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Opinion: Lessons learned from TV dads

Thursday, June 12, 2008

When we are children a lot of us were put in front of the television and made to learn. Sesame Street taught my peeps the alphabet. Baby Einstein and Dora rule the waves now teaching music and Spanish.

What if we expand the boob tube education tools to adulthood?

Say we're older and about to become parents (no, I am most definitely NOT about to become a parent. It's Father's Day, and I'm just thinking parents in general). I thought about it, and we can learn a lot from TV fathers.

Lesson One: Fathers can't fix anything, excellently demonstrated by Tim Taylor from "Home Improvement."

The poor guy has glued his head to a table, electrocuted himself, fallen off several roofs. On the surface, he's more into cars and tools than family functions.

Lesson Two: Fathers will yell and have high blood pressure, but eventually learn to love our stupid friends or annoying neighbors like Carl Winslow did on "Family Matters."

Ole Carl was a blue-collar Chicago cop who was knocked off roofs, electrocuted and tortured by neighbor Steve Urkel. In the end, though, he always forgave the dorky lil' guy and welcomed his annoying presence into the home.

Lesson Three: A father doesn't care what you do as long as he can sit you down and teach you a lesson in the end.

That goes for "The Cosby Show," "The Brady Bunch," "90210," the list for this goes on and on. No spankings, an occasional grounding (though the teen usually ran away during the restriction period only to come home to a calm and patient father who didn't punish them further). TV kids could get away with murder as long as they learned a lesson before the credits rolled.

Lesson Four: TV rots your brain and skews the sense of anything normal.

My father could build or fix anything including but not limited to a waterbed, a bunk bed, a dresser, plumbing, electric, several cars and any wounds we've had. If he didn't like a neighbor or friend I brought home, we had to play outside. If — OK, when — I sliced my ankle or knee open, Dr. Dad was there to fix it and if I or my siblings did something stupid we paid for it — either in rear end smacks or monthlong sentences served in our media-free rooms.

And I learned dozens of lessons from my dad, just without the background music. I know how to make ribs, to always add beer to the chili, how to check my tire pressure, oil and transmission fluid, how to make a good mixed drink, fix a toilet and take a joke.

I guess some lessons are just better learned in real-time not prime time. Happy Father's Day to all you unscripted dads.


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