(This is a very personal post, about our experiences and at no point, we want to be preaching to anyone about our views 😀)
Life lessons are everywhere; they can come from anyone, anywhere and any time.
Sometimes we look at the most mainstream sources for this lessons, but for decades now that cinema has been giving us crucial lessons.
Still many people see cartoons as being only for kids, but let me tell you they are much more, they bring significant issues to the table and more they do something no other medium can do, they teach our kid’s lessons and they don’t even realize because they are just having fun.
Having 3 Kids that are now small adults made me look at what lessons they learned and how these movies helped them to be who they are today.
We picked 20 lessons that we believe are just essential for any person, we sure there will be many more and if you want to share them, please do so.
#Lesson 1 – Don’t forget your past, don’t run from it, learn from it
Since a young age that I try and teach my kids about embracing what came before, knowing that in our life we will have a lot of things we would prefer not to happen, still they did and we cant change them, but we can learn so they don’t happen again.
“Lion King” is a movie that shows kids just that, when Simba father dies and he thinks it is the fault because Scar told him, so he runs, doesn’t stay behind and faces it.
With time he accepts what happened, with that he can forgive himself and learn.
I am proud that my girls follow that lesson in everything in their lives, it can be the smallest thing like not doing well in a Ballet competition and learning to do better or the most significant things in their lives like the lost of a dear one.
No matter how bad or life haunting it is, you should never run from it, because running from it won’t make it go away.
If you confess and explain everything truthfully then it may end up not being that bad, but if you don’t you may end up regretting it in the future.
Lion King shows that you should never run away from a mistake. Simba was so afraid that his mother would be so ashamed of him and would never forgive him, that he ran away.
Scar made him feel like it was his fault that his father had died. But all along it was Scar who had killed Mufasa. Years and years later Simba realizes that he wasn’t in the wrong and goes back to face his Uncle. While he is there his mother sees him. He tells her everything and she tells him that it wasn’t his fault. She assures him that she loves him and always will end up forgiving him anyways.
This is what people need to learn that owning up is better than keeping a secret for years and years to come. So own up to what you do because forgiveness is within us.
Running away will never be a good case.
#Lesson 2 – Fight for your dreams, listen to who you are inside
This is a lesson in so many animated movies, but for us, no one told this better than “Moana”.
Maybe because of the strong female lead, but I never saw my girls more excited and confident that they could do whatever was their dream.
Moana always knew who she was inside, she tried to adapt to the norm to fit in but she knew that was not her.
This is something so many of us can relate, having big dreams can scare people and even the ones that love you will sometimes bring you down because they trying to protect you.
All these lessons are in “Moana” and when she faces the ocean and all her fears it showed my girls they can be strong women and face anything life brings against them.
Never let anyone hold you back from doing what you love. Just because they fear it doesn’t mean you should too.
Like in “Moana” when she leaves she saves the whole world from slowly crumbling to pieces.
I love this film because of her determination but also because they put no romance in it at all. Except for her and her family. She was just in love with the water. In love with the idea of sailing.
Children and adults need to know that you don’t always have to have someone you love romantically in your life and that if you are determined you should achieve your dreams.
If you can’t reach it, then keep going. Never let it go. If it is what your heart tells you to do then follow it.
It might lead you to the best adventures.
#Lesson 3 – Everyone has their role, sometimes you need something bad for the good to shine
There are so many lessons in this movie, but there is one that I always believed in and I wish my girls will take into their lives.
Bad things will happen, but sometimes they are needed so bigger things can come from it, life is full of things that you will look as the worst thing in your life and then years later you realize you needed them to move forward.
“Inside out” showed that to kids in a way that they understand, they showed that sadness was not someone to be put apart from our lives, no she had to be embraced and make sure there is balance in our lives.
We cannot experience happiness if we don’t know the pain of sadness.
We can’t compare something without knowing the experience of what you are comparing it to.
