Friday, January 23, 2009

"Keep Moving Forward"

How well children learn to deal with reality, and huge numbers learn to do it poorly, has a lot to do with whether they are happy or miserable for the rest of their lives.
- William Glasser (1998), Physician

My favorite animated Disney movie is Meet the Robinsons. It is a science wiz's fairy tale. The orphan Lewis Robinson decides to use his passion for inventing to locate his biological mother so they can be a family "again". The crux of the movie is when he realizes he already has a family and begins to use his brains to improve the world through technology. He sheds his obsession with the past and adopts a new motto "Keep Moving Forward." Lewis' childhood roommate, Grube, adopts a more negative view of life. The crux in Grube's life is when he decides to blame someone else (Lewis) for all his problems. His mindset becomes fixed, he chooses unhappiness and focuses his life on revenge. In the end, there is no end of possibilities for Lewis (renamed Cornelius by the end of the movie). He keeps inventing...

I used to enjoy other Disney animated movies more before I had a daughter who adores the Disney princesses. The Disney princesses (except may be Mulan) do not have a growth mindset. In the end of each princess movie, there really is an end. Each princess got what she wanted and that is that. No possible future stories.

The question is, how do I wean my four-year old off the princess ideal? The music, colors and beautiful characters put out by Disney leave a mark on an eager learner's brain. But may be I shouldn't worry at all, because when my little girl dresses the princess' part, she exudes power. And a sense of power is a mighty emotion to try on at her age. It is a feeling she'll want again in the future. It is then up to me to guide her to true power; power over one's mindset and life direction. So, I'll let her wear gaudy yellow dresses and aluminum high-heeled slippers, while I hold her and chat with her and show her how to harness and direct her power for growth. Because real-life and everyday conversations are the most enduring tools of all.

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