Parent Drama Behind-the-Scenes of Lifetime’s CHILD GENIUS

Child-Genius lifetime
By: Nick Edsall

There was a lot of drama behind the scenes of Lifetime’s new reality series CHILD GENIUS.

The show, premiering January 6, pits some of the smartest 8 to 12 year-old in America against each other in a quiz of all around intelligence that would make even a JEOPARDY champ feel stupid.

Not surprisingly, many of their over-protective helicopter parents were in a competitive frame of mind as well.

“The parents were obviously competitive in certain ways and wanting their children to do well, as we all do,” executive producer John Hesling tells

“There were complaints and concerns from parents that maybe their children had gotten gotten questions that were harder than another child’s. There were arguments with the moderators. There was tension for sure.”

In fairness, Hesling noted, the parents of his 20 participants were “utterly committed to their children.”

“The dads don’t go play golf and spend time away on fishing trips,” he said. “Everything that they do is focused on empowering their children and making their children more knowledgeable. That is an incredible level of focus.”

Hesling also defended charges that a British version of the show was “car crash television at its worst” and its competitors seemed “miserable the whole time.”

“It is not an exploitive show,” he said. “This particular show makes you realize that the future is bright and in fairly safe hands.”

You can read his entire interview and watch an exclusive sneak peak of CHILD GENIUS at

CHILD GENIUS premieres Tuesday at 10:00 PM ET on Lifetime.

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  • Sarah Rand

    The parents of the Ryan kid are down right psycho. They need to be grateful for their child instead of constantly putting him down.

  • Deb Owen

    I completely agree. The mom needs to take a pill.

  • meeso

    Ryans parents. PLEASE PLEASE if you love your child and want the best for him be more encouraging. Your going to ruin his life. Especially the mother, your always coming down on him and discouraging him. Never once have you said anything positive EVER!!!

  • d gorton

    Poor Ryan. My heart breaks for this kid. He seems so sweet and innocent now……but seriously he is going to grow up hating and resenting his parents if the poor child doesn’t crack from the pressure first. Did you not see how happy he was (laughing and smiling at Boy Scouts) mom??? He needs time to be a child as well. A well-rounded and content person makes a much better “genuis” that an unhappy, depressed and stressed out one. All the award $$ and titles in the world can ever give him his childhood back.

  • Anniesez

    it’s disgusting how these parents push their child and criticize him for going camping vs. studying. He’s a child and needs to enjoy his childhood. They scold him for getting 2 wrong. Shame on that tiger mom and dad.

  • Cheryl V.

    Not only that Sarah but that mother needs to try to catch Ryan doing something good before the child just quits trying and then she’ll truly understand disappointment. This mother is totally ridiculous in her behavior and attitude toward her child and I hope one day soon she figures out she is the one not trying hard enough nor studying enough on what good parenting is and not Ryan not doing anything enough as she is constantly saying.

  • madihwa

    Graham and his mom get on my nerves. Could they be anymore obnoxious in pushing their religion? If he wins, they’ll say it’s because god was on their side. Gag!

  • Alicia

    Poor Ryan! Such a smart kid but his parents (and older brother) are unbearable! No matter how well he did, it was never good enough. I know culture probably played a huge part but c’mon, this is ridiculous. That boy is going to rebel against his family if they don’t ease up.

  • crackerjack

    whats their surname, i wanna tell them how fucking dumb his parents are and unsupportive , especially his older brothers ,he is a dumb shit

  • April Bumbrey

    Ryan’s parents are too hard on him, especially the mom. Just like Ryan said, she’s NEVER satisfied. I blame his parents. They need to be more encouraging. When he was happy and excited, they took that away from him. I wish him all the best! Great job Ryan.

  • Guest

    Last name is Xie. Ryan Xie. Parents are Ting and Sherry.

  • Kristi Kristoff

    I feel so bad for Ryan. His parents aren’t satisfied with anything! Even when he came in first during one episode, his psychotic mom said he should have gotten the one question he missed, right. That child is going to grow up so miserable if both parents don’t stay appreciating him for the child, and remember he is a CHILD, that he is. They obviously favor his older brother with the promise of a laptop of he helps Ryan study, but the brother is angry when he doesn’t do well, even though he puts Ryan down and distracts him more than anything. I just pray for Ryan and hope that he realizes how special he is.

