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Remembering James Gandolfini: Lessons in Parenting From Tony Soprano

The HBO series The Sopranos has been on pretty much everyone’s minds this week after the untimely passing of its star James Gandolfini. The acclaimed actor won three Emmys for playing the patriarch of not one family but two: his mob family and his genetic family.

James Gandolfini gave such a wonderful, nuanced, and sensitive portrayal of what could have easily been a one-sided caricature, but he gave the character Tony Soprano so much depth and realness that it was nearly impossible to not have empathy for the man, even though he was a total womanizing, cheating, lying crook. One of the aspects that made his role, and The Sopranos series so different is that it didn’t just concentrate on  just his mob family, but the family at home. And those story arcs – from dealing with Tony Jr.’s scholastic failings, to Meadow’s coming of age dramas, to the caring for and death of his mother were some of the most powerful and most relatable of the series.

We’ve collected some of the most poignant parenting moments and quotes from the show, lessons in parenting via Tony Soprano.

  • Lessons in Parenting from Tony Soprano 1 of 9
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    Words of wiseguy wisdom from Tony Soprano...

  • On Teens and the Internet 2 of 9
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    Dr. Jennifer Melfi: "It sounds to me like Anthony Jr. may have stumbled onto existentialism."

    

Tony Soprano: "F*%king Internet."

  • On Providing For One’s Family 3 of 9
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    Tony Soprano: "I work hard all day to pay for this 6,000 square foot house, big screen TVs, food on the table, video games, all kinds of scooters, bicycles, Columbia University, and for what? To come home to this!"

    Anthony Jr.: "Sucks to be you."

    Tony then does something no parent should do, he slaps Anthony Jr. in the face.

  • On Mistakes 4 of 9
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    Janice: "There's a Zuni saying: 'For every twenty wrongs a child does, ignore nineteen.'"
    Tony Soprano: "There's an old Italian saying: 'You f**k up once, you lose two teeth.'"

  • On Discipline 5 of 9
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    After finding that Meadow had a huge party at the home of Tony's recently deceased mother, Carmela and Tony struggle with how to discipline her:

    Carmela: As a parent today, you are over a barrel no matter what you do. You take away her car, you become her chauffeur. You ground her, you've got to stay home weekends and be prison guards.
    Tony: If you throw her out, social services will bring her back and we'd be in front of the judge. She's not 18 yet.
    Carmela: That's your solution? To throw your daughter out?
    Tony: All I'm sayin', with the laws today you can't even restrain your kid physically. She could sue you for child abuse.
    Carmela: There has to be consequences.
    Tony: And there will be, I hear ya okay. Let's just not overplay our hand. Because if she figures out we're powerless, we're f**ked.

  • On The Circle of Life 6 of 9
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    Tony Soprano: I stopped at a light yesterday and I see this nanny pushin' a baby carriage. Comin' the other way, was another one with this old lady in a wheelchair starin' off into space.
    Dr. Jennifer Melfi: The circle of life.
    Tony Soprano: Circle-jerk of life. Where's the dignity?

  • On Consequences 7 of 9
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    Carmela: (about Meadow) There has to be consequences. What kind of parents would we be if we let her get away with this?
    Tony: Typical.

  • On Taking it All 8 of 9
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    Tony Soprano: Remember the story you told me about the father bull talking to the son? They're up on this hill and looking down on a bunch of cows. And the son goes to the father, "Dad, why don't we run down there and f*%k one of these cows?" Now do you remember what the father said? Father says, "Son, why don't we walk down there and f*&k them all?"

  • On Being Proud of One’s Father 9 of 9
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    Tony Soprano: But I'll tell ya somethin', I was proud to be Johnny Soprano's kid. When he beat the sh*t outta that guy, I went to the class, I told them how tough my father was.
    Dr. Jennifer Melfi: Do you think that's how your son feels about you?
    Tony Soprano: Yeah, probably. And I'm glad. I'm glad if he's proud of me. But that's the bind I'm in 'cause I don't want him to *be* like me.

     

Photo Source: HBO

 

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