Lessons to be Learned @ Family Movie Night

Family Friday

 

Anyone with children will know that children get attached to their movie characters.  They will watch a movie until you desperately wish to not be able to hear.

But here is what I love about kid’s movies… they come ready made with life lessons and mom’s and dad’s just need to take the opportunity to talk them out with their little ones.

Below are six of my daughter’s favorite movies and the life lessons one can learn (some have many more than one, and will be expanded on in time; I’m just choosing what I feel is the main idea).

 

Turbo

 

Summary: Turbo is about a snail, who dreams of racing in the Indy 500.  Like all snails, he’s a bit slow in speed, that is until a freak accident infuses him with gasoline causing him to become fast. Not faster than a snail, but faster than most automobiles.

Lesson: Turbo has big dreams (just like human counterpart Tito- who wants to take his brother’s taco business to the next level), that seems out of reach.  Everyone tells him that he can’t.  He’s a snail, he’s limited to what a snail can do.  But Turbo does not give up and he races and wins the Indy 500.

Even when things seem impossible, do not give up. Always go for your dreams.

 

 

The Croods

 

Summary: This is easily one of the cutest movies ever made. Eep, her mom and dad, and brother and sister are… well… cave people.  The cave is their home, the cave is their protector…and with a healthy dose of fear heaped on them by their father, they plan on keeping it that way.  Eep wants more than the walls of the cave.  She wants to know what is really so dangerous about the great big world outside.

 

Eep meets Guy and his pet sloth, Belt.  She is informed that the world is changing and those who don’t seek hire ground are going to meet their end.  Eep convinces her family to make the move, and the journey begins.

Lesson: Simply put, change and going into the unknown is scary.  It is okay to be afraid.  That feeling helps us to be cautious, it helps us to remain safe.  But we also can not allow fear to hold us back because what lies before us could be so much better than what we’re leaving behind.

 

 

Monsters University

 

Summary: Mike Wazowski has his eye set on a job as a scarer at Monsters Inc.  The only way to get there is through a degree in the scaring program at Monsters University.  College wasn’t what Mike had expected.  No believes he is cut out to be a scarer because of how he looks.

James “Sulley” Sullivan is the son of a legend and expects to ride those coat tails to graduation.  To his surprise things don’t work that way.

Now both Mike and Sulley find themselves facing expulsion from school and these unlikely friends team up to fight and keep themselves in school.

Spoiler: They still get expelled

Lesson: In most movies, the heroes come through in the end and win the day.  This didn’t happen for Mike and Sulley but we learn in the credits that they instead went and got jobs in the mail room of Monsters Inc.  They showed what they’re worth and worked their way up to the scare floor… and thanks to Monsters Inc.  We know that they became the stuff of legends.

What a better lesson to teach a child than that plan A is not always going to work out and that it is good to have a plan B, plan C…plan Z so that even when one door closes they can still find a way to achieve their dream.

The Lorax

 

Summary: Ted lives in an artificial world, Thneadville, where they even have someone who delivers bottled air like the Culligan man delivers giant bottles of water. Ted has a crush, Aubrey, and Aubrey’s one dream is to see a real Truffula Tree.

The problem is, there are no more trees. Grammy tells Ted about a man named, The Onecler, who lives outside of town. Ted goes to see this man and he tells his story.

He set off to make his fortune with his family telling him how he’ll fail as he leaves.  He comes to a forest of truffula trees and cuts one down to use the tops to knit a thnead (it’s a fine thing that all people need).  From the tree stump pops The Lorax, who has one job, to speak for the trees.

Through the story and his own fight with Mr. O’Hair, Ted learns the value of taking care of the natural world.

Lesson:  I’m sure everyone is expecting the lesson to be that nature is important and we should take care of it, and yes that is one point that the movie makes but the bigger lesson is that we need to stand up for those who can’t.  We can not sit idly by and watch as the wrong things happens again and again.

It’s great to be able to stand up for yourself, it’s even better if you can stand up for one who can’t stand up for themselves.

