How Binge-Watching 'Gilmore Girls' Made Me a Better Mom

by Annie Reneau
Originally Published: 

When Gilmore Girls first came out, I totally dismissed it as a dumb-sounding show. A young single mom with a teenage daughter? Okay. Yawn.

I now know that I was a fool. After a friend loaned us the first season on DVD, I was hooked. The Gilmores, with their fast-talking wit and awesome mother-daughter relationship, blew my mind and stole my heart. My husband even got hooked, and we ended up buying all seven seasons on DVD. Like the millions of others who have become enamored with the quirky, lovable characters through Netflix, we are eagerly awaiting the Gilmore Girls revival in November.

My own daughter was a preteen when we started watching the show, and though there are many choices Lorelai made as a mother that I’d never make, I found that, the more we watched, the more I started to utilize some of her parenting style. As silly as it may sound, in many ways binge-watching the show made me a better mom.

Here are some of the parenting tips I gleaned from Gilmore Girls:

Always try humor first.

Lorelai is danged funny, and she incorporated her humor into the way she mothered Rory. As simple as it may sound, I have actually found humor to be my No. 1 parenting tool. It has saved me from countless power struggles and diffused many situations with my kids that really didn’t need to get heated. Being able to laugh with — and occasionally at — one another has made my relationships with my kids closer and more fun.

Keep things light until they really NEED to get heavy.

It’s so easy to take ourselves way too seriously. Parenting is a serious business, of course, but there’s something to be said for conserving your serious energy for serious situations. Day-to-day life, with all of its small annoyances and repeated frustrations, doesn’t need to weigh us down. Taking a light, positive, silly approach makes everyday life more enjoyable — and that attitude rubs off on kids too.

It’s OK to be friends with your children.

I know that’s a controversial statement, but hear me out. I don’t think parents should try to be their child’s friend instead of their parent, but I do believe you can have a friendship with your kids in addition to being their parent. Kids need to know that you are the authority, but that doesn’t mean your day-to-day interactions can’t be friend-like. I enjoy hanging out with my kids, especially as they’re getting older. I feel like we’re building a foundation for the years when they are grown and will need my friendly advice more than my authority.

Know when to play “the mom card.”

Adding on to the friend idea, it is important to know when to lay down the law. My daughter reminds me a lot of Rory, which may be part of why I liked the show so much. But like Rory, she’s not perfect. Kids need to know where the boundaries are, and they need to know when they’ve crossed them. Lorelai may have been friends with her daughter, but she always held onto her “mom card” and wasn’t afraid to use it when necessary.

Admit when you’re wrong and apologize.

Just as kids aren’t perfect, parents aren’t either. When Lorelai overreacted or made a mistake, she admitted it and apologized. I’ve been guilty of losing my cool when it really wasn’t warranted. And I’ve apologized to my kids for it. It’s good for children to know parents are human and to see honesty and humility exemplified.

Respect who your kids are.

The Gilmore girls may have gotten along smashingly most of the time, but they were different people who had different personalities. Lorelai respected who Rory was and let her be herself. And equally importantly, she stood up for her daughter when others expected Rory to be something she wasn’t.

Remind your kids who they are when they forget.

When Rory started making some (ahem) poor life choices, Lorelai called her out on them. But she didn’t just lecture; she looked Rory right in the eye and told her, “This isn’t you.” When I made questionable choices in my youth, having someone I loved and trusted tell me that I wasn’t being true to myself was probably the most effective “discipline” I could have received.

Drink the coffee so you can do all the things.

Seriously, the best advice. I love my morning Joe, but Lorelai helped me feel better about feeding my caffeine addiction in order to function. “I can’t stop drinking the coffee. I stop drinking the coffee, I stop doing the standing and the walking and the words-putting-into-the-sentence doing.” I feel you, sister.

Though it’s just a fun TV show, and I obviously don’t base my parenting on a fictional family, we mothers have to take inspiration wherever we can find it. Through seven seasons of Gilmore Girls, I’m happy to say I found some in Stars Hollow.

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