Most TV shows come and go, but some stay in our hearts long after their last episode airs. The Golden Girls may have concluded more than 27 years ago, but thanks to syndication it has achieved an iconic status in pop culture. But one thing that's often left out of gushing essays, listicles, and "Which Golden Girl Are You" quizzes? The women were all mothers. There are The Golden Girls parenting lessons that we can all learn from, especially in the year of our lord, 2019.
Some people have an edge of ironic nostalgia in their love of The Golden Girls. I don't. I earnestly adore this show. The writing is snappy and the jokes (mostly) hold up. Rose, Dorothy, Blanche, and Sophia were not only hilarious, well-rounded, and magnificently performed characters, but they were unapologetically independent women in a media landscape that mostly depicted women exclusively as mothers, daughters, wives, or girlfriends.
Moreover, The Golden Girls was ahead of its time, tackling issues like AIDS, LGBTQ acceptance, homelessness, addiction, ageism, and sexism, just to name but a few. The depictions of motherhood on the show, and the issues mothers of adult children face, were also unique and thoughtful and informed much of the characters growth and revealed nuance over seven seasons. So with all that in mind, here are just some of the things the moms of today can learn from them:
Share Your Stories
Whether you're regaling your children with outlandish tales from St. Olaf, inspiring them with stories from Sicily, charming them with memories of the South, or providing cautionary tales about marrying a shady salesman, our kids can learn and be entertained by our life experiences. And, honestly, even if we exaggerate a little bit, sometimes the truth at the heart of a story isn't always strictly speaking true. Just maybe hold off on the bawdy tales of your sexual adventures.
Accept Your Children For Who They Are
Just as Dorothy had to accept that her son Michael was going to marry an older woman, and Blanche had to accept that her daughter Rebecca was going to become a single parent through artificial insemination, and Sofia had to accept that her son Phil preferred to dress in women's clothing, we have to accept our children for who they are rather than try to mold them into who we expected them to be.
You're Never To Old To Learn & Grow
I mean, that's kind of the whole premise of this magical show, and I think it's an important lesson for anybody at any age. None of us are stagnant or stop developing. We're learning until the day we die, and we're always capable of growth and evolution. If Rose can start two new careers in her late 50s, and Blanche can reconsider her homophobic worldview to accept her gay brother, Clayton, then who's to say what any of us are capable of? There's hope for all of us to keep growing into our best selves and I think, for parents, who are often so hard on ourselves and feel so unsure, this is encouraging.
Be Sex Positive
I mean, the women of The Golden Girls got a surprising amount of tail for women in their 50s to 80s. Yes, even Sophia got laid in Season 6.
Look, I think there's a lot to take from the fact that all the women on the show were open to enjoying fulfilling sex lives. Because "old ladies" are not supposed to be sexual and, too often, neither are mothers. But, damnit, we need to go out there and live our best lives!
Take Pride In Your Heritage
One thing I always loved about this show is how proud all of them women were of their backgrounds — Italian, Southern, Scandinavian, Brooklynite — every one of them brought it up regularly over seven seasons and allowed it to inform their characters, values, and (often) cuisine. It was a source of strength for them and I think that's not only beautiful, but an important lesson for parents. Recent studies have shown that a robust sense of racial and ethnic identity is beneficial for kids and provides resilience in the face of adversity.
Family Is More Than Blood
The women on the show all had relationships with their "actual" families on the show, and while they were sometimes complicated they were generally loving and supportive. But the most important family on the show was the one the women created in the house at 6151 Richmond Street. Our "chosen families" can often be just as important (sometimes even more so) than the ones we're born into in helping us through life's challenges, including parenting.
Admit When You Make A Mistake
No one on The Golden Girls is above a heartfelt "I'm sorry." Boyfriends, sisters, parents, friends: the ladies knew that "sorry" couldn't take away the hurt, but it could begin to set things right. Even children, the show tells us, deserve an "I'm sorry" from a parent. This isn't always easy, of course. As Blanche says in Season 5m "How do you say 'I'm sorry' to your own child? Especially after all those years of sending them to their room until they were ready to apologize to you?" But it's worth doing in order to build a stronger bond.
It's OK To Ask For Help
Just make sure you thank them for being a friend afterwards.
But seriously, these ladies depended on one another for everything and that's how it should be. No one gets through life on their own. We depend on our families, friends, and community as well and despite what we sometimes hear from our hyper-individualistic society, that's a good thing!
I'm always amazed by how many charities an causes the Golden Girls were involved in! There were bachelorette auctions, talent shows, and charity balls right along-side political campaigns and even protests. They loved their community (as evidenced by the song Dorothy and Rose wrote about Miami) and wanted to make it even better. That's a lesson for all of us, especially those among us who want our children to grow up in a vibrant, safe, healthy, enriching, happy neighborhood.
Bonding Is Best Done Over Cheesecake
What are kitchens even for if not to live, laugh, and love over a large cheesecake?