I became a parent right around the time I started binge watching Game of Thrones for the first time, and I now believe that the two events happening at the same time was no coincidence. When you think of everything Game of Thrones is about, you see right off the bat some of the parental themes that are pretty clear even before the story begins. (Fair warning: From here on out, spoilers and theoretical spoilers abound. You have been warned.) We've got the whole R+L=J scenario that, like I said, is a parental lineage theory that involves lore from way back before the story we see even started. Luckily, we'll likely be getting some of this juiciness once the new season of GoT begins, but that's another story.
Cersei's only claim to decency is her fierce loyalty to her children, Jaime is insistent on being the rightful father of Myrcella (too little much too late, I know), and then we've got Stannis and his whole true love for his daughter-turned-sacrifice. The theme of parent-child relationships are pretty much everywhere we look in Game of Thrones, and I'm not just saying that because I'm now a parent myself.
Even the big players like Tyrion have daddy issues (which, OK, who the Hell wouldn't with Tywin as their dad?), and Ramsay is only a little obsessed with being legitimized by his dear old dad. Again, another of couple winners right there.
But it's because of all of the parental themes in Game of Thrones that parents who watch it are actually the best kind of parents. We're learning what not to do as we raise our kids. Like, oh I don't know, burning them at the stake or arranging their marriages to psychopaths. Really, though, there are plenty of lessons to be learned as a Game of Thrones fan who doubles as a parent, and again, I swear I'm not just reaching because I have a kid of my own. This is totally legit.
1. You Learn What Not To Do From Moms Like Cersei
Yeah, sure, Cersei may be totally in love with her kids (not in the way she loves her brother, I feel like I should clarify), but she also almost poisoned a young Tommen during the Battle of the Blackwater. Also, she pretty much never stopped her psycho son from growing up to be a psycho king. So, yeah, no.
2. And Also From Dads Like Stannis
Not exactly the best role model.
3. You're Watching Something That Requires No Electronics Being Present
I learned the hard way that you just don't idly scroll through Facebook or Reddit on your phone while you watch Game of Thrones. You watch. You watch that show hard, or you'll miss something. But adopting the habit of leaving my phone in another room or even — gasp! — turning it off completely doesn't just help me pay better attention to what's happening on GoT: It's an ability (hey, look, I can put my phone away for a whole hour) that has transferred into my everyday life of just unplugging. This, as a parent, is kind of awesome when you want to be able to give your kid attention without one hand on your phone the whole time.
4. It Makes You Cherish Life, Which Could End Brutally At Literally Any Moment
Look, it's brutal but true: Nothing makes you value the fact that you and your kids are alive and well like watching people die in horrific ways all the time. Like, seriously, has the Red Wedding taught us nothing? Game of Thrones fans who are parents can share a certain appreciation for life and every day they get to spend it happily with their children.
5. You Learn To Appreciate Even The Worst Kid Behavior
Because he or she is definitely not Joffrey.
6. It Makes You More Compassionate (Because Those Characters Struggle So Hard)
Whenever I watch the show, I feel like I am on a wild ride of emotions the entire time. Always feeling hope and worry for Sansa, and clicking my tongue with pity for Tyrion and his perpetual run of bad luck with his sh**ty family. I don't know if being a Game of Thrones fan has made me a better person exactly, but it has helped me be a more compassionate one in real life.
7. You Now Know That Arranged Marriages Just Don't Work
Especially when your new husband-to-be is a sadistic mad man/boy. Or, when your actual husband turns out to be a skin-flailing rapist.
8. You Learn That Mothers Know Everything
Whether you're a Cersei or a Daenerys (yes, it counts if she's the mother of dragons), the moms in this show all offer a little something to show us that they're the real parental players. Also, hello, if R+L=J proves true, then everything about Jon's mom is hella important.
9. You Know The Value Of Staying Close To Home
See: Ned Stark leaving Winterfell and aiding in setting into motion much of the crazy stuff currently going on. Granted, he left to aid his BFF the king, but that also meant leaving his comatose son and wife alone.
10. You Know There Are More Important Things Than Urging Their Kids To Get Into Steady, Stable Relationships
Like having your adult kids get into relationships that end up sullied anyway. See: Robb and Talisa, and Jon and Ygritte. Yeah, I don't think I can even get into it about either of those tragedies right now. Or, ever.
11. You're Very Cautious About How Well Your Kids Get Along With Each Other
Game of Thrones teaches parents that sibling rivalry can get out of control... and that far, far more nauseating things can happen. (Actually I think fear of a Jaime/Cersei situation happening isn't so much a way that GoT makes you a better parent, so much as it makes you a needlessly paranoid and grossed out parent because that mess is just every shade of nope.)
12. You'll Treat Your Children Equally
And probably not dislike any of their kids for any physical differences. As in, no Tyrion and Tywin scenarios here.
13. You'll Teach Your Kids About The Value Of Real Friendships
Because Tyrion and Lord Varys may be one of the only real friendships in Westeros, and even then I'm kind of wary of that situation. OK, they may be the two dads of Meereen in the absence of Daenerys, but we'll see how long it lasts for the pair.
14. You Have More To Offer Than What You've Learned From Reality TV
Game of Thrones goes as deep as you can get without overtly including too many preachy life lessons. But I would much rather be a parent who learns things from a show like GoT than pretty much any other show out there.
15. You'll Never Plan Family Vacations In The North, During Winter
Not that I would ever do that in the first place, but ugh, watching scenes in Winterfell makes me hate snow and winter even more. You're welcome, kids, we're going somewhere warm for Christmas.
16. You'll Never Be Afraid To Drop F-Bombs
In fact, parents who are also Game of Thrones fans are also quick to realize the enhancement that swear words bring to sentences and phrases. Personally, I love the way Cersei can spit out a horrible, teeth-gritted c-word with her head held high.
17. You Know That Almost Everything Is A Gray Area
It has become so clear that in Game of Thrones there are no real happy endings just yet, and to the same tune, no clearly marked divisions between good and bad. This can be also said for the real world, and knowing that as a parent is nothing but helpful. Of course, there is inherently bad or evil, but there are also gray areas where motives are justified for the little hiccups, and where forgiveness should be handed out generously. These are not exactly terrible things to know when you're raising tiny humans.