Sure, it’s just a show. It’s not meant to be a parenting bible or Parenting 101, but whatever. I’m not above taking parenting tips wherever and whenever I can get them, and I picked up a lot from Lorelai Gilmore.
Maybe it was the picturesque setting of Stars Hollow that captured me, or maybe it was because my first child was a girl, but I was hooked on this show and I wanted my relationship with my daughter to be JUST like Lorelai and Rory’s. Here’s what I learned from two of the coolest brunettes in Connecticut.
1 | It’s okay to be friends with your kid.
Best friends even. Probably the greatest thing to me was how close Lorelei and Rory were. Skeptics will say, “but parents aren’t supposed to be friends with their children!” and many mothers would agree (Lorelei’s sure did), but maybe that’s why I appreciated it so much. It is possible to be a good mother, provide discipline, but also be close with your children, especially as they get older. It’s a delicate balancing act to be sure, but the results of mastering this act are worth the trouble. So get out your tightrope-walking shoes!
2 | For God’s sake, give your kid a brownie.
The amount of junk food Lorelai and Rory consumed on the show is obviously exaggerated but for me the message came across loud and clear: It’s okay to enjoy your life and eat a cheeseburger. Especially if you get said cheeseburger from a handsome man at Luke’s Diner…Bonus!
We all want our children to eat healthy and get the proper nutrition. However, you are not a bad mother if you allow your child to enjoy their life. Food is a big part of life. Amidst the trend of “clean eating,” it was refreshing to see someone going against the norm. Or perhaps I just wanted to justify my sweet tooth. Either way, Lorelai was a wonderful mother, and she actually encouraged her child to eat junk. *Gasp!*
3 | Follow your own dreams.
It is actually possible to follow your own dreams while still encouraging your children’s. Throughout the show Lorelai actively puts Rory first, but is still able to have dreams for her own future, and by the end of the series she has become a successful entrepreneur. I particularly liked this idea because so many of us think we have to put everything on hold until our kids are out of the house. This is not the case. It is possible to do both. Chase your dreams. Your kids will thank you for it, and they will copy your behavior.
4 | Communicate with each other.
It’s no secret that communication is key in any successful relationship, so I try to emulate the communication and trust this mother and daughter demonstrated on the show. Lorelai and Rory tell each other everything, and I do mean everything — the good, the bad, and the “big bag of weird in there.” They don’t lie, they don’t judge, and they support each other. They communicate a lot, they communicate fast, and their communication is funny as hell.
5 | Deal with your issues in a way that doesn’t impact your kid.
Most of the parenting tips I learned from Lorelai were positive, and I mostly wanted to be just like her. But there’s one case wherein she taught me what NOT to do.
Her relationship issues with men were notorious throughout the show. She constantly dated men and could never settle for one (even though some of them were pretty great, “Max Medina…Max Medina”), and she picked the worst and most insecure of the lot to marry. She made a lot of poor decisions with men and I felt this could have been detrimental for Rory. The commitment issues, and tendency to sleep with Christopher whenever things were going bad in her life, demonstrated a lack of strength of character and self-love. Everyone makes mistakes, but I cringed every time she jumped into Christopher’s bed.
6 | Do a lot of fun stuff with your children.
Lorelai and Rory spent a lot of quality time together. Whether it was hanging out at home watching “Willy Wonka,” or eating together at Luke’s Diner, or shopping, or all the thousands of small town festivals — my goodness the festivals — they were bonding all the time.
I make it a point to spend as much time as possible with my kids, and I try to do things we all enjoy. I don’t force my kids to do things they don’t want to do. Rory was not into sports and I love that she wasn’t forced to play soccer when she didn’t want to. Make the time count, our littles aren’t small for long, but the memories of good times will keep you full long after they leave the nest.
7 | Have friends other than your kid, too.
Lorelai built a life full of supportive friends, people she trusted and loved. She didn’t make Rory her whole life, and I feel this is a healthy thing to do. It puts a lot of pressure on a child to feel like they are your one and only, especially if the parent is single. It’s good to have other people who can meet your needs. Give yourself permission to care about other people, and spend time with them. They will be there after your kids are grown, and if you have a chef friend like Sookie, you will get to eat pretty well, too.