My girls are 8, 7, and 4, and the Brady family recently entered their life. A few weeks back they watched their first Brady Bunch episode and they have been hooked ever since.
And it makes me so happy.
The girls usually watch a show together at night, but it’s been an ongoing challenge to find something that is age appropriate and also relevant and interesting.
The Brady Bunch does not appear to be relevant because of course, it’s outdated (the hairdos, the clothes, and the crazy puns), but to the girls, the issues are real and dramatic.
Dramatic, as in age appropriate drama (Marcia gets braces! Peter is trying to find his own personality! Bobby wants to grow!).
Young children don’t need the drama of people killing each other, swearing at each other, or having sex with each other.
Their young brains don’t know how to process this kind of information – they aren’t emotionally mature enough to consistently know the difference between fantasy and reality.
So it’s refreshing to watch the girls get nervous and worried when Kitty Karry-All is missing – it’s awesome, age appropriate nervousness.
And it’s great that they get to watch the Brady family solve a problem (do we use the female doctor or the male doctor?) because this family listens to each other and they talk it out.
They share their feelings, sometimes even argue, but in that magical 30 minutes, they always seem to find a great solution (hey, let’s use both of them!).
Sharing feelings and talking things through…how novel!
It’s a scripted show so of course, Carol and Mike always have the perfect thing to say (even though I don’t agree with Carol advising Marcia to drop out of the student council race so Greg could win….even if Greg did decide to fire his campaign manager because he suggested starting a rumor about Marcia and that creep Felix Brown).
But it’s not so much about what Carol and Mike “say”; it’s that they deal with things together, they trust each other, they demonstrate teamwork, and they insist on the family treating each other with respect.
Watching this show again has shined a light on the things that have gotten lost – a time when life wasn’t so fast paced, when parents were available to their kids, when kids were busy sewing in their rooms and starting a singing group rather than texting and watching you tube videos.
Don’t get me wrong, I love my phone and you tube videos – I’m not interested in going back to 1970’s technology. But I wish there was more awareness around how to use our technology in a balanced and healthy way.
Instead, we use our technology in place of truly “being” with each other.
For the Brady family, entertainment was about communication, collaboration, and connection, like having a family sack race or playing ball (outside of course, because mom always said, well, you know what she said).
And the kids listened to their parents because they were fair, kind, and not total idiots (unlike the parents portrayed on most Disney shows).
Yes, Mike and Carol were cheesy, and sometimes a little too worried (Cindy only had the sniffles), but they actually loved each other and demonstrated to their children what it means to be in a loving and committed relationship.
I have to admit that it was a little difficult explaining to the girls why Alice lived in the house, and they quickly lost interest as I tried to explain that Alice maintained a sense of continuity for the boys after their mother died, and breaking that bond wasn’t a good idea (my girls usually stop listening when my therapist hat goes on…).
My Brady observations are obviously based in nostalgia and appreciation for simpler days, but to me, the lessons from the show stand the test of time.
Maybe the reason we all loved the Brady family and why they are still around today is because they demonstrated something real and something that is always possible.
A foundation based on connection, communication, and love where family is first (and remember, the Brady family was a step family…very modern for that time), and dealing with any issue that threaten these important bonds is top priority.
It is just a television show, and the reality of our day to day experiences may not allow us to look or act as put together as the Brady family, but I still believe we can pull from their heart-centered teachings.
And if you are lucky enough to have the right cable channel or the DVD set, so can your children.