Latter-day Saint Video Vault: “Walk in Their Shoes” for Parenting Wisdom

Father and Son
Parenting is hard. Can a teen learn there is more to it than he thinks?

Latter-day Saint Video Vault celebrates decades of uplifting, funny, weird, and sometimes cringe-worthy Mormon-related videos, most of which are now found on YouTube.

This week we take a look at a parenting film from 1968. A Walk in Their Shoes was a BYU production. I couldn’t find a lot of info on it but the Hard to Find Mormon Videos channel said it was produced as an educational film for the BYU College of Family Living. The film tells the parenting/teen rebellion saga of Stan, Cheryl and their parents.

The movie opens with young men arriving at a home in a sports car underscored by peppy era-appropriate music. Stan gets out and Eric, the driver, gives him a hard time about his dad waiting for him at the front door.

“Here comes your daddy with your warm milk!” Eric chides.

Stan slowly walks to the war and Stan’s dad sternly lets him in. They begin the standard parenting chat with the appropriate questions.

Where were you?

Who were you with?

Why were you out so late?

He walks slowly to the door. The dad sternly lets him in

Dad says that no good decisions are made so late. He just says he is worried and Stan says it comes down to trust.

“Either you trust us or you don’t. It’s a different world.”

Dad says parents have always been concerned and kids always resented it.

“You never know how you feel until you walk in [parents’] shoes and are responsible for someone you love.”

Their parent and teen dialogue ends and they head to bed. Mom asks Dad where Stan has been. He relates the conversation—or lack thereof—and they just wonder if they are trying to hard. Dad sometimes thinks they should relent and let him get a car as it may keep him away from “wild driver” Eric.

“I don’t really know,” Mom says “We’ll talk about it tomorrow and the day after that. And the day after that.”

At breakfast, Mom gives dad some food. Stan is also eating breakfast. They wonder where sister Cheryl is. Dad calls for Cheryl to come down now or she is going to be late.  He doesn’t think it’s unreasonable to have her join at the table at least once in the day. Deciding the lowly family is finally worth her time Cheryl elegantly parades down the stairs. She sits and then nearly gets up to grab the phone but they paus for a prayer over breakfast.

While Mom goes and gets the phone Cheryl laments the fattening breakfast and talks about her future married life. Stan says that is a long way off, but Cheryl says she has caught the eye of young Eric Burgess—Stan’s “wild driver” friend. Stan isn’t so sure that is a good idea and encourages Cheryl to stay in her lane.

Their sibling chat is broken up by Mom returning from the phone call.  Her  mother has had a heart attack and is in the hospital. Mom’s father is very upset. Mom is worried. Mom worries about the kids, school and meals, but Cheryl assures them that she and Stan will be fine and goes upstairs to help Mom pack.

Dad tells Stan he is leaving him. He is putting Stan in trust of two of the most important things he has—his own children.

“Do what I would to if a problem comes up.” Solid advice but he continues with some advice no brother probably wants to hear about his sister from his dad.

“Remember your sister is just beginning to understand she is a woman. Be gentle with her.”

The next scene the kids are leaving school. Stan waves to Eric only to see Cheryl get in instead of him. He’s left in the cold.

Later in the evening Eric flies down the street and into the driveway. He does go around to open Cheryl’s door. Cheryl She offers to have Eric eat with them as Stan is making pizza, but he declines—doubting Stan’s culinary prowess. Eric invites Cheryl to a “Snow Party” but Cheryl isn’t so sure. He persuades her to come, though, and says he will pick her up at 8. Groovy music walks Cheryl into the house.

Stan is trying to make pizza, but from the flour all over him it doesn’t look like it is going well. He lovingly greets Cheryl.

“Where have you been? Its 7 o’clock!”

She confirms she was with Eric and Stan reminds her she needs to stay in her own league. He feels Eric is too old for her.

Cheryl says he is starting to sound just like Dad and while they argue the pizza burns. Stan tells her to go clean up while he goes and picks up some burgers.

While Stan is waiting for burgers he runs into Eric at the restaurant—which also serves pizza, but I guess it’s burgers. Pizza is dead to him. Eric asks Stan if he is going to the Snow Party. Stan says no, as his girlfriend is out of town, but Eric says he should come and take his pick of the girls that are there! Eric also mentions how he has finally noticed Stan’s kid sister. Stan reminds her that she is just a kid and Eric should be careful.

Stan arrives home to see Cheryl dressed to impress including make-up. He wonders why Cheryl is dressed up with that “goop” on her face. She thinks if it’s fine for Stan’s girlfriend it should be okay for her.

“Why are you trying to look 19?” Stan says.  “People treat 19-year-olds way different that 14 year-olds.”

Wait, is she 14 and going on a date unsupervised with someone her older brother’s age?

Cheryl asks what’s wrong with Eric and Stan reiterates his scary driving and his age.

“The next thing you will say is that you’ll worry about me. What’s the matter?” Cheryl says. “Don’t you trust me?”

Stung by those words Stan lets her go and reminds Eric to not drive like a maniac and have her home by midnight.

“Sure will Dad!” Eric sarcastically replies.

The “Snow Party” turns out to be a party set in the mountains. There is tubing and groovy dancing in the loge. Looks wholesome enough. Some beer arrives at Eric and Cheryl’s table but Cheryl isn’t interested. He seems disappointed she doesn’t want to drink and reluctantly orders some food when she asks. Later we see couple after couple kissing in cars. Cheryl and Eric stop kissing and Cheryl reminds him he was going to show her an ice-covered water falls on the way back home. He realizes that it is not going to be the night he thought it would be and they begin the drive down the mountain.

Cut to Stan on the couch napping as he waits for Cheryl to come home. He has unsettling visions of the party in his dreams including Cheryl drinking shots with Eric. He starts awake and realizes its 1 a.m. He is worried and angry at Eric. He hears his dad’s words in his head and realizes he has to do something. He jumps in the car and heads to the Snow Party.

We see Eric and Cheryl stuck in a snow bank. They work through various scenarios to go and get some help but end up just deciding to stay put.  We see Stan talking to a gas station attendant and he learns of another road he hasn’t tried that goes by the falls.

Back in Eric’s car Cheryl complains Stan will read her the riot act and complain about Eric’s driving. Eric says he is sorry and has a rather sudden moment of self-realization.

“Nothing I do is right!”

Eric and Cheryl exchange notes about partents. Cheryl feels her parents are too involved, and Eric says his aren’t involved at all. He says it would be nice to know he is loved. Cheryl says no one is home to worry about her. Just Stan.

As if on cue Stan’s car pulls up. Eric goes to flag it down and Stan immediately suspects Eric of something shifty. Eric encourages him to get the whole story before he gets angry, but Stan is angry. He is angry they got stuck and that Cheryl was out so late. He wonders what the neighbors will think. He then realizes that he not only sounds like his father but his mother as well and calms down. He also sounds sexist, but we move on. They get the car out and head home.

The next morning Cheryl and Stan are eating breakfast. The phone rings and its Mom. Grandma is doing better and they are coming home soon. Stan neglects to tell of all their adventures and only acknowledges Cheryl has caught a cold.  Stan is about to tell Mom something to pass along to dad but changes his mind. The call ends and the music pauses on the radio and a speaker announces an upcoming special feature.

“Eliot Landers will discuss how parents can get through to their teenagers.”

“It ain’t easy man, it ain’t easy” Stan concludes.

There you have it. Parents go away and older brother gains a little wisdom. There are some timeless aspects and some things that are best left in 1968. Keep on parenting. Because as Stan says, “It ain’t easy, man.”

 

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