TV Parenting 101

As 2011 comes to a close, I’ve reviewed the lessons that TV parents taught us over the past 12 months. Some were insightful, some were delightful and others were dreadfully obvious. Come on board into the 2011-in-review machine and catch a glimpse of the child-rearing teachings TV has offered us:


Lesson: Don’t try to ban your kid from dating someone without a really, really good reason or else you might as well send your kid an engraved invitation to sneak around behind your back.


On NBC’s Parenthood, Adam and Kristina Braverman attempted to forbid their teenage daughter Haddie from dating an older guy who had been an alcoholic and had his own apartment. At one point after Adam and Kristina threw down the gauntlet after catching Haddie sneaking around, Haddie ran away to her grandparents’ house.


Lesson: Speaking of trying to force your teenager to do something . . . yelling and attempting to literally drag your kid out of the house aren’t exactly effective techniques to get what you want, especially when the teen is embarrassed by something she did and is using the home as a refuge from her humiliation.


Such was the case with the final season of Friday Night Lights where Julie, the eldest daughter of Eric and Tami Taylor, dropped out of her first semester of college after an affair with a married teaching assistant ended disastrously. Her parents tried to get her to return to campus, but she refused, regardless of in how many different ways her father tried to make her. At the tail-end of the season, Eric and Tami found themselves trying to talk Julie out of moving to Chicago and marrying her high school sweetheart. When the series ended, Julie was living in the Windy City.


Lesson: Parents should free themselves from being slaves to their children’s insane whims. They shouldn’t be at their offsprings’ beck and call, nor should they pamper them by driving the children to school all the time, bring forgotten homework to school or always being willing to put themselves last. Take back your adulthood. It’ll make your kids more self-reliant.


It was kind of inspiring to watch The Middle’s Frankie and Mike Heck declare themselves no longer unreasonably beholden to their kids’ demands, which left the parents treated like unpaid servants. Frankie and Mike vowed to “take back” their house. They recruited other parents to their cause. Sadly, Frankie and Mike’s declaration of parental independence, Occupy the House, was short-lived.


Lesson: You try your best to give your children good lives. You feed them well, praise them, love them, hug them, offer homework help, drive them everywhere and buy them cell phones. And then what happens? When those children go to fill out their college applications, they complain that they’ve never been challenged in their lives because you’ve been such a doting parent.