Sunday, July 7, 2013

Lessons from Monsters University

  I have lots of thoughts about Monsters University, but they are all rambling around in my head. So I'll see if I can get them down in writing and tell you how I think the lessons apply to ourselves and our kids. Since this blog is mostly about parenting joys and challenges, I'll be relating the lessons to some situations in our family. The children have all agreed to me sharing this.

I think the obvious themes are friendship, teamwork and persistence, but beyond that, one of the main lessons is that talent alone is not enough. Sully has scaring in his genetics and is a natural born scarer, but doesn't apply himself. He expects to get by on natural talent. That doesn't work out so well for him. 

I don't know about you, but most of my children struggle. However, I have a Sully in my family. He has many inherited talents from his birth mother. That child has never applied himself though so never really accomplished all that he could. He is gifted in many areas, but found out early he could get by without working hard. 

He recently began working toward some goals but found out that the laziness in the early years made it impossible to catch up in some areas. Sully figured it out of course, but the hard way. In biblical terms, to whom much is given, much is required. If God has gifted your child in certain areas, it's because he has big plans for that child that involve using those talents.

The opposite is also true. Desire, or really wanting something, is not enough. The path you want to follow might not be one you're gifted for. Mike wanted to be a scarer most of his life. He was the model student and knew all the ins and outs of scaring, but that wasn't enough. He just wasn't scary. 

People will say that you can do whatever you put your mind too, and while that might sound nice, it's not true. I  have a Mike in my house. A child who knew what he wanted to do, but when it came down to it, he didn't have what it took. And that's okay because that child has other abilities, he's just not seeing them. 

Like with Monsters University, some talents put you in the limelight and some put you in the background. Some people have what I call show off talents, the ones that get you lots of attention--musical ability, sports ability--but the support talents are just as important.

This next part will give away some of the plots so stop reading if you don't want to know some of the ending ahead.

Actions have consequences. In the movie Sully cheats. When he confesses to it, he is expelled. Mike breaks rules and is also expelled. I was glad that even though things worked out, they were still expelled.

We learn from consequences. I have a child who has gotten out of consequences by being cute and charming. He hasn't learned the right lesson from that. It will catch up with him. I also have two who have gotten away with poor behaviors because they were "refugees" (even though they really weren't because we'd been in the process three years when the earth quake happened). I had to be the bad guy to get teachers to hold them accountable for their actions no matter their background. 

I have children with diagnosises. They still have to do the best they can. Things like spending some of the formative years in poverty and in an orphanage, having ADHD or autism or drug effects is an explanation, not an excuse. All of us need to realize there isn't always a second chance so make the most of the first one.

There is more than one path to your dream. After being expelled, Sully and Mike almost gave up on their dreams, but then they regrouped and came up with another plan. The goal was to work on the scare floor. 

The original plan was to major in scaring at Monster University. But they took an alternate path of starting in the mail room and working their way up. Our kids need to realize that it's okay to fail. In real life there aren't trophies just for participating. Get up, replan and get going. 

Our family applied to adopt through our state. After a couple of years of nothing we realized that wasn't how we were going to add to our family. So we replanned, got an international home study instead, got loans and adopted through Haiti for the second time. It wasn't easy. Haiti changed its adoption rules monthly sometimes. But it worked. 
Everyones' talents and strengths are different. Don't look down on someone who doesn't appear to be talented or with it before getting to know them. Not everyone is athletic, smart or beautiful/handsome. 

In fact sometimes those people have so much confidence in themselves that they are useless to others. 1 Corinthians 1:25-28 says, This foolish plan of God is wiser than the wisest of human plans, and God’s weakness is stronger than the greatest of human strength. Remember, dear brothers and sisters, that few of you were wise in the world’s eyes or powerful or wealthy when God called you. Instead, God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And he chose things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful. God chose things despised by the world, things counted as nothing at all, and used them to bring to nothing what the world considers important.
Sully and Mike join together with a band of misfits for the Scare Games but they learn that each of them has a strength and by using each person's strength, they are a better team.
There will always be mean kids (and adults). Even Sully who started out as popular ended up on the wrong side of the mean kids. 

Our kids need to realize that not everyone will like them. Kids will make fun of their color, special needs and weaknesses. By making home a safe haven, they can overcome the effects of the mean comments and the teasing. They can learn that they have value because God created them in a unique and amazing way. That may be hard for our special needs kids to understand. But there is usually a strength to balance the weakness. My one who struggles with math and science can sing and play drums. Some kids may not have those obvious talents but they may be a good friend, able to take care of pets or to organize. Build on your child's strengths to overcome the hurt from mean kids. If all else fails, walk your kids to class carrying a baseball bat :)
Well, those are my rambling thoughts on the movie. Like I said in the beginning, there are the obvious themes of teamwork, friendship and persistence. Those fall in place with the other lessons.

What did you think of the movie if you saw it?


One Crowded House said...

We haven't seen it yet- but I agree with the part about all "parts" being important- I just finished reading a Christian parenting book and there was a really good story in there about an orchestra and the first and second (and beyond) chairs and how the first guy gets all the applause and gets to take credit- the other parts are just as important and the songs wouldn't sound so lovely without their participation.

Kathy C. said...

It's a fun movie with a lot of good messages. Some "cartoon" type violence, but overall a good family movie.

Catherine said...

I guess I saw a different lesson than you. I saw that school wasn't important. I think it truly depicts college life, but is that an appropriate movie for young children. I guess I thought it was made for oldest children as opposed to Monsters INC. What do you think? My kids are 8 and 5. They weren't overly impressed... My kids are also pretty sheltered though...

Kathy C. said...

I hadn't thought about the younger ones not enjoying it as much. I took Jasmine because we were traveling together. She's 12 and she vocalized some things from it about consequences and such. I guess having children who cannot be successful in college, I like the idea that there is more than one way to reach a goal. Jasmine wants to go into music. She talks about college, but that may not be realistic for her with her genetics and the damage done to her. But there may be another way to reach that goal--become an amazing drummer and singer through lessons and practice and join a Christian band.

Catherine said...

Would you bring the twins? Just curious.. I agree that it is good to show there are multiple paths to achieve the same goal.. My 11 yr old has some issues with school too.. He is not college bound... More likely a trade school... Interesting the different perspectives....

Kathy C. said...

Yes. I think for them it would be mostly just entertainment. There are so few movies suitable for children and this one is. We talk about the movies on the way home and I think Kayla would understand some of the message, but for Kaleb the movie would just be about a competition and he'd only relate to the funny parts.