It’s hard to be a parent, but these Shameless characters make some questionable decisions when it comes to raising their kids on the South Side.
With Frank as the family patriarch, Shameless is already off to a bad start in the parenting department. But, everyone makes mistakes, and the Gallagher families are no strangers to their own.
With many characters being more or less forced into paternal or maternal roles, it’s no surprise that they sometimes miss the mark in decision making, and end up either slightly traumatizing or even threatening the life of, their South Side children.
Frank Abandons His Family
The premise of the show is one of the biggest parental blunders of the group. Frank, an alcoholic and addict, spent many years as an absentee father. He would disappear for large periods of time, and when he was at home, he was a drunk and high mess that his own children needed to take care of.
Fiona had to step up at a very young age and basically become a mother to her younger siblings while also working to pay the bills of the household. Frank very rarely expresses guilt about his actions, and during the course of the series, he cares less and less about his family, except for an attempt at fatherhood with Liam.
Fiona Endangers Liam
Fiona’s fall from grace was swift and cruel. After an entire lifetime of being the most responsible and caretaking head of the household, she loses control of her life and lets her infant brother get near a pile of cocaine that she had brought into the house, fueling the unpopular opinion that she’s not a very good guardian.
Liam’s overdose and subsequent hospitalization almost killed him and could have left him with serious brain damage. Fiona paid the price of her mistake both physically and emotionally. She was put into jail and truly struggled to find work after. After Liam was released from the hospital, Fiona holds him, crying and apologizing.
Kevin Lets The Girls Roll Joints
While he’s not always the brightest bulb in the Shameless pack, Kevin is a pretty good dad and his heart is always in the right place. But, sometimes his ignorance can get him in trouble. What he thought was ingenuity: using his daughters’ small hands to tightly roll joints to sell in his dispensary, was actually a pretty bad parenting call.
Not only is it technically child labor, but it’s also exposing them to drugs before they’re really ready to understand what they are. Not to mention, he went through with his idea before asking V, and she wasn’t very happy about it.
Ian Runs Off With Yevgeny
Although Yevgeny wasn’t Ian’s child, he was his boyfriend’s child and Ian and Svetlana had spent a lot of time taking care of Yevgeny together. Before Ian thankfully gets the help he needed, he has a manic episode and decides to take Yevgeny and go on a road trip without telling Mickey or Svetlana.
He also fails to bring along any food, clothes, or diapers for Yevgeny, and can’t even afford to buy any at a convenience store along the way, having the rely on the kindness of the woman behind him in line. Then, Ian puts Yevgeny in direct danger when he leaves him in the car, then takes him along on a run from the police when the officers try to ask if he’s okay. Ian had no intention to do Yevgeny harm, but his negligence could have gotten him seriously hurt or even fatally sick.
Debbie Suppresses Franny’s Identity
Every so often the show touches on some hot button topics. In this case, Franny voices that she doesn’t think of herself as a girl, but rather a boy. Debbie is in pure denial as she plans Franny’s birthday party with a princess theme. She repeatedly forces her into dresses although Franny heavily protests, and she doesn’t buy the type of decorations and toys that Franny says that she likes, like swords and lightsabers.
She instead picks up fairy wands and crowns. Eventually, there is some acceptance on Debbie’s part, but the surprisingly supportive one from the get-go ends up being Frank, who spends the day with Franny and really listens to her, even getting her name tattooed on him.
Carol Sleeps With Kevin And Keeps The Baby
It’s awkward enough that V had to deal with her own mom being the surrogate to her babies since she had no other family members and wanted the babies to have her DNA. Then, to make things worse, when the turkey baster method doesn’t work, they graduate to Kevin and Carol having sex with a sheet between them.
In a nonsensical turn of events, they end up fully sleeping together in an effort to conceive. At one point, there is even a quasi-threesome between V, her mother, and Kevin. The incest territory is dangerously close. Making more bad parenting decisions, it’s discovered that Carol conceived right away with the turkey baster, and hid pregnancy symptoms in order to sleep with Kevin. Eventually, V gets pregnant on her own, and Carol refuses to give up the baby she gives birth to, choosing to keep it instead.
Monica Takes Ian On A Mania-Induced Adventure
Monica goes on the road with Ian after he leaves the army and is charged for stealing Lip’s identity (and attempting to steal a plane). After hitchhiking to a truck stop, Monica is upset when she finds out that Lip doesn’t have any money for food. After thinking a moment, she tells him to go inside and runs across the parking lot to a group of men.
As Ian watches from the window of the truck stop, Monica takes one of the men behind the truck and comes back with money. As Ian shares a story of him at six years old having to sneak out a restaurant bathroom window because Monica and Frank couldn’t pay, Monica replies with, “We had a lot of good times back then.” Ian seems disappointed in that response. He asks about the guy behind the truck, and Monica tells him she sold him something (it was drugs).
Mickey Misses Yevgeny’s Birth
Mickey’s relationship with Yevgeny is complicated. After all, Yevgeny only exists because Terry made Mickey have sex with Svetlana in front of Ian after catching them together. That’s traumatic enough on its own. He was then pressured (forced) to marry her and raise their child. Because of this, he was not a very enthusiastic partner or parent.
He cared very little about what Svetlana did, and spent most of his time with Ian, even having him move in with him and Svetlana. When he hears that she’s gone into labor, he doesn’t bat an eye, choosing not to go. Instead, he waits until she comes back home. The stress of having to live a lie is immense, but at the end of the day Mickey did care about Yevgeny, and missing his birth was a huge misstep.
Lip Smokes Around Fred
With Tami in the ICU immediately after Fred’s birth, Lip is left alone to take care of a newborn baby, and he really struggles. Lip may be one of the least shameless characters on the show, but he was nowhere near prepared to be a parent (he only had the single diaper the hospital gave them and no bed). He also only starts trying to quit smoking after Fred is already born.
He goes through the trouble of wearing gloves while doing it, but he still smokes in Fred’s immediate vicinity, even dropping ash on him while walking up to the Gallagher house. Then, Lip creates a pillow and blanket fort in order to go into the bathroom to smoke again, where he falls asleep, dropping the cigarette onto his foot and waking up to find Fred missing. V had come in and picked him up, chastising Lip for his irresponsibility.
Debbie Leaves Without Anyone Taking Franny To School
Franny may have been one of the best things to happen to Debbie, but Debbie frequently shows how unready she is for full-fledged parenthood. In the final season of the show, Debbie tries to be the head of the household. The problem is that she’s not nearly as responsible as Fiona was when she was in charge. Debbie also has a habit of making her problems everyone else’s problems and relies too heavily on people to do things for her.
This has a pretty bad consequence when she just tells “everyone” standing around her to get Franny to school in the morning, then leaves. The other Gallaghers have their own lives and errands, so Franny is left with Liam, who lets Frank take her to school. As a result, Franny is brought along on a drug and tattoo-filled adventure with Frank for the day.