“The Golden Girls” Taught Me All I Needed To Know About Raising Teens

Growing up, Saturday night prime time television shows were sacred in our house. My brothers and I would put on our pajamas, make popcorn in the air popper and crowd around on the floor while my parents settled in on the couch. I can still feel my teenaged brothers elbowing me to make room for their gangly legs as we watched Marla Gibbs on 227 and Sherman Helmsley on Amen.

But, my favorite part of the night was when The Golden Girls episode aired. From the moment I watched the first episode in the late 80s, I fell in love with Rose, Sophia, Blanche and Dorothy. I delighted in their perfectly appointed Floridian home and I dreamed of one day owning a lanai of my own. I didn’t even know what a lanai was at the time, but I knew I had to have one.

I also decided at the ripe old age of 13 that one day, I was going to live out my golden years in Florida with my three best girlfriends. In fact, I already have my three besties picked out for when that day comes. Though, when I bring this up to my husband, he politely reminds me that I’m assuming that he’ll go first and that it might be him and 3 dudes hanging out in the Sunshine State. #ThankYouForBeingAFriendHoney

The Golden Girls
The Golden Girls taught me everything I needed to know about raising teens. (Screen shot, The Golden Girls theme, YouTube)

As the years have gone by, The Golden Girls has remained a mainstay of my binge watching pleasure. There’s no greater excitement than to be browsing your TV menu and realizing that the episode when Rose finds out that Miles has to join the witness protection program is airing.

And, Rose singing, “Miami, you’re cuter than….an interuterine….” never gets old. Ever.

My kids are teenagers now and with an empty nest staring me in the face and retirement in the not so distant future, I have recently realized that those four women on Saturday night Prime Time TV taught me everything I needed to know about raising teens and life beyond.

Dorothy taught me that sometimes, teenagers screw up…

Dorothy’s character found herself pregnant as a teen and she wound up marrying the bumbling Stanley Zbornak, much to her mother Sophia’s horror. At some time in your journey with raising teens, your kid is going to disappoint you. And you will have to accept that, sometimes, your kids make bad choices, despite the way you’ve parented them. They will make mistakes and it’s gonna be okay. Even if they wind up with a Stanley.

…and Sophia taught me you have to love your teens through their mistakes.

Sophia never minced words when it came to Dorothy’s husband, Stanley but she loved her Pussycat though all of her mistakes. And though she and Dorothy often disagreed, she never let Dorothy forget that she’d always have her daughter’s back.

Rose taught me that ignorance is bliss when it comes to raising teens.

There are some days when my mom radar tells me that my teens might be up to no good, that they might be trying to pull a fast one on me when it comes to a curfew or a broken rule. And, though I know what they are trying to do, sometimes, I pull a Rose and play dumb. Because life really is easier when you are “back in St. Olaf.”

Blanche reminds me to be open and honest about sex with my teens.

Blanche’s character was full of Southern charm and she was always hot to trot. She owned her sexuality and oozed femininity with her flashy outfits and her wild nights on the town. She explored her sexual side openly and she reminds me to openly talk to my teens about their sexual feelings. And, she also reminds me that Girls’ Night Out is the perfect remedy for blowing off steam after a week of dealing with moody teens.

Sophia taught me that being the family historian is important.

It’s hard to imagine an episode of The Golden Girls not including Sophia waxing on about life in Sicily. “Picture it, Sicily 1924,” she’d say, to the collective sighs of the other women. Her stories imparted life lessons with her usual hilarious delivery. These days, when my kids are irritated because the WiFi is down or they can’t find a specific source on Google for a project, I channel my inner Sophia and say, “Picture it, 1987. There was no WiFi and Google was set of encyclopedias your grandmother bought from a sales guy who knocked on our door…”

And, if all else fails, open a cheesecake and sit at the kitchen table.

When you are living with teens, there are days when seeing eye to eye feels damned near impossible. Their burgeoning independence will clash with your strong desire to see them succeed and there seems like there’s no middle ground. In those moments, The Golden Girls remind me that baked goods bring teens out of the woodwork, even if it’s just to eat a slice of cake in sullen silence.

As parents, we’d travel down a road and back again to show our teens how much we love them and, if we threw them a Sweet Sixteen party and invited everyone they knew, our teens would see the biggest gift there would be from us. Because our hearts are true when it comes to how we feel about our teens, right?

And, I’m pretty sure the day my son yells the name of the local nursing home in response to my annoying ways, my life will come full circle. #ShadyPinesForever


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About Christine Burke

Christine Burke is the owner of the popular parenting blog, www.keeperofthefruitloops.com Keeperofthefruitloops.com. In her spare time, she runs marathons, collects thrift shop finds and eats ice cream like it's her job. Her work has been featured on the Today Show, the Today Parenting Team, Scary Mommy and other parenting websites. She writes about the realities of soon sending her not so little anymore kids off to college and prays she doesn't use too many comma splices in the process.

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