Whether we like it or not, entertainment does have its way of inserting itself into our personal lives. This isn't always a bad thing. Storytelling, after all, is one of the best ways to examine ourselves, the people we love, and the world around us. Perhaps this is why we gravitate to film and television as much as we do. Although we may see it as pure escapism, subconsciously we are learning a lot from it. And, right now, we are in a time where television is at its height. No matter how busy moms and dads may be, they still seem to be making time to catch up with their favorite series. How could we deny them? They are just too good. Not only that, but we do seem to take parenting lessons from them, even the shows we least expect to take lessons from.
This is not to say that the vintage series of the past aren't as good. Because, the truth is, some of them were absolutely world-changing. But that doesn't mean that every show from the past that dealt with family matters had a lesson that is still appropriate today. While some of the topics they dealt with still are impactful, others make no sense in 2019. Without further ado, here are 20 Vintage TV Shows With Parenting Lessons That Are Irrelevant Today.
20 Leave It To Beaver: Beware Of Those Who Think Differently
The 1957 - 1963 family series Leave It to Beaver was one of the most popular series of the time. But it preached a pretty "white-bread" and ultimately conformist agenda that fit pretty squarely into the time that it was in. It constantly sanitized real-life drama in a way that was deemed "appropriate" for the audience. But that didn't mean ti didn't push the boundaries in a negative way. It had some pretty firm opinions on the Cold War and those who were on the other side of the aisle. The parents constantly warned their kids of those who thought differently than them, especially those who didn't fall into their "cookie cutter" world. Nowadays, this just wouldn't fly with families who aren't tainted by the divisiveness of partisan politics. We know that there's always complexity, especially with people we disagree with.
19 Punky Brewster: Unfair Stereotyping
In the mid-1980s, Punky Brewster was one of the most popular kids shows on television. It also had many strong parenting lessons that are still timely today. However, it did have a few that were a bit off. One was seen in an episode where Punky goes on a camping trip with her friends and gets lost in the wilderness. This is where they meet a group of Indigenous people who are unfairly stereotyped in a way that is pretty silly and insulting. Although they weren't seen as a villain, Punky was taught to accept them for who they were, even if it was an on-the-nose stereotype. Nowadays, we see this type of message as a dumbed down nonsense.
18 Sabrina The Teenage Witch: Hide Who You Truly Are
One of the parenting messages in the original Sabrina: The Teenage Witch is consistent with that of the one in the new show, Adventures of Sabrina. This is because the aunts that parent Sabrina have always been pretty clear that she should live a lie and not tell her mortal friends of her witch status. But the message resonates less nowadays as parents are encouraged to let their kids be exactly who they are at any stage. If that means that they are a magical being in their off-hours, they should totally do that. But the Sabrina of the 1990s didn't have that luxury. She wasn't allowed to embrace who she truly was, meaning that Harvey and all of her friends didn't know she could cast spells and correspond with her talking cat.
17 Boy Meets World: It's Okay To Pick Your Boyfriend Over Yale
Without a doubt, Boy Meets World is still one of the best coming-of-age shows of all time. The program out of Canada has gone down as being a great series because of all the great parental lessons interwoven in the lives of Cory, Topanga, and the rest. After all, The Mr. and Mrs. Matthews and Mr. Finney pretty much raised all of the viewers. But that doesn't mean that all of their lessons are still appropriate nowadays.
One of the most glaring is that Topanga was encouraged to follow her boyfriend Cory to his college, even though she was accepted to the prestigious Yale University. This choice was backed by most of the parental figures in the school even though Cory felt bad about it. Nowadays, women are taught to follow their dreams over relationships, as those who we should be with tend to be there when we get back.
16 Family Matters: Only Date Someone If They're Attractive
Perhaps Family Matters is best known for its character, Steve Urkel. But Urkel was only supposed to be a one-time guest spot. It was only after an episode with a particularly bad parenting lesson that he was made into a series regular and ultimately the main star.
In the episode, Laura's parents encourage her to find the right date for the school dance. She wants to go with the good looking Mark, but he is already going with someone else. Her parents attempt to set her up with sons of the neighbors but the only one who is available is the not so good looking Urkel. Laura ends up refusing this because of his looks. Eventually, the dad sets this up as a favor to Urkel's dad. Laura ends up going with him and Urkel became a series regular because audiences loved him so much. But audiences today probably wouldn't need all that rigamarole. They would be more accepting of him regardless of looks.
15 Rugrats: Children Need Complete Freedom
When watching the hit 1990s through 2006 animated series Rugrats, one parenting lesson is abundantly clear. The parents on that show believed that their kids were better off let alone in a playpen in the other room. Seriously, most of the time they were completely unsurprised. Stu, Didi, and the like, are always in the kitchen or formal dining room while the kids hung around on their own. Parents nowadays would never let this fly. They are far more protective over their kids and know that they could get into trouble on their own. And that's precisely what happened on the show. Granted, most of the trouble that they got into was in their vast imaginations.
