Parenting, Part II: Raising kids on TV ain’t what it used to be

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Frankie Heck is no June Cleaver.

But — with no disrespect to the recently departed Barbara Billingsley, who played the iconic Mrs. Cleaver — I prefer the frazzled Midwestern mom played by Patricia Heaton on ABC’s The Middle. I know I have more in common with her, and not just because I rarely wear pearls around the house.

In fact, despite all the recent nostalgia about TV parents of the past, parents of teens can find some pretty good role models on TV today. Consider:

•Claire and Phil Dunphy on ABC’s Modern Family. Yes, Claire meddles too much and Phil cares too much about being a pal. But at least they err on the side of connecting with their kids.

•Burt Hummel, Kurt’s dad on the Fox hit Glee. His fierce support of his gay son is inspiring. And it’s nice to see any involved parent on a show that mostly forgets parents exist.

•Coach Eric Taylor and his wife, school counselor Tami Taylor, on Friday Night Lights, now on DirecTV. They are sensitive but firm with their teen daughter — and are surrogate parents to a town full of otherwise neglected kids facing issues from pregnancy to drug abuse to crime.

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