There are two things about DreamWorks Animation's new movie, Mr. Peabody and Sherman, that made me pause and evaluate my own family.
1. When Sherman has a run-in with a bully girl at school, he turns to his dad, Mr. Peabody. It is a really touching scene at Sherman's bedtime. He is vulnerable and honest with his dad, and Mr. Peabody is loving and communicative.
First, how many animated movies show any depth between children and parents? It's a short scene but it means something. Now take it home. Have you cultivated an honest, open relationship with your child? You can do so by...
- Asking questions
- Validating his or her concerns
- Offering suggestions he or she can choose
- Showing unconditional love and SAYING SO
2. Mr. Peabody is an adventurous parent! He takes Sherman on adventures that we can't even fathom in real life -- since they all involve time travel -- but we can go on real-time adventures. Even things that feel simple to adults can be a big deal to kids.
- Let your kid determine the day's activities
- Use my mountain biking motto: Get muddy and bloody. Before you call me a terrible mom, think about how much fun a day is that involves risk that results in mud and blood. I have two boys and can tell you that is where the fun is!
- Speaking of risk, do you let your kids experiment with challenge and failure? Like in a, "Sure, try skateboarding down the steepest driveway in the neighborhood way." Just be close-by to save a flying child. No big deal.
- Travel! Travel is quintessential Peabody. If you don't teach your kid to travel by actually traveling, she won't learn how to do it. How to behave, how to play quietly, how to experience new things.
- Mr. Peabody and Sherman sometimes have some close escapes out of the past. When you and your little ones go on an adventure, you must Race! Jump! Roll! Run!
Taking the idea of adventure one step further, what if your child wants to pursue an unexpected hobby or career? For example, Max Charles is the young actor who plays Sherman. He broke into acting in 2010 (he's only 10 years old now) when he accompanied his mom and brother on his brother's acting audition. Spur-of-the-moment, Max asked if he could audition for a role. His mom said YES, Max auditioned, and he's been a working actor ever since.
While interviewing the heads of the various production departments, I couldn't help but wonder, "Who were the parents who raised these creative people?" Head of Story, Art Director, Head of Visual FX. Parents who encouraged doodling, painting, acting, silly faces, weird noises, attention getting, art classes, theater camp, liberal arts education, moving to California. Those parents are out there and their babies are grown people making a DreamWorks Animation film.
Look at your babies.
What adventures lie in wait?
How will you listen, respond, enrich, cheer, love?
Mr. Peabody and Sherman opens in theaters on Friday, March 7, 2014
For more Mr. Peabody and Sherman, check out my day Behind the Scenes!