The final episode of Derry Girls aired last night on Channel 4 and we are already feeling the void of not having this joy of a show to watch on Tuesdays. While we all tuned in for the girls (and James) first and foremost, we were treated to some tender and hilarious moments from the supporting cast of Erin's parents- Ma and Da- AKA Mary and Gerry. Here’s why we think they make the perfect pair even if their relationship is a little rough around the edges at times and what we learned from their performance.
Support one another’s dreams: After the huge misunderstanding in series 3 episode 2 called ‘The Affair’ when the girls (and James) think that Mary is having an rendezvous with the plumber Gabrielle, Gerry tells Mary that she can do anything when he finds out she actually went to the house of an English Literature tutor to enrol on a university course. Gerry's unwavering belief in Mary is what true love is made of and proof that you should always be each other’s cheerleader whatever the other wants to do, even if it’s late into the relationship.
Showing this kind of solidarity for one another will filter down to your children so they come to expect and give the same when they enter into meaningful relationships themselves.
Accept each other’s family: Aunt Sarah, Mary’s sister lives next door, yet we are still to see her in her own house- as she spends all of her time at the family home and even gatecrashes the couple’s cinema date. Gerry is one understanding husband when it comes to Mary’s family. Clearly he is accepting of Sarah’s continuous presence because he loves his wife.
When someone means the world to your partner, you should always welcome them into your space, even if they do overstay their welcome sometimes (all the time). It teaches children about tolerance and doing selfless acts for your partner because it makes them happy.
Wear your heart on your sleeve: The couple are not shy about bickering in front of their child and her friends and it’s this honesty that shows Erin, the girls (and James) that marriage isn’t perfect. The couple doesn’t get on all the time but when it comes down to it, they both clearly care about each other just as much as the day they met.
Showing your children all sides of your marriage (warts and all) is a good way of preparing them for any long term relationships they will have in the future- romantic or platonic. Relationships are far from idyllic and sometimes you argue but if you can agree to disagree and compromise in the end, that is what matters most.
Embrace the banter: The magic of the show is the banter that goes on between Mary, Gerry and the rest of the family. It’s important that when everyone is crammed together under one roof and the unthinkable is going on outside or being reported on the news, that you can still have a good laugh together.
This is an essential takeaway for any child to help them through the roughness of life. If you have banter, you can get through anything.
Find the humour in it all: When Gerry sees the girls at the Take That concert on TV, even after he forbade them to go because there was a polar bear on the loose, he can’t help but smile.
Sometimes as a parent, you have to admire the determination of your children when they want something badly enough. If you don’t laugh you would cry so it’s the best solution for everyone involved.
Never disrupt the father-daughter bond: Gerry puts up with a LOT when it comes to Grandpa Jo- he hasn’t got a good word to say about him, yet Gerry never kicks him out because he knows it will upset Mary. Every little girl's first love is her father and Gerry knows better than to mess with that logic.
The father-daughter bond is a strong one, as is the mother-son bond- so if your child leaves home knowing never to compromise this special relationship, it will set them up well for the future. It’s important to respect your in-laws even if you don’t always (ever) see eye to eye.
When all else fails- rely on the grandparents: While Gerry and Jo are not the best of friends (an understatement), Grandpa Joe is a constant in all of their lives. Despite his wicked sense of humour and cynical views about the world, he adores his granddaughters and lights up around them. Taking Orla to her prom and reassuring Erin in the last episode during a moment of doubt, he shows his vulnerability at exactly the right times.
Having the influence of a grandparent is vital in a child’s upbringing if the parents want to and are able to facilitate this. Children benefit from hearing the stories and experiences of different generations and seeing how their own parents interact with theirs even as adults.
Plus- they make excellent babysitters!