28 04 2013


Recently, because of the recommendations of more than one of my friends, I rented the movie entitled, “Parental Guidance” staring Billy Crystal.  Crystal who in real life is a true baseball buff like me plays a character named Artie who was recently fired from his job as a broadcaster of a Minor League Baseball team in Fresno.  He and his wife Dianne, who is played by the lady who gave Barry Manilow his big break- the Divine Miss M- Bette Midler- are summoned from California to Atlanta in order that they may take care of their 3 grandchildren while their daughter Alice and her husband Phil go away on a business conference. They are referred to as “the other grandparents” because Artie and Dianne do not get to spend much time with their grandchildren like Phil’s parents do evidenced by all the pictures of Phil’s parents present on the mantle of the fireplace. And also because their way of living life is very different than the hyper organized and obsessive compulsive structure that Alice and Phil have chosen for their kids: oldest daughter Harper, and sons Turner and Parker. Alice and Phil live in an annoying and obtrusive “Smart House” that makes it feel more like a sterile facility than a happy home!

Needless to say this meeting and mixture of personalities causes many comedic moments that had me laughing out loud but also caused me to again wonder why we have allowed our culture to become so politically correct! Case in point is the scene that has Artie attending his grandson’s Turner’s baseball game. While watching the contest, Artie recalls what a good pitcher his daughter Alice used to be when she was a kid and how they would have fun together when she would go with her Dad to work and be with him in the press box as he commentated about the action on the ball field.

Alice and her Pop are now together again at the old ballgame but instead of eating a tofu frank- Artie is chomping down some chili dogs!  The two of them are in the stands to see Turner pitch! He is a pretty talented lefty with great form. As he faces one of the kids that bullies him all the time, Turner ends up actually striking him out. However, in our “Don’t let anybody ever have to deal with a hurt feeling World that we now all find ourselves living in” the league has a rule that there are no outs, and everybody keeps on batting until they hit the ball. Artie finds this whole premise ridiculous and confronts the umpire and in doing so discovers that they don’t even keep a score! Everything is all about fun and no competition. Artie spouts out, “What fun is competition if you don’t keep score?” Artie’s boldness inspires other parents start to speaking up! Some of them agree that this technique is boring and lifeless and doesn’t really teach anything while others hold to the conviction that for the safety of the children’s self image- all the kids should win.

I love the fact that Artie had the guts to just communicate on the outside what he really believed on the inside! Grandparents Artie and Dianne had much wisdom to offer their grandkids and should not have to be restricted to “eggshell walking” when it came to sharing their love and their many life experiences along the way! I am seeing way too many wonderful individuals who have something quite important to say, stuffing their words and ideas and opinions just because it isn’t the popularly accepted dogma of the day! Speak out! Speak up! And to the younger generation- I humbly implore you to not be afraid to listen! Contrary to whatever mantra being preached today- none of us know it all! We all need others to make it in this world! God has given you loved ones not to compete with- but to complete the journey with!

The very best point that this film drives home with several creative instances is that parents need not train up their children in their own image- but be willing to help shape them and coach them to becoming who God intended them to be! Pushing or using others to try and achieve your own agenda is never rewarding and in the end, even if the goal is reached- causes more harm than it does good. Parents love your children as God designed them to be. Children- love your Parents and realize that not every way things are being done today are essentially the best ways! And all of us need to do a better job cherishing one another while we can- because there will come a day when you won’t have those options anymore! Maybe that is why the best parental guidance any of us could ever have is the loving powerful grace given to each and every one of us by a Heavenly Father who loves us no matter what!   





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