Hollywood and the Parent/Child Relationship

My wife and middle daughter were visiting family last week in Denver, which meant it was Daddy Weekend with myself and the other two. We jumped; we laughed; we ate candy. We had fun! I missed them for sure, but I also had a blast spending some intentional time with just my oldest and youngest daughters.

When my wife is gone, usually the one thing you can count on is me catching up on TV shows and movies. What else am I going to do after the kids go down at 8:30? Plus, my wife probably isn’t going to want to watch The Walking Dead with me. I don’t get it — what’s not to like about a zombie apocalypse filmed in our very city of Atlanta?!

As I was catching up on some of this summer’s movies, I noticed a common theme in each and every one: the relationship between a parent/child often plays out to be the most important.

In every, single movie there was a pivotal scene where the father said/did something that impacted the young child’s life, or where the relationship between the two was strained for some reason. Seriously, like every single movie.

Photo credit: Dr. Nomad (Creative Commons)

The movies I watched this weekend (The Green Hornet, Super 8, and Fast Five) reminded me that the relationship between myself and my daughters is built over time. It will, no doubt, face obstacles and hardships, but one thing remains: I am uniquely suited and charged to lead and speak life into their lives. If you’ve seen any of those, you probably know what I’m talking about.

  • Britt Reid (in The Green Hornet) was severely impacted by the way his father specifically treated him after a school incident when he was a young boy.
  • Joe Lamb (the main 14-year old boy in Super 8) learned quickly that the relationship he had with his father changed as a result of a unsuspecting accident.
  • Brian O’Connor and Dom Toretto (in Fast Five) shared a moment where they reflected on their own fathers–how one was completely absent, and another was completely present.

Even the one I watched with my 4 year-old (Mulan) was a perfect example. Mulan’s father concludes the film by saying, “The greatest gift and honor is having you for a daughter.” Talk about speaking life into your child!

To top it off: as a bonus, Jon Acuff tweeted this little gem yesterday.

As I reflect on my long weekend with these two girls, I want it to be marked by more than chewy candy and slippery slides. I want them to know without a doubt that their Daddy will always love and be there for them. I want them to know I am praying specifically for a passion to be sparked inside of them to know and honor their heavenly Father. I want to take every single word and action captive so my life serves as a reflection of the grace and love God gives each one of us — and specifically speak that into their young lives.

::

What parent/child movie scene has resonated with you?

38 Comments

  • Arny

    October 27, 2011

    Well. This is a coincedence?…

    This weekend we took the kids to see a movie…which we never do cause well…it’s soooo expensive….and plus…caleb gets ants in his pants about mid way through a movie…

    But they did good…

    We watched Reel Steel….same theme as you mentioned above…

    Well almost…

    The main guy (played by wolverine. lol) finds out he has a son…and so they work on that relationship…

    at one point the kid says, “I just want you to fight for me”…yes…i teared up…(i’m such a big baby!)

    and i think thats what we all want…but in the end…

    God is the only one that satisfies that craving inside…and we feel complete when we realize…he did fight…and he Won! at the cross!…

    Reply
    • Dustin

      October 27, 2011

      Wow, even if that wasn’t in a movie that is a powerful statement. And for a kid to say that to his dad – wow, so true.

      Reply
  • bill (cycleguy)

    October 27, 2011

    Two come to mind immediately. I remember one from HOOK where the little girl looks at Hook and says, “You need a mommy very badly.” I laugh when I remember that. The one that strikes the very center of my heart and always, ALWAYS, chokes me up is the final scene in Field of Dreams. It hits home even more since tomorrow is my AWOL father’s 84th birthday. I pray God will never allow me to be that way with my daughters and grandson. You are and will be a great father Dustin. If not, you have Jen to get you and keep you line. LOL

    Reply
    • Dustin

      October 27, 2011

      You make me laugh… :)

      And with a couple people mentioning Field of Dreams, makes me want to rewatch it.. I remember always loving that movie and the final scene is the best.

      Reply
  • Moe

    October 27, 2011

    I love that the theme of Proverbs is “Dear children”. Sound advice from a father to a son (or daughter). That relationship is very special and to think that our children are our first disciples.

    Oh, and if you read Steve Jobs’s biography (which I’m doing now), the whole theme and fire in his belly for what he accomplished was fueled by his pain of having been adopted. He never really got over the fact that his parents didn’t want him. So he went out there and “proved” that he was worth keeping. Pretty crazy!

    Reply
    • Dustin

      October 27, 2011

      I’ll want to read it eventually. Sounds fascinating. And I like what you said about Proverbs – our children are our first disciples. Need to remember that…

      Reply
    • Keri

      October 27, 2011

      I know of others who have been shattered to discover they are adopted. It’s interesting to me that the focus is on the biological parent who “left” them and not the adoptive parent who purposely sought them out, called them worthy of love, and took them in as their own.

      Reply
      • Moe

        October 27, 2011

        Well, Steve calls his adoptive parents his real parents. He’s grateful for them, but he never understood how or why he wasn’t wanted by original parents.

