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One of my (and my 13-year-old daughter’s) favorite shows is ‘Parenthood,’ which airs Tuesday at 10 p.m. on NBC. It just seems like a true-to-life show, in that many of the stories and characters seem real – more real, in fact, than some reality shows that feature parents, kids and families.

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Alex (Michael B. Jordan) and Haddie (Sarah Ramos) on Parenthood; NBC

A current storyline has 16-year-old Haddie (played by the most excellent Sarah Ramos) falling for Alex (Michael B. Jordan), a 19-year-old black guy who works at the soup kitchen where Haddie volunteers.

Alex is a stand-up guy for a lot of reasons. For one thing, he’s a recovering alcoholic who’s doing well in Alcoholics Anonymous. He also emancipated himself out of a bad childhood and has been living on his own since he was 16.

But most of all, Alex is straightforward and honest, both with himself and others. So when Haddie’s parents, Adam and Kristina, told her she couldn’t see him anymore, Alex went to Adam’s office and said he didn’t know she’d been sneaking around behind their backs. If he had, he never would have pursued the relationship.

As a mom of two teenagers, I’ve been thinking about how I would have handled this. Yes, I get that Alex has some heavy issues to deal with and that connecting with Haddie might be a little overwhelming for her.

On the other hand, Haddie is a really thoughtful, intelligent girl who knows the difference between right and wrong. If I was her mom, I think I would have recognized this and told her to go ahead with the relationship, but to proceed with caution. Because, as this week’s episode revealed, if you tell a 16-year-old that she can’t do something, she’ll want to do it even more. Especially if it involves a boy.

And look, Alex isn’t a “bad boy.” He’s a good, upstanding citizen who’s putting himself out there to help the community and people in need. Now that I think about it, that’s exactly the kind of person parents should want their kids to get involved with. Right?

What do you think? Did Adam and Kristina make the wrong decision in telling Haddie she couldn’t see Alex? As a parent, what would you do in that situation?

17 COMMENTS

  1. Honestly, my biggest red flag, were it my kid, is the age difference. While I don’t personally think there’s a big difference between 16 and 19 (like there’s little difference between 23 and 26) the law thinks differently and “statutory rape” is an ugly term. I’d have to sit on this for a while and see how I felt about it.

  2. I really love Parenthood (even though I have no desire to ever be a parent! Maybe it’s residual Lorelai Gilmore love?), and I’m happy to know you like it too. In real life, would I be so sure about these two people dating? Maybe not, but the two actors are killing it so I’m rooting for the crazy kids to make it work.

  3. I can’t believe I’ve never watched the show! I like that you like it, though, which inspires me to take a look at it. I did love the movie.

  4. I haven’t watched this show but I’ve heard from others that it’s good. Huh, I’m not sure what I’d do in this situation but it sounds like this has been great that you can talk to your daughter about situations like this after watching the show. My 12 y-o and I are MASH fanatics.

  5. I’ another one who has never watched the show. It does sound like an interesting one, though, one that might be good to watch with teenagers so you can discuss some weighty issues together.

  6. I’m loving this story line and think the parents are going a little OTT over the whole situation, which is only driving Haddie away. Intrigued to see what plays out next. I really enjoy the relationship she has with her grandmother and am wondering if there will be a big showdown if Haddie goes to live with her.

  7. I don’t watch the show but this is a very good question. I don’t know! My oldest is 11. But I guess I think that by 16 kids need to make decisions for themselves. Forbidding a 16-year-old from dating a boy she really likes is just going to make her sneak around. Better to get to know him (invite him to family dinners and family outings) and to keep the lines of communication open open open with your teen. Hopefully by then you’ve talked A LOT about things like sex and alcohol and drugs. So in this case as a parent you could share your concerns but also tell your teen that you trust her enough to let her decide for herself.

  8. I love this storyline and I think Adam and Christina are over-reacting. As a parent, I would much rather see my daughter with a mature, honest, standup guy like Alex vs. a hormone crazed 16 year old boy. Alex has been through some tough issues so, his life perspective, while mature, also seems to be one of respect, appreciation and honesty. I think he will treat Haddie well, with love and respect vs. many 16 year old boys out.
    That said, I do agree with a previous poster about the whole statutory rape thing. That makes me scared for Alex. There have been cases where girls or their parents have falsely claimed rape when the young man is over 18 as a type of “revenge.” Ugh!

  9. As Someone who was emancipated at 15, and a Father of three Girls 17, 19, & 20, I would have no problem with a guy like Alex. Nice kid. I would sit them down and say there will be essentially private space in our home for them when he wants to come over and they can go out but I didn’t want her at his place since he lives alone.
    If I did my job when younger my daughter would have enough respect & integrity to take her time and not hurry to be older, after all this is who he’s attracted to in the first place.

  10. The main thing that they are forgetting to deal with on the TV show Parenthood is that Alex is 19 and Haddie is 16. That legally makes it a statutory rape situation. In most states, he would get put in prison for sexual contact with a minor, which is basically saying that he is a pedophile as far as most of society is concerned. I can’t believe that they haven’t brought it up yet on the show. If he actually dated her and had sex with her, she would be signing his sex offender papers for the rest of his life. What is the deal? Why haven’t they mentioned anything about that yet? I personally know of 2 people who have gotten this statutory rape charge (sexual conduct with a minor). One of my friends (male) was 19 and his girlfriend was 17. Also, a girl was dating the younger brother of a friend of mine (she was 16 and he was 18). He also is now a “sex offender” because of having sexual relations with a minor *(his girlfriend who was a junior when he was a senior in high school)*. I personally think this law is crap and has ruined otherwise nice kids’ lives, but this show needs to be responsible and not be putting ideas in young people’s heads that could get them put into prison and give them a life sentence as a “sex offender” where they would have to register for the rest of their life and never be able to get a good job or be around children again. I love the TV show Parenthood. I think they need to be more responsible about this issue though.

    • That’s a great point about statutory rape – some of the other commenters mentioned that, too. It’s a slippery slope, for sure. As a parent, you wouldn’t want to encourage a relationship where statutory rape could be involved. On the other hand, the more you try to stop the relationship, the more your child would probably want to pursue it, as is the case with Haddie.

      I don’t know what the answer is. But you’re right, they should get into the statutory rape issue on Parenthood. I’d like to see how the writers handle it.

  11. Thank you for this!!! My daughter is only 3 yrs old and I swear I would be thrilled if she met a guy as great as Alex!! The race thing doesn’t even matter! I think the parents are totally unreasonable. If I were Hattie I would find the 16 yr old white kid burnout/hippie smelly waste of space guy and “pretend” to really like him! THAT’LL TEACH EM!!

  12. I have just heard of the show Parenthood, and it’s a breath of fresh air to hear that it’s more human then other shows. From your review it looks really promising, and I can’t wait to see it.

  13. I did not watch the show but sounds like a good one. But I believe allowing children to decide what is good for them prepares them for future. They become better adults who are able to lead an independent live and make mature decisions.

  14. I am not a parent, but here is what I would have done: I would have said to her: “Haddie, you say you love and care about this guy and what happens in his life. If you love him and care about him you should realize that being caught with him involved sexually would cause him to go to jail.” Then I would explain to her what could happen to him in jail (rape, murder, etc). That is the way to handle this. The relationship is inappropriate, and especially with a smart girl like Haddie, thinking it through is the way to go in mu opinion.

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