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Parenting Lessons From the Movie Blind Side
The movie Blind Side is inspiring and amazing. Sandra Bullock portrayed Leah Anne, the matriarch of a wealthy Memphis family who hires Michael Oher as an offensive tackle for the Baltimore Ravens American football team. Michael was held back two years in elementary school and had a spotty academic record in high school with a 0.6 GPA. Michael was born into a family of 12 children and spent most of his life in the Department of the State of Tennessee.
His biological mother described Michael as a runner, that when he was in foster care, when he was placed with a family, he ran away trying to find his way back to his mother. In Blind Side, Michael is taken in by Leah Anne and her family. They provide him with love, education and the opportunity to be successful. And he was successful. With the help of a teacher, he was able to raise his GPA from 0.6 to 2.56, and with continued support through tutoring, he earned a college degree before becoming a professional football player. While the film alluded to the importance of religion to Leigh Anne, the extent of the importance of her faith was not entirely evident.
Leigh Anne and her husband started a church in Memphis. This fact is not mentioned in the film, but is implied about the importance of faith to Leigh Anne, leading me to believe that Michael was exposed to the religious community and was involved in church attendance and church activities with the family. I mention this because I want to emphasize the importance of family involvement in the development of their children. Religious organizations provide tremendous benefits to the family for involvement, support, and growth. Studies on tobacco, alcohol, and drug use have shown that children who attended religious services were less likely to experiment with substances. Studies have also shown that the more services a child attends, the less likely they are to experiment with substances. In addition to religion being a positive element in reducing drug use, the religious organization provided opportunities for children to develop social skills to improve peer relationships. They also provide a sense of belonging for the child and the family. Religious communities also provide opportunities to understand, celebrate and mourn life events.
In one scene of the movie, Michael and PJ were on the soccer field getting ready for practice. Michael wanted to go home and play video games. PJ informed Michael that Michael was expected to not only play football, but to strive for excellence. That everyone in the family played sports or participated in some activity, father played basketball, sister ran track and played volleyball, mother was a cheerleader and he (PJ) played all sports. Although every child may not grow up to be a Michael Oher, sports and other social activities are essential to a child’s development. I think another lesson from Blind Side is the fact that Michael’s family didn’t just encourage sports, they supported him. The family supported him during training and were at the games to support him.
Kids need their efforts to be recognized and validated, not just by the Michael Oher’s of the world, but kids who spend the game on the sidelines need to know that their family cares enough to show up. There are other social activities that benefit children, including Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts and Explorers to name a few. It is important that you involve your child in activities using community social groups; community sports organizations, or sports and social groups through the child’s school. The more involved you are as a parent the better, it sends a message to the child that you support the child and that they are important.
The movie Blind Side teaches us the importance of being involved in a child’s school. There are several scenes where Leigh Anne talks to school staff and teachers about Michael. This is what we call a homeschool link. Research has found that the greater the attachment to the home school, the better the child’s performance in school. This includes school attendance. There are schools that have programs that allow parents to come to school and eat lunch with their child if your child’s school has a program to use and eat lunch with your child. Don’t wait until your child brings home a report card to find out how your child is doing, call or go and talk to the teacher. Leigh Anne did this in one scene, she talked to Michael’s English teacher and asked him what Michael had to do to pass the class and the teacher told her what Michael had to do. Michael did exactly what the teacher told Leigh Anne to do and walked through the classroom.
In the movie Blind Side, Michael had a private tutor who helped him with his school work not only in high school but also in college. While not all of us can afford to hire private tutors for our children, we can sit down and help our children with their homework. If we find that we cannot help our children with their homework, we can ask for help at school. There are schools that have peer tutoring, some schools have after school tutoring programs, there may be a tutoring program at a local church, community college or university where students go to school as teachers who can provide tutoring. There are community organizations that provide tutoring, such as the Boys and Girls Club. If you are struggling to find resources or opportunities for your child, chances are other parents are having the same problem. Sew. Start your own tutoring group with the help of parents of your child’s peers. Form a study group of 3 or 4 children and get help from a teacher to help you with study material. Parents can also divide the subjects and each take responsibility for the subject and lead their child’s study group. Be creative.
As with all things in life, the more positive time and energy you invest in your child, the greater the reward. Involve your child in social, community and school activities, get involved with your child and be supportive and available. Take an active interest in your child’s school work; find out what resources are available to help your child learn. Talk to your child’s teacher regularly, not just at parent-teacher conferences. Help your child with homework. Show your children that their homework and activities are important and a priority. Do not use sports, community activities, or religious activities as rewards or consequences for behavior. Participating in activities is an opportunity for growth, and the more your child is involved in these activities, the less likely your child will be tempted to experiment with drugs, tobacco and alcohol or engage in delinquent behavior. These are the parenting lessons learned from The Blind Side.
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