14 The Brady Bunch: Manipulation Is Better Than Communication
In one episode of the wildly popular Brady Bunch, Peter accidentally breaks one of Carol's lamps. Eventually, all of his siblings band together to help him not get caught. However, each of them independently goes to their parents to confess. Peter ends up being the only one not to tell the truth, so Mike and Carol start believing that he did it. Instead of letting him face the consequences of his actions, they manipulate him into forcing consequences on his innocent siblings. This type of parenting just wouldn't fly today. Parents know not to manipulate their child like that. Instead, they would get them to confess and make them face the consequences of their actions. But, in The Brady Bunch's defense, that's not very good television.
13 Full House: Being Whiny Is Cute
When you look back at Full House it really isn't one of the shows from the 80s and 90s that holds up. One of the reasons that it isn't as great as we remember has to do with one of the cutest elements of the show... Michelle. The youngest daughter in the Tanner household was totally adorable but utterly bad. She constantly did bad things but got away with it because she was cute. Although some parents still let this type of behavior happen today, most know that being cute isn't going to always cover up poor behavior. Michelle seemingly learned a few lessons per episode, but she still went back to being really bratty the next week. Eventually, her parents should have gotten sick of this.
12 7th Heaven: It's Fine To Control Your Kids
7th Heaven boasts a boatload of bad parenting tips as well as lessons for kids to live by. Although these lessons would be taken down today, some were pretty ludicrous back when the show first came on the air. Perhaps the most egregious is one that threads throughout every episode of the religious family drama. That lesson would be that it's totally okay for a parent to control every aspect of a child's life.
Reverend Camden and his wife basically told their kids (especially their girls) what they can and can't do at every age. They also told their kids when it was acceptable for them to lock lips for the first time. They had very unhealthy ownership over their kid's personal lives. In fairness, the Camden family wanted to insert themselves in the lives of everyone they came across in hopes that they'd "save" them. Oy vey.
11 Married With Children: It's Okay To Comment About People's Bodies
Married With Children was supposed to be a satire just like All In The Family was. It was a product of its era (the '80s) but also wanted to cross the line. One of the ways that it did this was making it clear that it was okay for people to comment on the shape and size of another person's body. Al Bundy (Aka the dad on Modern Family) constantly took women down if they didn't meet his beauty standards. Given Cristina Applegate's character, this was clearly something that came off on his children. Of course, nowadays, we are far more tolerant of those who are different than ourselves. Especially those who are battling a need to constantly feed themselves. This is also something that we pass down to our children to be more tolerant of.
10 The Jeffersons: "Marry Who I Tell You To"
The Jeffersons was one of the most influential and powerfully written shows of the 1970s. It was so unbelievably popular that it even crossed-over with another classic sit-com, All In The Family. In one of their cross-over episodes, the Jeffersons' son, Lionel, got married. However, it wasn't told to the Jefferson's that the parents of his bride were a mixed couple; one was Black and the other Caucasian. George Jefferson was not happy about this. He wanted his son to have in-laws that looked just like him. So he told his son that he was to marry who he wanted him to.
Although this type of parenting still occurs today, it's far less prominent. Parents know that they can't try to dictate who their kids get married to. Firstly, it's just not right. And secondly, the kid is more than likely to stand up against this.
9 Archie Bunker's Place: Don't Act Your Age
Although The Jeffersons were easily one of the most popular shows in the 70s, All In The Family was the king. It even got its own spin-off show, Archie Bunker's Place. In one episode Archie Bunker encourages his teenage niece twice-removed, Stephanie, to not focus on her hormones. Instead of paying attention to boys, she should be focusing on school and church instead. This occurs after Archie comes home and finds that Stephanie and her friends are idolizing men at their sleepover. Archie's housekeeper, Ellen, says that it's natural for the girls to be thinking about this stuff, but Archie doesn't like it. Nowadays, we know better. We know to let our kids express their feelings in a safe place and not to suppress their natural urges.
8 Friends: Anybody Can Be A Babysitter
Ross Gellar learned the hard way that one can't trust just anyone to look after their children. Nowadays, parents know this. They are more and more aware of who they leave their children with, what they're doing and where they are. In a sense, they are ten times more protective. But Ross, in the beloved 90s show Friends, didn't think about this. He left little baby Ben with his two best friends, Chandler and Joey. Although the pair of bachelors had all the equipment necessary for taking care of a baby, their minds were elsewhere. They left Ross' baby on a bus, after being distracted by two women. Luckily for the fans of Riverdale, baby Ben was found. It's unlikely that this kind of thing would happen with an aware parent nowadays.
7 Roseanne: Don't Kiss Another Woman
Roseanne was one of the most honest and talked about shows throughout the 1980s. One of the reasons that it was beloved was the fact that it didn't sugar-coat issues that everyday people came across. These included social issues, many of which were worked into the show and evolved over time. This allowed for a more conservative audience to expand their perspectives.
