Three Parenting Lessons on FEAR from Disney’s FROZEN (And 15 Parenting Books You Need in Your Library)

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Three Parenting Lessons on FEAR from Disney's FROZEN | LearningWithMom.org

I took my three-year-old (Jelly Bean) to a movie for the very first time and we watched Disney’s FROZEN.

(What do you think? Is three years old still too young to go to the theater? She couldn’t stay in her seat the whole time and it was fun watching her eat a few nibbles of popcorn before turning it back over to me. Still, she loved the film and is obsessed with the soundtrack.)

We went to see it at the beginning of this month (February), so I’m a bit late jumping on the bandwagon. I was waiting it out, like I do with all children’s movies, just to see what the general reaction would be.

Well, it received amazing reviews, particularly due to the voices of Kristen Bell (of Veronica Mars fame) and Idina Menzel (who played the original Wicked Witch of the West in Broadway’s WICKED). The songs are funny and original. The screenplay is tight and the animation very realistic. The details are breathtaking. If you haven’t seen it yet, you should! It’s a really wonderful film.

Instead of taking up space summarizing the plot, HERE’S A LINK TO THE FROZEN SYNOPSIS ON WIKIPEDIA where you can read it for yourself.

Without further ado, here are

THREE PARENTING LESSONS ON FEAR:

Lesson #1 – “Conceal It; Don’t Feel It; Don’t Let It Show.” (King)

From a very young age, Elsa is taught to cover up and hide her powers. This is due to an unfortunate accident Anna and Elsa had while playing together where Elsa injures Anna. To avoid hurting Anna in the future and to keep Anna from discovering her powers, Elsa keeps to herself. Her father, the King, gives her gloves to wear to prevent her from freezing things unintentionally.

In spite of Grandpa Troll’s warning: “Fear will be your enemy,” FEAR is exactly what is allowed to grow in Elsa’s heart day by day. But that fear only came as a result of her parents’ reaction to her powers.

Your kids WILL pick up and mirror your own feelings!  What a horrifying revelation! I saw this as a teacher. If a parent did not like a subject, like Math, the child did not either. Whatever weakness the parent had and vocalized, the child echoed.

As I watched the film, I couldn’t help but think of children with “special powers” who are taught to fear them, cover them up and withdraw into themselves. Perhaps it is not the power to control snow and ice. Perhaps it is

  • ADD,
  • Tourette’s,
  • Hyperactivity,
  • an Eating Disorder,
  • or maybe it’s even Homosexuality.

And I get it – as parents we want to shield our children from getting hurt. Other children will tease them and adults may pity them. In the end, however, training our children to fear that which they cannot control will only put them in a mental prison. When they finally break out of it, (if ever), they will resent us. The proper response is to get over OUR OWN FEARS. If you want to get help, see a physician or therapist, read books and make changes, that is fine. But, for the love of chocolate, don’t make your child hide in fear! Confront the issue and be your child’s strongest ally.

Lesson #2 – “Who Marries a Man She Just Met?” (Kristoff)

To be fair, the parents are already gone by the time Anna meets and falls in love with Prince Hans. The issue here, though, is that she would not have been so desperate to fall in love if she weren’t so darn lonely! If Anna had had Elsa’s friendship, her companionship, her sister as a soundboard and a secret-keeper, this would not have happened. As Prince Hans himself commented mockingly, “You were so desperate for love, you were willing to marry me, just like that!”

I hold the parents completely responsible for tearing their little girls’ friendship apart. Don’t get me wrong, Elsa and Anna are clearly loved. That is not the issue. The issue is that the parents allowed fear to come between their daughters and did nothing to mend that rift. How could they abide by Elsa always hiding in her room? How could they keep the castle doors closed and never take Anna out to play? How could they live day after day, month after month, year after year seeing their daughters waste away from lack of companionship, not to mention ennui. It was all out of fear, of course. Fear that Elsa would lose control. Fear that Anna would get hurt again. Fear controlled their decision not to intervene.

Parents, please – teach your children to be friends! If you send them to school, they are with other kids their own age for 6-8 hours out of the day. They are taught to segregate each other by age. Older kids shun younger ones, while the younger ones pretend to be older. Siblings become less important than friends. And what’s worse is that when they are at home, they may be subjected to being compared to their sibling! How many times have you (or your spouse, grandparents or in-laws) said, “Sigh! Why can’t you sit still like your sister is? See how good she’s behaving?” Make no mistake about it – pitting siblings against each other will cause resentment.

