This article contains spoilers.
The greatest TV show of all time – Starbucks cups and all – is coming to an end.
It’s been eight years since we were first introduced to Westeros and is there another show that has kept the whole world is watching quite like this one, as we speculate week to week, conjure up elaborate theories, and generally obsess over it? It’s going to leave quite a gap. Can we really live in a world without Tormund Giantsbane, the best TV character of all time?
An incest-filled murderthon, with gratuitous scenes in brothels and back-stabbing galore, might not seem like a good source of parenting advice, but that’s no reason not to look for any.
Here are some life lessons we learned from the parents of Westeros and beyond.
Do Take An Interest In Your Children’s Interests
Poor, doomed Ned Stark might have made a few mistakes when it came to trusting people, but he did the right thing when it came to hobbies, nurturing his daughter Arya’s interests in archery and swordplay, even going as far as enlisting a master swordsman, Sylvio Forel, to teach her.
Similarly, Oberyn Martell and Ellaria Sand’s daughters, the Sand Snakes, were trained in combat from an early age. All but one of the characters mentioned in here are now dead, but the one who isn’t owes her survival to skills picked up at Sword Club.
Don’t Play Favourites
Three-quarters of parents of multiple children supposedly have a favourite, but you’re not meant to let them know that. Tywin Lannister (booo!) was incredibly open about who his least-favourite child was, treating his son Tyrion with unmasked contempt and hatred, blaming him for his mother’s death during childbirth and giving him an unfair trial for the death of evil king Joffrey. Tyrion killed his father with a crossbow while he sat on the toilet. So that ended well.
Do Treat Step- And Biological Children The Same
Step-parents get a hard time in fairy tales, which seems massively unfair, as taking care of a child is hard enough even when they’ve got your nose. Step-parents are parents, and with over half a million blended families in the UK, it’s nice to see that represented by characters such as Samwell Tarley, raising Gilly’s son (who was horrifically fathered by her own father) as his own.
There were more mixed results in Winterfell, with the Stark children seeing long-term hostage Theon and – as far as they knew growing up – their father’s illegitimate son Jon as their siblings, while matriarch Catelyn struggled to accept him.
Don’t Take Credit For Your Partner’s Achievements
Sam might be a good stepdad, but he’s also something of a credit-hog – his partner Gilly deserves a least some of the credit for discovering the truth about Jon Snow’s true parentage, but he happily announces that he discovered it. Not cool, Sam. He could also do with working on his recurring “pals before gals” behaviour, like that time he left Gilly and Little Sam in a crypt full of potential zombies to go out battling with his friends.
Do Remember How Many Children You Have
A few characters struggle with this. We’re not even talking about leaving them behind in a pub, like David Cameron did. About two years go by at one point where nobody mentions Rickon Stark by name, during which he’s off in a forest somewhere having wacky adventures with his dog and Nymphadora Tonks from Harry Potter. He’s only little, and hardly anyone ever wonders if he’s okay.
Myrcella Baratheon is also pretty much forgotten by her parents for a while, as she’s off on a foreign-exchange trip/marriage alliance/hostage situation – and look how well that turned out.
Don’t Protect Your Children So Much They Can Handle The World
Poor little Tommen Baratheon was kept so ‘safe’ from the world, and infantilised by his mother Cersei so much, that he ended up being gullible and easily taken advantage of when real life came knocking. Actor Dean Charles Chapman said: “I blame Cersei for that, because she always shielded him, but she was really shielding him from politics, and the world, and how cruel people really are. He didn’t get the life lessons he should have had. He just thought, ‘Okay, I’ll shut up and do as they say.’”
Robin Arryn is similarly spoiled and sheltered by his mother (and breastfed until about thirteen). He ends up being pretty insufferable and temperamental, and when the time comes to learn to defend himself, he’s utterly useless.
Do Make Sure Sibling Squabbles Are Resolved Amicably
Brothers and sisters argue all the time, but usually in a relatively small, fixable way – they might scream that they hate each other and totally mean it in the moment while also loving each other deeply. The extended Stark family have fallen out and reconciled a few times – Sansa once thought her sister Arya was going to assassinate her, adopted brother Theon tried to murder Bran and Rickon, things like that, but ultimately everyone surviving gets on.
Look at what happens when petty arguments aren’t resolved – Euron Greyjoy threw his brother off a bridge to his death, while the Hound and the Mountain bitterly despise one another, even though one of them is pretty much Frankenstein now.
Don’t Have Children With Your Siblings
Something that’s really nice about growing up with siblings is that when you grow up and have children, those kids have aunties and uncles to love them and play with them. Taking the shortcut of having children with a family member is incredibly inadvisable. What do Joffrey, Myrcella and Tommen gain from secretly being ‘Uncle’ Jaime’s kids? Nothing but the telltale golden hair that kicks off the whole saga, disputes as to who the rightful heirs to the throne may be and the smouldering good looks of Nikolaj Coster-Waldau.