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Parenting Dos and Don’ts As Illustrated By Les Mis

Les Miserables is a story about the selflessness of parenting. Fantine struggles to provide for her daughter. Jean Valjean earns redemption through caring for Cosette. The Thenardiers . . . are an example of what not to do.

There’s a lot to learn from this musical. We see parenting mistakes and triumphs. From the first generous act of the Bishop and his candlesticks to the last act of Jean Valjean’s selflessness, the themes of Les Miserables resonate much more for me now that I have kids. Ask any parent, they’ll tell you: To love another person is to see the face of God.


  • Do Whatever It Takes 1 of 6
    Do Whatever It Takes
    Work in a factory, sell your hair, pull out your teeth—All in the service of your children. Hopefully things will go a little better for you than they did for Fantine, but being a parent means having skin in the game.
    Photo Credit: DigitalSpy.
  • Read Their Mail 2 of 6
    Read Their Mail
    Parents are usually conflicted about invading their kids' privacy, but Jean Valjean shows us that intercepting messages and reading them are for your children's own good. Snoop, if you have to. And don't be ashamed of it.
    Photo Credit: DigitalSpy
  • Temper Justice With Mercy 3 of 6
    Temper Justice With Mercy
    Javert clings blindly to the law. There is no room in his unyielding heart for mercy or forgiveness. Javert is the parent who screams at his child to "Finish all your fries before you drink your shake!" Don't parent like Javert or your kids might hate you.
    Photo Credit: DigitalSpy
  • Be Choosy About Babysitters 4 of 6
    Be Choosy About Babysitters
    You might want to be just a little more careful about who you leave your kids with. I know quality childcare is hard to find, but you can probably do better than the Thenardiers. An evening in their company could scar your child for life.
    Photo Credit: DigitalSpy
  • Don’t Shelter Them Too Much 5 of 6
    Don't Shelter Them Too Much
    It's a fine line between protecting your child from harmful influence and debilitating them through over-protection. If they instantaneously fall in love with the 1st person they meet who isn't you, perhaps you've hovered a little too closely.
    Photo Credit: DigitalSpy
  • Honor Their Choices 6 of 6
    Honor Their Choices
    Whether it's a new boyf they think they're in love with or a cause they think they'd die for, you'll do best to honor your kids' choices—Even if they seem naive and/or foolhardy. Your kids have their whole lives to learn about pain, slavery, toil, sin, punishment, revolution, death, and redemption.
    Photo Credit: DigitalSpy

More thoughts on Les Mis, here.

Read more of my writing at Babble or check out my blog, Every Day I Write the Book.

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