May I suggest a book called “Making Brothers and Sisters Best Friends”? I sat in a workshop with the authors – two sisters and a brother – while they talked about growing up, learning to communicate with each other and become content with their place in the sibling lineage. They were inspirational. This book is meant to be read with the kids, so check it out!

Do your best to encourage a healthy relationship between your kids and don’t let fear drive a wedge between them!

Lesson #3 – “No Right, No Wrong, No Rules for Me” (Elsa)

As parents we have the tendency to lean towards extremes. We can either be very lenient or very strict.

It is difficult to find the perfect balance between those two and we err. The very lenient side indulges their children and the very strict side withholds from their children. We do this, (we believe), out of love and concern for our children. Usually the very lenient side wants their children to be happy, while the very strict side wants their children to be civilized.

May I submit to you that BOTH OF THESE EXTREMES ARE RESPONSES ROOTED IN FEAR?

If you are too lenient, you may fear that your child may resent you, hate you or believe they are not loved if you withhold anything from them. In your mind: No rules = much love.

If you are too strict, you may fear that your child may grow wild, not focus on the more important things in life and waste time and energy doing things that won’t advance their status in society. In your mind: Many Rules = Much love

The end result of both of these extremes is Elsa’s declaration that there are no rules for her, no right nor wrong and that she is free. Of course, this is an illusion. True freedom can only be found within loving boundaries. Tweet:

Because Elsa was so repressed, you can see that the transformation she undergoes is completely drastic. The two moments that made my jaw drop were when she sings, “The cold never bothered me anyway!” (WHAT?!) and when she does her magical wardrobe change. Whoa! Can you say, “WICKED”?! (That dress was a bit too sexy for my three-year-old. #SMH)

Parents, let us move past our own fears and watch for ways we inadvertently pass them onto our children.

No one goes to school to become a parent; it is a complete on-the-job training experience. Let’s improve ourselves. Let’s read good parenting books. Let’s attend seminars. Let’s talk to one another. Posting comments is a great way to get a discussion going! ::nudge, nudge, wink, wink, say no more!:: (reference)

Disney Frozen | LearningWithMom.org

You can pre-order the film, FROZEN, which debuts next month, HERE ON AMAZON.COM.
You can also purchase the SOUNDTRACK ON AMAZON.COM HERE.

BONUS: 15 PARENTING BOOKS YOU NEED IN YOUR LIBRARY

  1. Five Love Languages of Children by Gary Chapman
  2. Boundaries with Kids: When to Say Yes, How to Say No by Cloud and Townsend
  3. Making Brothers and Sisters Best Friends by the Mally siblings
  4. Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters: 10 Secrets Every Father Should Know by Meg Meeker, M.D.
  5. Strong Mothers, Strong Sons: Lessons Mothers Need to Raise Extraordinary Men by Meg Meeker, M.D.
  6. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Families by Stephen Covey
  7. 52 Things Kids Need From a Mom: What Mothers Can Do to Make a Lifelong Difference by Angela Thomas
  8. 52 Things Kids Need From a Dad: What Fathers Can Do to Make a Lifelong Difference by Jay Payleitner
  9. 365 Ways to Say ‘I LOVE YOU’ To Your Kids by Jay Payleitner
  10. If I have to Tell You One More Time… The Revolutionary Program That Gets Your Kids To Listen Without Nagging, Reminding, or Yelling by Amy McCready
  11. Peaceful Parents, Happy Kids: How to Stop Yelling and Start Connection by Dr. Laura Markham 
  12. The Power of Positive Parenting: A Wonderful Way to Raise Children by Glenn Latham
  13. Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child: The Heart of Parenting by John Gottman, Joan Declaire, & Daniel Goleman 
  14. How To Talk So Kids Will Listen… And Listen So Kids Will Talk by Adele Faber & Elaine Mazlish
  15. The Whole-Brain Child: 12 Revolutionary Strategies to Nurture Your Child’s Developing Mind by Daniel Siegel & Tina Bryson

Which of the above lessons resonates with you the most? I would love to hear some of your responses!

This post is linked to:

Jasmine @ LearningWithMom.org

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Comments

  1. says

    I haven’t seen Frozen, but I don’t think 3 is too young to go to the movies as long as the 3 yr old can sit through the movie without getting fussy. The first movie I remember going to see was Chitty Chitty Bang Bang when I was not quite 5. My kid’s first movie was The Lion King. All Disney. Thanks for linking up to Whatever Honey :)
    LydiaF recently posted..Croquetas in SimancasMy Profile

  2. says

    It’s sad to see how now many of the animated movies out there are even very questionable to watch, and especially take our young children to. I suppose if anything, there were lessons that we need to teach our children NOT to do or how to think about how unwise the characters were. Thanks for sharing your thoughts about this movie!
    Ann recently posted..Who/What Are You Devoted To?My Profile

  3. says

    I enjoyed this post. What a creative idea! I like Lesson #1 the best. You are so right about all of those qualities that children are taught to fear and hide. Sometimes, it extends into adulthood and that is just so sad. Nice work!

