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6 Unexpected Parenting Lessons From ‘Ghostbusters’

Your kid is like Slimer. Here's how to deal.

Whether it’s Halloween or just a Tuesday night in July, there’s never a bad time to watch one of the greatest movies of all time: Ghostbusters. In 1984, this sci-fi-comedy changed not only the way we thought about films, but also the way we thought about making jokes about slime. Ghostbusters made us feel funky, taught us that bustin’ can make you feel good, and most of all, that nobody ever made them like this.

But, unexpectedly, the original Ivan Reitman-directed 1984 film — starring Bill Murray, Sigourney Weaver, Harold Ramis, Ernie Hudson, Rick Moranis, Dan Ackroyd, and Annie Potts — also imparted some sneaky life-lessons, that, when looked at from a certain way, are actually parenting lessons in disguise. Yes, Ghostbusters 2 famously had a plotline involving a baby in it, but you actually don’t even need to leave the confines of the first movie to find the best-hidden parenting lessons in Ghostbusters.

Here are six lessons from Ghostbusters that will help every parent have the tools and the talent to deal with all types of ghoulish personalities your children might take on. In Ghostbusters you choose the form of the destroyer, but parents know that we’ve already chosen the form of our destroyer: it’s our kids.

Onto the list!

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6. “Slow down. Chew your food.”

When Venkman mentions he wants to take some of the petty cash to take Dana to dinner, Ray tells him that the Chinese food they’re eating represents “the last of the petty cash.” Venkman responds by saying, “Slow down. Chew your food.” The parenting lesson here is obvious: Remind children to chew their food, but also, make sure you have enough money set aside for date night, otherwise, shit’s gonna get depressing.

5. “I’ve worked in the private sector — they expect results.”

In an early scene, just after the Ghostbusters lose their grant from Columbia University, Ray accuses Venkman of having no real-world experience relative to running a small business. “You’ve never been out of college,” he rants. “You don’t know what it’s like out there. I’ve worked in the private sector, they expect results.” Basically, what Ray is saying about going into business for yourself is exactly like parenting. You have no idea what it’s like until you’ve done it, and your children kind of just expect you to know what to do.

4. “If there’s a steady paycheck, I’ll believe anything you say.”

When Winston applies for a job with the Ghostbusters, Janine rattles-off several pseudo-science concepts to gauge whether or not Winston is ‘buster-material. Winston doesn’t care about any of this stuff, but he also needs the job. This is a super important lesson for parents trying to figure out their career after children turn everything upside down. Don’t be too proud to take a weird job, even if everyone you work with thinks UFO abductions are real and the theory of Atlantis is totally legit. Just make sure the conspiracy theories your co-workers enjoy are fun.

3. “What about the Twinkie?”

When thing parents realize when their kids start to speak is that their communication skills are not as good as they thought. Basically, as far as your kids are concerned, you’re speaking like Ray or Egon, using complex language they don’t understand. But, then there’s this excellent analogy from Egon: “Let’s say this Twinkie represents the normal amount of psychokinetic energy in the New York area. According to this morning’s sample, it would be a Twinkie thirty-five feet long weighing approximately six hundred pounds.”

This is great! Use food analogies to describe complex things! Everyone gets it!

2. “Don’t cross the streams!”

We all know this one. Egon tells Ray and Venkman to avoid crossing the proton streams because crossing the streams “would be bad.” The explanation doesn’t really make sense. We never really know why in the fake science of Ghostbusters that crossing the streams is bad. It doesn’t matter. Some things just need to be rules even if your children (or, in this case, Venkman) don’t understand them.

1. “When somebody asks you if you are a god, you say YES!”

You don’t always need to be literal when you’re a parent to young children. And if they are asking you questions about your own authority, it’s best to probably just default to making them think you’re all-powerful. In other words, discipline starts with the illusion that the buck stops somewhere. It’s probably a bad idea to tell your children that you are an actual god (unless you are, and in that case, hello Zul!) but, it probably doesn’t hurt to show confidence whenever possible. Ray’s mistake with Gozer wasn’t so much that he admitted he wasn’t a god, it was that he was kind of a putz about it.

Tell the truth, but if your children ask you if you are the one in charge, you say YES!!

Here’s where you can stream all versions of Ghostbusters.