Sunday, 14 October 2012

Disney Parenting

We've begun a new family tradition in our home. Film Friday. It's a lovely way to end the week. We get our PJ's on, make some yummy food, set up a projector in the lounge and eat our tea in there whilst watching the film.

This week the chosen film was Finding Nemo. It's not a new film to the family. In fact, I could probably recite all the lines from it. Two year old Toby watched it every day for at least a year. He was fish-obsessed and we had to endure, sorry, enjoy Nemo (or Mee-mo, as he called it) for a very long time. Watching it again on Friday, I was awash with memories of that time, 9 years ago, when I had a toddler and a baby.

But here's my confession. It made me realise that alot of my parenting values were actually taken right out of good old Marlin's book. Marlin, as you will know if you have watched Finding Nemo (especially if you've watched it as many times as I have), lost his clown-fish wife to a barracuda attack when Nemo was just a little fish egg. He promised Nemo that he would never let anything bad happen to him and brought him up well protected inside his little anemone house. The day came when it was time for Nemo to begin school and, having never been exposed to the big wide ocean before, Nemo defies his father and chases off after a boat in the distance, being caught by a diver on his way. The rest of the film is Marlin's long journey through danger to find his son, and Nemo's discovery that he can do things he never thought possible.

A lovely Disney moral. However, as the film wore on I realised that the lessons Marlin was learning in letting go of his son are ones that I face every day. How wonderful it would be to keep our children away from danger, to hold onto them and cocoon them. How much I long to keep them in my arms and never to let go of them in case something bad happens to them. The recent case of missing April Jones has brought this home to us parents yet again, sending shivers down our spines. But as Marlin discovered, we have no choice. We have to let our children go. We have to teach them about good choices and then allow them to be exposed to situations in which they have to make those choices themselves. Standing back and watching them is the hardest thing to do. What if something bad happens? What if, what if, what if?

Reunited at the end of the film, Marlin sends Nemo off to school with a smile on his face. "Go have an adventure!", he calls to his son. May we be parents who release our children to be the people they were made to be. May we trust that, whilst we have to let go of them, their Heavenly Father will always hold on. We can let go because He doesn't. As hard as it feels sometimes, we can send our children off to have their adventures - whether good or bad, shouting our encouragements from the sidelines, because they are in their Father's hands.

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