Parenting Lessons from, um … “Lost”

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Some people will tell you that there isn’t anything left to say about Lost, and those of us who spent 2010 hysterical with anticipation and/or dread for the looming series finale need to get on with our lives. Those people are liars and fools.

For instance, did you ever wonder if Lost could be a better source for child-rearing advice than the best books on not screwing kids up available? It isn’t, but you wouldn’t be the first person to wonder that. I obviously did.

Nonetheless, anyone who wants to avoid burdening their tyke with mommy and/or daddy issues might find Lost somewhat helpful. Virtually none of the dozens of castaways from Oceanic Flight 815 had a healthy relationship with their parents, which is a pretty weird coincidence. Then again, maybe it’s best not to worry about the plausibility of events revolving around a magic island and cursed lottery numbers and all.

(Note: This whole thing is absolutely loaded with spoilers.)

Don’t be too judgmental of your child’s choice in romantic partners.

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Charles Widmore (above) and Woo-Jung Paik, two wealthy businessmen with shadowy connections, caused themselves a whole heap of trouble by meddling too much in their daughters’ romantic lives. Widmore shamed Desmond Hume into breaking up with Penelope Widmore. Consequently, Desmond spent much of the following years doing silly things like racing a sailboat around the world to win his true love’s father’s approval.

Meanwhile on the other side of the planet, pre-Oceanic 815 crash, Paik exploited Jin-Soo Kwon’s embarrassment over his less-than affluent roots, manipulating him into becoming an enforcer for the Korean mob. Sun and Jin’s marriage almost ended due to the machinations of Sun’s jerkface gangster pop.

In the end, Desmond and Penny got back together, as did Sun and Jin.

Meanwhile, the elder Widmore ended up gunned down by his arch enemy, while Paik lost significant control over his company when Sun bought it out from under him, as if to not-so-subtly say, “SCREW YOU DAD!!!”

Don’t be overprotective (unless you want you kid to grow up to be a smoke monster).

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Of course, many parents would prefer that their little Billy or Suzy remain innocent, pure, and oblivious forever. But if you shield your child from information that could ruin his or her fragile eggshell perception of the world – the presence of death, sex and the people from the other side of the island, for example – they could grow up to resent you.

Just look at how things panned out for Allison Janney’s cryptically named character, “Mother,” in the momentous season six episode, “Across the Sea.” Hundreds of years before Jack, Kate, Hurley and their pals arrived on the island, Mother was raising her adopted twin sons, Jacob and he who would later be known as The Man in Black. Throughout their lives, “Mother” repeatedly informed her boys that no land masses except for the island existed anywhere, a small group of shipwrecked individuals were not building a small civilization on the opposite side of their water-locked haven, and she absolutely did not smash their biological mother’s head in with a rock. Needless to say, it was a matter of time before the brothers discovered that “Mother’s” explanation of the world was a complete load of bull-pucky.

The MiB abandoned his “Mother” for a new life with the people on the other side of the island after he learned the truth. Then he started putting together a plan to escape the island. Having apparently learned nothing from her early attempts to block reality from infecting her little ones, “Mother” decided to smash MiB’s head in with a different rock and raze the proto-Others’ village, rather than allow MiB to leave the island. Unfortunately for “Mother,” she didn’t finish the job, and the MiB snuffed her out with a rigorous stabbing.

It’s possible all parties would’ve been a lot happier, less dead and less of a chirping cloud of doom if “Mother” had been more honest from the start.   

Don’t be an abusive alcoholic.
As much as being evil and constantly belligerent can be loads of fun, it’s important to remember that this type of behavior may negatively influence your child’s emotional development. For example, maybe they’ll want to kill you when they grow up.

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Observe the mistakes made by Kate’s dad, Wayne Janssen, and the man who sired one of TV’s all-time great villains, Roger Linus. Wayne slapped Kate and Kate’s mom around all the time. He thought that was just swell until Kate grew old enough to buy lots of kerosene and blew his house to smithereens while he was sleeping off an epic bender. Ben’s mother died in childbirth, and Ben’s dad blamed poor baby Ben for years. Eventually, the emotional battery got to be too much, and Ben let his ol’ man choke on poisonous gas during the genocide of the Dharma Initiative.

Also … tricking your child into giving you a kidney, or throwing him or her out an eighth-story window may result in a similarly disadvantageous scenario.

After you die, haunt the crap out of your kids.
Though Jack Shepard may be considered the protagonist of Lost, he repeatedly makes terrible ego-based decisions that lead to all types of calamity. While the subject is never directly brought up, I speculate that the reason his father, Christian, drank so heavily was because he knew he had raised a worthless ass.

Christian spends the entire series, excluding flashbacks, totally dead. But Jack can’t shake his memories of inadequacy and guilt for events that led to his father boozing himself out of existence in Australia. Luckily, Christian’s corpse happened to be luggage during the 815’s crash landing. As a result, the Smoke Monster is able to assume the form of Christian to mercilessly taunt Jack and his cohort. When Christian and Jack reunite at the end of the series, note how serene Christian behaves when he meets the son who ruined his career. Could it be because he likes knowing that he’s been indirectly making Jack miserable for years? I think maybe.  

Before you shoot someone, make sure it isn’t your son or daughter from the future
If you’re already in the habit of shooting people willynilly, you obviously have problems well beyond bad parenting … unless, perhaps, you live in Florida and aren’t black, in which case the rules about gun murder apply quite differently. But even if you do reside in the Sunshine State, even if you don’t have any children yet, and even if the person you’re preparing to blast to hell is pointing a gun at your friend and rambling about a hydrogen bomb, before you shoot that person, make sure that they look nothing like you and never refer to you as “Mom” or “Dad.”

Such was the situation Eloise Hawking found herself in back when she lived on the island in the 1970s. As a direct result of unloading a rifle round into the back of her time traveling son, Daniel Faraday, she preempted her own chances for successful motherhood. Remember: To preserve the space-time continuum, we must respect that “what happened, happened.” So if you execute the adult version of your offspring in the past, you’ll have to make certain that he or she grows up to be a time traveler who eventually comes across a reason to travel to the past to be killed by you. Otherwise, everything gets even more confusing.

Ooooh, and also, don’t shoot Michelle Rodriguez when you’re in the middle of trying to rescue your kidnapped and/or estranged child. In fact, just don’t shoot Michelle Rodriguez at all.

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