Sitcom dads often come off as bumbling blunderers. It’s what you might call a trope of the genre.
But you’d be surprised: Al Bundy has some seriously philosophical stuff to drop on you. Danny Tanner does not take make-out parties lightly. Dan Connor knows all about the facts of life.
And the following eight life lessons are as helpful today as when they first aired.
Hank Hill on Teenage Fads
When Bobby becomes obsessed with Christian rock, Hank tries to take it in stride. When he finally can’t take it anymore, he points out a harsh truth to the front man of Bobby’s favorite band.
Modern Day Application: When your kids get into whatever fad is cool on Tumblr this week, they might need a dose of real talk.
Danny Tanner on Making Out
Stephanie gets invited to a make-out party, but isn’t really ready for that kind of later adolescent activity. She tries to call DJ to sort it out, but it’s Dad who ends up coming to the rescue.
Modern Day Application: You need to keep an eye on what your kids do online without getting all NSA on them. Respond when they need you, back off when they don’t.
Al Bundy on Mental Breakthroughs
Skip to around 2:10 for the good bits here, but anyone who has seen this episode will know immediately what’s up: Al can’t remember a song (“Hmm hmm him”) and goes nuts trying to ID it in the pre-Shazam era. He finally hears it after he gives up.
Modern Day Application: When your kids are struggling with schoolwork and getting frustrated, have them take a break. Stepping away from a problem can sometimes be a critical step toward solving it.
George Bluth on Tough Love
Buster thinks he wasn’t allowed to play soccer because his dad was worried about him getting injured. George Sr. lays down his real reasons in no uncertain terms.
Modern Day Application: In an era where everyone gets a trophy, it’s sometimes good to remind our kids of their limitations.
Jack Arnold on Life
When Kevin needs help with a paper for school, his old man reveals the joylessness of his daily existence
Modern Day Application: Times have changed. We have way more ways to live fulfilling lives than ever. Make sure your kids know that.
Uncle Phil on Judgment
He’s not Will’s dad, but he’s the closest thing the kid has. When he first meets Uncle Phil, the two get off on the wrong foot and the big man schools him on prejudging people… right before Will teaches him the same lesson.
Modern Day Application: Make sure your kids know that you should learn someone’s story before you judge them—and that a Google search or a Facebook profile isn’t their story.
Dan Connor on Self-Love
Dan has to do what dads have to do. Talk to DJ about self-gratification… and then not talk about it.
Modern Day Application: These days, your kid is just one Google search away from big boy smut that will warp his tiny brain, so you’ve gotta get to them early… and put a password on the computer.
Andy Griffith on Hard Work
Andy teaches Opie a lesson by showing him what happens to a kid when he doesn’t have boundaries and doesn’t work hard for what he gets.
Modern Day Application: Give your kids something that will help them throughout their entire lives: a work ethic in a world of people without one.