We talked earlier this week about how our own parents helped shape—in ways both good and bad—how we parent our own kids. But the truth is that we are not influenced solely by our own upbringing; no, we are also influenced by the fictional parenting of some of our favorite TV and film characters.
Perhaps if you grew up in the late 1950s and early 60s, you’re thinking about June Cleaver right now. Sure, she’s an obvious choice for “the mom I wish I had or would like to be.” Why, just watch how she handled this moment with Beaver, who thinks girls have it easy because “They don’t have to be smart. They don’t have to get jobs or anything—alls they gotta do is get married.” She manages to be both progressive for her time and reassuring to Beaver, who is worried about an upcoming “intelligence test” at school:
More recently, Jack Pearson on This Is Us got attention for his stellar parenting; any flaws he had were entirely eclipsed by his ability to always know the perfect thing to say when one of his kids was struggling.
It also should be noted, though, that not everything we learn about parenting has to come from characters who are actually parents themselves. I have argued in the past how one can parent like a Starfleet office; Jean-Luc may not have had children of his own, but Captain Picard was a father to us all.
Similarly, the Mandalorian, while not technically a father to the world’s most beloved child, has taught us so much about the challenges of being a working, single parent.
And just like in real life, we can learn from the good examples (anyone else miss Parenthood?), the bad examples (Bloodline and Succession, I’m looking at you), and the endearingly dysfunctional examples (Schitt’s Creek).
Who is your fictional parenting role model? Uncle Phil? Peggy Bundy? Homer Simpson? What have you tried to emulate—or avoid completely—thanks to your favorite TV families?