Quality Time: 5 TV Shows I Can Actually Watch With My Preteen and Teen

There’s nothing worse than watching a show with your middle and high school kids that you think is going to be fine but actually is not. You settle in with your popcorn and wine and blankets and get all cozy with your favorite people and then, out of nowhere, characters start making sex jokes or using mildly bad words (that are the ones everyone uses and you really don’t care, but still, out of principle!) and it all gets pretty awkward, pretty quick.

What does a mom have to do around here to watch a tv show with her kiddos?

It’s getting harder and harder. Unless it’s sports, our tv options are getting slim and slimmer with the kids. Growing up in the 70s and 80s, we had tons of wholesome tv to watch with the family: The Dukes of Hazzard, where I aspired to one day wear short shorts and drive a white Jeep like Daisy Duke; Little House on the Prairie, where I learned that child birth was horrifying before modern drugs (thanks a lot, Ma); Solid Gold, where I learned the joys of ending a group dance in a dramatic pose; and perhaps the all-time best — The Love Boat, where no one ever got norovirus and everyone fell in love.



As my kids get older, they’re so busy with school and activities; it’s hard to even find a night that we can all hang out together, much less sit and watch a show together. Fortunately, with the magic of DVR, we have been able to find time to watch some favorites together. Finding a show that appeals to an 11 year-old girl and a 15 year-old boy also presents a challenge, but we’ve managed to find a few that brings us to the same room at the same time with limited awkwardness, and for that, I am forever grateful.

1. Dancing With the Stars:
Not only is this show a winner to watch with the kids, it’s works with grandparents, too. I do try to hold my tongue and not be totally catty, except when someone really sucks or their “star” status is questionable. But there’s always a sports star for my son, a young Disney star or Olympian gymnast for my daughter, and plenty of eye candy and cool dancing for me. Win-win!

Watch Laurie Hernandez’s MJ Routine!

2. The Middle
This show is totally underrated. We love the Hecks! We love their honesty, their epic fails and how no matter what, they always get back up. We love Brick’s pizza bag-backpack. We love Sue’s Dollywood job. We love Axl’s torture of his sister and emerging sweetness. It’s a breath of fresh air to see a tv family that isn’t rich or perfect. We usually make it for this one at its actual time.


3. Sister Wives
Are you judging me now? Look — if my 15 year-old son wants to watch a crazy TLC show with me, I’m in. He loves him some TLC and this one is actually one of the more tolerable ones. We talk about how crazy they all are and how miserable they all seem and it helps me to know that I have not raised a polygamist. Disclaimer: my daughter doesn’t watch this one. Maybe in a few years, I’ll make sure she binge watches it so I can ensure I haven’t raised a sister wife.


4. American Ninja Warrior
I could write an entire paper on how I feel this show epitomizes America: survival of the fittest; strong, hard-working individuals working hard to win at the game of life; doing crazy stuff for reality tv. We love the vignettes. We love the women. We love the super crazy ones and root for them. We cringe-laugh when they fall on the first obstacle. We bond over the successes and failures. And props to the parents on Facebook who made ANW courses in their backyards…thankfully, we have aged out of that. (We would have just put out a few cardboard boxes beside the swing set and called it a day.)


5. Fixer Upper
Oh Chip and JoJo: how you complete us. We all watch your sweet selves and chuckle at Chips’s zaniness and I continually wonder how Joanna does all the millions of things she does and still manages to bake cookies with her kids. Clearly, she’s a better time-manager than I am. I salute her and wish my house looked like hers. My one concern: I hope she finds time to go on a girls’ trip. She seriously has earned a trip to the beach with her mom friends! And JoJo- if you haven’t…give me and my friends a call. We love the beach and wine and laughing and you would fit right in. Plus, you can fixer upper my house anytime!


So thanks, TV, for giving me and my growing kids, who are also growing too cool to hang out with me, a chance to bond and escape together from our busy days. No matter what some may say, it’s quality time and I cherish every minute.


Take care of yourselves and each other,


Yellow Daisy Chick