Parenthood is a poignant movie that gives an idea of what can happen when parents objectify their children.
The movie features the dysfunctional Buckman family and friends whose dysfunctions are generally related to the way their father raised them. To compensate for this, in their own way, the parents are determined to raise their children in a "perfect" manner. The problem is that their ideal of "perfect" and the children's ideal don't match.
The story revolves around Gil (Steve Martin) and Karen Buckman (Mary Steenburgen) who fuss about their son Kevin (Jasen Fisher) so much so that he needs therapy; Helen Buckman (Dianne Wiest) who is anti-male (in her own way) that leads to her teenage daughter getting married to her boyfriend (Keanu Reeves) and her son being distant; Nathan (Rick Moranis) and Susan Merrick (Harley Jane Kozak) who wish to turn their children into a prodigy; and Larry (Tom Hulce), the black sheep, who is in custody of his son "cool" (Alex Burrall) and doesn't want anything to do with him. In the background is their father (Jason Robards) who is rough on the outside but soft on the inside.
The film has several insightful messages, including one that life is better a roller coaster: while I believe in ups and downs, I also believe in some sort of a dynamic equilibrium. One of the hypocrisies of parenting exposed in the movie is when Nathan comments that children are more capable of learning than any adult and yet proceeds to force his own vision of what his daughter should become on her.
There is a great cast here and that's what makes this film work. The humour is also excellent and many of the scenes have become pop culture icons (including the diarrhea song, and the "machine gun attack by Kevin" flashback (how prophetic of director Ron Howard)).
In my view, the best way to raise children is to provide them with an environment that doesn't let them forget their dreams, let them learn from their mistakes (even if the lessons are harsh), and truly try to understand what the children want and not attempt to project the parental views and modes onto the children (and I don't speak as a parent, but the way I was raised).