Ally Langdon reveals 'most powerful moment' from new show Parental Guidance

·Lifestyle & Entertainment Producer
·5-min read

Today star Ally Langdon has opened up about one of the most 'powerful moments' from her new show, Parental Guidance which she co-presents with parenting expert, Dr. Justin Coulson.

The Channel Nine series will put 10 sets of parents with vastly different child-rearing approaches — from strict to free-range to helicopter — under the microscope to determine the 'ideal' style of parenting.

Parental Guidance hosts Dr Justin Coulson and Ally Langdon. Photo: Channel Nine (supplied).
Parental Guidance is hosted by Dr Justin Coulson and Ally Langdon. Photo: Channel Nine (supplied).

But, as Ally tells Yahoo Lifestyle ahead of the show's premiere on November 1, the experience had a profound effect on her and Dr. Coulson. They're both parents themselves, after all.

"In one segment I'm crying, the next I'm laughing, it's all over the shop with emotions," she says.

Indeed, in the series trailer, both Ally and Dr. Coulson are pictured fighting back tears during a group discussion with the other parents which was a huge surprise to father-of-six Dr. Coulson.

"That was totally unexpected," he tells Yahoo Lifestyle in a separate chat. "I thought I was going to be there to guide some conversations, listen to some parents and have some insights about their parenting."

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'Eye-opening stuff'

Dr. Coulson was blown away by the parents' 'rawness' during those group discussions of tough topics such as smacking, screentime and stranger danger.

"And yeah, a couple of times, we all found ourselves really, really touched by what had been shared or really impacted by a challenge that one family struggled with. I mean, it's really, really eye-opening stuff," he admits.

By the end of the nine episodes, it wasn't just the 10 sets of parents who were changed.

"I felt better as a result of it," Dr. Coulson reveals. "Like, our family felt better. The whole show didn't just affect the families that were on it, it affected the expert that was guiding it as well."

Mum-of-two Ally remembers the moment her co-presenter thanked the mums and dads for making him a better father as one of the most 'powerful' she experienced throughout filming.

"One of the most powerful moments of the show for me was when Dr. Justin Coulson thanked all the parents in the room for making him a better father, a better parent," she says.

"I mean, he's the guy who's raised six daughters. He knows what he's doing and he's the expert so for him to turn around and say that it actually makes you feel good. If he hasn't got this completely nailed, then we're all are okay, let's just be kind to ourselves."

Today show co-host Ally Langdon with her husband, Michael and their two children holding a large python. Photo: Instagram/allisonlangdon.
Ally with her husband, Michael Willisee, and their two kids, Mack, 4, and Scout, 2. Photo: Instagram/allisonlangdon.

'Every parent has to watch'

Parental Guidance doesn't shy away from controversial topics that might typically bring dinner party chatter to an awkward silence. One of the hot button issues on the table is discipline, which Dr. Coulson predicts will have a big impact on viewers at home.

"It's a conversation we just have to have," he says about smacking in particular. "And it's powerful and it's painful and it's provocative, but it's just so necessary."

On a personal level, the 'stranger danger' challenge and resulting discussion was the one that impacted Dr. Coulson the most — but he urges all parents and carers to sit through the discomfort.

"I can't say anything about it, except that every parent has to watch that as hard as it is. And it is. It is so hard to watch but we have got to encourage every parent to watch it because we've got to keep our kids safe and seeing the challenge occur is a powerful experience. Very, very hard to watch and so important that we watch it because it matters so much."

'Winging it'

Dr. Coulson wasn't the only one to review their parenting approach after working on Parental Guidance.

Ally tells Yahoo Lifestyle that while she and her husband, fellow TV journo Michael Willesee Jnr., tend to 'wing it' they have made some tweaks to how they raise their own children: son Mack, 4, and two-year-old daughter Scout.

"I've probably wrapped them in cotton wool a little too often," she says. "What I've found is how often I'll say, 'Be careful! Watch out!' And the message I'm sending them when I do that is, 'What you're doing is dangerous!' as opposed to sometimes letting them work out their own limits with those things."

Ally Langdon tears up on Parental Guidance. Photo: Channel Nine.
Ally tears up during an emotional discussion on Parental Guidance. Photo: Channel Nine.

Another change Ally and Michael are making is reducing the amount of time they spend in front of screens, such as mobile phones, to set a better example for their kids.

She's also come to realise that what works for Mack might not work for Scout and vice versa.

"My two kids are entirely different. How we raise one doesn't work for the other one," she explains.

Ally recounts her son Mack's recent encounter with the household 'timeout step' after whacking his younger sister as an example.

"He went straight on the timeout step and he was so emotional, he was so upset. But a couple of days earlier my husband found my two-year-old daughter sitting on the step and was like, 'Why are you sitting here, did mummy put you on the step?'

"She said, 'No, but I punched Mackie so I just came and sat here.' The timeout step doesn't work for her, it doesn't bother her. [Laughs] She sat on it for a couple of minutes then went back and I think she belted him again!"

Parental Guidance starts 7.30pm Monday, November 1 on Channel 9 and 9Now.

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