Raising his only daughter, Patty, to be a perfect human is Nathan Huffner’s goal. He is in denial about his attitude towards raising his daughter; he said that he just wanted Patty to learn more than other kids do but the truth is he wants Patty to be his source of achievement; he is proud that his child is a genius and for that, he feeds his pride. He trained his daughter to be so intelligent, to be not only good at everything but be the best at everything. He taught his daughter things that even some adults can’t do.
His daughter never had a chance to complain about the things that was being taught to her because she was so little to understand that her life was not the life of an ordinary little girl. Nathan Huffner concentrated so much about his child’s intellectual learning. He even refused to have another baby because he wanted to concentrate on Patty’s “above normal” development; because of that, his wife was so disappointed but she can’t show all her anger to her husband that’s why he just displace her disappointment on eating and filling her appetite. He didn’t let his child to enjoy her life as a child.
He just fed Patty with knowledge and other complicated things and never let her feel the feeling of what a normal little girl should feel. That made him an authoritarian parent; the one that discourages expressions of disagreement. He has strict standards; he wants Patty to be a perfect human. As a result, Patty was unsociable with other children. She was unfriendly to others. She was withdrawn and was acting and reacting weird to situations that seems normal to other children (an example is the “thumb magic” of Gil to the children; others had fun with that magic while Patty screamed and ran away.
Maybe that’s because of too many scientific facts in her head that made her think that that magic was disgusting. ) Another scene that showed Patty being different from other children was in the party of Kevin; she saw a boy turning around and around, she asked her mother what was the boy doing, that means that Patty was unable to do the things that a normal child experiences, which is doing silly things and enjoying those silly things. Frank Buckman was a permissive father for Larry Buckman. He was ever supportive on his son even though he knows that Larry is involved in some illegal scams for easy and quick money.
There was even a point in the movie that Larry had to pay a large amount of money or else he will be killed. Frank was disappointed with Larry but he wants to help him because he loves him so much. He wanted to bail out Larry by using the car that he loved so much for the crime he did. As a result, Larry has a low self control and was dependent to his father. He thinks that it’s alright to do bad things because his father will always be supportive to him. He even had a baby with a show girl in Las Vegas; that shows how low his self control was. Yet, he was an uninvolved parent to his other kids.
All his attention was on Larry that he was now emotionally detached to Gil and the others. Although his like that, it was then revealed that he also loved Gil. But instead of showing love, he showed the exact opposite of it. He used reaction formation. Showing love provokes anxiety on Frank because he always saw himself as a tough guy. He didn’t like showing a soft side of him. Also, Frank is in denial that he hated Gil because he taught that he had polio but he is covering his feelings towards his son because love provokes anxiety on him. Larry Buckman was concentrated to his illegal schemes for him to get easy and quick money.
He had a bi-racial son named Cool; who was the fruit of his affair with a showgirl in Las Vegas. Larry was a negligent parent. He doesn’t really care for Cool; as long as the child is fed, his child has a house to stay on; he thinks that his responsibility is done. He had his family take care of Cool because he knows that his father will support him all the way. As a result, Cool became an indifferent kid. He was always inside the house and never got the chance to mingle and play with other kids; that makes him ignorant to the outside world and his cognitive and social development was impeded.
He feels unloved and emotionally detached from his own father. There is a part in the movie that Larry and Frank were talking about how to bail out Larry from his gambling addiction, his father mentioned that he will enter a “gambling anonymous”; which means that Larry is in denial of his addiction in gambling that’s why he should enter in a gambling anonymous. He’s scared of entering the real world. He is scared of getting a job because he may not be good at it. So he was involved in gambling and rationalizes to himself that it was because of what his father has always taught him.
Helen is a permissive parent. She was undemanding and was so easy in them. She lacks control on her two children, Garry and Julie. As a result, Garry appears to be a very weird boy. He was quiet and shows very little concern about what her mother says. He has this mysterious paper bag that he keeps in his room. He wants to stay in his room all day and if he goes out, he locks his room and doesn’t want anyone to enter his room. Helen wondered what is inside the paper so he opened Garry’s room to look for the paper bag; finding out that the paper bag was filled with porn movies.
Helen showed a little disappointment but later on shows approval and rationalizes that it is normal for Garry to be curious about those things because Garry just entered puberty and he doesn’t have a father to ask about those things. Another effect was shown by her daughter Julie. Julie was a wild and curious girl. Julie wanted to be with his boyfriend, Tod, and ignores her mother’s advice. She left their house and stayed with Tod. They even got married. Eventually, Julie returned home and went back to her mother, which shows how Julie was so dependent on her mother’s company.
After all, Helen still agreed to let Julie and Tod stay in her house and already accepts Tod as a part of their family. As shown in the movie, both Julie and Tod expresses unwanted behaviors; these may be a way to repress their memories about the separation of their parents; they focused on other things so that they can forget about that experience that surely affected them. Gil Buckman is another permissive father in this movie. There were so many problems that he encountered in this movie. First, he found out that his eldest son, Kevin, needs to transfer to a special school for special kids and need to undergo therapy.
He rationalized that Kevin is just too smart that’s why he seems not so normal compared to other kids. He covered up his anxiety of Kevin being not normal so he believes his own lie that Kevin is just too smart. At first he disapproved to that opinion but eventually, he agreed upon seeing the behavior and reaction of Kevin to different situations (baseball and the lost retainer). Another problem that he encountered was his job because the partnership was given to another person which means that he will be facing a serious financial problem in his family.
He was so frustrated and angry so when he went back home, he was arguing with his wife. He displaced his anger to his wife because even though he showed anger to his boss, still he can’t put out all his anger to his boss. Then he found out that his wife, Karen, was pregnant. He was so frustrated about all of these problems but still he agreed on having a birthday party for Kevin. Kevin wanted to have a cowboy character that twists balloons on his birthday. Even though Gil knows that that will be expensive, he still agreed on hiring that cowboy character on Kevin’s birthday.
When he found out that the cowboy will not make it to the party, he didn’t want Kevin to be disappointed, so he dressed like a cowboy and performed at the party even though he looks silly. He can’t disagree to his son’s wishes; that proves that he is a permissive parent; even though he knows it will be hard for him, he makes sure that he will not disappoint his children. But his being permissive had a good effect on his children. Kevin’s emotional problem begins to improve. At first he questions his abilities on being a father to his children because of the burdens that he faced but eventually, he was still a good father then.