Why are parents of joy-riding 7-year-old taking him on the Today show?
One of TV's biggest pet peeves for my wife and I are all the examples of bad parenting shown as acceptable behavior and reinforced on television.
Parents who are inconsistent. Parents who don't follow through on promised punishments. Parents who are so worried about their kids disapproval they avoid discipline and rules. Parents who treat serious infractions by kids as sources of humor.
All these habits are often shown as acceptable behavior on TV series and commercials, though they can often lead to real-life trouble for parents who don't set clear boundaries for their kids and enforcement them consistently.
Which brings me to the 7-year-old Utah boy who jumped in a car an engaged police in a low-speed chase, supposedly because he didn't want to go to church. Initially, his parents avoided media interviews, saying they didn't want to provide "incentive or reward for his actions."
So why did the family appear on the Today show this morning, laughing and joking with host Meredith Vieira like little Preston Scarbrough had faked a stomach ache to get out of school?
"We saw the video the day before yesterday and that was the first time it became...started to become a little bit funny to us," said father Daniel Scarbrough this morning. "We could be sitting here for a lot different reason right now."
The parents say they're cutting off his TV and video games and grounding him for four days. I'm guessing that starts after the flight to New York City, where they meet celebrities like Vieira and the rest of Today's cast while appearing on national television to trade quips about his joy ride.
Daniel called his son a "cotton candy" average kid, saying "This could have happened to anybody." Which treats the incident like an illness or something involuntary, instead of a dangerous choice made by a very lucky young boy. And it seems a case of parental lunacy to treat the incident like a bizarre joke because he was lucky enough not to hurt himself or anyone else.
I'm always amazed at the ability of network TV bookers to get folks who should never be in front of a TV camera to talk about stuff they normally wouldn't tell anyone. But this is a new high (or low), enabling some seriously questionable parenting choices for the sake of an interesting segment.
Hope it was worth it.