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Sometimes You Have to Let it Go: Four Lessons the Movie Frozen Taught Me About Motherhood

frozenCan you learn valuable mothering lessons from hit movies? I think so.

Who among us didn’t decide to teach our daughters how to hunt (just in case) after watching The Hunger Games? The day after clinging to my seat through the movie Captain Phillips, I made sure to explain to my children that, aside from Jake and the Neverland gang, pirates are bad!

Then there’s Man of Steel, the next morning I vowed to allow my boys to dress up like super heros as much as they wanted to now, so as to get that completely out of their system before they reach their teens. Gravityit showed me that maybe time spent alone, away from it all, is a bit over-rated.

If you caught Blackfish on Netflix you may have had this same conversation at your house: “Sweetheart, you can do anything you want when you get older…except train killer whales!” And, don’t even get me started on how The Hobbit has completely erased the word “precious” from my vocabulary.

Then there is Frozen. Ahhhhh… {sigh}. How did Walt Disney know how to hit us moms right where it counts and make a movie that would captivate and engage our children, teach us, and force us to record countless videos of our children singing its songs? Well, not all of us, only 987,000 according to You Tube.

Though I may never forgive Disney for not producing enough Elsa dresses, the movie Frozen has taught me a few valuable lessons about motherhood. Here are the top four:

1. Don’t Make Your Children Hide Their Uniqueness. It’s the truth no mom wants to hear: Elsa’s parents could have handled their daughter’s abilities in a more balanced way.Closing the gates to the kingdom and discouraging her from having contact with the outside world wasn’t the healthiest approach to Elsa’s unusual gift (or curse). The fact is, our children are going to have some abilities that will make us proud and some struggles that will make us hurt. But, locking them in their rooms or confining them to our homes because we are afraid of what their interactions with the outside world will look like isn’t the healthiest approach.

How much different would the storyline had been if the King had not told his eldest daughter to, “conceal don’t feel?” How would their family, their whole kingdom in fact, have looked if the parents could have found ways to embrace Elsa’s powers and help her use them in a constructive way?

2. Encourage Strong Sibling Relationships. There are so many parts to this movie that make me cry. But, one of the saddest is when little Anna is sitting outside of Elsa’s door singing, “Do You Want to Build a Snowman?” As a mother of four, I want my children to have strong bonds with their siblings. I want to do everything I can to help these relationships be close. We have all three of our boys share a bedroom for this very reason. We recognize that each child will need their own space and alone time, but we also want them to learn to do life, together. In the long run, friendships with siblings will outlast even the tightest high school BFFs. Sororities’ refer to their members as “sisters” for a reason–to emphasize that siblings have deeper friendships.

I want my boys to warn their sister when she tries to bring home a Hans and my daughter to stay close enough to her brothers to help them shape up if they start acting like trolls or get too friendly with any wild animals at college.

 3. Never Underestimate the Power of Comic Relief. Hi, I’m Olaf. And, I like warm hugs. Frozen would have probably been too heavy for any of us to enjoy without the presence of this summer-loving snowman. The lesson for moms? When things get heavy, lighten up. I think there is no better way to help turn a frown upside down than with a little humor. Grumpy kids demanding breakfast? Have them rolling in their high chairs when you pretend you are their waiter and speak with a thick French accent. You can read about all the ways I get silly at home in this piece called, “Have You Tried Funny?

 4.  Sometimes You Just HAVE to Let it Go! You knew this was coming. Honestly fellow momma, there are sometimes when we just need to relax and not try to cling so tightly to our ideals of how our days…or lives…should go. There are stretches when a colicky baby or an unexpected call from school will keep you from getting a single item on your to do list accomplished. Those are the days you need to just “let it go.” (Or, as my two year old says, “Let Joe”)

My strategy for navigating the newborn years especially, was to not expect to get anything done. After I had my third baby, I told my husband that I would consider the day a success if I did two things: 1) Took a shower and 2) Made dinner. Number two was often optional…as were laundry, cleaning, and all fantasies of spending baby’s naptime teaching my older children a foreign language while we made homemade Play Doh.

We moms feel so much unnecessary pressure to be supermom, to do it “all” (and flawlessly). We have to give ourselves grace to just be in this “mom” stage of life where because of our commitment to the smallest members of our household, we may never get around to organizing closets–or even that stack of coupons from the Sunday paper. We have to “let go” of our delusions of motherhood grandeur and surrender to the new stages and phases of life as a parent. (I wrote about how tough this transition was for me, here.)

What did you learn from Frozen or any of this year’s hottest films?

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