What Adam Brody Can Learn From Sandy Cohen About Fatherhood

Put down the parenting books, Adam – your TV dad has all the fathering lessons you need

Photo: WB/Everett

Becoming a dad for the first time can be terrifying. But with Sandy Cohen’s example to follow, Adam Brody is sure to get the hang of it in no time.

News broke Thursday that the Billy and Billie actor and wife Leighton Meester had welcomed daughter Arlo Day in early August.

As Brody jumps into fatherhood, he needn’t look further than his own filmography for advice: His on-screen dad in The O.C., Peter Gallagher’s Sandy Cohen, is still the pinnacle of a TV dad, more than a decade after the show’s debut.

From the standard (navigating tumultuous teenage relationships) to the only-in-Orange-County (rescuing kids after they’re kicked out of a strip club in L.A.), Sandy always came through for both Seth and adopted son Ryan (not to mention the rest of the Newport Beach gang).

Here, the lessons in fatherhood Sandy Cohen taught his fictional son – and the rest of us, too.

Don’t be afraid to talk about the sensitive stuff.
After Seth and Summer finally get together in the show’s first season, Seth sits down with his dad to talk all about the dirty deed. Rather than shying away from the uncomfortable topic, Sandy gets straight to the issue at hand – and immediately asks his son if he practiced safe sex (a question that makes Seth recoil). Whether it’s a conversation about sex, a broken curfew or a tough break-up, Sandy isn’t afraid to talk dirty when it matters (even if it’s met with cringing).

You can find family in the most unlikely of places.
When Sandy first met Ryan Atwood, he was an appointed public defender trying to get a misguided (but ultimately good) kid out of trouble. By the series finale, Ryan was as much of a son to Sandy as Seth was. Brody has found his own family with Meester and their child, but Brody’s O.C. parents will always serve as a reminder that people come into your life when you least expect it.

A strong marriage makes for a strong family.
Sure, Sandy and Kirsten (Kelly Rowan) had their low points: Kirsten’s alcoholism, that infamous Jimmy Cooper kiss and, of course, the Rebecca saga. But despite the drama, these two remained an integral part of the show’s core – or the “moral foundation of the universe,” as Julie Cooper would say – giving their kids a (relatively) stable family life.

Clearly, Seth and Blair (or Adam and Leighton) need no help in the love department, but whenever the inevitable fight or issue arises, tackle it like Sandy and Kirsten would: with an honest discussion. And, of course, a serenade never hurts.

Keep your kids (and everyone else around you) laughing.
Perhaps Sandy is best known for his serious side – but The O.C.‘s resident patriarch had his fair share of hilarious moments, too. Humor was an important value in the Cohen clan – and we bet it’ll carry the same weight with the Brody bunch, too.

Care about your kids. A lot.
Sandy was a lawyer, a great singer, an amazing husband and a much-needed dose of New York cynicism in Newport Beach. But perhaps his most memorable quality from The O.C.‘s run was his strong paternal presence. Sandy may have only had one biological child, but every character on the show received a fair amount of his fatherly advice – even his father-in-law, Caleb.

Adam, when you feel your daddy sense tingling, go ahead and share your insights. It’s what Sandy would do.

Be the bigger person.
In the show’s first season, Sandy discovered that Jimmy Cooper, his neighbor (and pro-bono legal client), had kissed his wife. Rather than lashing out at Jimmy and dropping him as a client during his time of need, he talked the issue out with both Kirsten and Jimmy, resolving the situation by the time the credits rolled.

It’s an attitude everyone, parent or not, should emulate.

He knows the importance of a good breakfast
And above all, Adam, just make sure your little one appreciates a good bagel.

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