        As a child who never had a dad at home, I feel the same way… even today. Why would my pop not want to spend time with me? It’s crazy, and one of those things you never really get over. Thankfully, I found comfort in caffeine. :)~

        Reply
        • Keri

          October 27, 2011

          Reading your comment and then re-reading mine, I just want to say I’m sorry if I came across as insensitive or uncaring. Even though a person may have a deep sense of love and gratitude for the parents they do have, that doesn’t decrease the desire for love from the biological parent they never knew or never felt love from. It’s kinda like comparing apples and oranges, I guess?

          Reply
          • Moe

            October 28, 2011

            I didn’t see your comment as insensitive. I thought you had good stuff to chew on. Here’s the thing. I see adoption as a beautiful thing. But when you really think about it. How does an adopted kid feel when he knows his parents didn’t want him? That’s a rejection that has to be hard to overcome. It doesn’t take away the blessedness that is adoption and the parents who took you in.

            I really can’t understand it fully since I’m not adopted, but I can imagine how hard it must be. Parental rejection is perhaps the worse kind of rejection. Thankfully, God has promised to be our heavenly Father.

            Oh, one more thing. When my friend went to an orphanage in Mexico, the staff warned them to never refer to God as a “Father”. Why? because father is a negative and painful reminder of what happened to them. Pretty crazy. I never saw it that way.

            By the way. I’m up to $6.89 on my panhandling fundraiser. :)

            Reply
            • Keri

              October 28, 2011

              Not to totally hijack Dustin’s comment thread {oh, but we are}, but I take issue with people who want to avoid calling God “Father” because of a painful past. Ultimately, He wants to reconcile and redeem all of us to Him. If we avoid allowing Him to touch our deepest wounds, how are we allowing Him to heal them? {Also, this is just one of the many theological issues I had with book The Shack}. All that to say, that yes, parental rejection is probably one of the hardest things for a person to overcome. But, only God can help anyone to overcome it. So, why would we minimize His role just because it hurts? He is the Father to the Fatherless. If there is another way to look at this, please tell me! I know I can be really hard nosed and black and white about certain things, but I feel pretty strongly about this one.

              Keep up the pandhandling. Maybe if you offer free dance lessons, you’ll get more mula! hahaha

              Reply
              • Moe

                October 30, 2011

                I agree, but how can you explain that to a 5 year old? I certainly can’t. I think the approach we must have is to redefine fatherhood. You and I can understand this, we are adults and we have a fairly (I think) decent upbringing.

                Last year, I visited an orphanage in the Dominican Republic and met a beautiful little girl who doesn’t talk. She saw how her dad cut her mother’s head off with a machete. The orphanage took her in and she has never uttered a word since. She is now 10 years old. We are more than brains and intellect. We are emotional beings. Emotions are hard to put aside. Hard for us, how much harder to a child. Should we just brushed this aside and give her the spiritual support she needs while trying to “make her” forgive what is already tatoo’ed in her brain?

                I too wish the answer was simple, but life and us are a lot more difficult than that.

                *Charles Templeton, who was Billy Graham’s partner (better preacher, speaker, knew more Bible), after having preached to thousands, saw an article in Time magazine with a lady in Africa holding her dead baby in her arms after a drought where there was no rain in several months. That led to him abandoning his faith and becoming an atheist. I only bring this up, because, theology, church, positive feelings and thoughts do not answer the hard questions.

                *OK, I’m done highjacking Dustin’s comments. (I think).

                Reply
                • Keri

                  October 31, 2011

                  I hear ya, Moe. I think there is a difference between purposely not calling Him Father, even though you know that is what He is. Or, avoiding calling Him Father in the presence of a child such as you described (that is horrific). I don’t think avoiding that title in the presence of a child is wrong or heretical. But, I think that when we have a deep pain in our hearts that is from our earthly fathers, and then we don’t allow God to become Father in our lives, that is a problem.

                  I certainly agree with you that we are more than reasoning and intellect, we are feelings and emotions. And, faith is not something that should be found in the purely intellectual part of me. I would never want it to be, because that is not faith. We could get into a big discussion about how to separate feeling and emotions from the flesh and the Spirit, because that is where this is headed. But, I think I’m done hijacking, too. Awesome discussion! Maybe Dustin will weight in a little here?

                  Reply
  • Jim F

    October 27, 2011

    When I watch Hoosiers – I see the relationship build between Coach Dale and his team which has come through all kinds of trials and problems. It gets me at the end – when he loving looks at his team and says “I love you Guys”.

    Excellent thoughts and I love when I get weekends or times when I can hang with my kids. Enjoy the time because they do get older so quickly!

    Reply
    • Dustin

      October 27, 2011

      Trying to enjoy each and every moment. Thanks for the reminder, Jim!

