Nowadays parents simply rely on any colorful and foolish blabber on the internet that catches their child’s attention to give these overwhelmed humans a few moments of peace in their hectic lives. While this is an understandable approach to the admittedly difficult task of parenting, it robs children of the beautiful and awe-inspiring experience of getting to spend a few hours indulging in fantasy worlds illustrated in the most imaginative ways.
At the naïve and impressionable ages of childhood, the media that children consume has a major impact on their moral values and behavioral habits. This impact can last throughout a lifetime. If you have spent your childhood watching movies with deep meaningful stories then you can agree that they play a consistent role in your life, bringing you guidance and direction even when you’re older and have experienced many of life’s truths. These movies in their pure and innocent nature not only aid the imagination of children, but they also help in teaching us many important life lessons. Let’s look at some of Disney’s widely loved and appreciated characters and the lessons they try to teach us with their stories!
1. “Brave” – Always be yourself
Princess Merida has always been expected to act the way a member of the royal family should: with femininity, grace, and elegance. Her mother is especially persistent in her court manners and tries her hardest to get Merida to act according to custom. So, Merida, at her parent’s relentless efforts, takes up diction, music, history classes, and whatnot.
All the while her heart has always been set towards getting on a horse and galloping to the forest to practice her archery. Merida, even at a young age, has strong determination and would do anything to live her life the way she wants to. Merida is a true model of independence and self-acceptance, contrary to the popular beliefs maintained about Disney princesses about their dependent and passive nature
As we can all imagine, standing up for what you want against the desires of those in charge of you can be a very difficult and brave step to take, especially when they want what’s best for you. Merida teaches children the importance of standing up for what they want in life and being independent and confident even if they have to venture beyond their comfort zones.
2. “The Lion King” – Make peace with your past and learn from your mistakes instead of running away from them.
After his father is killed, feeling guilty for his death Simba decides to leave his kingdom for good. He tries to start his life new and forget about his past, where he came from, and his guilt. He starts to deny who he is and pretends that nothing wrong has happened. But as a quote from sage Rafiki sums it all perfectly: “Oh yes, the past can hurt. But in my opinion, you have only two solutions, run away or learn from your mistakes.”
Soon he realizes the fault in his ways and sets out to save his people, bring order to Savannah again, and take his place as the rightful King of his people. He learns from his mistakes and makes amends for them instead of living in regret forever. There is a very important message in this for us, because as humans we are all prone to making mistakes. It is the healthiest choice for us to learn from our mistakes and make things right if we can or move on from them. Living in regret and self-pity forever never helped a soul on earth.
3. “Pocahontas” – Have faith in yourself and pay attention to your gut feeling.
Pocahontas has to make the difficult choice of choosing between her people and the man that she is in love with. This man also happens to be the number one adversary of her father, making the decision infinitely more difficult to make. Feeling burdened by the expectations of her people, attacked and defenseless, she turns to her grandma for guidance. Her grandmother teaches her the importance of making a judgment based on her true feelings. It’s true that when times get difficult and we need to make an impossible decision there is no person better suited to providing a solution than our own selves. Because of this, we must make our decisions carefully after assessing the benefits and drawbacks of the situation and not forget to consider our gut feelings in the process.
4. “Mulan” – don’t be afraid to take control of your life.
Mulan has her life all planned out for her from the start. She is supposed to learn how to do make-up, prepare tea, and meet a nice man so that they can get married at a young age. This concrete future unsettles the young woman, who has no idea what she is or what she wants to do with her life.
As Mulan’s old father is summoned up for service in the army, she is unable to sit by and see watch her frail father struggle at his old age. Without letting herself ponder over what she’s doing for too long and relying on her courage entirely, she dresses up as a man and takes her father’s position as his “son”, without the old man’s knowledge. Mulan wasn’t a good athlete or physically strong, but she had the advantage of being intelligent and smart. To become a warrior, she would have to learn their ways. Because when we truly believe in ourselves and let go of our fear of the unknown, we can accomplish anything!
5. “Beauty and the Beast”- don’t judge people by their appearances.
As someone who loves to read a lot of books, Bella is aware of how deceiving looks can be at first. While at first, she was terrified of “the beast” because of his unusual appearance, she soon comes to realize that he is more of a warm-hearted gentleman than a blood-thirsty brute. This teaches us an important lesson about human nature and how sometimes we tend to judge people a little harshly despite not knowing them personally yet.
6. “Tangled” – don’t be scared to step your comfort zone like Rapunzel
Rapunzel has lived in a tower her whole entire life. She has but one dream: to go see the lanterns on her birthday. But getting out of her tower would mean getting exposed to the outside world, which Rapunzel has never had an experience with before. Terrified at the millions of opportunities lying in front of her and yet excited at the same time, she finally takes the bold step of climbing down her tower. Despite the hardships she would have to go through, owing to her lack of familiarity with the ways of the outside world, Rapunzel still decides to live her life away from the limiting and cage-like nature of the cocoon she used to call her home. In doing so she frees herself from a life full of boredom and loneliness and ensures for herself a lifetime of exciting experiences and fun memories. This teaches us that we must never let the inquisitive part of ourselves die out and we should not be afraid to set out and look for answers to all our questions and curiosities. Even if it means potentially sacrificing our comfort, we should never let ourselves get accustomed to a life without happiness and excitement.
7. “Up” – never let go of your dreams
Carl had dreamt of being an adventurer ever since he was young. With time, however, his ambitions found themselves straying away from him as he grew older and matured. He began spending most of his time with his loving wife, Ellie, and together they form a new dream, to see the Paradise Falls. Their dream stays such as they both get busy with their daily routines and unfortunately Ellie dies before they get to make it come true. At the devastating loss of the love of his life, Carl has lost all hope in life. That’s when a dreamy, optimistic, and stubborn little kid named Russel comes into his life.
This little kid reminds Carl of all the fun adventures he had always dreamt of ever since he was little, and it is because of him that Carl once again gets to experience what it’s like to be brave and want adventure. Together they journey to Paradise Falls and experience many challenging moments and admirable memories together.
This movie teaches us many valuable life lessons but most importantly it teaches us that: It’s truly never too late to make your dreams come true.
What was your favorite Disney lesson? We’d love to hear from you in the comment section below.