Earlier this week, Oprah held a Dr. Phil-like parental advice-giving session, yet not with Dr. Phil himself–her show about on-camera counseling for families in crisis was hosted by none other than the ubiquitous Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, author of many popular books, including his most recent, “10 Conversations You Need to Have with Your Children.” Rabbi Shmuley is no stranger to television, either–he hosts his own show, called “Shalom in the Home,” airs on TLC, Monday nights at 10 p.m.
His appearance on Oprah’s show included no shortage of “Shmuleyisms“–bits of wisdom that this celebrity rabbi offers to parents and kids unhappy at home, quite like the popular TV nannies that many of my friends with children watch religiously every week. “Shmuleyisms” are generally straightforward and certainly not earth-shattering, and include simple views like the following:
“Many parents believe they can take a hammer and chisel and sculpt their children into an image of what they want them to be. Instead, it’s much more effective to get [your children] to hear their own inner voice of what they want to be.”
“Parenting is done with two hands–the right hand is unconditional love, and the left hand is establishing boundaries amidst that unconditional love. That is the role of a parent–love and discipline.”
On Oprah, Rabbi Shmuley packed the salvation of four families into one hour, departing from his regular “Shalom in the Home” formula, which focuses just on one family per hour-long episode. Each family story arc on Oprah included the requisite embarassing camera-in-the-home footage of parental incompetence and bratty childish behavior, followed by a Rabbi Shmuley miracle advice session, followed (in most cases) by happy-ending footage of a family excursion orchestrated by the rabbi himself, talking them through success all the way.
As I am one of those people who watches reality TV with my hands over my face, not able to suffer through the public humiliation of others, I can’t say that after Rabbi Shmuley’s Oprah debut I’ll be canceling my Monday night plans to make it home in time for “Shalom in the Home,” but it was interesting to see a “male nanny” taking control of the reality-parenting market for once–and a rabbi at that.