Saturday, April 9, 2011

Lessons I've Learned From The Cosby Show

The Cosby Show debuted on September 20, 1984. I was just a few months over a year old. The series concluded on my 9th birthday, April 30, 1992. So, for as far back as I can remember, "the Cosby's" have been a part of  my life. I remember watching episodes of the TV show at my grandparent's house when I was little. Of course, then, I didn't always understand the humor or get the innuendo's. I don't think there has been a year since the show began when you couldn't find an episode of The Cosby's on some network. If I'm flipping through channels and I find that the show is on, I'll stop and watch it. In my almost 28 years, I'm sure that I've seen every episode more than once. Recently Netflix made the entire series available instantly. While I have seen every episode, I don't believe that I've ever seen them consecutively in the order they aired on TV. So, I've started watching the series episode by episode starting at season one. I'm currently on season four. The show never gets old. Even the episodes that I've seen over and over again are still funny and still relevant. I've always said that my dad reminded me of Bill Cosby. Their sense of humor and their dispensing of "wisdom" are very similar. There are many episodes in which the antics of Dr. Huxtable in relating to his children remind me of my own childhood and things my dad would say or do. So in honor of my childhood, here are the lessons I've learned from watching The Cosby Show:

1. Laughter is good for us.

Of course there are times for tears and pain, sadness and reproof but sometimes you've just gotta laugh. The Cosby's often remind me not to sweat the small stuff. Sometimes, all you can do is laugh and go on about your business. Even the Bible tells us that laughter is good for us, "A joyful heart is good medicine,
but a crushed spirit dries up the bones." Proverbs 17:22. I can't tell you how many times in my life that my real life version of Cliff Huxtable, my dad, made me laugh in spite of whatever I was going through. I may not have appreciated it at the time (I'm usually the type of person who wants to stay mad when I'm mad so I didn't always appreciate him making me laugh when I was upset or angry) but I was thankful for it later. The Cosby's also taught me that it's OK for parent's to laugh at their children. We live in a culture where we are so worried about self-esteem. The problem is most of us think more highly of ourselves than we ought to. Now, I don't mean that parents should humiliate their children or degrade them. But the truth is sometimes as kids we just did (and still do) stupid things! My parent's laughed at me more times than I can count and I turned out OK!

2. Tough love is true love.

As a parent now, I can really relate to this statement. Sometimes the best thing for a kid is for the parent to say no. I get so tired of seeing parents who don't discipline their children but allow them to run wild and say whatever they wish. They have no respect for authority. Somewhere along the way, we've gotten our roles reversed. Instead of parent's leading the household we have children making decisions and controlling the parents. Today's media doesn't help either. I can't even count how many TV shows that I've seen where children and teenagers are allowed to do as they please with no real consequences. Where is the tough love? Where is pointing your child in the right direction even though they might get upset or angry? I am thankful that The Cosby Show is still in reruns, while I don't always agree with their politics and beliefs, they had it right when it came to parenting. They taught their children the hard lessons and loved them unconditionally even when they messed up. My parent's did the same for me. I remember thinking at times that my parent's were so unfair. I couldn't understand why all the other parent's allowed their children to do things that I wasn't allowed to do. But looking back, I am so thankful. And as a parent, I can now understand and relate. As I've said in a previous post, there is a time to show mercy and a time for discipline.

3. Education is important.

One of my most favorite episodes is one of the earliest one's (if not the first, I can't remember). Theo has decided that he doesn't want to go to college when he is older. He wants to be a regular person. He can't understand why his parents expect so much out of him. Cliff sits him down and asks him how much he plans on making as a regular person then proceeds to give him monopoly money to represent what he would make in a month, less taxes (Theo didn't know about that). He then proceeds to take away money for food, rent, transportation, and even a girlfriend. Theo is left with practically nothing at the end of the segment. I don't think The Cosby Show was trying to say that there is anything wrong with being a "regular" person as Theo called it but the chances for a more successful life went up if you had higher education. Now, I realize that this is not always true in our world today. There are just as many college graduates who can't get a job and many of them will be in debt for the rest of their lives due to student loans (I may be one of those) but education at any level is important. Cosby himself is a prolific supporter of education in real life. As a parent of a three year old, I am always encouraging her learning. I know I'm biased but I think she's really smart for her age! And my parents always pushed me in my education. They didn't allow for laziness. I was a pretty smart kid so I didn't have to always try so hard but the weren't happy with what I could do without trying, instead, they were interested in what I could do when I did try. I wasn't always thankful for this but in the long run, it paid off.

4. Who says you can't go home again.

Dr. Huxtable was always making cracks about his children leaving home and coming back and leaving home and coming back. He longed for the day where his children would leave the nest for good! But he and Claire were always there for their children. No matter where life had taken them, or what decisions they had made, they were there and often with lesson number two, tough love. I am thankful to have parents just like that. No matter how old I get or where life takes me, they are there. I love being able to pick up the phone and ask for advice and on occasion, help, when things haven't turned out the way I expected. I love being able to go home and spend time with them and eat their food and have mom wash my clothes! Family was always a priority on The Cosby Show.

The truth is, I didn't really learn all this from The Cosby Show. I learned these lessons from the two best parents in the world! They emulated each of these lessons in ways I'll never forget. They shaped me into the person I am today. It just so happens that my real life often parallelled the beloved Cosby Show. OBKB!

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