One thing that is great about retro movies is seeing the differences in how society has changed. One thing that is particularly noticeable is how parenting techniques have changed over time. One of my favourite instances is E. T., where little itty bitty Drew Barrymore makes her way home from school all by her lonesome and chills by herself until her mom gets home.
When I was a kid, I remember my mom shooing us out of the house with random neighbourhood kids on a sunny day with vague instructions about being home when the streetlights came on.
80 horror in particular were interesting when it came to parenting. Many of them were societal lessons on why disobeying your parents and heading out to the abandoned cabin to party would only get you in trouble, so the parents were often absent in slashers.
However, I have picked some of my favourite 80s horror movie parents and tried to imagine what parenting advice they would give today. Some are still relatable today, and some not so much. Either way, I think I’ve created a little gold mine here, with hopefully some genuinely helpful advice. Enjoy!
1. Pets are great for teaching children about responsibility. Once your child has proven to responsible by owning a dog, all pets are fair game. I recommend heading on a trip to a foreign country and finding the cutest, fuzziest creature that you can’t identify. It’s probably safe because it’s cute. Just make sure it comes with care instructions.
– Randall Pelzer, Gremlins
2. If you can bounce back from your child walking in on you and your wife getting high while you giggle like teenagers and you paw at her body while using Donald Duck’s voice for some muffled dirty talk with a teachable moment about being afraid of storms, you are definitely winning.
– Steven Freeling, Poltergeist
3. We underestimate how self-sufficient our children can be. If they’re pestering you for help, just ignore it. After all, not really listening to them helps them learn to figure things out on their own. Plus, using this technique will allow you to do you. You’re no good to anyone if you’re overworked and stressed, so be sure to indulge.
4. Teenagers are tough to raise, especially boys. It’s hard to balance a love life when you have a nest full of troublemakers that take up all of your free time. But family is truly important, and finding that one special woman who can relate and love your boys as much as you do is worth the effort. All boys need a mother.
– Max, The Lost Boys
5. It’s natural to want to protect your kids from death. No one wants to have the uncomfortable talk. But trust me, if you ever have a choice between resurrecting a dead pet or letting your kid know that nothing is forever (especially when you are a doctor that has the death conversation a million times a day), CHOOSE THE TALK.
–Louis Creed, Pet Sematary
6. Children are emotional, and you don’t ever want to discount their feelings or force them to keep things bottled up. However, anger management is key when you’re dealing with children like mine. Yours is kicking and screaming on the ground? That’s real cute. Mine just blew up a building.
–Andy McGee, Firestarter
7. If you have a toddler and you need a night out, use every resource at your disposal. Do what I do! When you have a new neighbour, and you know he’s single so must not have anything else to do on a Friday, head on over, knock on the door, barge on in and leave that kid there before anyone can say no. No need to worry that he’s a complete stranger…after all, you know where he lives!
– Tanya, House
8. When it comes to peer pressure and mob mentality, do what I say, not what I do.
–all the parents in A Nightmare on Elm Street
9. Children are best neither seen nor heard, but simply appearing as if from nowhere when they reach the age of majority.
–Richard Carmichael, The Changeling
10. You don’t have to be a helicopter parent, but always know who your kids are making friends with.
–the entire town, Children of the Corn