National Edition

5 parenting lessons from movies

Compiled by Kurt Hanson

For the Deseret News

Published: Monday, Sept. 1 2014 4:25 a.m. MDT

Mrs. Doubtfire

Lesson learned: It's OK to mess up

This is one of Robin Williams' most memorable roles. Williams plays Daniel Hillard, who, after a bitter separation from his wife, decides to take up a second job, nannying his own children. But he takes it one step further. He goes incognito as a middle-aged British housekeeper, Mrs. Doubtfire.

Between Hillard and his alter-ego, Mrs. Doubtfire, the two get in a mess of trouble in his/her journey to be the best father/nanny. And despite the challenges and fire alarms, things always seem to work out, though not always as expected.

The iconic Robin Williams film teaches its biggest lesson right at the end. Mrs. Doubtfire receives a letter from a young female viewer of her/his new TV show, telling Mrs. Doubtfire of her parents' impending divorce. The viewer said she's afraid that without her parents' love for each other, there won't be love in the family, so she wants to keep them together. But surprisingly, Mrs. Doubtfire says that basically, things happen. But interfamily love binds them together forever.

This is an obvious reflection of the situation Hillard is in as his marriage has come to a close. But his love for his children will never end.

Benjamin Mee — "We Bought a Zoo"

Lesson learned: Spontaneity

This film definitely flew under the radar and received mixed reception from critics. But Matt Damon makes the film as a dad, Benjamin Mee, who's really facing it all. His wife recently died, his rebellious and angsty son is expelled from school, and his 7-year-old daughter is in desperate need of his care. On top of all that, the house they bought turns out to be a zoo.

Amidst all this chaos, Mee somehow manages it cooly. No, he isn't perfect, and he gets into a few fights with his son, but he does his best to manage a zoo and a family.

He teaches his children, and by extention the audience, what "20 seconds of insane courage" can do, and how "something great will come of it." Spontaneity can keep parenting fun while also growing loving relationships.

Kurt Hanson is a Web producer for Deseret News National. Follow him on Twitter @kthehanson.

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