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Why TV Paternity Test Results Are Not Really Entertaining
The Maury Povich Show which aired from 1991-1998 as a Paramount production adopted the title Maury in the 1995-1996 season. From 1998 to the present, it is produced by NBC Universal.
The audience applauds when Maury Povich on the Maury1television show reads the results of the DNA test:
- “You are the Father” or
- “You are not the father.”
It would be interesting to know what they are applauding.
- Are they happy that the mother is not being punished for her irresponsible actions?
- Are they glad that the man was “caught” by the paternity test results and sentenced to his role as father?
- Or, is the applause nothing more than the usual response to something entertaining?
Whatever the reason, it appears that sensitivity to the moral implications of the situation is lacking. A child is born to irresponsible parents, facing the possibilities of never bonding with a biological father, being deprived of basic provision, living indefinitely without a sense of belonging. How could this be really entertaining?
Paternity Court is produced by 79th & York Entertainment and distributed by Orion TV Productions (Orion Television), a division of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc.
The New Paternity Court
The applause on Paternity Court,2 which premiered on television on September 23, 2013 becomes less and less entertaining as the court proceeds. Still, those looking for a laugh can find it.
When Judge Lauren Lake reads the paternity test results, she has already scolded the promiscuous mother or the negligent father for his or her callous behavior. The offender may even show some remorse.
Judge Lauren Lake is also a relationship expert.3 She earned her law degree at Wayne State University, Michigan with family law being an area of concentration. She is able to read the emotions underneath the sometimes tearful, sometimes wrathful countenance of the man or woman; and she interrupts the court atmosphere to show compassion or to diffuse anger. She demands respect for herself and for the court; she also insists that the accusers respect each other.
Her court also deals with adult children in their twenties and thirties who never knew, or have doubts about their fathers. These young adults are no longer ignorant of their parents’ foolish behavior. They experience shame, neglect and low self-worth. They are the sure proof that paternity tests results are not really entertaining.
Four Examples of "Paternity Court" Cases
A little girl grows into a young adult woman, carrying the supposed father’s name on her birth certificate, only to have the man demand paternity testing based on a doubt he had all along.
Grandparents, aunts and uncles are forced to give up years of relationship they formed with a child who is now an adult, because a previously dishonest mother is ready to tell the truth.
An adult child craves acceptance by a father, but after several DNA tests, the mother still has not named all the possible fathers.
A nine year old boy hears rumors that the man raising him is not his father; his mother does not want her mother to know the truth. Twenty years pass before the truth becomes known.
Definitely Not Entertaining
"So many people are missing a couple pieces of the puzzle,” Judge Lauren Lake says concerning these adult children. “It holds them back in life. . . People face some of their darkest fears and shame.”4
Her job is more than reading DNA results. She goes further to help build relationships after the paternity dispute is settled.
The judge makes the point that thirty years ago, women who had children out of wedlock were encouraged to be discreetly silent as opposed to involving the media to help establish paternity.
One wonders whether the introduction of DNA testing in the late 1970s and 1980s,5 plus the availability of these television shows, have created family problems where there might have been none. Or would there have been problems, without an audience to find them entertaining?
How Television Viewers Should Respond
Millions watch the social mess created by irresponsible men and women. They see how careless and insensitive society has become. They witness the beauty of healthy relationships and our basic responsibility to the children being trampled upon.
Our sense of responsibility can help us and our families restore and promote respect and decency in our households.
- Nurture Wholesome Thoughts
First, make it a habit to feed our minds daily with thoughts about the kind of life the Life Giver intended for us to live. Encourage this in our household. Engage in spiritual exercises, read inspirational material and watch wholesome shows. This will decrease and may even destroy the appetite for these kinds of shows.
- Practice Self-Control
Resist the temptation to watch these shows every day. Deliberately plan an alternative schedule. Those who live alone may find it more difficult, but be willing to practice self-control.
- Find Teaching Opportunities
If there are teenagers in the house who insist on watching, watch with them sometimes. Point out actions which are wrong, and discuss what the right actions should be. Take advantage of the teaching opportunities presented by these shows.
- Support Values and Virtues in the Children
More importantly, affirm the children, teens and young adults when they ask for guidance in their relationships, and when they exercise good judgment. Hold up the values and virtues of purpose and self-worth. Express confidence that they will do the right thing, and pledge support for them.
- Practice Compassion
If we ever cross paths with victims of irresponsible parenting and they still need help, it is our duty to practice compassion and do whatever we can to enhance their lives.
We need to stop laughing at the foolish immorality displayed on our television screens. Wisdom dictates that we think about the children for whom the paternity tests are being done. They are often denied their right to loving, responsible parents and homes. We cannot afford to find their dilemma entertaining.
1. Maury: Maury's Team - Maury Povich, Host (visited March 18, 2014)
2. Winston, Oretha: Elev8, Move Over Maury . . .Here's Paternity Court (July 23, 2013)
3. Paternity Court: Lauren Lake (visited March 18, 2014)
4. Ho, Rodney: Access Atlanta, Radio and TV Talk, New 'Paternity Court' judge Lauren Lake has Atlanta Ties (October 3, 2013)
© 2014 Dora Isaac Weithers