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Parenthood – Do you REALLY want to know if your teenage daughter is having sex?

This episode was a fine example of why 'Parenthood' is doing a superior job of depicting realistic, modern day parenting.

- Season 2, Episode 21 - "Slipping Away"

Memo to teenagers: Don’t have your cell phones anywhere near you when you decide to get busy because you don’t want to accidentally butt-dial your parents and have them hear the soundtrack of your sex life on their hands-free cell phone while they’re driving home from the grocery store where they just bought you your favorite waffles. It’s horrifying.

The way in which Parenthood dealt with the fact that Haddie decided to have sex with her boyfriend is the reason people should be watching this show: The writers were unafraid of letting Haddie’s parents have real reactions to this news, reactions that weren’t exactly their best, shining moments. That’s what made the storyline powerful.

Many shows have had stories about parents trying to deal with the fact their teenage daughter or son is having sex. But with Parenthood, it felt authentic, notably the way Adam (Peter Krause, delivering an awesome performance) played it.

Kristina (Monica Potter was no slouch in this episode either) made the ill-advised decision to ask her daughter, straight out, if she was having sex with her boyfriend. Haddie, of course, lied and said they weren’t. However after Haddie decided to ‘fess up and tell her mother the truth, Kristina’s reaction said it all: She, thoroughly uncertain as to what to do with this information, looked like she wished she didn’t know.

To make matters even more awkward, Kristina told Adam, the guy who looked like he was going to have a coronary when they were in the car listening to Haddie having sex with Alex during her accidental cell phone call.  Adam’s response to learning that his daughter was having sex was to emotionally freeze her out, to avoid eye contact with her almost as if he was ashamed of her. As Haddie tried to process the fact that Adam was practically shunning her, she began to regret telling the truth.

But that scene at the soccer field, where Adam tenderly tended to Haddie’s bleeding abrasion on her elbow and then he realized that she was still the same girl she was before he knew she wasn’t a virgin, was highly emotional and not at all sappy. There weren’t any melodramatic speeches or moralizing, just authenticity, a sweet scene between a father and his daughter that resonated.

By contrast, there were no heartfelt moments for Haddie’s cousin Amber, who’s going through her own version of teen hell and dragging her mother Sarah along with her.

Amber’s downward spiral — taking drugs, quitting her internship at Julia’s law office while making an immature, pompous speech when hung over, and literally shoving her mother into the dirt when Sarah tried to stop Amber from leaving the house — was downright ugly. Amber is adrift and, as teenagers are wont to do, blew off advice from responsible adults and instead tried to numb her pain with drugs and wildly acting out.

Of course all of this came at the exact same time when Sarah is on the cusp, for the first time, of achieving something professionally on her own and possibly getting her very first play performed on a professional stage. Sarah isn’t afforded the chance to bask in her good fortune while her daughter is drowning.

But that last scene with the car accident annoyed me because I feel as though I’d just seen it on Grey’s Anatomy. Hopefully next week, when the Braverman family is pacing the halls of the hospital waiting to see if Amber will be okay, no one breaks out into song.

Photo Credit: NBC

3 Responses to “Parenthood – Do you REALLY want to know if your teenage daughter is having sex?”

April 13, 2011 at 6:14 PM

My only critique of the episode was that, it is almost impossible to but dial on an Iphone. how do you accidently slideto unlock and press call. That sounds so implausible.

April 13, 2011 at 9:53 PM

Where did I go wrong, I lost a daughter
Somewhere along in the bitterness
And I would have stayed up with you all night
Had I known how to save a life…..


April 14, 2011 at 9:25 AM

@Jo — true, but Adam has the iPhone. Maybe Haddie doesn’t…

“There weren’t any melodramatic speeches or moralizing, just authenticity, a sweet scene between a father and his daughter that resonated.” I agree!!!!

Also, I liked Sarah’s advice to Adam to not give the kids space when they insist they need it. For once, she was the authority on something, and I think their relationship needed that because she always relies on him.

I too was a little annoyed at the car crash — it seems to be “the place to go” when teenagers are acting reckless (and, on Greys, when adults are).

Can’t wait for the finale!

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