This nostalgic life: lessons learned from Rugrats

Every ’90’s kid watched Rugrats. I personally may have been the only middle schooler still watching the show. I even watched it when they all grew up. Rugrats was my jam as a kid. As I look back I notice how the show taught me real world life lessons that I continue to use today as an adult.

1. How to be a team leader

Tommy was born to lead. He just had it in him. He led the gang on various adventures without hurting anyone’s feelings. He knew how to communicate effectively with all the different personalities that his friends had. He easily led his gang to work together to reach a goal.

2. How to be a loyal friend

Tommy, Chuckie, Phil and Lil were the closest of friends. Nothing could get between them. Not even when Tommy went nakey and Phil and Lil’s mom got into a parenting argument with Tommy’s mom. The kids rallied together so they could hang out.

3. How to stick up to bullies

Angelica was the nemesis on the show. She was also Tommy’s cousin. So she was often stuck hanging out with them when her dad would drop her off. She constantly made fun of the gang because they were younger and she felt like she could. But that didn’t affect the gang. The only one that ever fell to Angelica’s evil ways was Chuckie. But the gang constantly had his back and would do whatever they could to get Chuckie to feel better. They never really responded to Angelica’s mean spirit. They actually tried to let her see the good side of things. It’s like they killed her with kindness. They saw a sad girl who was hurt and wanted to help her.

4. Empathy

We all knew Chuckie lived in a single family household with his dad (until much later when his dad married someone with a kid), but for most of the series, we saw Chuckie’s dad a little sad that his son didn’t have a mother figure in his life, like Chuckie was missing out on something. When Chuckie would express any sadness or emotions, Tommy, Phil and Lil were always there with the best and most kindest words to cheer their friend up. They understood how tough it must be not having a mom and empathized with how Chuckie was feeling, especially on Mother’s Day.

5. Judaism

So being a Jew, I loved seeing a show that celebrated the same holidays as I did. Even though I went to Hebrew school and should have learned about my religion there, it was Rugrats that taught me about the Maccabees (“a Maccababy’s gotta do what a Maccababy’s gotta do”), and Hanukkah. I loved seeing my religion celebrated on TV, especially when my religion wasn’t seen that often especially for programming geared toward kids.

6. Be kind to elders

From Grandpa to Boris and Minka I loved how respected the oldest generation on the show was. Having my own Grandpa Boris, I simply could relate so much to Tommy (this is where my cartoon crush began). The grandparents were revered, not made fun of in any way! I loved seeing that as a kid, it allowed me to have such admiration and respect for my own grandparents!

7. Acceptance

The gang was diverse. We had Tommy, the natural born fearless leader. Phil, the adventurous kid who wasn’t afraid of anything. Lil, the fearless kick ass girl who could do anything that the boys could do. And of course, Chuckie, the sensitive boy, the sweet soul who was careful and tidy and followed all the rules. These kids couldn’t have been more different, but they each accepted one another’s strengths and weaknesses and learned to work together and play as a group. They accepted one another exactly as they were. I loved seeing that I could be a girl and still play with boys (Lil knew what was up)!

8. Importance of being a good role model

A few seasons in, Tommy became a big brother to little baby Dill. It’s at this pivotal moment in the series that Tommy was not only a leader but he became a role model, not only for all the kids watching the show, but to his new baby brother who just watched quietly as his big brother went on adventures and dealt with bullies or trying to get cookies from the cookie jar. Tommy was forced to be a little less careless because he had his little brother with him who couldn’t run as fast (if at all) and just couldn’t talk, (even though Tommy really shouldn’t have been talking either). Tommy had to learn what it meant to have a little person look up to you and how important making good decisions was.

Basically, Rugrats was a show that had a huge impact on my life as a kid and instilled great lessons that I continue to use. So if any of you can relate please leave a comment below, I’d love to hear about favorite episodes (again the Maccabees episode and anything with Boris and Minka are my fav). If you somehow lived under a rock and haven’t seen the show please YouTube some episodes. Are there any other ’90’s shows that taught you life lessons? Please share below and maybe I’ll do a post about them. Please share this post if you like with all your friends who grew up in the ’90’s (the best decade to be a kid)!


A 20-somethibg girl on a journey to find herself with hopes of helping others feel their feelings.

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