I have watched all the seasons of Parenthood and am pretty bummed that it’s all coming to an end soon. But as I listen to Parenthood mixes on Spotify and reflect upon the last six seasons, I realized that the Bravermans have taught me so much. I know that if they were real and saw how sad I was, the Bravermans would say really smart and funny things to make me feel better, and then we’d eat a big dinner in the backyard and dance. I’m sure I will watch TV again, but it will be a long time (if ever) until I find another family like the Bravermans, and another TV show like Parenthood.
Here are 10 things I learned from Parenthood:
1. Not even that perfect sibling that seemingly made all the right decisions in life. The Adam’s and Julia’s of everyone’s family have problems too. Their marriages can get rocky and maybe even fail. They get stressed. They snap at their kids. While I haven’t quite figured out what problems the “perfect”sibling in my family has, after watching this show I’m sure she has some. While that doesn’t make me happy, it makes me (the more imperfect sibling) feel a little better about myself.
2. People can surprise you. Sometimes the screwed up kid in the family (hello Crosby) can grow up and get a job and have a family and make something of his/her life. This makes all those screwed up kids in the family (hello me) feel better about life in general. My motto is if Crosby and Sarah can do it, I can.
3. Eating outside under lights is the best thing ever. There is no deep lesson here—it’s just awesome. So awesome that I copied it last summer and strongly encourage everyone to do it too. It really is the best thing ever.
4. Have a little compassion for each other. I felt my heart explode with compassion for parents of kids with special needs after watching Adam and Kristina confront, manage, understand and feel everything Max was going through with Asperger’s. Their journey opened my eyes and my heart. I think understanding a little of their pain and frustration and hope and fear helped me be a better friend and a better parent and a better person.
5. In-laws can like each other. I think sister-in-laws and mother-in-laws get a bad rap sometimes. On the show, these relationships weren’t perfect, but ultimately they worked things out or agreed to disagree—as a good Braverman and all families should.
6. Forgive people. From little fights to affairs, the Bravermans were big on forgiveness.
7. Take some risks and go for your dream. While I thought Kristina running for mayor was a little far-fetched and it wasn’t my favorite storyline, it did make me feel like we could maybe all run for mayor. Or open up a school or the Lunchenette. To be a Braverman is to be a dreamer.
8. Even as we get older we are still learning so much about ourselves. One of my favorite story lines from the past couple seasons has been watching Hank discover things about himself while hanging out with Max. As I sift through possible diagnoses for one of my own children, I am having moments like Hank did. I’ve had moments where I read something and think, huh, maybe that’s what’s been going on my whole life. Powerful and relatable.
9. Show up. Weddings, baby showers, little league games, hospital waiting rooms, mayoral races…the Bravermans show up for each other. It’s just what they do and it is inspiring.
10. Appreciate it all because it goes fast. This has been the theme of the entire last season and it is a beautiful reminder to us all, it’s a gift. I have only been a parent for 13 years and I am starting to get it. What seemed like so far off in the future is happening right now. And I want to enjoy it, all of it. Even the messy, loud, imperfect, things aren’t going the way I wanted parts.
That’s the gift of Parenthood—reminding us all to appreciate our kids and our life and try to have a little fun along the way.
This scene sums up Zeek’s advice for life, and I love it. Watch here.
Bonus Lesson: Dance as often as you can. One of my favorite parts of the show has been watching the Bravermans dance together.