one of them!

      Reply
  3. Lydia purple

    I watched quite a few of the Supernanny episodes after your blogpost about it… and honestly I didn’t like her approach to discipline at all.
    She had some good stuff like routines and doing fun stuff with the kids – to make sure you give them positive attention. But the naughty chair and reward charts are behavior modification techniques that might appear to work but I would caution against those being the foundation for discipline especially as Christians. For us discipline is linked to discipleship and to walk alongside our kids and showing them God’s character through our own actions and behavior towards them.
    The rewards system and the praise when overdone or done thoughtlessly is actually counterproductive to intrinsic motivation (which is something we should protect for our kids).

    I think the main issue I have with the show is that it shows extreme messed up family dynamics and fixes those which looks quite different then raising kids from the start with a proper focus on meeting their needs and nurturing them which will prevent many of the disruptive behavior from the show from the beginning.

    I did like though that she upheld the same behavior standard for parents as for kids, which I believe is the key to nurture proper behavior in children – we must act towards them the way we want them to act. We can’t hit them and demand they do not, we can’t yell at them and demand of them not to yell, we can’t bark orders at them and expect immediate obedience if we do not listen to their request to us.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Hi Lydia! I know what you’re saying. We actually used time outs very, very rarely for our kids, because talking to them worked fine the vast majority of the time, and giving a consequence that was more related to the offence (if they were fighting over a toy, removing that toy) worked better.

      I think the difference is that Supernanny is walking into situations where kids are completely out of control, and standards for behaviour had to be set, often for the first time. It’s very different if you had been setting expectations from the very beginning.

      I also think it’s kind of like what Rebecca found in her research for Why I Didn’t Rebel (and maybe she’ll jump in here, too). When she asked teens who didn’t rebel what rules they had as teens, few could name anything very specific. The behaviour was just expected, and kids kind of just did it. It wasn’t like there was a specific rule with a specific consequence. When you raise kids to be close to you and to talk things through and mold your character, you just don’t need these other things as much. But when you’re coming in and starting from scratch later, I think a lot of times it is necessary. I know that my husband finds these shows very helpful for parents with behaviour problems!

      Reply
  4. Lydia purple

    Yeah I think that some of her methods are like prescription medicine for a sickness. She comes into those crazy situations and applies the medicine to turn it around. But to build a healthy family from the get go looks quite different.

    I think it’s important to keep that in mind especially when gleaning parenting ideas before having children.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Completely agree!

      Reply
    • Tjajka

      I agree and think this is something she should mention on her shows. So many people don’t seem to understand that talking to your children, playing with them and to build trusting relationships (which the children in Supernanny seldom have before the show) means that your children more often than not will obey you without any power struggles. It also develops a child’s theory of mind skills and, not least, makes parenting much more fun and enjoyable!

      Reply
  5. Blessed Wife

    My mom became addicted to Cesar Milan when she adopted a crazy dog. It was an outside dog, so peeing wasn’t a problem, but the dog ran away a lot and got chewed up in fights unless kept chained or kenneled, and did thousands of $$$ worth of damage to her property.

    I loved Supernanny growing up and bought her book before I married, but found her techniques utterly useless on my children! Especially the “naughty spot” and “stay in bed” techniques. Home alone and breastfeeding all day and night, I couldn’t tend the infant AND spend the hour or more required putting the toddler back where they were supposed to be until they stayed there for two minutes. And I certainly couldn’t get anything else done! Spanking them and getting on with things was just vastly more efficient, as well as more effective.

    Reply
  6. Melissa

    There’s an Australian show for kids that has been commended for modelling good parenting and being fun for the whole family to watch too. This is an article about it: https://theconversation.com/making-up-games-is-more-important-than-you-think-why-bluey-is-a-font-of-parenting-wisdom-118583
    My husband and I watched a couple of episodes after reading about it and enjoyed it. The message for kids in one of the ones we watched was along the lines of prioritising what others need over what we want (overtired cousin needed sleep whilst they wanted to stay up late). You can watch current episodes for free online https://iview.abc.net.au/show/bluey

    Reply
  7. Karen

    I’ll definitely try watching It’s Me or the Dog. I also liked SuperNanny. How about Wife Swap–you can certainly learn some things from that show!

    Reply

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