Chances are, you’ve watched many Disney movies and have found countless lines that you not only relate to but also apply to your role as a parent. Other lines become a mantra which you may envision as an ideal way in which to live your life. “Hakuna Matata” comes to mind. Disney movies are known for these pearls of wisdom… little gems that, if applied, can become “Family Values.” That’s precisely what this column will become: a place where we’ll share lines that have touched our hearts in one way or another. My hope is that we can show how Disney weaves fantastic life lessons into their movies and how we, as parents, strive to raise our children to live and learn by these lessons.
Of all the lines that have ever spoken to me, “Always let your conscience be your guide” has stuck with me the most (Pinocchio – The Blue Fairy and Jiminy Cricket). In fact, I consider it to be at the very core of “who” I am as a person, and I strive to raise my children to live by this same standard. Naturally, as a mom, I have dreams of “who” I want my children to become. No, I’m not referring to what profession they’ll choose. See, what matters to me isn’t “what” they become… but “who,” the person deep down inside of them.
Life is full of choices. For a child, peer pressure can play a big part in the decisions they make. “Do I cheat on this test? The teacher will never know.” “Should I be mean to that boy just because everyone else is?” The older a child becomes, the more important it is that they have a deep sense of right and wrong. I desperately want my children to know the same true peace of mind that I have. At the end of the day, if I can rest my head on my pillow with a clear conscience for the choices I made and the things I did, then it was a successful day.
In raising 5 children, if I’ve learned one thing, it’s that it only gets harder the older they get. What I wouldn’t give to go back to the days of diapers and all night nursing. Trust me. Letting your teenager go over to a friend’s house and having to trust that you’ve raised them well enough that they’ll make the right choice if alcohol is offered… that’s a whole new ball game, my friends. When they were young, I taught my children to ask themselves, “Would Mom and Dad be proud of me right now?” If the answer to that isn’t a resounding “yes,” then they need to rethink things. As they develop their conscience, they begin to question themselves, “Does the choice I’m making make it easy for me to look in the mirror at the end of the day?” “Would I be proud to share this story with my beloved grandmother?” Ultimately, they have to be able to live with themselves. In the meantime, gentle reminders like, “Behave yourself and make me proud” when I drop them off at a friend’s house can help to keep them on the straight and narrow.
I make a point of “walking the talk.” I always try to remember that little eyes are watching and little ears are listening. My children will follow in my footsteps, so I need to make sure it’s a path that I’d be proud to have them walk. It doesn’t do much good if I preach one thing but then turn around and live an entirely different way. Lesson lost. Even on our Disney vacations, we find ways to “let our conscience be our guide.” We don’t double book Advanced Dining Reservations because that leaves others without somewhere to dine with their family. We don’t reuse refillable mugs on future trips. We don’t say our 10 year old is 9 in order to save over $200 on the Dining Plan, even though the money would sure come in handy. We didn’t claim our 3 year old was 2 in order to avoid having to purchase a ticket. You get the idea; we let our conscience be our guide.
From learning to treat others the way we want to be treated to doing the right thing even when nobody is looking, all of these things add up to make a person “who” they are. Keeping the lines of communication open is key as well. As Jiminy Cricket reminded Pinocchio, all my kids have to do is “Give a little whistle,” and I’ll be there to help them along the way.
Contributed by: Kaylene Jablecki (NDM#203). Kaylene is a DDL Parenting Blogger and proud member of the Walt Disney World Moms Panel. Visit the Walt Disney World Moms Panel for help planning your Magical Trip. She is not a Disney employee. The postings on this site are her own and do not necessarily represent Disney’s positions or opinions.