  • Kristi Kristoff

    I think that Graham and his family are a joy to watch. They don’t pressure him like other parents and believe wholeheartedly in him. It’s good to see a show that doesn’t push God out of it. Believe it or not, God does help those who seek it.

  • madihwa

    I believe in God, though not precisely your Christian one; but I don’t think God intervenes to help a child win an academic contest. That would be too petty. And I often seek God’s help–for things like helping my cousin’s wife recover from cancer–important things. Besides, it’s all the same god, however one describes it, whatever rules one attempts to surround it with. God pays no attempts to the pettiness of our rules. True, it’s probably not Graham’s fault. It’s his parents fault. I’m sure they’d LOVE the Duggars, an equally irritating family.

  • madihwa

    Chinese fathers can be even worse than this. You should meet my husband.

  • Kristi Kristoff

    I’m not going to get into a religious debate with you however the Bible says that there is only one God. he also doesn’t care about what is petty and what is important he answers to those that love him and that believe in him. I love the Duggars.and I’m not ashamed is that makes me just as annoying as them. I believe in my Christianity and I believe and God the father, Christ and the spirit

  • madihwa

    God sure hasn’t helped your typing any–nor your English. Truthfully, you sound dumb as heck. It’s a good thing you’re not trying out for Child Genius. You’d never have a chance. Hopefully you won’t have many children either because dumb people generally have dumb children. Of course there’s always hope if you marry someone a lot smarter than you are.

  • Kristi Kristoff

    I feel sad for you. Putting people down because their typing isn’t the best is just petty. I’ve never claimed to be a genius and you have no right to bring my children into this. I couldn’t even read your whole message because it was completely hateful. Please don’t respond.

  • Kristi Kristoff

    If you read the Bible, you would understand why bad things are happening to Christians because it states that in the End Times, Christians will be persecuted. As for God answering your family’s prayers about cancer; there is always a plan for everyone’s life. Maybe her illness will bring others to Him. I don’t have the answers, but if your family are Christian, they will know that His will be done. What we want is not always in line with what God wants for us. I pray that your cousin’s cancer goes into remission. Have faith.

  • Rowen Magbit

    For the record, I’m not a native speaker of English so please don’t go insulting me on my English. I just came here to say that your response was very rude. Did you not know that it is usually dumb people who love calling other people dumb and lashing out at others personally when they disagree with a statement? Intellectual people defend their arguments properly and do not resort to petty personal insults.

  • Rowen Magbit

    It’s funny how you’re proud of the fact that someone you know is worse. It’s not important who is worse. What is important is that these kind of parents need to study proper parenting.

  • madihwa

    Too bad. With the internet showing us most of our mistakes, there’s no excuse for bad typing. I know; I’m a terrible typist–but I try to edit everything before it sees the light of day. I absolutely LOATH for a mistake to appear in my name.

  • madihwa

    I pray every night for her cancer to go into remission–even though she thinks I dislike her. I don’t know where she got that idea. It’s her husband (my cousin) whom everyone in my family dislikes. We always said she was too good for him.

  • madihwa

    If you’re not a native speaker, then you’ve been here awfully long because my family is filled with foreigners whose English is not nearly as good as yours. Pray tell how old were you when you came to this country. Surely you were older than my umpteen Chinese relatives.

  • madihwa

    And you think stuffing their heads full of fear of a vengeful god is going to do that? I was brought up in the Christian church and all they ever did was make me feel dirty. I stopped going when I was 16 when the Sunday school teacher told me that the poor people in China (this was 55 yrs ago) had no excuse for their poverty–that they could just–pull themselves up by their own bootstraps! That same Sunday teacher asked my mom when she came back from visiting us when we were living in Taiwan ‘if she enjoyed that n**ger country?’ She told him the only black people she saw there were our own service men and they behaved quite nicely. I could go on forever about stories past and present about the behavior of ‘Christians I have known and read about’ and how they inspired me to become a Buddhist–and a much better parent and grandparent.

