Will You Watch 'Radical' Parenting on TV?

It's "Baby Week" at Discovery Health Channel, which means there's a spanking-new parenting special each night at 8 p.m. ET. Tonight's episode, Radical Parenting, seems custom-made to stir up controversy. There are, of course, lots of ways to approach raising a child, and the show features a wide range of them.

What makes a parenting technique "radical"? That question itself can provoke a fight. On its website, Discovery Health's description of the show is diplomatic: "In this special, we'll explore what some might consider 'extreme' methods of parenting." But clearly, to the moms and dads who are profiled, there's nothing extreme about "extended breastfeeding, potty training a newborn baby or even choosing to raise a child as gender neutral." Here are some quotes from the promo:

"You nurse your child until he or she outgrows the need to nurse," says the mom who's a proponent of Attachment Parenting. "Becka nursed for four years." An accompanying photo of Becka at that age drives the point home: She's not a baby anymore, but a longhaired kid.

"There is no hierarchy in our house," says the mom who represents Radical Unschoolers. "Nobody is more important than anybody else. So there's no rules, no punishment, no judgements, no discipline." The camera reveals a child sitting on the stairs, eating a chocolate doughnut. In a voiceover, the kid says, "I like to eat whatever I want for breakfast. Sometimes cereal, sometimes doughnuts."

"We decided that we needed to raise them to be equality-minded and feminist-minded," says the mom who practices Gender-Neutral Parenting. She's shown encouraging her toddler son's interest in playing dress up with fancy high heels.

And so on.

Mommy blogs are already debating the show's merits. The universal comment tends to be: "What's so unorthodox about that?"  But generally speaking, Radical Parenting profiles parents who take an already common and agreed-upon parenting principle—like, say, kids need both guided structure and a chance to assert their independence—and put more emphasis on one aspect or another. If you're a structure person, you're more likely to go for Babywise Parenting or Elimination Communication. If you're more of a give-em-their freedom type, you'll lean towards the Free-range Kids Movement or Unparenting. And if you're somewhere in the middle, well, you don't get on TV.

Plus: Who's Got a Beef with Duggar Family Planning?

Do you think you practice radical parenting?

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