Let’s play a little game of “word association.” Below is a list of words and phrases that, if you grew up in the 80s, will trigger all sorts of wonderful memories of watching tv and movies during your childhood:
- Truffle Shuffle
- And now you know. And knowing is half the battle
- Who you gonna call?
- The word of the day is…
- This message will self-destruct in…
The 80s were the perfect decade: Florescent colors, a strong middle class, President Ronald Reagan, the first Nintendo, Microsoft Windows, and the first cell phone. And now that I’m an adult, especially now that I’m a dad, I realize the 80s were full of tv shows that modeled great parenting techniques.
Plus, it’s really fun to get parenting advice from fictional characters in sitcoms from the 1980s.
So, that’s what we’re going to do. Here is the world’s first-ever list (that may or not be true) of tv shows from the 80s that provide us some great parenting lessons.
In Family Ties, Alex P. Keaton and his two sisters were the children of hippie parents.
Alex’s worldview, particularly when it came to his political ideas, was very different from that of his mom and dad. Can you relate? Maybe you had the same type relationship with your parents or maybe you have an older child with a mind of their own. It happens.
And the way we deal with differences as parents can influence the kind of person our sons and daughters become.
With that in mind, I love the parenting style demonstrated in Family Ties. In spite of their differences, Alex’s mom and dad mentored their children, were intentional about giving them impactful experiences, and encouraged open dialogue (even when it was tense). We should all take a play out of their parenting playbook!
The Cosby Show
Put aside your current views of Bill Cosby. His show was one in which an African American family was portrayed in ways never before seen on television. In the Cosby Show, Mr. and Mrs. Huxtable raised five children – energetic, rebellious, challenging children who got themselves into all sorts of unique situations.
The reason I love the parenting style of the Huxtables is that, while the parents were strict, they had real and honest conversations with their children when they found themselves in the middle of challenging scenarios. Mr. and Mrs. Huxtable had rules and communicated their expectations but used mistakes as a teaching-moment – not as an opportunity to exert authority.
Webster was a show about a little boy (named Webster) who, after the death of his parents, went to live with his biological father’s best friend, George.
In other words, George was thrown into fatherhood without really asking for it. Let’s be honest. Every single dad feels like he got thrown into parenthood with no idea what he was getting himself into.
I love the parenting modeled in this show because George, in the face of adversity, persevered and learned how to be a dad on the fly. He absolutely loved George and helped him through conflicts with bullies and issues that arose from the death of Webster’s parents.
The dad, Dr. Seaver, was a psychiatrist who worked from home. Because he worked from home, he spent a lot of time with his kids and was very hands-on when one of his three kids got themselves into trouble.
Mr. and Mrs. Seaver were so comfortable in their own skin that they never shied away from a tough conversation with their children. They were a team that showed a united front even when they disagreed with each other in private. This is an attribute every couple should adopt.
This show was groundbreaking. Different Strokes involved a single, old white rich guy (Mr. D), his daughter, and two adopted black kids from Harlem.
The old white rich guy was one of the best examples of an empathetic father on tv. His kids were all very different from him and from each other. In spite of those differences, Mr. D was committed to understanding them, learning about how they were individually wired, and helping them navigate the world.
Empathy is the most important quality of a good parent.
And Mr. D had plenty of it.
The family dynamics in Full House were unique because there were three different dads living in the same house. Each of the men had different parenting techniques, but they all came to the table with unconditional love for each other and every kid in the house.
With that many differing opinions under one roof, there was bound to be some conflict. Every episode showed the reality of human nature: everybody sees the world in a different way. But, what we learn from the three different men in the house is the importance of communicating, sometimes over-communicating, when something feels weird. Anytime they saw situations differently, they talked about it.
Debuting in 1988, Rosanne was a sitcom about a relatable, middle-class family: The Connors. This show covered some very serious topics, some that would still be controversial today.
The noteworthy part of Rosanne was the fact that the family was led by a woman. The opinionated matriarch, Rosanne, helped her family navigate a world full of love, joy, pain, and heartbreak. Mr. and Mrs. Connor were great examples of parents who weren’t afraid of addressing hard conversations with their kids.
Who’s the Boss
This is a story about a divorced woman, Angela, who lives with her son and her mom. Angela hires a live-in, male housekeeper who brings along his own daughter into the house.
As you might imagine, the mom, grandmother, and housekeeper all had different opinions about how the kids should be raised. Who’s the Boss was full of rich parenting advice because it highlighted the generational differences and the parenting philosophies that go along with them.
Podcast Ep. 148 The Best 80s TV Shows to Learn Parenting
Happy Days was really popular. It was on on tv from 1975 to 1985! Set in the 1960s, it followed the Cunningham family, a family unit full of high school students and two parents who parented in their own unique way.
Mr. C parented with logic and reasoning. Mrs. parented with a lot of love and heart-felt conversations. Together, they were a force to be reckoned with.
They were proof that a united front, no matter the mix of personalities, can effectively raise happy and healthy children together.
Okay, this wasn’t a show from the 80s. But reruns of The Brady Bunch played throughout the 80s… and 90s… and today. It’s longevity on tv is proof of it’s rich and relatable content.
The beauty of the Brady Bunch is in the love between the two parents who, despite their disagreements and arguments with their kids and each other, always managed to go to bed happy. They forgave each other and worked through their differences during each episode.
Instead of running away from their problems, Mr. and Mrs. Brady stuck it out. And a world like ours could use more parents like that. Don’t you think?!
These shows provide valuable parenting advice if we’re willing to dig a little deeper than the surface. We’d love to hear from you. Are there television shows you think provide good parenting advice? Leave your comments below!