I am a big victim of having a thing I call a ‘happy cry’ and in this movie, they show that it is okay to be sad. Without being sad you can’t be happy, or it would be a normal daily life thing.
Happiness won’t be a special moment because it would be ordinary.
#Lesson 4 – You need to let your kids grow, give them space and believe in them and that they will overcome their shortcomings.
No matter how old our kids are we always see them as our babies, we always think it is our responsibility to protect them, and in a way it is.
At the same time, it is our job to give them the confidence to try their own things.
“Finding Nemo” gets me every time, it makes me cry, laugh and more importantly it showed me how as parents we need to let our kids overcome their shortcomings.
The way Nemo overcomes his disability and how his Dad learns to let go and trust in him is still a lesson that I try and follow today.
Don’t let anything scare you or hold you back! Just keep swimming through these problems. People these days hold themselves back from things because they may be dangerous or even because they will have to try a little bit harder. Then they go and take the easier path.
Sometimes the easier way ends up being the worst way. Like in “Finding Nemo”, Dory wants to go through a spooky cave because it would be quicker and would get them back to Nemo. But Nemo’s dad wants to go over it because it looks less scary and easier. So they end up doing so, meeting a challenge that takes them close to death.
Going through an enormous crowd of jellyfish. This resulting with Dory nearly dying.
So you should take risks sometimes and not be afraid of living. Being cowardly and lazy like by taking the easy way does not always end well.
#Lesson 5 – Be true to who you are and risk it all to help others
Being a Superhero is much more than having powers, it’s about helping people, and not just thinking about ourselves.
This is something that if we all tried would make the world a better place.
The “Incredibles” is one of our favorite movies, the superhero side is fun but the part we like the most is how this family risks everything to help others, no matter how many times the world needs them they always try their best and with that they also realise they need to accept who they are.
Don’t be ashamed of who you are and your uniqueness. In “Incredibles” they show how this superfamily hides their powers. Children were hiding their super abilities because it would make people uncomfortable and they would treat them differently.
Well, I think that you should be proud of your imperfections and flaws. It is what makes you who you are and Disney makes children confident about their flaws. Making them feel like they can conquer the world and the problems they face, that their flaws make them powerful. That is what I love about this movie.
It makes us all be proud of ourselves and believe we will know what to do when the time comes.
#Lesson 6 – We can’t just stand around and don’t act.
No matter what we talking about, it can be about the world around us or simply about the person we fall in Love, but we need to act.
If we want things to happen we need to believe, but after believing we need to go after them, we need to work and take action.
“Wall-e” is a movie so powerful that doesn’t even need dialogues to make their message come across to all of us.
It talks about doing our jobs, to keep going when everything else has come to an end, talks about going after what we want even when it’s not easy.
The way “wall-e” falls in love with Eve and no matter what happens he always believes in his love is inspiring.
On top of that, it’s great how they show how we are letting the world down, how we need to do more and it’s ironic how these little robots are doing more than we ever did, after watching this the girls started recycling.
Live your life to the fullest because this is all you have.
If you want the world problems to go away then don’t just leave them to fix themselves.
Work to get yourself in a place where you are happy. That’s what they teach “Wall-e”, that you can’t run away from your problems and that you need more than just surviving, you deserve more.
They also teach that laziness is a sin and it makes people vulnerable to the world and people around them.
check our “Wall-E” review here
#Lesson 7 – Live life, follow your dreams and stop postponing it
One of the worst feelings we can have in life is regret, not the regret of doing something, but the thought that we should have done something and didn’t.
I always wanted my girls to know that if they didn’t try something they wanted it was a guarantee they would not get it.
The first minutes of “up” breaks my heart every time, its some of the most powerful minutes ever made in cinema, they are so sad and show how regret can turn us into someone bitter, but this movie is about realizing its never to late and we should stop postponing what we want.
I think that Disney was really smart with “Up”. when you lose somebody that means a lot to you, you need to be able to know to let people in.
You should grieve it is good for you, but the love and comfort of other people really would help. All you need is friendship because it will lead you to new adventures.
