My son Toby is home from University for a week and the other night kindly introduced me to the delights of a reality show popular with his house, called Sun, Sex and Suspicious Parents. Apparently it’s already on the second series.
It is described thus in the publicity blurb; ‘BBC Three throws open the doors on the ultimate rite of passage for the average teenager – the first ever summer holiday abroad without their parents.’ This programme unbelievably consists of a group of teenagers behaving appallingly on holiday whilst their parents hide out in vans or hotel rooms watching their antics on a screen. The denouement has the parents revealing themselves to their kids and then once the shock and tears have subsided they all discuss what’s gone on.
You’re right – it is fairly excruciating.
Now I’d be the first to admit – I love a good reality show. My all time favourite Come Dine With Me is I would argue, a work of sheer genius. And Made In Chelsea is wonderfully addictive for an ageing wannabe such as myself.
But even I had problems finding merit in this particular offering. Sure on a certain level it was kind of fascinating, the main question being why on earth would any sane parent put themselves up for – or indeed through – this.
But other than that I just couldn’t see the point.
Until that is, we came to the final scene. After all the excitement of the reunion of one mother and son died down, they had a chance to talk ‘privately’. The son, Asher had distinguished himself at one point by clinging on for quite some time to the back of a fast-moving bus and he had to agree with his mother that, fair enough, this was pretty stupid.
But then she went too far. She wanted to have a frank discussion about sex – the word ‘condom’ was uttered. Asher protested – there are some things a boy just doesn’t want to talk to his mother about.
But she remained undeterred.
‘In that case,’ she declared, ‘I shall write you a letter.’
At this point Asher came up with the kind of irrefutable logic that in one master stroke put paid to years of theory about the merits of open parenting.
‘Why,’ he asked in disbelief, ‘Would you write me a letter when we live in the same house?’
The mother had no answer to that and nor do I.
I am very keen on talking things through. A great believer in getting things out in the open. And I often like to say to my children there’s nothing they can’t tell me.
But this exchange and indeed the whole misguided programme, is a timely reminder that our offspring are entitled to their privacy. Some things – thank goodness – are simply none of our business and however enlightened we may think we are, quite often it’s wiser to look the other way, keep our views to ourselves and pretend we didn’t see what we know we just saw.
And if you do have an irresistible urge to express your feelings in writing, by all means go ahead but a journal – preferably a lockable one – may be a better place for your musings than an uninvited and unwelcome letter.
What other forms of self expression do you adopt when speaking to someone is not an option? If you have a yearning to express yourself OUT LOUD but are not quite sure what you want to say or how, contact me at and we can start the conversation. I promise to listen.
For those of you keen to explore journal writing in more depth, my friend and colleague Beverly Frydman runs fabulous journal writing courses entitled aptly for this blog, ‘Journal to the Self’ – check her out on: creativejournalwriting.com/journal_self.php