Michael and I were watching the season finale of Parenthood a few nights ago - great update of the classic '80s comedy - and it really made me wonder: as a parent, will I forever be blamed for my child's mistakes?
In case you haven't been watching, here's the specific situation I'm referring to: teenaged cousins, (high-achieving) Haddie and (apathetic) Amber are fighting over a boy. This particular boy was Haddie's boyfriend. He was pressuring her to have sex. Haddie felt that she wasn't ready, so after talking it over with the more relationship-wordly Amber, she decided to break up with him. A week later? Amber sleeps with Haddie's ex. Burn!
There's more to it than that. Like that Amber and this boy actually like each other, and that Amber didn't mean for things to go down this way. But that doesn't matter because Haddie is pissed. And Haddie's parents, when they find out about it, are pissed on her behalf.
But who do Haddie's parents take it out on? Amber's mom!
It doesn't help that Amber's mom was/will-always-be-known-as the screwup of her family, sort of like Amber. She's used to being the one who's messed up. So when her brother and sister-in-law start giving her the cold shoulder? She acts like she deserves it.
But does she really? Amber's mom didn't encourage her to "steal" her cousin's boyfriend. Amber's mom found out about it the same time Haddie's parents did. After the fact. And she was just as horrified at her daughter's behavior. So how is it suddenly her fault?
Yes, we are responsible for teaching our children manners and morals. And for a while, we should cop it when they make mistakes. But when they're teenagers? And they are screwing up left and right? And it is over personal relationships, which they have only just begun to navigate? Is that really our fault?
Of course, they all made up by the end of the finale. An Amber's-run-away scare made everyone realize that family was what was really important. Haddie and Amber laughed and hugged. The parents' anger dissolved like a cube of sugar in the rain. All was well.
Maybe the situation was intensified because it involved family. But if Scarlett or Sosie ever "steals" someone else's boyfriend? I am so not taking the blame for that.