  4. says

    I’m generally not a big fan of animated movies… I love them for the kids, I just don’t have the patience to sit through them myself, so my husband usually takes the kids to the movies. However, my daughter asked to have a “date,” with me to see Frozen. I actually really enjoyed the movie. I think that the music was one of the main reasons. The music was more along the lines of what you would hear in a broadway musical than what you typically get in a kid’s movie! I think that your perspective on the lessons you can learn from this movie is very interesting. I was really disturbed by how the parents handled the issue of “hiding,” Elsa and her powers/ curse and perhaps you are right that this could be related to parents not really dealing with other issues and instead ignoring them/ hiding them, etc. While the adults watching this can recognize the disastrous results of the parents decision to handle things the way the did, I’m not sure what message is sent to kids and now wonder what my daughter thought. I may have to open up a discussion with my daughter… thanks for helping me to think about the movie on a deeper level!
    Julie@teachinggoodeaters recently posted..Letting Go, and Letting Kids Create in the KitchenMy Profile

  5. says

    I once loved Disney movies and ran to see every one of them as soon as they were released. With all of the changes that have been made within their executive offices, I no longer make it a point to go see them…only if someone highly recommends it. Thanks!
    Rachel Lavern@Online Biz Boomer Babe recently posted..You are EnoughMy Profile

  6. says

    Point #2 resonates with me! There are SO MANY children out there who feel like no one loves them and if we teach our children to be good friends, we can love those “unloved” children through our kids! Thank you for this post… and the list of parenting books! Another parenting book that I have really appreciated is “Sacred Parenting.”
    Amy recently posted..What Curly Hair Has Taught MeMy Profile

  7. says

    Just watched the movie the other day. My husband’s partner who has a 5 year old daughter brought it in and insisted that we watch it. I am a mom of 4 boys ages 25 to 17, why are we watching this? It was a good movie and I love the lessons you took from the movie! We need to have parenting lessons in all movies that we watch with our kids!
    DeDe@DesignedDecor recently posted..#SoMe2 ~ Linky Party for Google+ and Twitter!My Profile

  8. says

    You have just made me fall in love with this movie even more! I didn’t think that was possible. You are so right about all of these life lessons. I saw this with my 13 year old daughter and it really hit home with us. The feelings of isolations, etc.

  9. says

    Hi Jasmine! I have never seen Frozen but I can’t wait for it to come out on DVD. My daughter saw it with her friends and she couldn’t stop talking about it. She said it was better than Tangled and Brave which are on top of our list.
    I was so thrilled to find out that you’re a Harry Potter fan, so am I! I would love to button swap with you if you’re interested. Let me know.. :)
    Shelah recently posted..Three Ideas on How to Encourage Conversations with Your KidsMy Profile

  10. says

    I’ve bookmarked your blog to come back and read up on parenting – hopefully in the coming year (fingers crossed). My husband and I love going to Disney movies and always feel so awkward doing so without kids. We’re waiting for it to come out on video because we’ve heard lots of great things about the messaging in the movie – even for adults. Can’t wait to see it.
    Bernadette recently posted..Conversation Ender – Things Fertile People SayMy Profile

    • says

      Berndatte, I’m really rooting for you – that you’ll get the child you’ve been praying for in this coming yr! And I will have many many more posts on parenting coming up, so stay tuned! =D

  11. says

    My children (16.5 & 13.5) and I went to this with my mom and niece (3.5). (We used taking the 3 yr old to her first movie as an excuse to go see it :-D. We all liked the movie, but it was too intense for her in several spots – watching on DVD first would have been better for her.) I didn’t know anything about the movie before going (except the snowman trailers :-D) – I was surprised by the depth of life lessons all through the movie.

    I think the life lessons were portrayed very well. As a child I learned to hide in and from various fears, the line of “Conceal It; Don’t Feel It; Don’t Let It Show.” and then the “Let it go” song had me holding my breath, fighting tears. I related so thoroughly to the relief of letting go and the resulting too far extreme actions. Fear is normal, but we don’t have to be controlled by it.

