My family and I are movie watchers, we love having movie nights. My son Chance usually selects our movie, but we enjoy it all the same. We grab our blankets and we are on our way. We were excited about seeing Beauty and the Beast, although I wondered if Chance would really like it.
He and my niece Sophee had a discussion about it, and my Sophee had Chance convinced that the movie was a girlie movie all about Belle. But on the weekend of its release, he still wanted to go and I was so happy.
We enjoyed the movie so much. Chance and I was on the edge our seat wondering what would happen next. It was our first Beauty and the Beast movie. Once it was over, we were so inspired. We talked about what we loved most, and the things that we couldn’t believe…like how mean the Beast was to Belle at first, how the dishes could talk, and the reason the man was turned into a beast in the first place. It was quite the conversation as we drove home.
As I began replaying the movie in my head, I started thinking about the lessons I learned and how it can be applied to the lessons we teach our children. I thought about the many challenges that our children are faced with each day. They have so many struggles with bullying, peer pressure, self-esteem and acceptance. We must set parental expectations of good character so that our children have a much greater chance at success in school, in a career, and in life.
I left the movie thinking about all of the things that our children deal with on a daily basis. The bullying, judgement, and self-doubt. In an effort, not to spoil it for those of you that haven’t seen it, I will just say…. Beauty and the Beast provided a lot of positive messages that our children can benefit from. My thoughts led to 5 important principles to ensure that I am raising a well-balanced kid.
Embrace the “different” in your children. Having a “different” child has always been frowned upon in society. It’s hard for us to embrace the uncommon things that make our children unique. Especially if that uncommon thing, that different thing, is acknowledged as a negative by others.
Belle had a bit of a reputation for being different. She didn’t do what was common in her community and she was teased about her unique behaviors by all. Belle’s dad never saw her anything other way than perfect. She was perfect to him just the way she was. In fact, her different was normal in their home.
Growing up, I was different. I was often teased because of my skin color, hair, or good grades. Honestly, I don’t think my grandmother or mother knew…but even if she or my mother did, the most I would get is “don’t let what they say affect you.” It wasn’t until I was an adult did I even realize the impact those words had on my life.
For years, I suffered from low self-esteem as a result of the negative words spoken to me. The movie reminded me of the importance of being proactive and reinforcing kindness no matter what others may look like, how they dress, their ethnicity or race. We are all different, and diversity is about individuality, it should be celebrated not made fun of.
Teach your children to believe in themselves and their self-worth. The research on low self-esteem is staggering among children. Low self-esteem and self-worth are of high concern among our children today.
One of the things I loved about Belle was her confidence. She was unapologetically secure in herself. She did not let the rumors, community chatter, or traditions limit her ability to value her own option, thoughts, and beliefs.
There was a time when my son would question himself. If he didn’t get a perfect score, or didn’t do something right he would begin to feel like he didn’t matter. He told me that he felt me and his dad did not want him. As a mom, my heart could not bear hearing him say that and most importantly to see him feeling that way.
My husband and I went into prayer first. I told him right then and there that he was so important to us. I assured him that no matter what he did, it would never stop me from loving him. And that his best is always good enough. I assured him that he was amazing just as he is. It took time, but eventually Chance started to believe I. Himself and value his contribution no matter how small or the overall outcome.
Make the painful decisions to do what’s best for your child’s future. Life gives its fair share of trouble and pain. As a parent it’s not always easy to make painful decisions.
In the movie, several painfully tough decisions had to be made. And just like in real life, our decisions affect our lives. I was born as a product of rape. Unfortunately, my dad raped my mom and she became pregnant. My mother had me despite the traumatic experience. My mother kept her rape a secret from me for many years. As a matter of fact, my stepmother is the one who told me at the age of 26 that my dad raped my mom.
When I asked my mother why she didn’t tell me, she said “because you needed your father.” Her painful decision, allowed me to have a relation with my dad and for him to find redemption and forgiveness.
Allow your child to be brave and assume responsibility. One of the most common things we say as moms concerning our children’s growth is “my baby is growing or, or I need him/her to slow down.” It’s not easy for us to let go.
Belle took a huge risk by facing the Beast. By doing so, she was showing her dad that she’s now old enough to take care of herself. And he still did not want her to do that.
As parents we want to protect our children. Allowing them to grow up is not easy. The first time we took Chance to Arkansas and left him with my parents in love, he cried the whole time we were gone. My mother in law said he waited every day for us to walk in the door. So, as he grew older and wanted to go and stay for weeks at a time, a part of me is still trying to hold on to the little boy who needed his parents with him. That little boy, while he’s still my little boy is a big kid being brave and learning to find his way.
Dispel the myth of what beauty is. One of the biggest factors affecting our children is society’s definition of beauty. Belle did not allow the outer appearance of the beast to limit her ability to see the beauty of his heart.
I’ve always been conscious of the sensitivity to what is considered beautiful. Growing up, I was the girl that was always told how pretty I was. And I saw the affect it had on my family and friends. My cousins and close friends often teased me, because they took my compliment as an indictment against them. It bothered me so much, not because I didn’t think I was pretty. But because when they didn’t tell the others how pretty they were, it implied that it meant they were ugly.
As we watched this amazing Disney movie directed Bill Condon, I was inspired to see the beauty in my own life. It challenged me to change my perspective of what beauty is. Confucius once said, “Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it.” Beauty and the Beast challenged me to believe in this quote more than ever.
My most meaningful take-a-way was how I would find ways to discuss the movie with my son Chance from a parenting perspective. I thought, wow can I elevate the impact of the movie with “teachable moments?” As a mom, I can go on and on about the lessons learned from Belle.
Our family movie night turned into a lesson in the theatre. I’d love to hear from you about my lessons from this inspiring, transformative love story.
© LaToyia Dennis ~ Motivated Mom