  • J Kiesse

    I just watched all of the episodes consecutively of Child Genius over the past few days-love On Demand:) I’m also a mom of 3 grown boys ages 23-30 and grew up with 2 brothers-so I “get” boys. Of all the families on this show, Ryan’s parents were so incredibly abusive. BEYOND THE PALE! Honestly, they should be reported to Child Protective Services. I realize reality shows are edited (our oldest is a reality show editor in LA) for shock value, but Ryan’s parents spewed enough verbal abuse to last a kid 20 lifetimes. As parents, we all say things in the heat of the moment to our kids (most of us rarely) followed by an explanation, an apology and a mutual understanding of the situation, after things cool down. Ryan’s parents are so ignorant on how to parent their boys that they absolutely need professional help to learn how-before it’s too late! Wait till Ryan hits puberty…if any of you are parents of boys, you know what I’m talking about. Because Ryan’s parents speak to him so disrespectfully, he’s
    disrespectful (his brother too) to them. That and many other things will only get worse if his
    parents don’t get professional help and work at changing their parenting style. The fact that they put their oldest son in charge of Ryan’s success and offered him a computer if Ryan did well, was absolutely unbelievable! When Ryan was eliminated, his entire family was disappointed in him because of their own selfish reasons. Clueless!
    The scene of Ryan on the patio, trying so hard not to cry at his computer, while his parents were stupidly making excuses to the other parents as to why he was eliminated, was heartbreaking. “He’s just a boy” OMG!
    Ryan’s parent’s need help before the damage they’re doing is irreversible in a catastrophic way. Seriously. They are educated and brilliant in their careers (assuming) yet ignorant and failing miserably at the most important job of their lives, parenting.

  • Ramses Eros
  • Ramses Eros

    Please check out the video of the Genius Savant Ramses 5 years old kid ever to spelled the longest word in English language forward and backwards amazing 90 letters

  • Mya T.

    O gosh..ryans parents this and ryans parents that…give me a break. They have 2 genius kids and resources to support their kids success. We’re all quick to judge them but lets look at it this way, they gave their son a choice to chose boy scout or study. He can talk back to his parents and they laugh it off. Comming from an immigrant background, talking back to your parents and making your own decisions almost doesnt exist. I mean look at vanyas father, he controls every aspect of her life yet no one is saying ish just because the camera is showing that he does it with a smile. Pa-lease people. Just enjoy the show for what it is and not judge people on how they raise their children. If you want to pass judgement, “honey boo boo” might be a more suitable show for you.

  • Albert IronStein

    Your obsession with being right all the time, has turned you into a horrible human being, batty as heck. Get a life!

  • madihwa

    Actually I’m a very nice person. Everyone likes me. I’ve had many people online and in person tell me I’m one of the nicest most generous people they’ve ever met. That’s because I am very nice. I do good things for people without even thinking about it. Later when they tell me how good it was of me, well, I was just surprised, I hadn’t really been thinking of it that way. I was just doing what comes naturally–being helpful to people. I raised 2 kids who are extraordinarily good people, 2 grandkids the same and helped to raise a niece and nephew. Her mom swears she’s more my daughter than hers.

    I will admit to sometimes being sharp in my answers to people but some of the comments I’ve had from people have caused this, that and putting up with ignorant right wingers who are all full of opinions but have never read a book in their lives. Opinions based on ‘feelings’ are useless and worthless.

  • madihwa

    Oh, for the record. I never criticize the English of those whose native language is not English. Having studied 3 other languages I know just how difficult it is to become fluent in another language. And God knows, becoming fluent in English, let alone perfect, must be an excruciating task! I’ve often wondered how foreigners do it. I’m so glad I never had to learn English as a second language.

    I was looking. I don’t actually see any place where I called anyone dumb. If I did, it would have been because they said something that made me awfully angry–or because I could tell they were a rabid racist right winger. Those people I will NOT be polite toward! You’re talking about probable Trump voters! I will NOT be polite to them! Sorry, no!

    Besides, one can not use intellectual arguments with most right wingers. Ask anyone who has tried. It is THE most frustrating task in the world. It’s like hitting your head on a brick wall. One acquaintance I tried for TWO YEARS to convince. I sent her all sorts of articles written by other people, fact filled articles. Right wingers don’t like fact filled articles. She ended by calling me a liar–just because of the articles I was sending her. Well, that was it! People don’t call me a liar! I never spoke to her again!

    Right wingers can be very frustrating. I was always very nice and polite with her. And what does she do? That’s what they all do! They all get nasty! So now I get nasty back! Too much is too much! Actually I don’t go online as much as I used to. I became fed up with it.