Entertainment is a huge influencer in society. Many people, especially at a young age, like to emulate the characters they see on screen, both purposefully and subconsciously. Movies, music, and video games all can have an effect on one’s manner and behavior.
TV is also a big source of cultural and social influence. Unfortunately, many shows on television today are full of values that are not necessarily “moral.” The family, once thought to be the building blocks of society, is most popularly televised as dysfunctional and divided.
This isn’t to say that everything on TV is garbage, or that the garbage should be avoided altogether. It’s just to point out that the average family might have a harder time finding shows that will teach their kids positive and moral values.
But there is still hope for quality family TV! Here are eight TV shows that portray values appropriate for both parents and kids. Who knows, maybe you could learn something from these families!
- Full House. Full House is a TV show that ran from 1987-1995 and captured the hearts of American families. Danny, Joey, and Jesse are trying to raise Danny’s three daughters after Danny’s wife died in a tragic accident. There are many ups and down for this family, but in the end they always stick it out and support each other. This TV show is about more than just mindless entertainment. One of the most evident family values in Full House is support amongst family members. Danny gets support from his family and friends to help raise his daughters. This encourages viewers to remember that families should be supportive of each other, especially in the midst of tragedy.
- 19 Kids and Counting. This reality show on TLC is still airing, and still intriguing. The Duggar family is a very large family that practices fundamentalist Christian beliefs. The TV show is simply a documentary of their life. Because of the unusual amount of children in the family, this show is a great example of sibling love. In 19 Kids and Counting, each older sibling is assigned to a younger sibling to help take care of him or her. The older sibling is responsible for the younger sibling in a parental way. Because of this method of child rearing, the siblings are all very close and share a bond that most siblings do not get to experience. Watching this show as a family could be a great way to show that siblings don’t always have to fight and that they really can get along.
- The Brady Bunch. Although there are not 19 children in this fictional family, The Brady Bunch is a show about two families blending into one and learning how to become a true family. Because there is such a high divorce rate in our culture today, this show would really speak to divorced families that are trying to start over. The Brady Bunch is a sitcom, so most of the plots are primarily geared toward humor; however, there are still tough adjustments that the families must go through. Ultimately, the two families set aside their differences as they learn how to accept and love one another. Even though the last airing date of The Brady Bunch was 1974, there are still many applicable lessons that can be learned from this famous family.
- Little People, Big World. The Roloff family’s life is the focus in this TLC documentary show. However, this is not your average American family. Several members of the Roloff family have been diagnosed with dwarfism, and they wanted to use this opportunity to be in a TV show and teach the world about what everyday life is like for a dwarf. This is a great show for families to watch because it teaches children that all people are different, but that those differences do not alienate. The Roloff family functions like any other family unit, they just face different challenges. This show also displays they ways that family members need to care for and love each other.
- Leave it to Beaver. Leave it to Beaver is one of the most iconic shows from 1950s American television. This TV show focuses on the Cleaver family, but specifically the youngest son, Beaver Cleaver. Beaver is a naïve, entertaining young boy that learns the values of life from his parents. Although this show is primarily about the adventures of Beaver, one of the most important values presented is that of marriage and parenting. Beaver’s parents, June and Ward Cleaver, are an idealized couple. They are the “perfect” parents and have a seemingly perfect marriage. Although this show does not even come close to depicting reality, the message that a healthy marriage is important for both spouses and their children is clearly portrayed.
- 7th Heaven. 7th Heaven is a drama series that aired on the WB. This show touches on many moral and social issues throughout the series. Although it is a TV drama, many of the issues that this family faces are real life issues. The family is also devoutly Christian, therefore many Christian morals are presented throughout the show. It is hard to focus on just one value learned from this family because there so many discussed throughout the show. However, one overarching theme is acceptance between family members. No matter what the individuals in the family are going through, they are always accepted and loved by the entire family. In real families there are also many differences that must be worked through. The show teaches that families must stick together and be supportive, even if there are disagreements.
- Wife Swap. This reality TV show originally aired on ABC and has a very unique premise. In the show, two families are chosen. For two weeks the families swap wives, which usually results in a little bit of chaos. Although this TV show is primarily about entertainment, there can be a lot learned from these episodes. The families not only learn that there are many different ways that a wife and mother can act, but they learn to appreciate the unique qualities of their own wife or mother. Many women get overlooked or under appreciated in their families. This show displays just how much families rely on the wife/mother role. Usually, at the end of the two weeks, the families are more than eager to have things return to normal. Most children and husbands are more appreciative and supportive of their absent mother/wife by the end of the show. Watching Wife Swap as a family could bring to light just how much mom needs need to be appreciated!
- The Cosby Show. The Cosby Show is another great iconic American sitcom. Bill Cosby, the inspiration and main character of the show, wanted the it to be full of educational value about family life. Most of the material for the episodes comes from Bill Cosby’s own observations about life. Similar to Full House, this show is a sitcom about a normal family trying to figure life out together. Through many ups and downs, the family learns how to support each other and stick together. Also, there are many instances where parenting tactics are addressed—most influenced by Bill Cosby’s own experiences as a parent. Throughout the show there are varying circumstances where parental patience and wisdom is tested. This is a great show to watch as a family because it is a pretty realistic portrayal of family life and struggles.
If you can think of a particular episode from one of these shows were you learned something valuable, or if you know of another show that teaches family values that isn’t on the list, feel free to discuss it down in the comment section below!