Monday, May 31, 2010

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Tamara Barcinas, casting director from World’s Strictest Parents, requested I write another column about their show and include casting information. Turns out the show’s producers still need parents—parents like you—to help them make a difference in the lives of troubled teens. Casting continues through February, 2010. Contact details are at the end of this column.

Remember last week’s column when I talked about how children still need us in their lives? The World’s Strictest Parents episode that I watched to prepare for this article reminded me how important we are to our children and how much they really need us—even when they appear to be pushing us away.

In this particular show, the host parents were from Iowa. Host Dad was a police officer. Karli (17) arrived with piercings and a bad attitude, “I don’t do _ _ _ _,” she told the camera. She also explained that she didn’t respect her mom and never cared about what her mom said. When she and her mom did talk, Karli always dismissed her and questioned her authority with sarcasm and sneers. In one scene the teen said, “I don’t get to live here if I pierce my nose? Really? That’s what you said about my lip.” In another she said, “I’m only two hours late and you are totally tripping.”

The male teen, Zack (18), showed up at the McCormick’s house on a similar track. He told us, “I do whatever I want whenever I want to do it.” One scene between Zack’s Mom and him sets the stage.

Mom: “I want you to clean up the dishes.”

Zack: “You don’t always get what you want, do you?” Both teens are parented by single parents—moms who are at their wit’s end. Both moms have similar concerns about their children. They fear that their back-talking teens will turn into lazy, nonproductive citizens not living up to their full potential.

I love the opening banter between the two teens as they head to their home away from home. They insist that no adult will be able to make them do anything.

They haven’t met the McCormicks yet.

As always, the first two days are rough. The teens attempt to get their way. In this show, it works out opposite to what the kids expect. The adults establish rules and enforce consequences. The teens—even the 17 and 18 year olds—realize they are not in charge. The transformation that takes place in such a short period of time amazes me.

I wish every troubled or confused teen could have this experience. They usually walk away with genuine appreciation for their caregivers. The experience seems to help them get on track with goals and dreams, and helps them see through the eyes of others how self-indulgent they have been for most of their young lives. For most, it seems to be a legitimate turning point.

By the time Zack and Kali leave, they have turned a corner. Zack tells the camera, “I needed a good kick in the teeth.” Zack also told the McCormicks he was initially surprised at how nice they were to him despite his actions and looks. “That’s never happened to me before.” Kali told us she came into the experience thinking she was going to give the host family hell. “But now, it isn’t like that. I see that I have potential.”

To contact the World’s Strictest Parents Casting department, call their hotline: (888) 41-TEENS. Or you can send an email ( For more information before contacting them, visit their website:

Allyn Evans
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