When Father Knows Less

Rumblings of the ever present ‘stupid father syndrome’, spawned from such popular TV series as “The Simpsons,” and “Family Guy,” have circled round for many years now. While annoyingly true, that these shows promote the idea that all Dads are as stupid as Homer Simpson, these shows never bothered me for several reasons. One, these cartoons are marketed primarily towards an adult audience. Two, my children have never been exposed to those cartoons because of reason number one, they are adult cartoons. But I have noticed a new theme amongst TV and movies alike that bothers me even more than the first and as I wonder about these things I wonder, does it bother you too?

In the majority of animated children’s movies that have been produced over the last five to ten years I have noticed one thing they all have in common; the defining moment for the protagonist (also a child so that our children may identify with their hero) is when he or she valiantly defies their parent and thus saves the day! Hurray! Kids know best! In a culture where rebellion is celebrated and independence rules the day, I wonder how this message will ultimately play out. Before I go on, let me offer you a few examples to make my point:

How To Train Your Dragon- Hiccup (child protagonist) rebels against his father and his culture when he saves a dragon rather than slaying it and begins a dragon loving revolution.

Horton Hears a Who- Baby kangaroo rebels against his mother telling her triumphantly, “no” when she asks for the clover (with a world of Who’s on it) saving an entire species, not to mention saving the day!

Kung Fu Panda- Po (a Panda and older son of a noodle selling bird) defies his father by sneaking off to a kung fu brawl, dumping the dumplings, and as a result is appointed the chosen one who saves the day and his people (father included).

The Incredibles- Dash (the child protagonist) defies his mom and sister’s orders to stay put, instead exploring the cave where they are hiding, discovers it is a rocket tunnel, and is able to sprint his family to safety, by extension saving their lives, thanks to his defiant spirit!

The Little Mermaid- Ariel (the teenage protagonist) defies her father by swimming to the surface of the ocean, meeting a human, making a deal with a sea witch, and walking amongst the humans, but teaches her father and his people that not all humans are bad. She was right, her father was wrong, and thanks to her defiance the ocean is a better place!

For the sake of time, mine and yours, I will leave you with a list of movies with this common theme to prove my point, but in an effort not to beat a dead horse I will leave the movie summaries up to you. Beat a dead horse? Who does that anyway? Moving on, here is the list: Tangled, Gnomeo and Juliet, The Green Hornet, Reel Steel, Fly Me to the Moon, Transformers, The Bee Movie, Ratatouille, Underdog, Spy Kids, Beauty and The Beast, Aladdin, How the Grinch Stole Christmas (Jim Carrey version), Elf, Mulan... you get my point, the defining moment for each of the heroes is when they heroically defy their parents and the world is a better place because they did so.

Don’t get me wrong, I love these movies, and for the moment I will assume you do too. But as a woman born and raised in the Cinderella generation (One day your prince will come and you will live happily ever after like Cinderella, Snow White, Pocahontas, Belle, Ariel, and Jasmine), I know the affect these cinematic themes can have on our impressionable youth and it’s not all good.

TV shows just support this theme of defiant heroism. Either the parents are idiots, or they just aren’t there. If you need proof, watch any of the following; I-Carly, So Random, ANT Farm, Gum Ball, Good Luck Charlie, Drake and Josh, Victorious, The Wizards of Waverly Place, Phineas and Ferb, the Suite Life of Zack and Cody, just to name a few.

As a parent I want nothing more than to set a positive example to my children knowing that I represent not just myself, but their Heavenly Father, who will one day hold me accountable for my role as guardian to these children who are ultimately His. I strive for truth, honor, and respect, hoping that as I live up to these codes that my children will indeed trust, honor, and respect not just me but those in authority over them. But as time goes on, I have noticed a huge disconnect between my ability to live truthfully and their ability to trust and respect me. It is as if there is no connection at all. Something outside of myself is influencing them, causing them to believe that “child knows best,” to an extent which can’t be blamed solely on selfishness, ego, and pride. Does anyone else believe the celebration of rebellion underlying children’s entertainment is having any influence on the next generation of impressionable minds?

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Comments 9 comments

Robin W 5 years ago

The best Blog post yet! So true, and I have given my kids this little talk more than a few times. Mom and Dad are not always wrong, and in fact, God put me in charge. He must know what He is doing.

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Christy Stewart 5 years ago from Oklahoma Author

Robin, do you have any other tips for training our children to respect the God given authorities in their life? Do we shelter them or weather the storm, inviting all the teachable moments life sends our way?

Lou 5 years ago

Great blog. Enjoyed every word!

ChiQuita 5 years ago

Interesting...never looked at those movies that way! Wonderful insight.

Robin W 5 years ago

Christy, I would say weather the storm. I think I would rather teach them through the circumstances than have them go out into the world and face them on their own without our guidance.

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Christy Stewart 5 years ago from Oklahoma Author

I agree Robin! Good advice, so long as we never lose sight of our role. We are so easily "choked up by the worries of this world". Love you girl!

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Christy Stewart 5 years ago from Oklahoma Author

Thank you ChiQuita! I was hoping that my readers would validate me on this one! Sometimes I wonder, is it just me?!

Pam Engelker 5 years ago

Wow, great job Christy! James Dobson had a similar "beef" with the media in "Bringing up Boys;" about how movies/t.v. shows portray dads as stupid. But, added to that, this entitlement generation, then I can see why the movie themes are thus. Once again, good job! (idk how you have time for this during a sq. command!)

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Christy Stewart 5 years ago from Oklahoma Author

Thanks Pam! Dobson is a wise man. Bringing up godly children is difficult in these times. We are being attacked in a variety of ways. Pray for our christian brethren who are being attacked in Egypt right now :(

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