Disney lessons

Since it’s a rainy summer day here, I decided to take the opportunity to Disney-educate my 19 month old. He loves Frozen, but I wanted to introduce him to some classic Disney favorites of mine. So far this week, we’ve watched Tangled, Pocahontas and Mulan. And by ‘watched’, I mean ‘had on in the background while he wrought his usual terror.’ Ahem, played. While he played.

My Disney love is obviously no secret, and each time I watch a favorite film I take something new away from it. So here are some overlooked and often unnoticed Disney lessons.
The family dynamic in Mulan is atypical of their culture and era. This is a great example that you don’t have to conform; you can be true to yourself.

Mulan sees the love between her parents and their struggle, which inspires her decision to dress as a man and enter the army in her father’s place. Children learn by example; demonstrating love for your spouse and disagreeing peaceably are important life skills to impart.
Women are just as capable and smart as men.
The Huns also demonstrate that some bad guys have no mercy, regardless of age or gender. When Shan Hu references the doll, he implies they’ll be killing everyone in the village– including children. They also kill one of the scouts off screen, showing how ruthless violence is.

The Incredibles

One of my favorite scenes in this film is when Elastigirl explains to her kids that this isn’t a game, and their lives are truly in danger:

Remember the bad guys on the shows you used to watch on Saturday mornings? Well, these guys aren’t like those guys. They won’t exercise restraint because you are children. They *will* kill you if they get the chance. Do *not* give them that chance. “
The Incredibles also teaches us that spousal communication is highly important, and to not stop having adventures just because you’re married with kids and in hiding.

Also? Embrace who you are, because that person is awesome. And never underestimate the baby. And as Jack-Jack taught our villain, don’t even try taking a baby away from his mama!

Our wise Native American princess teaches us to be true to ourselves… And that if you communicate with your parents instead of being all vague, maybe no one will get shot. 

But in all seriousness, Pocahontas teaches us to be open-minded. That’s what Colors of the Wind is all about, right? Be open to seeing the world differently than you’re accustomed to. Don’t be afraid to take risks, or stand up for what you believe is right. Change has to start somewhere, after all (cue the ripples).

Up is one of my favorite Pixar films. Taking your house on vacay with you? Talking dogs? What’s not to love?! But a very important lesson is that memories belong to you, not to your things. Of course I cry waterfalls when the house gets set on fire, but who doesn’t?! (Please don’t answer this. I know I’m part of the minority. But still…I basically spend this whole movie crying, so cut me some slack please!). Ellie lives on in Carl’s memories, photos, and in his heart. And, of course, in his adventurous spirit. Sniffle. 

Bonus lesson? Life is full of everyday adventures. Sometimes those adventures involve fixing a flat tire, or the roof. But they’re adventures none the less. So each time they bust open their Paradise Falls jar, they’re still having an adventure.


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