Our dadcrafting Movies article describes the three things we’re aiming for in our movie posts. As usual, the comments below contain some spoilers, so you may want to wait to read them until after you’ve watched the movie with your kids.
What I Loved
I love the way Inside Out reminds me to be curious about and sensitive to what my kids are thinking. I can’t help but see myself in various moments of the film, particularly those moments when the “right” parental response was obvious … and completely wrong for what Riley was going through.
I can’t help but see myself in various moments of the film, particularly those moments when the “right” parental response was obvious … and completely wrong for what Riley was going through.
The “Dad puts his foot down” dinner conversation comes to mind most significantly. You’ll recall that Riley had a horrific first day at her new school, and she’s not readily revealing details about that day to her folks. She’s masking her embarrassment and confusion with rude opaqueness, and … yeah … that’s pretty frustrating as a parent. Disrespect doesn’t work as a means of communication, regardless of the age of the conversational participants. But putting one’s foot down and demanding respect without simultaneously demonstrating thoughtfulness is a no-go too.
I also love how the movie reminds me of the remarkable, significant, humbling role that parents have in shaping their children’s experience of life. For instance, Bing Bong notes that “when Riley was three, animals were all the rage.” While that’s not exactly true when we’re thinking about what “all the rage” normally refers to culture-wise, it certainly was true for Riley (and my three-year-old as well, actually – Life-Size Zoo is a fun picture book in this space). Riley’s folks talked about animals all the time so Riley (and Bing Bong) assumed that’s what was really popular then … Riley’s parents shaped what she thought of the world.
What We Can Learn
For all the faux pas of the parents in the flick, I love the moments of thoughtful dadcraft (there was some strong momcraft, too). The fun the dad worked to instill in his family, the encouragement the dad sought to provide during tough times, the adventure he sought to lead his family on in the new city. As with all of us, his dadcraft needed some refining, but he kept at it and the movie finishes in a dadcrafting flourish: parent faces painted in support of Riley’s new hockey team. Atta’ way, dadcraftsman.
The lessons of the movie are poignant – a strong portrayal of how quickly our years of fathering pass. Memories are made and some become core to our children … and some are forgotten. Character is shaped in the countless moments and innumerable interactions of life … our children are watching and learning all the time.
And the power of seeing how sadness shapes life … beautiful. While I’m often tempted to shield my children from all pain and sadness, Inside Out shows that a) that’s a fool’s errand and b) sadness and challenge add depth and meaning to life. To see Joy learn this and grow through the story (as Riley also grew) was wonderful.
Things to Talk About
Finally, a few things to talk about / questions to ask from the movie:
- Which of Riley’s emotions made you laugh the most?
- Beyond joy, fear, anger, disgust, and sadness, what other emotions do you feel?
- In the movie, Riley’s emotions decided her actions. Should that be the case? Is that the way it is for you?
- Why was it a bad idea for Riley to try and run away back to Minnesota?
- How does each emotion help Riley?
Here’s a list (that will continue to grow) of movies that we’ve written about.