 

Rio

 

 

Summary: Taken from his tropic home as a baby bird and dropped off the back of a truck in minnesota, Blue Macaw, Blu, lives a cushy life with his bookstore owning human.  That is until a strange man from Rio comes in and announces that he may be the last male of his species and they need to come to Rio right away.

A theft at the bird sanctuary puts Blu, and Jewel (the female Blue Macaw from the sanctuary) on the adventure of a lifetime… oh yeah and Blu doesn’t fly.

 

Lesson: In one of the end scenes Jewel’s wing has been injured, she can’t physically fly, while Blu’s flightless life is all in his head.  Jewel falls from the plane and without hesitation Blu jumps after her. He catches her and finds his flight.

 

 

Frozen

 

 Summary: As children Elsa hurt Anna.  It was an accident.  Elsa has powers she doesn’t understand and has no idea how to control.  Fear kept her isolated.  Elsa wanted to keep Anna safe, and Anna wanted her sister Elsa.

A fight sets off a snow storm thanks to Elsa’s uncontrolled abilities and she retreats to the mountains.  Anna can’t let her sister go and goes after her.

Lesson:  Elsa lives in so much fear that she doesn’t understand that allowing love in is what will help her control her abilities.  Rely on your family, one does not need to deal with their struggles and fears alone.

As I have said some of these movies I could do whole posts on what these movies teach (and I might just do that with each of my daughter’s favorite movies) but that is for another time.

What kid’s movie do you think teaches the best life lesson? 

Please share the movie title and this life lesson in the comments below

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Self Esteem & Disney Princesses

Disney added a new princess to their line up, and it has people up in arms screaming about what it will do to the self esteem of young girls.

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Merida from Disney’s Brave was added to the line up of Disney Princesses, but for the occasion she was given a make over. They made her look more like a woman and not a teenage girl.  They gave her some curves, put her into a pretty dress and took her bow and arrow.

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Honestly I don’t see the age progression to be that big of a deal.  There is nothing obscene about how she looks, but honestly there was no reason for it to begin with.  The real disservice done to Merida is that she spent her entire movie showing she could be herself and still be a lady.  They make her a princess and they put her into a dress that she would have fought not to have to wear.

As far as princesses go there are worse princesses for young girls to look up to than a made over Merida.

Lets look at a few of them…

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Ariel (The Little Mermaid)

Grade: F

(Disobedient & Selfish)

I love the music in this movie, but as for the heroine, she is not a strong role model for girls or any child for that.

Ariel is the youngest child of King Triton, the King of the the merpeople who live in Atlantis.  She is a dreamer who is not content with what she has.  She falls in love with a human and wishes to leave her undersea paradise for life on land with him. I’m all for a good love story, but what I dislike about this movie is that when her father forbids her to be near the humans because it is dangerous she disobeys, seeks out the sea witch, and puts the entire kingdom at risk of a Tyrant just so she can get what she wants.

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It’s not a “love conquers all” story to me, it’s a “do what you want because it’s what you think is right for you no matter how it effects anyone else” story.

It tells all kids if you want something and are told no, do it anyway.  It does not teach respect for elders or respect for self.

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Pocahontas

Grade: C

(Stands up for what is right; Historically Inaccurate)

I wish I could give Pocahontas a higher grade.  I love that she doesn’t sit by idly and watch the wrong occur.  She stands up for herself and for others and that is to be respected.

But Pocahontas is the ONLY Disney Princess who is based on a historical character, and Disney overlooked important details that made her special.

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Pocahontas never pursued John Smith romantically.  She was 12 years old when she saved him from being beheaded.  She did later marry John Rolfe and move with him to England.

Making her older and sexier is the real injustice to young girls.

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Aroura (Sleeping Beauty)

Grade: C

(Helpless)

Sleeping Beauty is the quintessential love story, damsel in the distress, saved by handsome prince, lives happily ever after.

The basis of the story Disney vs Charles Perrault’s version is similar.  A princess was born, fairies invited, evil fairy left out and upset over the oversight.  A curse is laid on the princess that   happens and the kingdom falls into a deep sleep… and that is where the similarities end.

When the prince in Perrault’s story stumbles upon the princess it is at the end of the 100 year sleep curse.  She wakes up and he’s the first she sees, they fall in love, and the adventure continues from there.

