Top 10 Classic 80’s TV Shows For Parenting Advice

I grew up in the 1980’s.  It was a magical time.  Music was was like totally cool.  Fashion was rad, and TV shows were bad (that actually meant they were good). There are some classic TV shows that provide some excellent parenting advice.  While I watched all of these shows as a kid, seeing them as an adult has provided a new level of respect for the knowledge they shared and the family values that were often displayed.  So in this video, we are going over the top 10 80’s TV shows for parenting advice.

Sure you can get parenting advice from books or from friends and family.  But let’s face it, it’s much more entertaining to get that advice from fictitious sitcom characters.  Here is our list in no particular order (other than #10 is my favorite).

#1. Family Ties – Alex P Keaton and his two sisters are the children of 2 very liberal parents (they were essentially hippies).  Alex’s conservative political views were on the complete other side of the spectrum.  While there are many differences, the loving parents would allow their kids to find their own way.  They were great coaches and mentors for their kids, even though they would often disagree.

#2. Cosby Show – While the real life Bill Cosby has had some major legal and moral issues, the TV show dad and his wife (The Huxtables) broke through  African American stereotypes that were traditionally shown on television. Both of the parents were doctors, raising 5 energetic kids that constantly tested them: cheating in school, boyfriend/girlfriend issues, etc.   There was never a dull moment. While the parents were strict, the conversations they had with their children were deep and meaningful, usually leading their children to make their own good decisions.

#3. Webster – Websters was a young boy and very small.  His parents died and he went to live with his dad’s friend George.  Like many new dads, George really didn’t know much about parenting but really loved the boy.  You watch him struggle with various topics but ultimately has a very strong bond with the child because of his love for him.  It dealt with a lot of Dealt with topics around friends, bullying, and the difficulties of Webster dealing with his height.

#4. Growing Pains – The dad, Dr. Seaver is a psychiatrist and works from home so he has a lot of interactions with his 3 kids every day.  The oldest child, Mike is constantly getting into mischief.  Each of the 3 kids have very distinctive personalities and they are always fighting with each other. Dr. Seaver and his wife Carol have an endless amount of parenting advice they provide each episode.

#5. Different Strokes – The dynamics of a single old white rich guy with a daughter and housekeeper, who adopts two young black kids is exceptional.  Mr. Drummund (or Mr D as they call him), often finds himself in dilemmas with the two brothers.  He has a great way of talking through problems with love and kindness. His parenting advice really comes from love. 

#6. Full House – This one is great from the dad perspective as there are 3 men in the house trying to look over the kids.  The widowed father Danny is a sports anchor, has 3 very young girls and gets help from his brother in-law-Jesse (the cool rock musician) and his friend Joey (the comedian).  You see these men often provide different perspectives on solving problems as their personalities differ.  But the common theme with most of the problem solving regardless who is helping solve it, is they “talk it out”.  They display good communication.

#7. Rosanne – This show just made the timeline as the first shows debuted in 1988.  The working class Conner family tackled some serious topics, often with humor and honesty.  Never to shy away from controversy or to voice her opinion, Rosanne the show’s matriarch and Dan her husband, were raising 3 kids.  Between sibling rivalry, dating, and common teen issues, there was always valuable parenting advice on the show.

#8. Who’s the Boss – This was a story of a divorced woman (Angela) who lived with her young son and her mom, the grandmother….and then hires a live in male housekeeper (who brings his daughter Samantha to also live with them.  It might be a little confusing if you have never seen it, but the parenting dynamics were very interesting.  The housekeeper Tony parented one way, then you had the mom parenting another, and even the grandma with her own opinions on how the kids should be raised.  This was a great show.

9. Happy Days – This show aired from 1974-1984 and was about the Cunningham family which took place in the 50s and 60s.  There were a lot of coming of age themes as the kids were in high school and the parents dealt with many of the issues that came about because of that. Known as Mr C, the father Howard was a stereotypical middle america dad with traditional values.  He provided wisdom and logic while the mom, a housewife provided more of the emotion and connection.  Together their parenting advice was solid. Overall the importance of family and friends and the people around you, were themes that made this one of the most popular shows in history.

10. Brady Bunch – While this technically aired in the 70’s, we watched all of the reruns religiously in the 80’s.  From a parenting advice perspective, this is my personal favorite.  The husband and wife each had 3 kids when they got married.  The life lessons in the episodes are just too many to name: bullying, friendships, how the children treat each other.  There is so much advice on how to get along with other people (especially siblings).  They all love each other even though they often get on each other’s nerves. I have introduced my kids to a many of these shows.  Watching them now as an adult provides a new fondness for the parenting advice and insight these shows brought.  They really are valuable.

I’d love to hear from you.  Are there television shows you think provide great parenting advice?  Leave your feedback in the comments section below.

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