The angriness and need to block out people will go away. Especially when you know that the person is happy that you had moved on. Love, grief and just live.
#Lesson 8 – Things change, people move on but we will always have our true friends next to us
Friends are important and true friends are rare, no matter how much things change real friends will help you to always be grounded, no matter what happens we should always appreciate our friends and give them the value they deserve.
Since the first “Toy Story” that they show us what friendship is all about, how true friendship can come from anywhere and how it’s important to make sure we help our friends.
But when we get to “Toy Story 3” we get to see the full scope of how this friendship grew and evolved into almost a family, a family that filled the void that many of this characters had.
Friendship. It is a big key in your life. Friends are your second family, nothing should be able to get between you and your family. You stick together through thick and thin. You listen to each others problems and fears, you aid them by making it okay.
By giving your heart to them then they will do the same. Life would be lonely without friends.
In “Toy Story” we see this through the friendship of the toys, you can see that they are family to each other and would sacrifice anything for their owner and especially each other.
In “Toy Story 3”, Disney shows Woody having a hard time letting go of his owner Andy, for he is going off to college. The other toys help him through the pain and move on by meeting a new owner Bonnie.
As long as we have friends then we can all get through anything in life.
#Lesson 9 – If there are things we don’t like about ourselves there is always time to change.
We all make mistakes, we are not perfect, still, we can always do better.
Nothing should be an excuse not to try and do the right thing, many movies show characters with arcs that allow them to change into better versions of them, for me my favorite is the “Iron Giant”.
A robot built for destruction, that is program do destroy and not to care, still against is programming he wants to be good, he wants to be better.
That is a lesson that I feel is very important, we should all our life know who we want to be and after that just work hard to become that person, someone that we will be proud.
Jasmine still didn’t saw this one, actually, I don’t know why because it’s one of the best movies ever made.
#Lesson 10 – One person is enough to help us to see life in a different way, to make a difference.
One person is all it takes to change the world, and sometimes changing the world could be as simple as changing one person’s life.
“Mary and Max” is one of the most beautiful stories I ever saw and its probably one of my favorite movies, the way this characters from completely different backgrounds and lives find something in common is so pure that gives us hope for anyone.
Sometimes we don’t realize how something as simple as talking with someone for a short time can affect their life on such a huge scale, and maybe we should give more of our time to others.
Since Jasmine was a small girl that she does this, she always sits with someone to talk with them if she thought those people were lonely or put to the side, this movie shows how this could help others.
This is another movie Jasmine will be seeing very soon.
#Lesson 11 – The world might not believe in you, but you can prove them wrong.
Having 2 girls definitely affected the way I see movies, always liked strong female movie characters but since my girls, I appreciate them even more.
I love to inspire them by showing great movies where the main character is a girl and she shows everyone she doesn’t need a guy to save her.
Being to Young to introduce her to Ripley from “alien” or Sarah Connor from “Terminator” I only had one more choice, “Mulan”.
“Mulan” is an amazing movie that shows that when you have a strong reason, a reason you believe there is no stopping you, this girl risk everything and change the conventions.
Many times we need to go through hell to get to the other stronger, stronger than anyone that had it easy, difficulties makes us have to stand out, to outperform what we think we are able to do, and especially girls have many times to go against challenges that we men don’t even think about.
She wasn’t the strongest or fastest but she had brains and courage and with that she made everyone believe in her.
Mulan is a mostly about women and girls being just as strong as men!
The female gender has always been described as the inferior one. We have always been told that you can’t do certain things because we are too weak and not smart enough.
Well, I would like to say to those people that they are damn right ignorant.
Women are just as strong and smart as men. We can do anything they can do and sometimes even better.
So when people define us, we are happy to prove you wrong.
Mulan tells us the story of how she had to hide as a man, how she worked so hard to become better than any of the people going to war with her. She had to hide her true identity to help and win a war, she proved everyone wrong, she followed her heart.