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Disney takes a different approach. Aurora is helpless and will sleep until her prince kisses her. So a sleeping woman needs to be kissed by a strange man in order to save her?  Maybe not inherently wrong, but definitely falls under the category of creepy!

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Snow White

Grade: C

(Nieve)

Snow White is another story that falls under just plain creepy.

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There is nothing inherently wrong with it, but the premise of a young woman running away into the woods and moving in with 7 strange old men is just odd…

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Tiana (The Frog Princess)

Grade: B

(Hardworking)

Tiana would have a higher ranking for me if it wasn’t for the fact that she gave into superstition and kissed a frog…. eew!

She holds a dear place in my heart as she is the Bayou Princess…

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… and she represents something that all children, girls and boys, should always remember… dreaming is great, but it takes hard work and dedication to achieve your dreams.

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Jasmine (Aladdin)

Grade: A

(not bound by stereotypes)

Jasmine is the Indian Princess.  She lives in a land where station is everything.  Princesses marry Princes and commoners marry commoners.

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So what is a Princess to do when she falls in love with a poor commoner?  She looks past social class and fights for what is right! She is to be commended.

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Merida (Brave)

Grade: A

(Unique, Self Acceptance)

A Scottish princess who was happy being daddy’s girl. She and her mother butted heads over what a lady should look like. But when a wish to change her mom goes horribly wrong she stops at nothing to save her.  Along the way she realizes who she is and who her mother is are both perfectly acceptable and neither had to change.

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Belle (Beauty and the Beast)

Grade: A+

(Compassion, Kindness)

Belle valued learning, and showed open disdain for rudeness.  After her father became a prisoner of the beast she offered her own freedom in exchange for her father’s.

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Belle saw something in the beast, she looked past his appearance and saw his heart, falling in love and ultimately saving his life.

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Cinderella

Grade: A+

(Humble, Kind)

Cinderella was left orphaned after her father’s death and in the care of her abusive step-mother. Cinderella acted as a servant to her step-mother and step-sisters. A chance to meet the prince was interrupted and she had to leave the ball.

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It wasn’t her beauty the prince remembered, he couldn’t even remember what she looked like. It was her character, her kindness and gentleness that made the prince fall in love with her.

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Mulan

Grade: A+

(Courage, Honor, Strength)

Mulan is my favorite princess. Mulan was not just the only daughter, but the only child, of an aging man. She lived in a world where a woman’s job was to get married and tend to her husband.  It wasn’t a world she felt she fit into.

Then word comes that the Huns are trying to invade China and one male from each family must serve in the imperial army.

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Fearing that his ailing health means certain death for her father (the only male of the family), Mulan disguises her appearance and poses as a man to take her father’s place in the army.

She courageously fights the Huns, assists in the rescue of the emperor and as herself is recognized as a great Chinese warrior.

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Repunzel

I can’t grade her as I have not seen this princess’ story…

Do I think some (not all) of the Disney Princesses teach our children good character lessons?  Yes!

Do I think the Princess make over of Merida will be detrimental to the self-esteem of young girls? NO!

Self-esteem will not be built or destroyed by the appearance or character of a Disney Princess. it will be by how we as parents treat our girls.

When we provide opportunities for success in our children’s lives, encourage their progress, console them when they struggle and praise them when they succeed, we build our children up to trust their own abilities. They gain confidence and in turn think better of themselves and what they are capable of.

When we put unrealistic expectations on them, or even shelter them from every disappointment we do them a disservice. We teach them they aren’t capable or worthy and this tears apart their self-esteem and self worth.

Facing disappointment teaches children how to cope with unexpected and unpleasant situations.  It often motivates them to try harder or focus their energies on a different interest or talent.

We do not need to make things easier for our children to spare their self esteem, we need to challenge them to encourage growth.

Self-esteem and self-worth comes when children realize that it is okay to just be themselves and follow their own dreams. Confidence comes from us as parents encouraging this in our children and assuring them we love them no matter what.

If i have any issue with Merida’s princess makeover it is with them saying that who she is is not good enough as she is to be a princess.

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