One of the issues had to do with men and women being the only ones allowed to be together. At first, Roseanne and Dan were pretty strict about their kids being with people of the same gender. This was reflected in an episode where Roseanne actually locked lips with Mariel Hemingway. Eventually, her character's perspective on the matter grew. They even included Sandra Bernhard's character and her female partner. But with parents of today, there wouldn't be a need for evolution. Most don't care who their kid falls for as long as they are a good person.
6 Everybody Loves Raymond: Being Neighbors With Your In-Laws Is A Good Parenting Strategy
Via flashbacks, we learn that Debra was convinced that having her in-laws living across the street would be a good strategy for parenting. It's not soon after that she finds out that this would be her greatest mistake. Parents nowadays don't have as much of a need to respect their elders in a traditional sense, AKA including them in parenting decisions and every other aspect of their lives. But in the 1990s, this wasn't as much of the case. Some forward-thinking writers clearly disagreed when they created Everybody Loves Raymond. After all, the show is based on the idea that having in-laws across the street is just not a great idea for everyone. Ray's parents end up being total hinderances for a variety of reasons and drive Debra to her wit's end.
5 Family Ties: You Can Only Be Sad When Grieving
Before the days of The West Wing or Spin City, Micheal J. Fox starred on the immensely successful Family Ties. One episode saw his character, Alex, deal with the demise of his best friend. Although the loss really affects everyone on a deep and emotional level, Alex seems pretty fine. This is something that his parents battle to understand. They think that he should show his grief by crying and being sad. Instead, he is upbeat and pretty manic. But this is because he is feeling a newfound respect for life as it could have been him that passed away. Additionally, he was dealing with his loss in a completely different way. This is something that's more understood these days.
4 The Sopranos: Men Have To Act Like Men
On HBO's award-winning (and utterly brilliant) series, The Sopranos, Tony always pushed his son, AJ, to act like the man that he wanted him to be. He wanted AJ to be good at sports, to take responsibility for the women around him, and to act aggressively. But the real complexity within this show had to do with the fact that Tony himself felt this exact same pressure within the community of men that he was in. For example, he really didn't want the fact that he expressed his feelings in therapy to get out. He thought his value as a man. But a lot of this internal anger was taken out on AJ because he was his heir. He was the next generation. The second chance. After all, AJ stood for Anthony (Tony) Jr.
Although this show knew what it was doing when dealing with this issue, it's still a bad parenting lesson and one that just wouldn't happen nowadays. We know that masculinity means a variety of different things. And that includes being open and honest about the way we, as men, feel. In order for this world to heal, it's vital that men expand their perspective on what masculinity entails.
3 The Jetsons: Kids Should Be Taught By Robots
Nowadays, parents know the value of a good teacher. They know that a teacher needs to cater to a variety of unique personalities instead of just teaching to the room. But back in the '60s and '70s when The Jetsons were popular, teachers tended to do their job monotonously. Clocking in and clocking out. There was no room for discussion and little opportunity for creativity or freedom of thought. This made kids disinterested in learning and probably wasn't the best method for teaching.
This is preciously the issue dealt with in one episode of The Jetsons where Elroy really doesn't want to be taught be a monotonous robot. But his parents insisted that he be taught by this robot because it was the way of the future. Little did they know...
2 All In The Family: Always Respect Your Elders
All In The Family had a boatload of bad lessons for children to learn. But the problem with focusing on that for this article is that was the intent of the show. Archie Bunker was supposed to be a total piece of work. But in one instance, the show really tried to tell kids that they must respect their elders no matter what. But here's the problem with that... What if the elders are wrong?
In one episode, daughter Gloria stands up against her father for making utterly uninformed and backward comments about women. But her mother, Edith, comes in and tells her that she has to always respect her elders. Gloria then goes after Edith for allowing this to happen. This argument wouldn't happen today as the young are often helping older people become more educated and open-minded when it comes to these issues.
1 The Flintstones: When Mad, Grab A Bat
Although The Flintstones is a great vintage show, it didn't always have the best parental lessons for children. One of the most obvious ones is the fact that Wilma constantly took out her anger on Fred in ways that would for sure not be considered okay. She did this in front of Pebbles who was basically taught that taking a prehistoric mallet out is the right way to settle a dispute. This, of course, just wouldn't go nowadays. Parents would be mortified if their child thought that was the right way to go about things. Look at Bam Bam, the kid takes out all his frustrations with his club. It just wouldn't fly nowadays.
Additionally, parents are a little smarter now and wouldn't want their kids to think that humans existed at the same time as the dinosaurs. It's just not historically accurate. Then again, a lot of vintage shows didn't care about accuracy. They just wanted to entertain.
SOURCES: Intellectual Takeout, The Gamer, Tv. AVClub, Embarrassing Treasures, Family Matters.Fandom, Cracked, Good To Know, MeTV, The Tempest, Youtube, Broadly.Vice, Screen Rant, Grunge, After Ellen, NY Times