Mel Robbins: Time to Face Reality

UPDATED: April 6, 2010
PUBLISHED: April 6, 2010

TV rots your brain. Nothing good can come from watching TV.

And I was going to prove it to both of my tween daughters. They want to sit around watching reality shows. Really? Not in
my house. I was even toying with the idea of getting rid of the cable subscription altogether.

I won’t sit idly by while my girls waste their time and ruin their minds watching TV. Shouldn’t they be outside
playing, having real life experiences?

I walked into the living room and sat down on the couch next to them. I was going to show them how this drivel was rotting
their little minds. At first I wasn’t even sure what I was watching. For 10 minutes nothing seemed to happen on the
so-called reality show. This is what TV looks like now? Then my 11-year-old began to explain to me what I had missed and what
was going on. “That’s Emily,” she said. “She likes that boy, Adam, but Adam likes another girl more.”

“Then how come she lied when Adam asked her who she wrote that love song about?” I asked.

“Mom! You can’t just come out and tell a boy you like him.”

I picked up the remote and paused the show. We talked about Emily and what she was potentially doing wrong and how her decision
could end up coming back to haunt her. I pressed play and now we were all intent on seeing how the decisions our heroine had
made were going to pan out. I don’t know how I suddenly got sucked into watching an adolescent soap opera, but I can
tell you it was a turning point in my relationship with my daughters.

Now, we sit down once a week to watch our stories on TV. TV doesn’t have to rot your brain. It turns out you can be
exposed to some really important relationship and life questions—without having to face them personally. This wasn’t
what I remember TV being like when I was a kid. We watched a coyote try really hard and fail to smash a really fast bird with
pianos. This was so much different. These were real issues that my daughters are currently facing in their lives, brought
into our home for us to openly discuss and try on for size.

I even looped my husband into the game. We sit around as a family and talk about the decisions these characters are making—and
discuss how they mirror our lives. We talk about what we would do differently and how the characters could have made better
decisions in the moment.

TV doesn’t have to be passive. It can be a training ground. You can learn from other people’s mistakes. Reality
TV brought my family closer together, and I actually think our discussions are helping to make my daughters stronger and more
thoughtful women as a result.

I decided not to cut the cable. I never thought I’d be the one advocating watching reality TV as a way of strengthening
your decision-making muscle and bringing your family closer together. But I am.

The reality is you don’t know what decision you’ll make until you’re in the thick of it. Watch any reality
show. Like it or not, you’ll be able to identify with at least one decision someone is tasked with making. Here’s
the tough part: I dare you to share that insight with your spouse and your kids.

Don’t be like me. Don’t assume everything is bad for you (and your family) just because you’re ignorant
of it. Anything can get your mind moving and the conversation started. Anything. Even basic cable.

Mel Robbins is a contributing editor to SUCCESS magazine, best-selling author, CNN commentator, creator of the “5 Second Rule” and the busiest female motivational speaker in the world. To find out more, visit her website: To follow her on Twitter: