Family films always have the sense of touching hearts of all walks of life. Parenthood is one of the many with elements of comedy and drama. The film mainly depicts the story of four sub-families with their own specific issues and stresses. However, as a whole big family, they all make a happy and loving family. The four families in the film showed varied parenting styles based on Baumrind’s model that is psychological dynamic.
1. Gil and wife
Gil is the lead character in the film. He portrays a compassionate and hard-working parent. However, he falters in some crucial areas in parenting although his parenting style is deemed to be authoritative, the “ideal” parenting style. Authoritative parents monitor their children’s behaviour based on reasoning and encourage their children to make decisions and learn from it. They are also warm and nurturing, treating their children with kindness, respect and affection. For example, during the baseball match, Kevin (his eldest troubled son) was chosen to replace his team mate who got hurt. He was worried and doubtful to take the position at first, but Gil encouraged him that he can do it and that no matter what happens, he did his best.
Another instance of his authoritative but eccentric style is evidenced by how he saved his son’s birthday party. The assigned cowboy that was supposed to perform in Kevin’s birthday didn’t show up, so he dressed up as one and impressed all of the children with his impressions. That is the sign of showing warm and nurturing, treating their children with kindness, respect and affection. He failed in parts of having too high expectations of Kevin when he found out that Kevin is emotionally instable after being reported by his school’s principal in sending him off to a special school and attends therapy. Gil tired his best to treat and make Kevin to be as normal as he can be. Gil’s wife from the start showed the full-fledged authoritative parent showering her children with warmth, kindness, respect and affection.
Frank is considered to be a permissive indulgent parent, only to Larry (Gil’s brother) as he is the favourite. Larry has always been on the life of get-rich-quick schemes and showed up recently along with his son, Cool to ask to borrow money from his father. It soon became apparent that Larry needs the money for gamble and to pay off the gamble debts had accumulated. Frank being the permissive indulgent parent showered Larry with overflowing warmth with set few or no limits. Frank makes few demands of Larry too and do not punish him for misbehaviour. Even though, at one point Frank got very furious about Larry’s lies about getting money from him and refused to bail him out completely but eventually Frank gave in and helped Larry with the false pretence of a plan to make money in Chile. Larry leaves Cool behind to Frank for guardianship.
3. Susan and Nathan
Susan, Gil’s sister, is a middle school teacher who married to an intelligent scientist, Nathan. They have an intelligent daughter, Patty. Nathan shows the authoritarian parent towards Patty by having set rigid rules, demand obedience and use strategies such as approval to force a child to conform. Nathan usually would scold Patty if she did not adhere to his rules. For example, Patty did not do well in her studies which made Nathan very disappointed on her and he explained in a rigid and stern manner with Patty standing back against the wall listening to Nathan’s demands to do better and with reinforcement from Susan as well. Another instance, he was appalled by the idea of sending Patty off to Gil’s family for a few days care when Susan and him is to travel away for a holiday of two. But, Nathan was so adamant about it that he suggested that they bring Patty along with them and he was excited about the possibility of Patty learning new languages. Sometimes, Nathan’s approach of ensuring his daughter to learn as many skills as possible may be show him to be lack of warmth and seen to be aloof to Patty and others. Nonetheless, Nathan is acting so for the greater good of Patty but with adverse effect that Patty is weird from the average children who plays around and socialise. For example, during the thumb magic trick by Gil on Kevin’s birthday party, Patty saw the thumb went missing and she was freak out and ran straight to her dad’s leg and cling onto it. An average child would be amazed and be wow-ed by it but because of the upbringing of Patty by Nathan, she is socially awkward.
4. Helen (single parent)
Gil’s other sister, Helen who is a single parent, divorced bank manager whose husband wants nothing to do with their children, Garry and Julie. Raising two children on her own has been hard as they are at the age of rebel and self-discovery, adolescent years. Garry who has just entered puberty is quiet and uninvolved and like to be alone in his room. He is usually seen with a mysterious paper bag which Helen though he was into drugs or alcohol but embarrassingly enough, it is just pornography. Helen portrays a permissive-indulgent parenting as she shows warmth and love towards her children but set few or no limits and no consequences for misbehavior. For example, when Julie wanted to stay with Tod (Julie’s boyfriend) and eventually got married with him, Helen was furious and kicked out Julie out of the house but with a quick change of mind telling Julie to please go back home and that she can go back home anytime she needs Helen. That shows the inconsistency of parenting of loving too much to the point of no consequences for misbehavior (Julie wanting to stay with Tod and getting married eventually). As such, Julie display immaturity in her relationship with Tod that to a point she did not want to take any responsibility to stay on with Tod because of Tod’s interest in extreme racing. She wanted to opt out of the marriage but Helen ordered her to face her responsibilities as a wife and to support him no matter what.
Overall, the film shows that each parenting styles have its perks and disadvantages. A mixture of parenting styles to be applied would be best for the upbringing of children as every style has its pros and cons. In a way, you take best of one and counter it with the best of another. It has thought me that parenting is a difficult work ever. My appreciation towards my parents has reached to a level of admiration. With that, I would recommend a few similar themed films as the Parenthood. They are as follow:-
Father of the Bride – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bKSmMr0uOHk
Home for the Holidays – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qjZ622X30_U
Meet the Fockers – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uwtp_bDmcPo