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10 Parenting Lessons I Learned from Game of Thrones

The popular show is over, but the learning doesn't have to be

Erin Smith

Published on: May 20, 2019

Game of Thrones

Well, that's a wrap. HBO's game-changing show "Game of Thrones" is over. If you're one of the 20 million viewers who watched the show these past 8 seasons, there are so many reasons you may have tuned in. You may have watched for the intriguing political scheming, the action-packed battle scenes, or the romantic entanglements, but the heart of the show is family. Royal families, peasant families, ancient families, honorable families, disgraceful families. Incestuous lovers (you know who), backstabbing siblings (Daenerys for one, but her brother totes deserved it), children murdering parents (Tyrion and Ramsay, though I hate to put them in the same category), parents killing their own children (Stannis, why??), and at least one loving family who made us all want to be a part of it from the very first episode (changing my last name to Stark). 

But now that the massively popular show has come to an end, let’s take a moment to look past the incest and betrayal to see what this long journey through Westeros and beyond has taught us about parenthood.

If Your Kid Is Weird, Support Their Interests Anyway

There are so many instances of children who don’t quite fit into the life they are destined for throughout "Game of Thrones," just as there are in our world. For example, Arya, born into a noble family, refused to be a “lady” and instead pursued learning how to sword fight and shoot with a bow and arrow. Her father, Ned, encouraged her interests, and Arya went on to become the greatest assassin ever known to Westeros. Hopefully your kid has less violent interests, but you get my point. You may not understand your child’s passions, but you can still support them. 

Find a Support System You Can Trust

Ser Jorah Mormon wisely told Daenerys in season 2, “No one can survive in this world without help. No one.” And he’s so right. As parents it is essential that we do whatever it takes to surround ourselves with people we love and trust.  Sometimes figuring out how to be a good parent can feel more difficult than battling your way onto the Iron Throne. Parenthood can be rough, and we can’t do it alone. 

If Your Kid Is Different, Don’t Be An Asshat

There are so many jerks for parents in this show! Tyrion is constantly reminded by his own father that he is a disappointment simply because of his disability, something completely out of his control. Theon’s dad treats him with disgust when he returns home after being held captive against his will for nearly two decades. And poor little Shireen is cast aside by her mother as a disappointment because she is a female and suffers from a rare (but curable) disease. 

Don’t be like those parents. 

Friends Don’t Let Friends Get Hangry

She may not be referring to parenthood specifically, but Margaery Tyrell speaks the truth in season 3 when she says, “Hunger turns men into beasts.” I can honestly say I’ve become a hangry beast from time to time, but this goes for your kids too. If this is the only thing you gain from reading this remember: DON’T FORGET THE SNACKS. 

Kids Will Be Kids

Jorah didn’t even have children of his own, but he’s nailing it with the parenting advice. In season 4 he tells Daenerys, “They’re Dragons, Khaleesi. They can never be tamed. Not even by their mother.” Dany wholeheartedly considers her dragons to be her children and loves them like a mother (you know, Mother of Dragons, that whole bit). While our children might not be as wild as dragons, I think the gist of Jorah’s statement holds truth. Kids be crazy. You can try and contain that crazy, but it’s not always going to work. As long as they aren’t toasting other kids with their fire breath, though, you’re probably fine.

Even "Mean Moms" Love Their Kids

Ugh, Cersei is The. Worst. Am I right? But even though she’s a sinister, murderous witch, she sure does love her kids! At her worst she has her late husband’s illegitimate offspring eliminated and blows up a house of worship with innocent people locked inside. At my worst I may scream and hurl a basket of laundry through the air. To each her own. The point is that even though I’m sometimes a “mean mommy” according to my four-year-old, I too love my kids more than anything. We all have a bad day here and there, but as long as we are keeping the kiddos alive and doing our best not to lose our shit, we’re doing okay as parents. 

Get Your Kids To Behave 

In Season 3 Stannis states, “Show too much kindness, people won’t fear you. If they don’t fear you, they don’t follow you.” Yes, he’s referring to being a good king, but being a parent is much like being the king or queen of your own household. Without striking a little fear in your kiddos once in a while, they’ll never listen to you. Now, I’m talking fear of a timeout or having a toy taken away, not burning them at the stake or impregnating a priestess with a smoke monster to inflict your punishments. But you do you. 

Beware the Effects of Helicopter Parenting

Robin Arryn. Need I say more? This is the most sheltered, overprotected, naïve kid on the (fictional) planet. His mother, Lysa Arryn, rarely lets him out of her sight, coddles him, and responds urgently to his every need thereby turning him into a huge spoiled brat. This kid is so babied by his mom his entire life that when his mom dies, his inexperience allows him to be easily manipulated and taken advantage of by none other than his own stepfather, Petyr Baelish. If we learn nothing else from this mother-son duo, let it be that children need room to grow and learn and breathe. Robin certainly could have benefited from a little injection of free-range parenting. 

Your Children Will Remember You

Your children will grow up to be a product of your teaching, your experiences, your guidance. It’s encouraging to know that we can likely bring about some good in this world by raising up our children with positive values and morals. Throughout the show, characters often rely on the wise counsel of their deceased parents, passed down to them during their lifetimes. The Lannister children repeatedly give their father Tywin credit for their own clever schemes. The Stark children speak of Ned and his wisdom so often that he still feels like a prominent character on the show even though he died in season 1! 

The Kids Are Alright

Lastly,let’s all just take a moment to thank our lucky stars (or the old gods, or the Lord of Light or whoever) that we are not raising our children in a medieval era teeming with magical beings possessing mystical abilities, assassins who can murder us and then steal our faces, or freaky ice zombies threatening humanity. Sure, we have our own set of challenges in 2019, but watching a drama of such epic proportions unfold; it's good to remember that, in the real world, the kids are doing alright and we are, too.

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