Remember the time before Tivo and DVR? Back in those days, I would make sure I was home every Thursday night, butt firmly planted on the couch at 8 PM to watch my favorite mother/ daughter duo — Lorelai and Rory Gilmore of Stars Hollow, Connecticut.
Although this was years before I had any kids of my own, I would watch the show and think to myself, “Man, I hope I’m as cool of a mom as Lorelei.” Sure, those Gilmore girls had their ups and downs, but their relationship was inspiring (not to mention, often hilarious).
Now that I’m the mom to a daughter of my own, I think back to Lorelei’s parenting style with admiration and have the urge to steal a thing or two from her bag of tricks.
Luckily, my chance to do just that is right around the corner. This October, Netflix will stream ALL seven seasons of the beloved show. In celebration of the epic binge-watching-escapade to come, here are a few of my favorite parenting lessons from the one and only Lorelai Gilmore.
1. Share your passions.
Lorelai and Rory shared many interests: clothing, movies, coffee, boys … and of course, The Bangles. Sharing a hobby or love for the same band can bring parents and kids together in unexpected ways. Let’s just hope, for your sake, that the band isn’t One Direction.
2. Help your kids pursue their dreams.
“This is it. She can finally go to Harvard like she’s always wanted and get the education that I never got and get to do all the things that I never got to do and then I can resent her for it and we can finally have a normal mother-daughter relationship.” — Lorelai
While Lorelai is obviously joking (no one wants their teenager to resent them, even though most do anyway), as a parent you can find so much joy and fulfillment in giving your kids opportunities beyond what you experienced — whether it’s sending your kid to college or even the Ivy League school of their dreams. Bonus points if you get to live out one of your own dreams in the process, like when Lorelai and Rory backpacked across Europe after Rory’s high school graduation.
3. Treat your kids’ friends like extended family.
Rory’s best friend Lane was always welcome at the Gilmore house and a familiar face at the dinner table. In fact, when Lane has a traumatizing high school experience, Lorelai is the one who talks her off the “I can never show my face again in class” ledge. When you make the time to get to know your kids’ friends, it also strengthens your relationship with your child.
4. Create family traditions – even if they aren’t so traditional.
“I managed to find Uno and Checkers, and Battleship and most of the pieces of Candyland. Which I figure, we can mix together to create a fabulous new game, Candyship Battleland. War never tasted so good!” — Lorelai
Family traditions not only unite your family, but give a sense of stability and inject fun into the everyday. Don’t feel pressured to make everything picture perfect — if we’ve learned anything from Lorelai, it’s that take-out Chinese food and a round of Candyship Battleland can be every bit as warm and fuzzy as a home-cooked meal and a game of Scrabble. Our family game night is Wednesday and I wouldn’t trade those evenings for anything.
5. Sometimes you want to pull a Freaky Friday … and that’s ok.
“My life stinks. Hey, let’s look into each other’s eyes and say ‘I wish I were you’ at exactly the same time — maybe we’ll pull a Freaky Friday.” – Lorelai
Lorelai had Rory when she was just 16, so she never had the chance to be a “normal” teenager. But no matter what age we had our kids, we all have moments when we wish we could be young again, even if just for a day or two. It’s totally natural to have those moments when you want to trade lives with your kids. I know I do. Someone catering to my every whim, making all my meals, driving me to school, no job to worry about and the metabolism to eat a massive hot fudge sundae? Yeah, that sounds pretty great.
6. Your kids don’t need to learn EVERYTHING.
Rory: “How am I supposed to get into Harvard if I have no wilderness skills?”
Lorelai: “I don’t know, honey. Maybe you’ll have to give up your dream of majoring in Logging.”
We all want our kids to be well-rounded but if you’re getting worked up because your child isn’t a chess prodigy/fluent in Mandarin/tech start-up founder by age 12, it might be time to pump the brakes. All of us, even over-achievers like Rory, need to be reminded to relax sometimes. At the end of the day, as long as they’re happy and healthy, the rest will fall into place.
7. Always keep your head high and look for the funny.
“Because one day, I decided that instead of being hurt and upset by your disapproval, I’m gonna be amused. I’m gonna find it funny. I’m even going to take a little bit of pleasure in it.” — Lorelai
Lorelai’s mother Emily is … let’s just say, hard to please. Throughout the series, she’s frank in her criticism of her daughter’s choices, from being a teenage mother, to living in a humble home, to dating a coffee-shop owner like Luke. Lorelei’s response is a good lesson for any mom: don’t let anyone’s disapproval get to you. Don’t ever let other people’s judgments get you down. Instead try asking yourself, “What would Lorelai do?”
8. Let your kids be sad when they need to be sad.
“Listen, I’ve had my heart broken before. It’s really hard. It’s hard for everyone. So, can I give you a little advice? I think what you really need to do today is wallow. Get back in your pajamas, got to bed, eat nothing but gallons of ice cream and tons of pizza. Don’t take a shower or shave your legs or put on any kind of makeup at all. And just sit in the dark and watch a really sad movie and have a good long cry and just wallow. You need to wallow.” — Lorelai
The teenage years are hard, especially your first heartbreak. When Rory and Dean broke up, Lorelai didn’t try to “fix it” or even cheer her up right away. She validated her daughter’s emotions and encouraged her to feel her feelings. Teach your kids that it’s okay to cry, to feel heartbroken, and to take the time to heal. We all get sad sometimes and that’s OK.
9. Always be yourself.
Rory was lucky enough to grow up with a mom who never pushed her or tried to create a “mini-me.” Instead, Lorelai gave Rory the freedom to be her authentic self, no matter whether that entailed reading every book by authors with a Russian surname by the age of twelve or switching her dream school from Harvard to Yale.
Lorelai Gilmore wasn’t a conventional TV mom — she was a far cry from June Cleaver — but she was a loving, caring, and totally awesome. She sacrificed so much for her daughter, and did it with style, grace, and hilarity. Lorelie and Rory are one of the most memorable mother- duos TV has ever seen, and I can’t wait to watch all their best moments over again.
Which one is your favorite?
Image credit: Gilmore Girls screen caps via Home Of The NuttyMore On