That brought her to save a whole country, just by working hard and believing in herself. So don’t ever and I mean ever underestimate women, we are stronger than you think times by 10.
#Lesson 12 – Don’t be afraid of what you don’t know, don’t believe everything you ear, make your own mind
We live in a world that is full of fake news, everyone has something to say and we never know what is true.
More then ever we should let our kids know that they have to think for themselves, that they always need to ask why.
With my girls, I always told them that if anyone tells them to do something they should always ask why if that is not clear, even if that person is me.
“Monsters Inc.” taught them the same, by showing a world that is afraid of kids because they are toxic, a world that power can only be gathered by scaring children and collecting screams they never allowed the main characters to find out for themselves if that was true.
Like in the real world they learned there was much more to the story, by their own experiences, they found out that love and laughter are where the real power was and a better way to live.
So many of us over think things, paint them in our heads much darker than they are in reality, we need to teach our kids to give things a chance, try stuff and don’t be afraid of failure.
“Monsters Inc.” shows that there is nothing more important than friendship.
But I think that there is a bigger moral behind it. That is, that you should never give up, you should follow your heart and not always believe what people tell you.
In the film, we see that Boo is separated from Sulley.
Skullie is sent away and ends up in a very far away place. He needed to get back to Boo to save her.
Mike Wazowski tells him to give and leave it, but Sulley was determined.
Never give up on someone you love, never give up on friendship and never give up on what you really believe because someone tells you otherwise.
Disney tells us to never give up overall. Giving up is like saying you don’t care about the person.
#Lesson 13 -Don’t judge a book by the cover
One of the most important lessons I want my girls to learn is about judging people, I want them to know that no matter how people come across we should give everyone a chance, many people will surprise you, some in a good way others in a bad way but everyone deserves a chance to show their real colors.
The way they show that everyone has many layers even outcasts, monsters and villains was brilliant.
“Wreck-it Ralph” is one of our favorites, they have a character that at a first look seems defected and ends up being a princess and a bad guy that ends up showing a huge heart, none of them would have this arc if we didn’t get to know them.
This a lesson I will always fight to make sure my girls follow
Never put a label on someone.
Break boundaries, because they shouldn’t be there in the first place. No one should make you be something, you shouldn’t have to live a life someone had set out for you. Surprise people, including yourself.
“Wreck-it Ralph” tells us that he wants to be a good guy, but everyone tells him not to because his life is set out to be a bad guy.
Well, I think that is the most stupid thing that I have heard. That you can’t be something, because others say you can’t. In the end, you should always be true to yourself and not lie to yourself because others tell you to be something.
Ralph is such a good character who believes in himself. Like everyone in this world should do.
Be like Ralph.
#Lesson 14 -Don’t try and be who you not, be yourself and make sure people love you for who you really are
Many kids today feel pressured to fit in, many times it feels they cant be themselves or they will be judged by everyone around them.
There is nothing worse than not being allowed to show your real you, to no be able to speak out and say what you stand for, but it is not easy.
“Aladdin” is a movie that addresses this in a very interesting way, if we had a lamp that would turn all our wishes, in reality, would we still choose to be ourselves?
He wants to be loved and he believes that no one will ever love him for himself, in the end, he figures out that if someone loves a lie they will never have the opportunity to love the real you.
Believe you are special and that someone will love the real you if you give them a chance to meet him.
I love “Aladdin” for two different reasons when it comes to teaching children and adults that you shouldn’t change yourself to make someone love you and to never judge someone’s life before experiencing it.
In Aladdin we see that the genie gives 3 wishes, Aladdin uses two of them to make himself different so Jasmine falls in love with him.
He makes himself someone he is not and I think that when you want someone to love you then it should be your true self.
The next thing they say is that the genie just wants to be free, he may seem like he has all this power and that it is so cool to be him but he is trapped in his own boundaries. Jafar wants what the genie has while not knowing what problems come with it.
Disney shows that you shouldn’t judge someone life just by its appearance.
