Numerous times in my life I catch myself thinking if the opinion people around me form about me stems from and takes root in the actions taken and decisions made by my parents. Am I reduced to the level of my parents if they make a horrible decision or can I rise above familial expectations and prove people of worthiness if there is a pressurising precedent to follow?
It’s hard to fill in the footsteps of a parent who was great in their prime, and it is equally as difficult to come behind a parent that you feel ashamed of for whatever reason. So how should we treat the relationship between us and our parents given what we now know and understand? Thankfully, this week on TV Thursdays we dive deep into 3 distinct father/son relationships that can teach us a lot about our status and how to break ourselves away from being too attached to the actions and views of our parents if we need to.
One of my favourite TV shows ever is One Tree Hill, which I binged the whole 187 episodes over about 3 weeks, before watching it again over 6 months with Mum and Dad. A story about two high school half-brothers Nathan (James Lafferty) and Lucas (Chad Michael Murray) Scott, who resented each other when they first interacted with each other; they both began a journey of self-discovery as both were picked on the high school basketball team, and had to learn to play together. With the first 4 seasons being about their last 4 years at high school, and their eventual acceptance of each other, as friends and brothers, and Nathan and Lucas’ relationships with their friends, extended family, and with girls; the latter part of the season (S05 til S09) dealt with complicated adult life post-college. But all 9 seasons had an overarching theme of a strained relationship with a parent.
Dan Scott (Paul Johansson), the ruthless and power hungry father of both Nathan and Lucas; pushed Nathan to succeed beyond his limits, as Dan sought to relive his glory days through his son’s accomplishments and success. He completely neglected Lucas early on during the series, and as it progressed, Dan’s behaviour to everyone in the town worsened til the point of a tragic and deliberate choice in S03. Since then, Dan Scott was redeemed and turned into an antihero. He was a fan favourite in S09 despite being hated in S03, and though Lucas never forgave him for the years of torment and abandonment, Nathan and Dan always forgave each other at the end of the day, despite what family and friends thought about his dad, which wasn’t very highly. Which begs the question- does our love for our family and parents trump their screw-ups and questionable choices?
In the comedy series Psych, about a fake psychic Shawn (James Roday), and his best friend Gus (Dule Hill), who both solve crimes for the San Francisco Police Department, the relationship between the son and the father is explored as well. This time, Henry (Corbin Bernsen) is the disapproving father who cares too much, who doesn’t like Shawn’s sustained charade. Different from Dan Scott in that he means well, doesn’t put down his son, and tries to help Shawn grow up from being a man child to being a man, the relationship on Psych between father and son isn’t as intense. Though in this show Shawn and Henry do have heated discussions, and disagree on a few things, they always have each other’s backs, which is a relationship that is healthier than some families. Though Shawn hardly listened to his dad, because of his past as a policeman, this series poses the question about whether we should listen to our parents’ advice even if we think we are right and they are not for some reason.
The last show exploring a father/son relationship and shedding light on the topic of the importance of a healthy relationship between a parent and a child is Royal Pains. Hank (Mark Feuerstein), an on-call house call concierge doctor, and his CFO brother Evan (Paulo Costanzo) set up a business in the Hamptions in the first season, and in the second season, both brothers, stung by their father going AWOL and running away when they were kids, started mending fences cautiously with Eddie R. Lawson (Henry Winkler). Though not perfect, Eddie, the fun and aloof parent, showered Hank and Evan with gifts throughout the seasons, and tried to pick up where they left off, like he never left. Though it took some while for both brothers to forgive him and be a real family; the precedent of being a deadbeat and absent father, was probably why Evan and Hank are still not fathers yet (and it’s currently season 6!). So if we see something, a characteristic in our parents, that we don’t like, and that we are scared of- that we don’t want to be like; then what do we do? When our friends and family think we’d be just like them?
So in light of these 3 very different parent relationships, I think we should just love our parents, faults and all, and know that we do not have to walk in their steps, career wise or character wise. And as I have spoken about identity previously, I believe that we can be our own person despite of our parents. Family members’ views and actions may dictate outside Opinions about us, but should not sway our actions, choices, and the life we lead. Our choices are ours, our consequences are ours, and only we have the power to be more and rise above circumstances. Our parents can give us good advice, but if they don’t, then that doesn’t mean we cut ties, like Lucas Scott at the end of One Tree Hill. Our parents are our flesh and blood, and despite shortcomings, we should all feel love to them. Thus familial relationships are tricky when it comes down to it, but if we have love, and also not feel pressure about being like our parents, then all will be ok. By taking a look at these three shows, I can safely classify my relationship between me and my parents (which is not one of the three, but something close to one of them.
It was Father’s Day in the U.S. this past Sunday, so let me end by asking you a question about relationships with fathers. Do you have a strong relationship with your father, or not? What did you do for him this past week to make sure that he was loved and accepted?
Now, how about your mother? Do you have a strong relationship with your mother, or not? What did you do for her this past week to make sure that she was loved and accepted?