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Parenting Lessons From the Movie Blind Side
The movie Blind Side is inspiring and amazing. Sandra Bullock portrays Leah Ann, the matriarch of a wealthy Memphis family who accepts Michael Oher as an offensive tackle for the American football team Baltimore Ravens. Michael was held back for two years in elementary school and had a poor academic record with a 0.6 GPA in high school. Michael was born into a family of 12 children and spent most of his life as a ward 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 families, he would run away trying to find his way to his mother. In Blind Side, Michael is taken in by Leah Ann and her family. They provide him with love, nurturing and the opportunity to be successful. And he was successful. With the help of a tutor he was able to raise his GPA from 0.6 to 2.56 and with continued support through tutoring he received a college degree before becoming a professional football player. While the film hinted at the importance of religion to Leigh Anne, the extent of the importance of her faith was not entirely apparent.
Leigh Anne and her husband planted a church in Memphis. This fact, which is not mentioned in the film, but hinted at the importance of faith to Leigh Anne, leads me to believe that Michael was exposed to a religious community and was involved in attending church and church activities with his family. I mention this because I want to emphasize the importance of family involvement in the development of their children. Religious organizations provide a tremendous benefit to the family for participation, support, and growth. Studies that reported substance use of tobacco, alcohol, and drugs found that children who attended religious services were less likely to experiment with substances. Research has also shown that the more services a child visits, the less likely they are to experiment with substances. In addition to religion being positive in reducing drug use, religious organizations provided opportunities for children to develop social skills to improve peer relationships. They also provide a sense of belonging to the child and the family. Religious communities also provide opportunities to understand, celebrate and mourn life’s events.
In one scene of the film, Michael and PJ were on the football 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, the father played basketball, the sister ran track and played volleyball, the mother was a cheerleader, and that he (PJ) was involved in all sports. Although not every child may grow up to be Michael Oy, sports and other social activities are essential to a child’s development. I think another lesson to be learned from Blind Side is the fact that the family didn’t just encourage Michael to play sports, they supported him. His family supported him during training and attended matches to support him.
Kids need to be recognized and validated for their efforts, not just the Michael Ohers of the world, but the 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 are beneficial for children, including Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, and Explorers, to name a few. What is important is to involve your child in activities using social groups in the community; social 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 that it is important to be involved in a child’s school. There are several scenes where Leigh Anne talks to the school staff and teachers about Michael. This is what we call a homeschool connection. Research has shown that the greater the connection between the home school, the better the child’s performance in school. This includes attending school. 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 take advantage and eat lunch with your child. Don’t wait until your child brings home her report card to find out how your child is doing, call or stop by and talk to her teacher. Leigh Anne did exactly that in one scene, she talked to Michaels English teacher and asked him what Michael had to do to pass the class and the teacher told her what Michael needed to do. Michael did exactly what the teacher told Lee Ann to do, and he passed the class.
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. Although 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 the children with their homework, we can ask the school for help. 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 that has students going to school to be teachers who can provide tutoring. There are community organizations that provide tutoring, such as the Boys and Girls Club. If you’re having trouble finding resources or opportunities for your child, chances are other parents are having the same problem. Network. Set up your own tutoring group with the help of parents of your child’s peers. Start a study group of 3 or 4 children and ask the teacher to help you with the study material. Parents can even share subjects and each of them takes responsibility for the subject and leads 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, participate 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, social activities, or religious activities as rewards or consequences for behavior. Participation in activities are opportunities 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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