Parenting, Game of Thrones StyleBrian Gresko
Kids who think they run the world? Wildlings who follow no rules and don’t even know what a windmill is? Grown men wearing protective chain mail underneath fancy outerwear? Oh, yes, the parallels between this season of Game of Thrones — the medieval fantasy series where various power-hungry players fight ruthlessly to sit on the iron throne — and parenting are easy to draw.
With the final episode of HBO’s amazing show on the horizon, I thought I would take the opportunity to draw some comparisons between the two. But beware! There be spoilers ahead! So if you’re not up-to-date on this season’s episodes, or if you only have a six-month-old, you might be surprised by what you’re about to hear.
Click on to find out how Game of Thrones is like parenting… 1 of 9
Like Jaime Lannister, you wish you had another hand. 2 of 9
Need I say more? What parent doesn't wish they had another appendage to appease the little one?
You think you’re going to have a fun party, but it turns into a messy nightmare. 3 of 9
So Robb and Lady Stark thought they were going into a wedding where, sure, Robb might have to prostrate himself before the girls he made an oath to — a pledge to marry one of them — which he then broke, but besides eating crow, it'd be fun, right? Uh, no. There was betrayal and a bloody mess and the Game's just not going to be the same.
Replace the blood with vomit and nasty old Walder Frey with a grumpy old grandfather and you've basically got a toddler's birthday party, right? Including the part where clothes get ripped off in an act both celebratory and creepy.
You think they don’t understand you, but they’re getting every word. 4 of 9
When that nasty slaver Kraznys was haggling with Daenerys about purchasing The Unsullied, an army of 8,000 slaves trained as killers, he had some choice words about her body, if by choice you mean foul, disgusting, and misogynistic. Of course, he was speaking High Valyrian, which everyone knows is a dead language, so who could understand him? Joke's on him, 'cause Valeria is the Khaleesi's ancestral home! So she got every awful word, loud and clear. (And then she had her dragon burn him to a cinder.)
Just like when you're talking with your partner about whether your kid deserves I-C-E C-R-E-A-M and your kid looks and is like, "What's this about ice cream?"
They know far more than you realize.
When they melt down in public it often feels like you’re fighting a bear, and everyone watching is cheering for it to rip you to shreds. 5 of 9
Seeing Lady Brienne, dressed to the nines in a ridiculous pink dress, literally pitted against an angry bear with an riotous mob of Harrenhall lowlifes cheering for her death, brought me back to the days of toddler tantrums in public, when it felt like people were not just watching, but I felt like they were wishing that Felix would win. All you can do is play defense and be strong, because while your knight in shining armor might not leap into the fray to protect you, you'll be alright in the end. Hang in there!
Before scaling the Wall, you have to make sure your team is tight. 6 of 9
Jon Snow, Ygritte, and Orell the Warg should have taken some time to clear up their differences before starting the grueling ascent over the Wall. Because a climb like that, just like parenting, is beset with challenges, and when the ice cracked, leaving Jon and Ygritte hanging by a rope, what happened? Orell tried to cut them loose! Way to work as a team. (Is this why the Wildlings have never successfully taken The North?)
Similarly, you should make sure that you and your partner are tight before having a kid. Because parenthood's just going to exacerbate a couple's differences, and you don't want to find halfway up the Wall that you're getting cut loose, or that you're tempted to do the cutting yourself.
When you smell a tantrum coming, take the high road. 7 of 9
The ruthlessly efficient Tywin Lanister knows when to exert his authority and when to back down. After King Joffrey flashed him some attitude about where the council meetings were being held, Tywin pushed back just enough, but not so much that he brought on a tantrum by the little king. He bit his tongue, sucked it up, and respectfully said "Your Grace..." He knew what Joffrey really called him in for: he was scared of the dragons! And just wanted his grandfather to hold his hand and calm his worries.
Similarly, sometimes, especially when they're upset or scared about something, little kids can be a bit bossy, even rude. But you have to read between the lines and understand that anxiety is at the heart of their attitude. Respond to that, not the attitude itself.
Don’t force your kid to sign up for things they’re just not that interested in doing. 8 of 9
Lady Stark learned the hard way — you can't force your kids to do something that they just don't want to do, even if you think it'll be good for them in the long run. When she pushed her oldest son Robb into an engagement with one of Walder Frey's girls, she should've realized that the roguishly handsome young man was going to eventually attract the attention of a more fetching, and, uh, available young lady, and that this might lead to complications. If only she'd listened to him from the start and not pushed him!
Similarly, if you think your kid should be taking a class or doing a sport or activity, and they're just not that into it, back off. They're only going to act out in the long run.
Don’t treat your toddler like a king. 9 of 9
First, someone needs to take Joffrey's toys away. Who needs an ultra-high-powered crossbow anyway? What's he hunting — dragons? Second, stop talking to this spoiled little brat like he's the ruler of the known world, even if he may be. Finally, maybe someone should take him to see a developmental therapist of some sort? I'm no expert, but it seems like something's a bit off with Joffrey's moral compass.
All I'm saying is, don't let this be your kid. Set some limits! And encourage him to be nice, ok?