I Beg of Thee: Watch Glee
If you’ve read this blog before you know I’m a Glee fan. But if you’re a parent, and you aren’t watching it, you oughtta be. It doesn’t matter how young your kids are, there’s a lot to take away that’s relevant to parenting.
Sure, it’s a high school soap opera set to a catchy musical score, but the writers and actors are delivering social messages that are capable of changing youth behavior in a way that well-intentioned lectures from parents, teachers, and YouTube campaigns can’t. It also can change the way you parent by opening your eyes to what your kids are either suffering, or will likely suffer in some way, whether they’re struggling with peer pressure, body image, homosexuality, gender stereotypes, physical limitations, race and class bias, or a host of other ways they may be villified because they are different.
They do it by making the show aspirational: by showing us how it should be, could be, how you want it to be for your kids. Example:
Season 1: A gay kid comes out to his dad, the dad embraces him while acknowledging his struggle with it. All possible and positive. Then throw in the way the gay kid teaches the football team to move to Beyonce’s Put a Ring On It so they win their first game, and you find yourself saying “I want high school to be just like that for my kids.” Not likely, but when you watch it with your kids (mine are 14 and 8), they get to see what is possible, which gives them hope, and hopefully, the courage to stand up for what they believe is possible.
Season 2: Same gay kid, despite his moment of glory, is still tormented by bullies, one of whom is apparently dealing with his own homosexual impulses. Gay kid stands up to his bully in a tense but superbly enacted scene that makes you cringe and applaud within a 30 second time span. Post show, my girls and I discuss the fact that two boys kissed on TV, and that we are excited by the impending teen boy love affair (and more of the Warblers).
Like I said, homosexuality is just one of the issues the story is tackling. I wept during a second scene, which showed a grown woman experiencing the hurt and ostracization that comes from a lifetime of not fitting in on society’s terms. I could relate to this character’s story and admired her emotional honesty—I used her experience to reinforce with my own girls how important it is to love yourself entirely. Women tend to get the shallow beauty message beat into them and I have tried hard to downplay what amounts to external packaging in order to reinforce the importance of the real gifts that lie within: intelligence, compassion, self-esteem, strength.
So parents, give it a whirl, checkout an episode of Glee, and find yourself challenged to create some new teachable moments with your kids. At the very list, you’ll find yourself humming to a really catchy tune the next day.
- Glee’s Madonna Tribute: My Sex Ed TV Moment
- Glee’s Sex Education Episode
- Older Moms, Watch Your Back