In this assignment, I choose to analyze the Coopers, a family in the 2017 TV series Riverdale. The Coopers include Hal and Alice who are separated parents in their 40s, Polly and Betty are first born the last born respectively, both in their teenage (Goldwater, Schechter, Berlanti & Aguirre-Sacasa, 2017). Hall is quiet and most hypocritical. Alice is hyper-reactive, irrational, and violent. Both Hal and Alice have a fairly better relationship with Betty than Polly. She is a teenage student at Riverdale high school, mainly participating in investigative journalism. Polly is rarely featured but comes in at season two where she appears defiant to both Hal and Alice. At some instance, an identity male thief intrudes the family to live with them. Allegedly, he is the unknown firstborn of Alice, whom she has concealed since her teenage.
The Cooper parents reveal the four parenting styles mentioned by Laursen & Collins. Alice practices authoritative parenting when she strictly prohibits Betty to befriend Jughead. According to Laursen & Collins (2009), an authoritative parent reveals attitudes and actions which are inclined to protecting the child, yet implies age-appropriate demands. In context, Alice considers Betty to be too young to combat the relationship challenges for teenagers; thus, she should wait a little longer.
Both Hall and Alice denote the authoritarianism to their firstborn Polly. Hall convinces Polly to abort a pregnancy since he is secretly aware it is out of an incestuous relationship. This decision is partly to enable her to continue schooling, but when she refuses, both Hal and Alice send her to a nursing home. Laursen & Collins (2009), identify such behaviour as authoritarian, where a parent neglects the needs of a child and enforces demands in their favour. Therefore, the parenting demands by both Hal and Alice are somewhat forceful to favour their agendas.
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Both Hal and Alice are uninvolving parents. First, they send Polly to the Quiet Sisters of Mercy during her pregnancy. During her send-off, her boyfriend had just been killed anonymously. Therefore, she needed emotional and psychological support from her parents and close peers (Hanley, 2020). However, as Laursen & Collins (2009) puts it, they are inattentive and neglect Polly’s needs.
Positive Interactions and Support
The Coopers have positive interactions between parents and adolescents. For instance, both Hal and Alice have significant influence over their daughters concerning matters of the future. However, Betty influences her mother to accept most of her ideas, centrally to Laursen & Collins assertion that parents are predominantly the dominant influence in the relationship (2009). Further, the interaction reveals the closeness of the Coopers. For instance, Betty understands her father’s “darkness” unlike Polly and their mother (Goldwater, Schechter, Berlanti & Aguirre-Sacasa, 2017). Also, Alice understands the potential extreme which Betty can pursue issues since she might have inherited her character. However, this closeness develops over time from special protection to freedom for Betty. Also, parents become second after Betty’s best friends, as explained in parent-adolescent literature (Laursen & Collins 2009; Brown & Larson, 2009). Concerning Polly, Hal does not seem to like her. Though Alice misses her when she is away, she does not support her compared to Betty. As Laursen & Collins (2009), the closeness varies the support offered from one adolescent-parent dyad to another.
Negative Interactions and Support
Besides the positive interactions, the Coopers often disagree revealing negative interactions. Mostly, Betty and Hal have something conflicting the ideas or opinions of Alice. That is, as Laursen & Collins (2009) reports that disagreements mostly begin with mothers. Also, the temperament with better is similar to that of her parents, as negativity begets negativity. For instance, Betty explains to her father that she has darkness similar to his (Goldwater, Schechter, Berlanti & Aguirre-Sacasa, 2017). However, Hal and Alice seem rigid to learn the mistakes they made when bringing up Polly, although Laursen & Collins suggests that conflict reduces in consecutive births (2009).
From Hal and Alice’s parenting styles and their relationship with their daughters, Betty becomes courageous and daring, while Polly becomes defiant and socially isolated (Goldwater, Schechter, Berlanti & Aguirre-Sacasa, 2017). Firstly, Betty influences her parents into accepting her relationship with Jughead, who she later preferences more than the former. For instance, she spends more time with him than with her parents, as predicted by Brown & Larson (2009). Also, Betty uses her seemingly inherited temperament and curiosity to probe issues, report them and lead activisms. As reported by Brown & Larson (2009), Laursen & Collins (2009), and Brechwald & Prinstein (2011), both adolescent-parent and peer-adolescent dyads shape one’s character through positive and negative interactions. In that, parenting styles play a significant role. For instance, Betty interacts with her parents more than Polly; hence the later appears defiant and socially isolated due to unhealthy parenting experience.
From a Christian perspective, children should obey their parents always, so that they live better lives (Colossians 3:20, NKJ). Therefore, children should not argue to defy their parents in their relationships. In a way, the Christian teachings contrast Laursen & Collins’s (2009) observation that adolescents influence their parents on some contemporary issues. In the film context, Betty hence defies Biblical teachings. Besides, parents should discipline their children, lest they get spoilt (Proverbs 13:24). While the Coopers are somewhat cautious to protect Betty from criminal gangs, they do not succeed in “using the rod” as depicted in the Proverbs. Hence, the Coopers parenting style and relationships are short of Christian expectations.
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Brechwald, W., & Prinstein, M. (2011). Beyond Homophily: A Decade of Advances in Understanding Peer Influence Processes. Journal Of Research On Adolescence, 21(1), 166-179. doi: 10.1111/j.1532-7795.2010.00721.x
Brown, B., & Larson, J. (2009). Peer Relationships in Adolescence. Handbook Of Adolescent Psychology. doi: 10.1002/9780470479193.adlpsy002004
Goldwater, J., Schechter, S., Berlanti, G., & Aguirre-Sacasa, R. (2017). Riverdale [Film]. United States: The CW.
Hanley, T. (2020). Betty and Veronica (1st ed.). London: Rowman & Littlefield.
Laursen, B., & Collins, W. (2009). Parent-Child Relationships During Adolescence. Handbook Of Adolescent Psychology. doi: 10.1002/9780470479193.adlpsy002002