In today’s world where co-parenting is no longer restricted to the conventional “mom and dad” arrangement, we can all learn a thing or two from setups that veer away from the norm.

Case in point: two popular sitcom parents, Charlie and Alan Harper from Two And a Half Men. The show’s about living with a sibling, living in LA, and raising a kid together, while being worlds apart in terms of personality. Charlie and Alan may not exactly make the best pairing, but hey, they manage to do the job in raising Alan’s ten-year-old son, Jake.

If you’re raising a child with someone, whether it’s with a spouse, a friend, or a relative, you’d be surprised at how much you can learn from these fictional characters. Here are some off-the-beaten-path and strangely effective co-parenting tips we can all learn from Charlie and Alan.

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1. Grocery shopping doubles as bonding time

Who says you can’t let your kid tag along on your errands? It’s safe to say that when a child has fun spending time with you, it’s proof of some effective co-parenting skills. Because Alan’s a busy chiropractor and Charlie’s a commercial jingle composer who gets to spend most of his days at his beautiful Malibu beachside house, Charlie gets to spend more time with Jake. One of their activities together is going grocery shopping, and while catching the eye of the ladies and picking out Jake’s preferred brand of milk, they even discover their shared love for jingles. Remember when Jake grabbed a box of cereal and they sang the Mapleicious song (which Charlie composed, of course)?

Jake: “I want Maple Loops. It’s got corn and oats and wheat, it’s the sweetest breakfast treat!”

Charlie and Jake, in unison: “It’s Maple, Maple, Maaaaapleicious!”

2. Use metaphors when introducing adult concepts

Source: Sempértegui

Alan and Jake move in with Charlie—who’s living in LA—when Alan splits up with his wife, Judith. Charlie, by default, needs to brush up on his uncle game with his nephew now living under the same roof and seeing almost everything he does. Being the stereotypical serial dating bachelor, Charlie sometimes needs to introduce touchy adult concepts to Jake.

In one episode, Jake tells Charlie he feels obliged to like a girl back, after she gave him a cupcake. Now, being the kind of man he is, Charlie proceeded to school Jake with a cupcake metaphor, saying, “Never, ever confuse cupcakes with love.” Basically, Charlie was telling Jake that he should be able to enjoy “cupcakes” without getting emotionally involved. Well, the show’s not called Two And A Half Men for nothing, deriving its humor from sexist jokes.

Charlie and Alan end up getting into an argument because Charlie was low-key teaching Jake about casual sex. While not everyone will agree that the cupcake metaphor was the right tool to use at that moment, you still get the point that metaphors can help when teaching kids stuff during their adolescence. Conflicting parenting opinions can be a struggle when living with a sibling, but it’s good to encourage a child to have more than one perspective.

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3. Let the kid experiment and make mistakes

Charlie and Alan are by no means super strict parents, and one of the co-parenting tips we learn from them is that it’s okay to let a kid have fun while trying to learn different things. One time, they even let Jake try an adult activity (with proper supervision, of course).

In one episode, they teach Jake basic driving skills and he ends up almost hitting trash bins in a parking lot. (One of the perks of living with a sibling, probably, is letting them take some of the blame if anything happens to the kid). Whether it’s blitzing cereal and fruit in a blender, buying a broken motorcycle with all his money, or “snorkeling” in a sink filled with water, at least Jake knows it’s okay to experiment, make mistakes, and sometimes make a mess. As long as he cleans up afterward, of course. Effective co-parenting skills? We’ll let you be the judge.

4. Welcome the child’s choices

When Alan and Judith suggest Jake audition for a school musical, his Uncle Charlie steps in and helps him pick out a song to rehearse. Never one to follow the crowd, Jake says he wants to perform Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody.” Although Jake—who ends up getting the lead role because his dad had a fling with his teacher—doesn’t necessarily have a golden set of pipes, Charlie and Alan try their best to help him get ready. Effective co-parenting skills mean helping build a child’s self-confidence, after all.

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5. Integrate school lessons into everyday situations

When Jake enters his teens, he starts hanging out more with his dad and uncle. While chilling at a coffee shop, Jake happens to notice a lady he finds “hot” and tells them she’s “at 12 o’clock.” The thing is, he used the current time on his watch instead of approximating the position of the woman using a mental clock face. LOL. Charlie and Alan use the moment as an opportunity to correct Jake – until they bump into their mom and her new boyfriend, that is. Living in LA, we’re guessing it’s pretty common to stumble into someone you know.

We hope we’ve not only taken you on a trip down Two And A Half Men memory lane and helped you relive those hilarious Charlie and Alan moments, but also given you some oddball co-parenting tips to guide you as you raise a child or teen. Good luck!

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