#Lesson 15 – Open your heart to others, don’t believe you better on your own
Because of all his pain, Batman isolated himself and hide his feelings so he doesn’t care for anyone again if you don’t care you will not suffer.
But what is the point of being alive if we don’t care for no one, its important to open up, to be able to count on others to help us.
I am proud of my girls they always admit when they need help, that doesn’t make them any weaker, no it makes them stronger.
This is an important lesson and one that can be the most important one going into the teen years, many people struggle and when they feel alone and like no one cares it makes them take desperate acts, so teach your kids to ask for help.
We need to understand and learn to let people in.
We always need to appreciate everyone around us.
In this movie, we are shown Batman saying he can do everything by himself, but when it comes to the end he needs the team’s help to defeat the Joker.
Teamwork gives you a greater advantage than being by yourself. Teamwork doesn’t just save each other but it also gives you memories. More important than memories, a friendship, a family. Batman never really had a family so having the team helps him through that.
He now doesn’t need to be so lonely. We need to let people in our lives to really have a life in the first place.
Let people in your life, make it interesting.
#Lesson 16 – seize your moment, you will not have many
Fear is a powerful emotion, it is one that can stop us from achieving what we want.
During our lives, we will have very few moments where we can seize what we want, don’t waste them.
“Coco” is a movie with many lessons and maybe one of the biggest hearts in any of this movie, but the part that I thought it was amazing was how the Miguel took his opportunity to have his dream and become a singer but to make sure his family would not forget someone that deserved to always be remembered.
I wish my girls never stop trying to reach for the sky and that when the opportunity presents herself they are ready and prepared to seize it.
Do what you want to do, without a doubt! If you want to sing, dance, love. Never let someone tell you, you cant do something.
It is probably because they are too afraid of doing what they love themselves, that they keep you back. You only live once! So why not be yourself. Seize your moment.
“Coco” shows children that what they want to do with their lives is absolutely up to them. You may have to go through rough patches but doing what you love is the most important thing because it makes you happy.
Miguel wants to play guitar, so he does, even though it may hurt the family. They think that it is a curse to love music, but in the end, it is music that saves them all. It triggers memories, it brings out happiness.
So doing what you love is up to you. “Coco” tells us to rise up and do what we love, cause you never know if it might be your last chance to do it.
#Lesson 17 – Family is much more than just blood, it’s who truly loves you, and that love can change even the most broken person.
Movies like “Lilo & Stitch” and “My Life as a Zucchini” showed characters that were alone, characters that didn’t have a family and don’t even know what it is to have a family, but like many others found out family can come from anywhere.
There are people that for some reason or the other becomes your family, it can be a long life friend, a stepdad or stepmom, a teacher or just someone that steps up to the challenge to help you, someone that takes you in and becomes like family.
I am lucky that my girls have so many people around them that loves them as family and I believe during their lifetimes they will have many more and hope they appreciate them and are thankful.
Being alone is not easy, it makes us act up sometimes but how we saw in “Lilo and Stich” love can really make a difference if we give people a chance.
I love how in “Lilo and stitch” it’s all about family. How we fight, laugh and cry together.
No matter how much you annoy each other you will always come back to each other. Nobody gets left behind. We all need to remember that our families will always be there, they aren’t something you can replace. They aren’t something you can forget. They aren’t just a phase in your life, they are your life.
Family is the most important thing in my life, but families are not only the people who have the same genes as you. They can be friends you have had all your life, new people can be let into your family. No matter how different they are, you always treat them the same as the others. Cause they are just as important.
Stitch is an example of this, as soon as Lilo met him she brought him into the family. Treated him as though he was her brother. It was the same with Stitch. He had never had a family before so it was hard at first, but he soon learned what family meant. He and Lilo are the perfect example for children and adults into accepting family.
But more importantly how much it means. Ohana means family and family means nobody gets left behind.
