Hi Moms! Have you ever had to deal with your child whining, “Mom, why can’t I have that?” as you navigate the grocery store? Hey there, Dads! Do your kids sometimes want to do some activity that’s a bit too old for them and you have to tell them, “When you get older, OK?” and they don’t particularly like that response? I know my parents did when I was growing up and I wasn’t always ready to hear what they were trying to teach me about not being selfish and thinking of others before myself.
It’s back-to-school time and parents everywhere are heaving a sigh of relief (whew!) to entrust the children to their teachers for a few hours each day. Yet, according to the responsibilities you accepted when you brought your children to the Church for Baptism, you remain the primary teachers for your little ones. School teachers can assist you when it comes to teaching math, history, and science but teaching the values you hold dear as Christian parents, like forgiveness, compassion, kindness, and selflessness, is up to you.
I recently saw the film Planes: Fire and Rescue and wanted to recommend it to you as an example of how age-appropriate films can help reinforce the values you are trying to pass on to your kids. In this second Planes film, we catch up with Dusty Crophopper (Dane Cook), the little crop dusting plane who fulfilled his dreams of becoming a great racer. At the beginning of Fire and Rescue, one of Dusty’s engine parts breaks during a practice run. Since he’s an older model plane, no replacement part is available which means Dusty’s racing days are over. Instead, he volunteers to be trained as a firefighter and joins a team of planes who fight forest fires.
Besides being an enjoyable film (my Dad was a firefighter so I love films that honor his profession), I think the story can also help parents talk to kids about dealing with disappointment. Whether the disappointment is small, like not getting a candy bar at the store, or big, like not being able to do something you love because of an injury, Dusty’s story can help kids deal with the sadness that disappointment brings. Dusty was disappointed when he couldn’t race anymore, but he was able to turn the disappointment into something positive by risking his life to help save people from forest fires.
One scene that really spoke to me, especially in our celebrity-obsessed culture, is an excellent example of kindness. As a racing plane, Dusty was famous. The owner of the new lodge exploited Dusty’s fame by trying to get him to schmooze with wealthy guests at the grand opening. Being a kind plane, Dusty chose to spend his time with the guests others ignored like Harvey and Winnie, the old RV’s there to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary. Dusty showed kindness by spending time with them, sitting around the fire and listening to their stories.
So next time you see your values mirrored in the media your children enjoy, grab that opportunity to point them out. Your kids will remember.
By Sr. Hosea Rupprecht, FSP, author of How To Watch Movies With Kids, published by Pauline Books and Media.