On the ABC Family hour-long drama, The Secret Life of the American Teenager, viewers are treated to a diverse group of mothers from whom to learn – from our teenaged mother to the mothers of all our Grant High teens. As we continue on our journey of examining the TV moms of The Secret Life of the American Teenager, we turn our sights toward Kathleen Bowman Tseguay (Josie Bissett), Grace (Megan Park) and Tom’s (Luke Zimmerman) mom.
- Children: Grace, a junior at Grant High School, and her older brother Tom. Tom is actually adopted and we’re not sure how old he is.
- Relationships: First married to George Juergens, they divorced and she married Marshall Bowman – father of Tom and Grace – he was killed in a plane crash, and as a result Kathleen met her third husband, Dr. Jeff Tseguay (Reid Scott, My Boys) whose brother also died in the plane crash.
- Occupation: Stay-at-home mom.
- Challenges: She is struggling with Grace’s choice to have sex with her boyfriend Grant, she’s given her blessing to allow Tom’s girlfriend and her two children move into the guest house, and she’s having doubts about her third marriage.
- Parenting style: Kathleen falls into the authoritative parenting style, though some might argue that lately, she’s looking more like a permissive parent, but we’ll dive into all of that below. Moving on.
In the early days of the show, the Bowman’s were a very faith-first kind of family and Kathleen and Marshall (John Schneider) raised their children accordingly. Yes, at the start of the show Grace was wearing a purity ring and had vowed to wait to have sex until marriage. These days their faith is not as prominent in their discussions, but it hasn’t completely vanished, and let’s just say that Grace’s ring is a thing of the past.
Kathleen is a very hands-on kind of mom who makes it clear that nothing is off the table for discussion (who could forget the episode where Kathleen suggested Grace…um, take matters into her own hands if she couldn’t live without sex? Awkward!). As mentioned above, some might say that Kathleen has slipped into a more permissive parenting style of late – she did let Grace sleep over at her boyfriend’s house, after all – but I think she’d rather discuss these things with her daughter and come to some kind of an agreement rather than have her sneaking around.
This is a TV mom who not only talks through everything with her daughter, but she brings the boyfriends in on the conversations as well. Kathleen was hoping Grace and current boyfriend Grant would hold off on having sex and sat the two down together so they could all voice their points of view. That’s swell, but I honestly don’t know in what universe something like that would ever happen. However, it is these types of interactions that lead me to label Kathleen as an authoritative parent. She “attempts to direct the child’s activities, but in a rational, issue-oriented manner. She encourages verbal give and take…” (developmental psychology.org).
Things are not always roses and sunshine in the Bowman household, though: Tom met a woman on the bus who has two children and almost instantly fell in love with her and her little family. After Kathleen spoke with Rachel her concerns lessened and she okayed their moving into the guest house together. If Kathleen seems more protective of Tom it’s because he has Down syndrome and she worries about people taking advantage of him. Additionally, Grace’s ex-boyfriend, Jack has been living with them since his parents moved to Arizona – allowing him to finish high school at Grant High. And he brings a whole different set of parenting challenges with him.
Even if Kathleen’s relationship with her children might not seem 100 percent realistic, I think everyone wishes they could have such open conversations with their children. Let’s face it, during the teen years, most parents are faced with yelling, door slamming, or straight-up silent treatment. So if this sometimes uncomfortable level of honesty were the alternative…Most of us would probably take it. If we were grading Kathleen today, she’d definitely rank at the top of her TV mom class.
Who’s your favorite Secret Life TV mom?
Catch The Secret Life of the American Teenager Mondays on ABC Family at 8 pm / 7 c.
Cast of Secret Life:
Shailene Woodley………Amy Juergens
Mark Derwin……………..George Juergens
India Eisley……………….Ashley Juergens
Molly Ringwald…………..Anne Juergens
Francia Raisa……………Adrian Lee Boykewich
Daran Kagasaff…………Ricky Underwood
Ken Baumann…………..Ben Boykewich
Megan Park……………..Grace Bowman
Greg Finley………………Jack Pappas
Steve Shirriipa………….Leo Boykewich
Jennifer Coolidge………Betty Boykewich
Josie Bissett…………….Kathleen Bowman
Luke Zimmerman………Tom Bowman
Cindy Lee………….……Paola Turba
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