With the holidays approaching, I often find myself thinking about traditions. Since I grew up in the age of cable TV, it’s not too surprising that one of my family’s holiday traditions was watching movies. A Christmas Story was one of our holiday favorites.
Now that I have my own family, I find myself wanting to share the experience of holiday movie watching as the days get shorter and colder. My daughter is young, though, and Highly Sensitive, and many holiday movies are too scary to sit through. The Grinch and Mickey’s Christmas Carol are terrifying, and we haven’t even tried A Christmas Story.
Instead, we’ve embraced the idea that it’s the sharing of a special movie, not the holiday content that’s important, and we’ve landed on Julie Andrews.
The Sound of Music.
Watching these movies with my daughter, I’ve been struck by their enduring power to captivate young audiences. Aside from the captivating and catchy songs (I sometimes wake up in the middle of the night with “Sister Suffragette” running through my head), I can see a commonality between the two films that makes them appealing to young audiences.
Both Mary Poppins and Maria hold a high image of children and treat them respectfully. The Von Trapp and Banks children, used to caregivers that give orders and refuse to get to know them as individuals, have a history of making their Nanny’s lives miserable. Jane and Michael Banks make their desire to be treated kindly and fairly known in their advertisement:
If you won’t scold and dominate us
We will never give you cause to hate us
We won’t hide your spectacles
So you can’t see
Put toads in your bed
Or pepper in your tea
The Von Trapp children similarly abandon their efforts to drive Maria away when they realize that she sees them for who they are and refuses to engage in the highly regimented protocol their father has used to structure the household.
This is the heart of respectful parenting and the new parenting paradigm. We are moving away from the idea that “children must be molded, shaped, and taught that life’s a looming battle to be faced and fought,” as Mr. Banks so firmly and problematically believed.
But there are still so many grown-ups who are stuck in old ways of thinking. Kids see that in their everyday lives, and it’s what makes these movies so relatable and enduring.
Thank you, Julie Andrews, for aligning yourself with children. Your movies will have a place in my home for years to come.
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