#Lesson 18- Don’t abuse your power, don’t use people just for what you want, everyone is important and everyone deserves your respect
No matter what you achieve in life you will be judged only by how you treat people, it doesn’t matter who you are or who they are everyone is equal.
One thing I learned is that everyone has something to teach us, you can learn from a Nobel prize winner but you can also learn from an 8-year-old, so give everyone a chance.
If you believe you are better you will never truly gain people respect, “The Emperor’s New Groove” is a movie that for us is very underrated, the character of Kuzco is one of the most realistic bad guys in any Disney movie, he his every boss, bully or authority figure that decides to abuse his power, he doesn’t care about anyone or anything he does as long he gets what he wants.
With time he realizes that maybe other people should also have an opportunity to be treated fairly, in a perfect world everyone would have learned this lesson until then, let’s make sure our kids know it.
The “Emperor’s new groove”, Okay let me start by saying how much of a great moral this story has.
It shows that you should care for the people around you, even if they have nothing to do with your life. You should respect the people’s lives around you. You may want something really bad, but you shouldn’t make someone’s life a misery trying to get it.
They show that when the Emperor wants to knock down the families house to make a party house. He is blinded by greediness and from being spoilt all his life. It also shows that being spoiled makes you cold and blinded to people’s problems around you.
You should be grateful for everything you get because there are people in the world who dream of thing so much smaller and plainer than what you might.
Children need to learn that, ADULTS need to learn that. One day everything might vanish out of your hands and you have no control over it.
Then you will realize how much you had. That is why gratefulness is a gift.
#Lesson 19- Don’t look outside for love when you will have your true love close to you
One of the issues we could have with animated movies is how the princess always needs a big strong guy to save her, in this day and age I think we are all realizing that is not the case, women are strong and independent and I am glad to have raised 2 girls like that.
My girls love “Frozen”, not because of the annoying song that we all heard a million times, ok they do like the song, but the main reason is how they brought to screen the strength of the relationship of the 2 sisters.
My girls are so close and seeing that this time it was not the love for a man but the love of the 2 sisters that saved the day really inspired them.
Being yourself, loving who you are, needing no man to save you this is all lessons in “Frozen”. What I love most about these new films is how they show women taking on the hardest tasks and succeeding.
How Anna sacrifices herself for her sister. Then Elsa saves her sister. Without a true love’s kiss of a MAN! We are teaching girls that they can be who they want to be, that they are stronger than any man if they work hard and believe in themselves.
No one can tell them that they are weak and that they can’t do certain things because they are a woman. It is also teaching boys to not see them that way, that is just as important.
The next generation, my generation, should grow up to see that men and women are equal.
Sisters are the most important friendship there could ever be, our relationship is strong, funny and great. I don’t know how I would be if I didn’t have my sister, she is part of who I am.
She would love me for who I am and I wouldn’t hide anything from her.
#Lesson 20- what makes you different is what makes you unique
And finally one of the most important lessons we will ever learn, we all are different and unique.
You can try and change it, you can try and blend in, but if you do you will never shine or stand out.
“Dumbo” is one of the best movies about embracing who we are, it can be a physical thing that makes us different or maybe just the way we are personality wise but that something that makes us “weird” is exactly what will make us special.
I am happy to say my girls are unique and not perfect and that is what makes them perfect.
Everyone is talented at something whether they are big, small, fat, skinny, black, white, Christian, Jewish, long-legged, big-eared, you should never be ashamed of who you are.
Everyone has flaws, everyone has talents. “Dumbo” is a true example to anyone that is different, he may have massive ears, he may be strange but that made him a phenomenal circus act.
An incredible creature of nature. He did what people would never dream off. He flew.
There are many people in the world that need to accept people for who they are.
It is stupid to me that people bully. Bullying people for being different, because everyone is different in some way.
Dumbo really teaches people that being yourself is miles better than being someone else.
So this are lessons that we learned during the years with amazing movies, lessons that we all should learn and more we all should share.
Is there any others we should share? Tell us and we might add here, Thank you.