5 Parenting Lessons from “The Middle”

Editor’s Note: It was recently announced that “The Middle” would be going off of the air after the 2017-2018 season, with an hour-long finale in spring 2018. There’s still a lot of great advice to be gathered from this quirky show however!

If you are part of a middle class family, it’s easy to relate to the Hecks of “The Middle.” Frankie and Mike struggle with everything middle class parents do: paying the bills, balancing expenses, and trying to raise children who aspire to college. Their parenting style is not for everyone, but within the hilarity and the sometimes questionable choices they make, we can find some relevant truth.

This show is a mirror into every parent’s struggles, battles, and parenting nightmares. Somehow, they manage to make us laugh and cry watching their crazy life.

Frankie and Mike can teach us a great deal about parenting. Here are five parenting lessons from “The Middle”:

Find a parenting balance

Mike and Frankie’s philosophy is to let life happen. Their children often fend for themselves and are expected to remind their parents of every school activity. Because of this, it’s common for the family to be late, for the parents to forget, and for the children to miss out on opportunity. Instead of staying on top of deadlines, activities and events, they depend on their children to remind them.

Uninvolved parents are the antithesis of the helicopter parent.

We should always seek a balance between the two. Stay involved enough to be the coach and the guide, but back off enough to allow your children to exert some independence.

Always encourage your children to pursue their goals

The Heck’s daughter, Sue, is an extrovert and a dreamer. She dreams big, fails at most things, but continues to try. Although her parents know she’s never going to be a varsity cheerleader or homecoming queen, they never tell her to stop trying. She learns some tough lessons about life and her successes are more meaningful because she committed and never gave up.

Even when it seems you’ve failed as a parent, there is always hope

The Heck’s oldest son, Axl, is a charmer, with absolutely no motivation. Try as they might, they could never seem to impress upon him the importance of doing your best and striving for excellence. Since he is a charmer, he charmed his way out of some pretty desperate situations. But as time has passed, he has grown as a person and has begun to see the potential in a college degree.

Even in a family that struggles financially, college is an option

Neither Mike nor Frankie have a college education. But they knew they wanted their children to have that opportunity. Their plan for Axl was to get an athletic scholarship. For Sue, they knew her grades were her ticket and expected a good financial aid package. Both first generation students were accepted to college and received enough financial aid to attend. The parents never gave up on encouraging their children, even though they knew there would be challenges financially.

Even though you can’t wait for your kids to leave for college, you will miss them when they are gone

This scenario has played out numerous times during the last few seasons. Frankie and Mike’s goal has always been for their children to finally leave home. Now that two of them have gone off to college, they are feeling the pains of the empty nest, especially with Sue. Their youngest son is still at home, but entering high school. The reality that someday soon they will be all alone is a quite an accomplishment, but it’s also a tough pill to swallow. There are days when they welcome the silence in the house, and then there are days when they worry because they haven’t heard from either child in the last 24 hours.

Related reading:

Becoming a college parent

How to help without hurting

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