Family Life


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Canadian comedians Colin Mochrie and Deb McGrath on parenting

Comedians Colin Mochrie (Whose Line is it Anyway?) and Deb McGrath (Little Mosque on the Prairie) met at Toronto’s Second City in the ‘80s, married in 1989 and have been yukking it up ever since. They even played a show biz couple on the CBC series Getting Along Famously. But by far the collaboration they’re most proud of is their son, Luke, now 19. They spoke to ParentsCanada – separately – about parenting, from their empty nester perspective. See how their answers compare.
Question: What surprised you the most about your spouse when he/she became a parent? 
Colin: To be truthful, absolutely nothing. Deb had always been great with kids and it was no different with our own. If anything, I think it was her ability to mete out the discipline. Deb is a very soft-hearted person but she managed to stick to her guns in that area. 
Deb: That he seemed born to it. He was so natural with our son, so easy and confident. 
Question: Who did the most disciplining? 
CM: See the first question. Deb definitely. I would be the let-it slide person. 
DM: I guess it was me. But unless Colin was unreachable (on a plane, for instance) I always sought out his advice. I was pretty good with consistency and the follow through and he always agreed with my choices. When he offered another point of view, I always listened because I knew he had a different way of seeing it and it was always valuable.
Question: What was the biggest challenge of being a parent? 
CM: Letting him make his own mistakes. We had to fight the natural urge to make everything perfect for him. 
DM: Keeping a brave face when our son was heartbroken or disappointed. We would offer him comfort, always telling him that it was okay to feel awful. 
Question: Your son is in college, among the generation of kids with so-called helicopter parents. Do you think you were a helicopter parent? 
CM: At times we were overprotective, I think, but we also let our son get out there and fi gure things out for himself. We were there for guidance if he wanted it and thankfully he still comes to us when he needs it. 
DM: I would say that we were not helicopter parents. I admit that I have always been a tad (or TAD) cautious about his safety but it was not because I did not trust him. It was simply that I did not trust others. Drivers, for instance. We have guided him but never ever called the shots. As a result he does come to us for advice. He has to make his own successes and mistakes. They have to be his and I believe we have helped that to happen. 
Question: If you could change anything about the way you parented your son when he was younger, what would it be? 
CM: Nothing, I was perfect. Seriously, I know I have made mistakes but he turned out fine in spite of them. Maybe he needed my mistakes to become who he is. No…really. 
DM: I would not have been so anal. I would have let him get dirty more, take chances more, fall on his face more. 

Originally published in ParentsCanada magazine, February/March 2012.

a man carrying two children

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