    I agree, it is up to each of us to deal with “our own stuff” and not put our fears on our children. I absolutely loved how hard the younger sister fought in love for the older, and how in the end it is what sprung her from her trap of fear – not a Prince. (I’m not against guys, but they aren’t our salvation and marriage isn’t something to be taken lightly) There aren’t many Disney movies I like, but I did appreciate many aspects of this one.

  12. says

    It worries me a bit that Anna got married so quickly. I want my daughters to go to college than experience life as a single adult before they get into a long-term relationship. I hope this movie is not teaching our young girls to marry early.
    Corinna recently posted..How to Sell Your House Fast! SeriesMy Profile

    • says

      Corinna, I don’t think that’s the message at all for 3 reasons:
      1. Anna did not actually get married – only engaged.
      2. Everyone told her she shouldn’t be engaged to someone she just met.
      3. He turned out to be a villain.
      I’m pretty sure those are all great reasons NOT to be married young! =)

  13. says

    What an amazing and insightful post! I loved the way you broke down the movie and identified such emotional touch points. Parents do have such influence over their children and so many don’t realize the lasting impact.

    Thank you again..I need to see Frozen!
    Finch recently posted..Things we love..Bengals!My Profile

  14. says

    I haven’t seen Frozen, but I applaud you for taking a 3-year-old. I also like how you are teaching your children lessons from the movies they watch. When Frozen comes out on DVD, we’ll view it. Now we have some lessons to discuss as they come up. Thanks!

  15. says

    I have not seen the movie Frozen, but I applaud you for taking a 3-year-old to see a movie. I also like how you teach lessons from the movie to your children. When the movie comes out on DVD, we will get to view it. I’ll then have some ideas for learning from the movie. Thanks!

  16. says

    I try to strike a balance between being lenient and being strict, but sometimes it’s just too hard to find the right mix. I guess it depends largely on what your current situation is. My parents have been really strict with me and my brother when were kids. They transferred a lot of their fears into us (me most especially), and so we grew up always being on the safe side. My parents’ intentions were good, that I know for sure, although I sometimes wish that they’d let us run free and skin our knees instead of just sitting at home watching TV.
    Ces recently posted..Doomed to Fail? Introvert Mom, Extrovert ChildMy Profile

    • says

      Yea, Ces, I sympathize. It’s very cultural. American culture is more lenient than Asian culture. (I’m Hispanic and my husband is Chinese.) So, my in-laws are not afraid to call my kids ‘naughty’ or ‘useless’ which I hate because it’s not what I grew up with. But, I’m learning to speak words of LIFE and ENCOURAGEMENT to my kids even while I discipline, because I don’t want them to internalize these negative words and emotions. It’s a tough road!! Hang in there!

  17. says

    Thank you for your post. I haven’t seen the movie yet so it’s interesting to hear the messages you took away from the plot. I have 4 year old twins who are very close. They will start full time school this fall and I hope that they will continue to be so close. If you are friends with your sibling this will be such a benefit to both of you when you become adults. As you write, parents can help to support that friendship.
    Pamela recently posted..Am I Authentic Enough? Are you?My Profile

  18. says

    Lesson 1 was the best. I have to completely agree with you. Frozen looks like an adorable movie. I have a 2 year old and I know for sure he’s too young to take to the theater. He loves to narrate movies and shows. I can only image the stares and scowls we would get over that in a theater.
    Miranda @ Cookie Dough & Oven Mitt recently posted..Snow Ice CreamMy Profile

    • says

      Lols. Yea, I waited til my daughter was 3 and she’s pretty mature for a 3 yr old. Otherwise I wouldn’t have brought her. And she STILL couldn’t sit still the entire time. So, maybe another yr before your son can go?
      Thanks for weighing in, Miranda!

  19. says

    So, I don’t have any kids (yet!), but loved this post. And I think it’s awesome that you took your 3 year old to see a movie. What a cool mom! I haven’t seen this movie yet, but I’ve heard lots of good things about it, and am waiting for it to come out on Redbox. I’m excited to see if I see the same themes you did in the movie . Sidenote: I want to read that book about siblings being friends. I think that’s so important! Thanks for the post!

  20. says

    I have never seen Frozen but I want to see it, especially after your post. Those are great lessons. Fear can definitely make everything different and screw things up. Thanks for listing the additional books to read. I will check some of them out.

  21. says

    “But, for the love of chocolate, don’t make your child hide in fear! Confront the issue and be your child’s strongest ally.”

    ” True freedom can only be found within loving boundaries. ”

    Love both of these statements. I can see how I have headed down the wrong path and thank the Lord that He is working this out in me.

    I also really like the you gave us so many book references to read! Seriously, big thanks.

