Two Parenting Lessons in Communication from Little Fires Everywhere
Updated: May 29, 2020
The Hulu series, “Little Fires Everywhere”, starring Kerry Washington and Reese Witherspoon is a must binge. It follows the lives of two very different families with the mothers at the forefront. Although different, as mothers they share a common thread, to protect their families and do their best to give them a better life. However, their tactics cause more harm than good.
The drama set in the 90’s, picks up speed right away as we go back four months prior to Elena Richardson’s (Reese Witherspoon) home being burned down. Elena is an affluent wife, mother of 4, journalist, and perfectionist, who was born and raised in the high-class suburban town of Shaker Heights, OH. She rents her family owned property to Mia Warren (Kerry Washington), a protective, single mother hen, whose complicated life and creative career causes her and her daughter Pearl (Lexi Underwood) to move quickly, quietly, and often.
From the time these two enter each other lives, we see the author (of the book by the same name), Celeste Ng’s many underlying lessons to take away from this story centered under three major points. As stated in her interview with theguardian.com, “It’s a novel, about race, class, and privilege.” Each of these play pivotal roles not only between these families, but also within them.
Do not deflect your desire to “keep up with the Jones” on to your children. Respect them as individuals and accept them for who they are.
Elena has gone to great lengths to ensure the family her and husband Bill (Joshua Jackson) is as picture perfect as a Thomas Kincaid painting. Her strive for perfection has placed great strain on her marriage and on her children. Oldest daughter Lexie (Jade Pettyjohn) is being groomed to be the best version of her mother. Trip is the handsome, athletic letterman of the family and oldest bother. Moody (Gavin Lewis) is just that, moody. The younger brother who is shy and reserved and who may not know what his place is within the family or the world. The baby of the bunch Izzy (Megan Stott), is the outcast whose different world view creates an even greater wedge between her and her mother.
Elena’s strive for perfection in her neighbors’ eyescauses her daughters especially, to go to the extreme to either conform or rebel. As parents the want for our children to have and be better, may at times place a detrimental weight on their shoulders. Lexie wants to please her mother so badly she lies on her college essay and falsifies her identity on medical records. Izzy wants only to be accepted for who she is however Elena has so much resentment towards her, that after an extremely hurtful exchange she runs away. These relationships show the need for open communication and acceptance towards our children. What we perceive as perfect or best is very different for today’s youth. Words are powerful and change the scope of their lives instantly. Listening to them is crucial.
Be (age appropriately) honest with your children. Family secrets and lies are not their responsibility to carry.
Mia and Pearl on the other hand have a solid bond. They have essentially grown up together. Mia being a young single mother and a struggling creative, raised Pearl alone and on the go. She left her family behind to pursue her dreams. When faced with being unable to pay her tuition and living expenses she makes decisions that begin to backfire and follow her everywhere she goes. Pearl believes that this is their normal until the secrets and lies catch up to them. Pearl finds out the truth about her family in the most heinous way leaving her with raging anger towards her mother. Sometimes the things we think we need to protect our children from are the things they need know the most. In this story secrets left Pearl feeling as if she did not know who she was. She attempted to create an identity in a place that truly did not welcome her ultimately being used as a pawn in the game of classism and passive aggressive racism. If she were told who she was and where she came from this crisis could have been averted. The truth is hard to share with your children, especially if you feel as if you have fallen short. It is important to admit our mistakes, so our children know it’s ok to make mistakes and to admit them. They need to know that with poor decisions may come consequences but by being forthcoming with the truth, it is easier to reconcile and to receive help and support.
The creators and writers of this profoundly deep series were able to touch on the most significant issues we face in our world. However, what they also shed light on is how race, class and privilege not only cause families to explode against each other, but how it causes them to implode to behind closed doors.
Author: Kierstin Tonic
Freelance Writer, Blogger, Mompreneur,
Novice Cigar Aficionado,
Located in Willingboro, NJ
IG: @justme_8, @smoke_n_whiskey8