      Reply
  • Tom

    October 27, 2011

    Well I have a horrible memory for movies and don’t watch many but I did cherish the moments with my sixteen year old son last weekend on a hunting trip. When He texted me he loved me and as I drove away after dropping him off for an afternoon hunt he was on his cell phone with a friend and he blew me a kiss. I was thankful for the love he showed me and cherished the moment! Hopefully he will never forget these times we had together. I know I won’t!

    Reply
    • Dustin

      October 27, 2011

      That’s an awesome memory that you’ll be able to cherish. Thanks for sharing!

      Reply
  • Jon Stolpe

    October 27, 2011

    The ending scene in Field of Dreams (yes, my favorite movie) resonates with me as Ray has a catch with his dad. It reminds me of growing up. It makes me want to go back to the days when I could go outside with my dad and have a catch in the yard. And now that I’m a dad, it reminds me to spend time with my kids – playing a game, having a catch, and just spending time together.

    Great post!

    Reply
    • Dustin

      October 27, 2011

      Excellent thoughts, Jon. It’s sometimes the small, seemingly insignificant, moments that will be remembered!

      Reply
  • kristinherdy

    October 27, 2011

    There’s a scene in Hope Floats (and normally, I’m anti-chick flick), but this scene has stuck with me for years… where the adult daughter goes to visit her father in the nursing home, where he’s stricken with Alzheimers. He doesn’t recognize her, but just like she did when she was little, she gets up and dances with him to a song on the radio.

    It’s heartbreaking and for a girl who had two fathers, but didn’t really have a “dad,” it made a lasting impression.

    Reply
    • Dustin

      October 27, 2011

      Never seen that one – but I can imagine that being a pretty powerful scene. Thanks for the comment, Kristin.

      Reply
  • Rob Shepherd

    October 27, 2011

    Love this post! I love the third Indiana Jones film because of this. The way that they become close by the end of the movie speaks to the fact that for the first time in their lives they spent quality time with each other.

    Reply
  • Keri

    October 27, 2011

    Excellent post, Dustin. There is so much I could say about this because it is something I’ve thought of a lot.

    Have you ever noticed that in Disney films in particular there is always one parent missing? I feel like they do that purposefully to show that the protagonist is already down and out. It creates an immediate emotional attachment to the hero {especially true in Super 8} because we feel their pain as we have all known the pain of loss, rejection, or abandonment. And, so many of us have deep wounds in our hearts from our relationship with our parents.

    One of my fav parent/child dynamics in film is Finding Nemo. Marlin, Nemo’s Dad is completely neurotic and scared because of the tragedy that has befallen him. He can’t bear to think of anything bad happending to Nemo. But, once Nemo is captured, Marlin conquers all of his fears to run after him and rescue him. For me, parenthood is one of the greatest reasons to conquer my fears and get over my own crap so that I can be a better parent and give my kids even more of me.

    Reply
    • Dustin

      October 28, 2011

      Ahh, we love Nemo. That is a great example – I want my daughters to know that I will stop at nothing to rescue them (and that their heavenly Father does the same thing).

      Reply
      • Keri

        October 28, 2011

        EEK! Thought of the most parent/child cinematic dynamic: Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader. Did somebody already mention this!?

        Reply
  • jenn

    October 27, 2011

    I must need sleep because my mind is completely blank tonight. I can’t think of a single example… I will say that any movies that have a good father/daughter relationship always make me a little bit sad because Shiloh doesn’t have that.

    All this talk about dads made me think of a book. I’ve read a few of Dr. Kevin Leman’s books, but I know one is called What a Difference a Daddy Makes. I haven’t read it, but if it’s anything like his other parenting books, its probably really good.

    Reply
    • Dustin

      October 28, 2011

      Come to think of it, I think my wife might have a Dr Leman book. I’d have to check though.

      And… but she has a wonderful, caring Mom though. :)

      Reply
  • seekingpastor

    October 27, 2011

    Click with Adam Sandler really moved me. Probably the scene where he is dying with such regret was the one that touched me the most. I cry every time I watch that movie. Hard. It’s terrible.

    Reply
    • Dustin

      October 28, 2011

      Click was a good movie!

      Reply
  • jbussell

    October 28, 2011

    Great post, Dustin! We recently watched the Lion King with our son. I was reminded that after we are no longer with our kids (either because we are no longer here or because they are grown and making decisions on their own), we are still making an impact on their decisions. It’s how they view that impact that we have to try to shape now. Thanks for this reminder.

    Reply
    • Dustin

      October 31, 2011

      Good thought – and we watch that all the time. :) Thanks for sharing Jeremy.

      Reply
  • Ricky Anderson

    October 30, 2011

    Excellent post, Dustin.

    I want to speak life into my son, too.

    My dad showed me how by doing it for me.

    So thankful for that.

    Reply
    • Dustin

      October 31, 2011

      Me too, Ricky. I appreciate you sharing.

      Reply
  • Alex Humphrey

    November 5, 2011

    My wife and I watched “Liar, Liar” today.

    It fits right in with what you’re talking about.

    I’m going to pay more attention to this. If hollywood is both preacher and reflector of who we are and what we desire then it says quite a bit about us.

    Reply
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