    Although I have not seen the movie. I am not intrigued to watch. I appreciate your very honest evaluation on this movie!

  22. says

    I loved reading “How to talk so kids will listen.. and listen so kids will talk.” I enjoyed reading your post. I have been hearing raves about Frozen but I haven’t seen it yet. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and I totally saved your post to my Pocket so that I can look up the books to read them. I love reading especially parenting related stuff as a parent of 3. :)

  23. says

    I don’t have kids yet, but you bring up some interesting points regarding this movie, especially the second point. I’ve always wondered if movies (Disney movies especially) are to blame when it comes to girls being so quick to “fall in love” and get married.
    Alyssa recently posted..Sweet ‘n Savory Pulled Pork WafflesMy Profile

    • says

      That can certainly be the case, Alyssa. It’s that false dream that some prince charming will come and sweep us off our feet. I like to keep my feet on the ground, thanks! ; )

  24. says

    All three points are excellent observations from the movie. I really liked the movie, by the way, as did most of my kids – even the older ones. I think you’re first point resonated with me the most. Our children watch us every hour of every day. What we say to ourselves and to others, well they pick up on that. So if fear is a constant companion for us, it most likely will be for our children as well. Thanks for such an insightful post!
    Marie recently posted..Fostering a Healthy Body Image in Your DaughterMy Profile

  25. says

    Great points! I actually was having this discussion the other day with a parent friend of mine about things that parents inadvertently ‘give’ their kids, including ideas about body image and fears. Thank you for a great post. I love that you were able to pull lessons from a children’s movie that we can all learn. Fear can be a powerful teacher if we allow it that honor.

  26. says

    These are some great lessons you pulled from the movie! We took my 2.5 year old and 4 year old when their cousin was visiting a week, and we did great until the iceman. Son was done at that point lol. I researched it before we took them, and one of the things I liked was that Plugged In Movie Review referenced the amount of sacrificial love in the movie. I agree with you – the parents dropped the ball early on when they chose to hide Elsa’s powers. We as parents do that often with talents and traits we don’t possess ourselves. Thank you for the book list – I will be referencing that often!
    Lori recently posted..Kroger Delta Deals week of February 26My Profile

  27. says

    Thank you for the thorough review! I want to see it. The lesson that resonates with me is teaching our children to be friends! My girls were only 2 years apart, and were best buddies/playmates before they started going to school. Going to school definitely changed that! When they were in middle school and high school, we started home schooling. It took a year of hanging out with other home schooled children for my girls to become friends again! The only criterion, for the home schooled kids to be able hang out in little groups together, was a common interest in doing the same activity, at the same time. Older children helped/taught the younger ones. It was so refreshing :)

  28. says

    You know, I like to say that we are our own reality show and our kids are the audience. They pick up on everything and whether we like it or not, we need to be conscious of that at all times.

    I haven’t seen frozen yet, but my 8-year-old daughter is dying to, so I am glad to have a bit of insight (thanks to your post) before watching it with her.

  29. says

    I want to see this movie, it looks so cute! The Disney movies always have the best lessons. I am not yet a parent, but I will bookmark your list of books, they look interesting.

  30. says

    ~~The proper response is to get over OUR OWN FEARS…Confront the issue and be your child’s strongest ally. You are so dead on with this and I hope that I have done a good job of cleansing myself to not pass on my drama to my little ones.

  31. says

    I’ve heard nothing but raves from all the kids and parents about Frozen. I’m looking forward to it coming out on dvd so I can borrow it from one of them. My kids are old teens now so I miss out on a lot of the cool Disney movies.

    I don’t think 3 is too young to go. As long as you don’t think you will always stay for the whole movie. My Dad took our oldest to her first movie around that age. It was extra special for her since we had a new baby at home :)
    Val recently posted..Foodie Plans for 2014My Profile

  32. says

    I’ve never seen this film yet, but I have read a lot of good reviews about it. After reading this post, I’ve come to realize my parenting loopholes. I always fear for my kids especially my middle child. I tend to be overprotective of him. this post opened my eyes to valuable lessons about parenting.
    MommyLES recently posted..Pinaupong ManokMy Profile

  33. says

    My daughter is in the gifted program, but this year she is struggling with the way they teach the new Common Core math. My husband made the mistake of saying to her that he was never good at math in school, and apparently my daughter told her teacher that it was OK if she didn’t do good in math, because her dad was never good in math either. It’s amazing the things they learn from us and pick up on.
    Maryann Gates recently posted..Goldbaum’s Sugar Cones (GF, Soy, Dairy, Nut Free) & Snow Cream RecipeMy Profile

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