As much as our children are very much separate people from us, we parents can’t help but compare every milestone in their lives to the ones we remember going through ourselves. That’s why we’re fascinated by what parenting a teenager must be like for Molly Ringwald, whose own teenage years were so well documented for the world.
“I thought I would’ve had a little bit more edge or info or intel or something,” she told Huffington Post while doing press to promote her hilarious Avocados for Mexico Super Bowl ad. “But I feel like I’m very often just as confused and perplexed as anyone else.”
Maybe Ringwald would know what to tell her eldest daughter Mathilda if the whole family forgot her 16th birthday this past year. She might even have advice for Mathilda — as well as her 10-year-old twins Adele and Roman — for how to survive Saturday detention with Emilio Estevez. But being a teenager in 2020 is…a bit different from the life depicted in Ringwald’s famous John Hughes movies. In fact, Ringwald thinks her kids might have it harder than she did.
“I feel like all of the insecurities, the highs and lows, the way that teenagers feel is the same,” she told HuffPo. “But there are so many other aspects that aggravate their lives. We didn’t have 24/7 Instagram and other social media. I think that makes things very hard. It makes it harder to focus, so they miss out on a lot of great things. I was really into films when I was young, and I could sit down and watch a long, slow-paced film. But I think kids are sort of losing their ability to do that now.”
Then again, a lot of things have improved since the ‘80s, as Ringwald has pointed out in the past. She wrote an essay for The New Yorker in 2018 exploring her feelings when re-watching The Breakfast Club and Sixteen Candles with Mathilda. She noticed how much Bender (Judd Nelson) sexually harasses her character Claire in The Breakfast Club, and how Farmer Ted (Anthony Michael Hall) has sex with a practically unconscious Caroline (Haviland Morris) in Sixteen Candles. Those scenes wouldn’t fly in the post-#MeToo era, we hope. (Nor would all the blatant racism of Sixteen Candles.) At the same time she realized that those movies and Pretty in Pink were touchstones for LGBTQ teens of the era, because even though there are no queer characters in the movies, they did depict how all teenagers feel like they don’t fit in.
“John’s movies convey the anger and fear of isolation that adolescents feel, and seeing that others might feel the same way is a balm for the trauma that teenagers experience,” Ringwald wrote.
Now, those kids have so many options — Booksmart, Sex Education, Euphoria and even her own Riverdale — in which to see people like themselves onscreen.
While her kids are getting into show business (all three are models and both girls want to act), and Ringwald is a pretty steady presence on social media herself, she does manage to bring a bit of old-school parenting into her household, too.
“We decided family dinner would be the time everybody puts their devices down and hangs out and talks,” she said to HuffPo. “I think it’s really important.”