“The Parent Test’s” Major Fault


Rebecca Caulton, Staff Writer

“The Parent Test” is a new series streaming on Hulu that weighs the risks and benefits of different parenting types. Each episode includes two tests of parenting and at the end of every two episodes a parenting style is voted off and a new portion of the group switches in to be analyzed. My favorite part of the show was the open discussion they have after each parenting style is highlighted. As parenting is a highly controversial topic, each parent doesn’t hold back in calling out parenting styles for their faults. Despite this praise, I felt like the show needed to test its formula before airing for a variety of glaring issues.

One of the main issues holding back this series was the irrelevancy of many of the challenges. Some of these challenges include asking your kid to touch a snake, asking your kid to jump off a high dive, and not being able to say no to your child for a day. Many of these challenges show very little parenting as the parents try to stay hands off to show the child’s natural demeanor.  For a show about parenting this seems counter-intuitive unless you believe temperament has no biological components. The only challenge I did think was helpful was the one about sex education and the challenge where the parents stepped back and let their children take charge. The sex education test displayed how parents with children of varying ages can tackle sex education. Parents with younger children focused more on biology while parents with teenagers went more in-depth on contraceptives and safe sex. Also, the challenges are even less accurate considering the variety of number of children, genders, and ages in each family.

Additionally, another issue I had with the results was the lack of diversity of the families. While the show had plenty of racial diversity and many single parents, the show only included high income families. As well, the only gay parents on the show were voted off immediately despite the apparent lack of distaste for their actual parenting style. Considering that income heavily influences not only what parenting style a family prefers, but what is accessible, the show mischaracterizes the diversity of American households and parenting situations.

While “The Parent Test” is an interesting concept and attempts to find an answer to the impossible task of parenting, it fails due to its lack of diversity and irrelevant challenges. The show is upsetting at times as many of the styles of parenting seem abusive and the children on the show are real people. On social media, the show went viral for one clip of the intrusive parenting style where parents described homeless people as “losers,” implying their homelessness is due to incompetent parenting. As well, it’s questionable whether the show does more harm by normalizing abusive parenting styles. Overall, I would not recommend “The Parent Test” because of the frustrations these issues cause.