I often get calls from writers doing articles about parenting teens looking for some "expert" advice. On Monday I got a call from a woman writing an article for Yahoo Health on the HBO's mini-series Big Little Lies. Do I have any fans of that show out there??? Yes I watched, and to have the opportunity to actually talk about it professionally instead of just having a "water cooler" conversation with friends, jumped at the opportunity to share my opinion. I definitely had some "oh no you didn't" reactions while screaming at the TV, so it was karmic that she contacted me.
OK for those of you who have no idea what this show is about, I will encapsulate: 3 rich spoiled women and one sweet but "poor" single mom live in Monterrey CA in the homes we all dream of, overlooking the beach, drinking wine on their beautiful decks overlooking spectacular ocean views with their hunky husbands, one of which is a wife beater. There are feuds and drama galore. By the way it is a murder mystery!
Here is where I come into the story. There is one story line in particular that deals with a divorced mom (Reese Witherspoon/Madeline) now remarried to a perfect man. Madeline has a 17 year old daughter from her previous marriage. They don't get along, and daughter decides to move in with her dad and his "perfect" wife. Mother and daughter continue to squabble and it comes to light that this daughter, in pursuit of a school project, has decided to do an online auction in which she will sell her virginity to the highest bidder as a fundraiser and to make a political point of some kind! You know those idealistic teens!! Of course Madeline is horrified, and big mother/daughter battle ensues. Daughter screams at mother, "you wouldn't understand you're so perfect!" Madeline in an effort to "connect" with her daughter shares that she is not "perfect" and in fact has had an affair in her current second marriage. See she's not perfect!!! A-N-Y-W-A-Y.... Daughter, relieved her mother is not perfect, is therefore now able to accept her own imperfections, cancels her virginity auction. Perfect parenting!
The writer of the Yahoo article wanted my opinion as to whether the mom did the right thing by sharing her secret about an affair. I think none of you will be surprised with my answer. NO!! Sometimes parents in their effort to connect with their teens, and share their own experiences of mistake making, over share. In this particular story, this teen has seen one marriage dissolve along with her family, and is now torn between two families as both parents have remarried. She already has experience the aftermath of a divorce, complete with dueling parents. This scenario is not uncommon for those of us who live in the real world, not Hollywood. When this mom shares her affair secret with her daughter, she is giving weight to her daughter's assumption that marriages are all scams. Parents should never share with their pre-adult children the intimacies of their marriages, it is just too much for them to handle. In real life, kids then feel they must become the caretaker, and protector of their hurt parent. This is too much responsibility for any child. Instead this mom could have used another example of how she made a mistake in life, perhaps as a teen herself, or in a less loaded context to show and connect with her teen that everyone makes mistakes. Teens often see their parents as perfect because parents mistakenly believe that in order to parent well, you must appear to be perfect, so that your kids will respect and listen to you. Actually, for teens, the exact opposite is true. Teens need a model for imperfection and mistake making. Just don't tell them your "big little lies!!
Below is the article
How about sharing this post with any of your Big Little Lieu super fans!!!