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Alan Thicke And His 5 Golden Life Lessons

(Credit: Christopher Polk / Staff) 5 life lessons from Alan ThickeAlan Thicke And His 5 Golden Life Lessons
December 14
10:28 AM 2016

Hollywood actor Alan Thicke, who died Tuesday at 69, offered plenty of parental advice during his career, first as a beloved TV dad on the 1980s sitcom Growing Pains, and later in his own (tongue-in-cheek) books on parenting. Here are a few life lessons cribbed from Thicke's works and interviews through the years.

1. On why you should actually discipline your children

"Any of us who grew up in the 'Spare the rod, spoil the child' generation came to believe that children are innately good people who, if given the option, will generally choose to do the right thing. Wrong," he wrote. "This is one of the planet's most dangerous misapprehensions. Children are children for a reason: They are younger and stupider than we are. That's their job. They don't have the benefit of distance and reflection that we've gained in our own tortured adolescence. A liberal democratic perspective may be good for saving caribou near the Alaska pipeline, but it doesn't work for herding kids. Parenting is a dictatorship. We are their first interpreters of the world around them, and spoiling their dangerous fun is our job."

-From his 2006 book, How To Raise Kids Who Won't Hate You

2. On how time heals marital wounds

Thicke and his first wife, soap actress Gloria Loring, split when his eldest sons, Robin and Brennan, were seven and nine, respectively. "But despite the predictable struggles that follow divorce - community property, custody agreements, and overall bad feelings - a certain enlightened maturity informs the years that pass," he wrote. "Our parenting came full circle last year when Robin married his high school sweetheart, the fabulous and talented actress Paula Patton... Robin invited Gloria and me to escort him down the aisle, to give away the groom in the ultimate act of joint custody: relinquishing custody. God bless him for honoring us this way and for allowing us to revel in his moment. lf time doesn't heal all wounds, children certainly do."

- From his 2006 book, How To Raise Kids Who Won't Hate You

3. On his tips for new dads

When the Twitter account Dad University asked him to share advice for first-time papas, he suggested, "Love, then love some more. Suspicion comes much later."

4. On how to handle kids who still feel bad even after doing the right thing

In an episode from Season 2 of Growing Pains, Thicke's character, psychiatrist Dr. Jason Seaver, was initially mad when son Mike (Kirk Cameron) came home after curfew.

And he got even angrier when Mike confessed that he'd been at a party where kids were doing cocaine (this was the mid-1980s, after all) but that feeling was replaced by immense relief when Mike said he hadn't partaken. But he was confused when Mike noted he was actually embarrassed that he hadn't given in to peer pressure.

"I know I did the right thing," he told his father. "But I feel like everyone's going to laugh at me. And some of those people did laugh."

Dad set him straight: "You're never going to be able to please everybody -- except for yourself. What you did tonight took real courage. I'm proud of you."

5. On sharing credit for his fatherly wisdom

When Entertainment Weekly reunited the Growing Pains cast in 2011, Thicke shared that he was approached for parenting advice more than 20 years after the show ended. But he was quick to point out that Jason Seaver's wisdom wasn't all his.

"I'm often flattered when people ask me for parenting advice, to which I usually say, 'It's easier being a good parent when you have 11 writers following you around, telling you what to say.' That was the idyllic kind of family environment and dynamic that our writers created for us, and it's largely the kind of family that a lot of people aspire to."

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