J.K. Rowling has instilled some pretty great life lessons in me thanks to the Harry Potter series, but seeing The Chosen One as a father of three in the latest installment of Harry Potter means there are plenty of parenting lessons from Harry Potter and The Cursed Child to keep in mind, too.
Any book that focuses on the relationship between a parent and child is bound to have some type of lesson to get you through parenthood, but as always, Rowling turns it up a notch. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is a play, meaning the story is told mostly through dialogue which gives a real-life quality to the lessons Rowling portrays. They are subtle, hidden within the conversations between Albus and Harry, but they are also incredibly real. While reading the story, you may find that you have said some very similar things to your own child or that the two of you have found yourself in the same type of predicaments Harry and Albus are in. (Except for, you know, the whole time travel, alternate universe thing.)
Way better than a self-help parenting book, right? When you're having a hard parenting day, just re-read Harry Potter and the Cursed Child to pick up any of these 13 parenting lessons. (So, basically, keep a copy of the play on you at all times.)
1. Love Isn't Always Enough
Harry loves Albus, like a parent is supposed to, but he quickly realizes that children need more than that. His son needs his father's understanding, friendship, and support. Love isn't always enough.
2. Listen To Your Children
Like, really listen to them. Harry thinks Albus is just defiant for the sake of being defiant, but there is so much more to it than that. When your child is unhappy, don't argue with them about why or try to fix it with some one-size-fits-all solution. Really listen to them. Hear what they are saying and, more importantly, what they are not saying.
3. Be Honest With Your Children
Harry telling Albus in the very first scene the truth about his Sorting Hat experience is lovely. It seems to reassure Albus (and disturb him as he thinks he has chosen to be in Slytherin), and makes him realize who he is. It's not enough to build up some version of yourself that your children don't recognize — just be honest.
4. Connect With Your Children On A Personal Level
It's easy for Harry to connect with his oldest son, James, as the two seem to be a lot alike on the surface. But deep down, Harry and Albus are also very similar. Neither one realizes it until Harry gets personal with Albus about how lonely he was as a child, how disconnected he felt from everybody, and how much of an outcast he was. Only then, when he speaks about his childhood and personal moments, do him and Albus truly connect.
5. Be Vulnerable With Your Children
Harry giving Albus the blanket he was wrapped in on the night his parents died, the only thing he has from his mother, is incredibly moving. Of course, Albus is an angst-ridden teenager and doesn't understand the significance of it, but Harry is trying so hard. Later in the story, he gets more vulnerable by sharing with Albus that he is afraid of the dark. Kids often see you as a larger-than-life being, a superhero, but being vulnerable can connect you two even more when they realize that you are human, and that you sometimes need a helping hand, too.
6. Trust Your Children
Harry doesn't want Albus around Scorpius, despite his son's pleas for his only friend. It's hard, but sometimes you have to trust your children when they are telling you things, especially when they are so sure of it themselves. Later, Harry does trust Albus to fix the things that have gone wrong with the time turner, but it's a lesson everyone could use.
7. You Need A Healthy Work & Family Balance
This is prevalent throughout the entire play. Hermione mentions that Ron thinks she sees her secretary more than she sees him, and even Harry has a hard time focusing on his family while in the middle of important ministry work. But your children notice when you aren't fully present, so do everything you can to create a healthy work and family balance.
8. Choose Your Battles
Albus tries to pick more than a few fights with Harry, and Harry usually deflects them. Although some conversations are worth having, it's smart to know that you can choose your battles and save everyone from hurt feelings and pain.
9. Your Children Can't Always Vocalize What They Think
Albus is angry, he's frustrated, and he feels like an outcast. But he has no idea how to tell his father, Harry Potter, all of this. Can you imagine the burden of that name? Your children won't always be able to vocalize how they are feeling, but they can show it in other ways, so pay attention.
10. Protecting Your Child Isn't Always Easy
In fact, it's never easy. Sometimes you have to make hard decisions or do things you disagree with, like allowing your child to be friends with someone you dislike. But remember what Draco says, if your child has no friends or parents, they are bound to end up in a dark place. So do what you can to keep them safe, no matter the cost.
11. If It's Important To Your Child, It's Important To You
Albus isn't a Quidditch player, but that doesn't mean Harry can ignore him or the things he finds important. Albus believes in his friend, Scorpius. He believes in distancing himself from the Potter name. These things are important to him, so they should be important to Harry, too.
12. All Children Are Different
Not all kids like pranks or games. Not all of them are athletes or star students or popular. No matter how many children you have, there are going to be differences between each of them, it's just how it works. The quicker you realize this, the easier your parenting journey will be.
13. There Is No Such Thing As Perfection
So stop relying on it. You are never going to be a perfect parent. You are never going to have perfect children. Roll with the punches and love your family for what it is, in this very moment, regardless of the circumstances. People get mad at each other, they say things they shouldn't, and they forgive each other. It's life and it is imperfect — parenthood is the same.