Quality Parenting Advice from Arrested Development (Really.)Brian Gresko
The Bluths are back on May 26th! Fifteen new episodes of Arrested Development will be available to stream on Netflix all at once, so a sick day is in order, or, if you’re home with the kids, you might have to hide with your laptop and a frozen banana daiquiri in the attic. (Just give the kids an air horn to blow if they’re in need of help.)
In preparation, I’ve been re-watching old episodes to see how they’ve held up. Arrested Development ran for three seasons on Fox from 2003 to 2006. I’ve always raved about it, but I wondered, now that time has passed, did I make a huge mistake?
Come on! Of course not. Spending time with the Bluths is like hanging out with old friends. There’s George Sr., the patriarch on the lam for his shady business dealings, his lovely lush of a wife Lucille, and their kids, George Oscar Bluth Jr. (GOB), the adopted Lindsay and her blowhard of a hubby Tobias, Michael, the only sane one in the bunch, kind of, and mamma’s boy Buster. And of course there’s the children, Lindsay and Tobais’s daughter Maeby and Michael’s son George Michael.
I watched Arrested Development in the years leading up to becoming a father, and going back has made me realize how much they’ve influenced my parenting. Even when I started writing about fatherhood, back on The Huffington Post, I referred to my son Felix as Mr. F, in a column called “For Daddy’s Eyes Only.” Actually, only one of those things describes my column.
So, without further adieu…
"What have we always said is the most important thing?" 1 of 11
George Michael: Breakfast!
Michael: ....No. family.
George Michael: Oh right! I thought you meant in the things you eat.
Click on for some real pearls of wisdom...
Know When to Take the Hook Out 2 of 11
While Buster Bluth's eleven months in the womb may have predisposed him for toward being a mama's boy, Lucile certainly didn't help by keeping her hooks in him, encouraging him to stay in her penthouse in Balboa Towers, having him comb her hair every night, and taking him to Motherboy — no, not the 1970's hard rock band, but the dance gala that celebrates boys' love for their mothers — each year. You have to let go of your kids otherwise they'll never let go of being a kid.
Parents Are People Too, With Needs… 3 of 11
Even though you're a parent, you're still a human being, with all the hopes, dreams, and desires for an open marriage that you had before you had a kid. When Lindsay and Tobias experiment with seeing other people, their daughter Maeby is oh-so-encouraging of the whole affair, probably because they raised her to see them as individuals. (No surprise — remember, her dad was both a certified analyst and therapist.) When Lindsay tells her daughter she doesn't want to bring her to the company Christmas party because, "If I show up with you, it'll just make me seem like I'm a mother," Maeby says "I've never thought of you that way."
Sweet, right? Lindsay thought so too.
…But Remember, Always Keep Your Kids in Mind. 4 of 11
When Lucille says to Michael, "You're the only one who choose a spouse I liked and she had to die," he replies, "I know, that's rough for you." But Lucille always thinks of herself first, and look at how her children feel about her. Well, all of her children except for Buster, I guess.
Remember, there is no I in Fam-uh-lee. Well, not in the way I’m spelling it, anyway. 5 of 11
Even though picking on your kids and watching them spar with one another can be funny, especially on a boring Sunday afternoon, it only ends up in hurt feelings. Remember how George Sr. used to egg the boys on when they were fighting, and then film them? (Films which he then sold as a series of videos called Boyfights (each of which came with a Baby Buster short!)) Michael confronted GOB about this once "I really think the only reason you and I ever fight is that since we were little kids, Dad's always played us off each other."
"Dad always said that was your fault," GOB replied.
See? Old habits die hard. So put aside your depraved desires for fun and be a good parent, eh?
My favorite bit of advice: Don’t play favorites! 6 of 11
Lucille: If you're saying I play favorites, you're wrong. I love all my children equally.
[Flashback to that morning]
Lucille: I don't care for GOB.
No matter how mature, or accomplished a magician they are — whether they're a Tony Wonder or a Poof Goof of the Year — they all have something to offer. Even GOB was good for a laugh. Ok, so maybe you didn't laugh with him, but still...
When Giving Directions to Children, always Communicate Directly… 7 of 11
George Sr. always told the family, "There is always money in the banana stand." He just never mentioned it was literally lined with $250,000, all of which burned when Michael torched the stand in frustration.
…And Never Make Assumptions 8 of 11
When George Michael tried to tell his dad that had Pop-pop in the attic, Michael jumped to conclusions, thinking his son was talking about his new girlfriend, Egg, I mean, Ann. "The mere fact that you call making love "pop pop" tells me you're not ready," Michael told him. But really, George Michael did have his Pop-pop hidden in the attic, as Michael would later learn.
Don’t be stingy with the hugs 9 of 11
Even if you grew up in a family where the rule, unspoken or otherwise, was "NO TOUCHING!" it's always good to give your children an encouraging pat or hug or some other crumb of physical affection. Otherwise they might not know how to take it when you do swoop in!
Michael: Why are you squeezing me with your body?â€¨
Lucille: It's a hug, Michael. I'm hugging you.
Some family secrets are bad… 10 of 11
Doing business deals with Saddam Hussein? Running off with Kitty, your secretary? And what about Uncle Oscar, who is secretly Buster's dad?! These would go under the "bad" category.
… and yet others are necessary for the family to function. 11 of 11
This is probably the most essential piece of advice Arrested Development has to offer us. We all have characters like Tobias Funke in our family — people who pretend to be what they're not, who have strange quirks, and yet, who are, at heart, sweet, good people. Sometimes it's best just to turn a blind eye and not say anything.