Aug. 6, 2014 at 12:49 PM ET
If you've ever wondered whether you're a crazy parent, just meet the stars of the "Extreme Guide To Parenting."
In the new reality series, which debuts Thursday on Bravo, viewers get to spend time in households where families have some decidedly strong and alternative views on how to raise kids.
A clip of the show featuring Marisa Silver — a mom who practices “Push Parenting” — aggressively competing with her 5-year-old son left TODAY’S Hoda Kotb and Kathie Lee Gifford speechless.
But the parents say they hope the series will help others.
“We’re showing people that families are all different. We think people will relate to us – some won’t. We also can inspire people,” said Scout Masterson, a dad who practices “All Baby, All the Time Parenting.”
Three of the parents shared their unconventional approaches to raising children with TODAY, as psychologist Dale Atkins weighed in.
Silver wants her only child, Austen, to be the best. At 5, he plays five sports, knows the U.S. presidents and can write his name. She arranges her entire schedule around her son and prepares him for what might be a possible future in sports. With a tall father, she says she would be “nuts” not to put a basketball in his hands.
“I am the push parent and I wear the banner proudly. Life is hard. I want him to be a boy who is going to turn into a great man,” Silver said.
“I sometimes push him a little harder so he can compete with the older kids.”
Dale Atkins’ take: It’s very clear that Silver wants her son to achieve, but he also has to want to come to her for nurturing. He has to know that he’s going to be good enough and wonderful enough even if he isn’t the best, she said.
“Our kids come to us to find out who they are and if we’re not letting them know they’re perfect as they are, they’re going to wonder what do they have to do to be good enough,” Atkins said.
Eco-Kosher, Shamanistic Parenting
Shira Adler believes in an all-natural approach to raising her two children, 11-year-old Yonah and 13-year-old Emma. She thinks people will call her a “New Age-y” mom because she uses products like “aromatherapy synergy sprays.”
“I have a mindful integrated approach to mind-body-spirit wellness. I believe in using anything and everything that can be out there that might help them,” Adler said.
“Parenting, being the hardest job on the planet and one for which we are least prepared – inherently, there is a problem right there. So when my children were born, all of a sudden I realized that everything that my mother had taught me that I used as the foundation wasn’t enough because my children were so out of the box.”
Adler devotes special attention to her son, who has an overactive personality, which has caused resentment from her daughter. Adler tries as best as she can to make both children feel loved, she said.
Dale Atkins’ take: When a child has special needs, the parents often become so focused on that child – with all the money, attention and tutoring devoted to his or her needs – that the other kids in the house become invisible. But they need to be attended to and they need to have special time with mom and dad, Atkins said.
All Baby, All the Time Parenting
Scout Masterson and his husband Bill Horn added 4-year-old daughter Simone to their family through adoption. They’ve been reluctant to let her out of their sight ever since.
“We waited a very long time to adopt her, so when finally she was welcomed into our lives, we were so excited and full of love that we don’t want to spend time away. We don’t want to be away from her,” Masterson said.
“We’re a modern family, we do a lot of things to make one great life and one of those things is spending a lot of time with our child.”
Dale Atkins’ take: Masterson needs to understand that Simone is not an extension of him.
“You are going to have, God willing, lots and lots of time together. Let her have other experiences without you and let her develop her own inner life and then she’ll be her own person,” Atkins said.