Parenting Lessons We Can Learn From 5 Animated Dads

The next time you plan a movie-watching session with your little one, take note of the underlying themes — the fathers in these heart-warming films have plenty to teach real-life dads and children.

By Deepika Mohan  • 10 min read

Parenting Lessons We Can Learn From 5 Animated Dads

Most animation movies have one thing in common — inspiring fathers. I vividly remember watching The Lion King with my father when I was young. Every time there was a scene that showed the bond between Mufasa and Simba, my dad would either smile or look at me. Well, at that time, I didn’t understand the reason behind his smile or glance. But, as I grew up and watched the movie several times over the years, it dawned upon me that he connected with Mufasa’s dialogues and his bond with Simba as shown in the movie. Actions indeed speak louder than words.

This made me take a closer look at the life lessons one can learn from fathers in animated movies. Here are five golden lessons real-life fathers can learn from reel-life animated dads. It’s a ParentCircle special.

1. Showing respect for all: Mufasa from The Lion King

Parenting Lessons We Can Learn From 5 Animated Dads

The majestic king of the jungle, Mufasa, was not only a valiant ruler but also an inspiring father. He taught Simba to appreciate and respect others around him. Here’s the famous Circle of Life conversation that shows what a compassionate king Mufasa was.

Mufasa: Everything you see exists together in a delicate balance. As king, you need to understand that balance and respect all the creatures, from the crawling ant to the leaping antelope.
Young Simba: But, Dad, don't we eat the antelope?
Mufasa: Yes Simba, but let me explain... When we die, our bodies become the grass, and the antelopes eat the grass. And so... we are all connected in the great Circle of Life.

Great lesson for fathers: Build empathy in your child. Help him respect and appreciate all things great and small.

How? Children learn by observing. Show empathy in front of your child. Do not ridicule or put down anyone in front of him. When your child teases someone over their physical appearance or when he does not appreciate what his mother does for him, bring in The Lion King reference and explain what Mufasa taught Simba. Ask your child to put himself in the other person’s shoes and see how he would feel.

2. Showing appreciation: Robert ‘Bob’ Parr (Mr Incredible) from The Incredibles

Parenting Lessons We Can Learn From 5 Animated Dads

Bob hides his superhero powers and lives the life of a normal man. After a mid-life crisis, he wants to return as a superhero and therefore goes on a mission. When he gets into trouble, the entire family goes on a mission to rescue him. He does not hesitate to appreciate his children for their actions. The conversation below is a perfect example.

Dash: Dad, that was so cool when you threw that car!
Bob Parr (Mr Incredible): Not as cool as you running on water!

Great lesson for fathers: Stick around! Never give up on your family. Spending time with them is the most important thing in your life. Teach your child the same and assure her that you’ll be there for her no matter what. Set an example for your child by being vocal about appreciation.

How? Make it a tradition to have at least one meal together as a family every day at home. Eating together has many positive outcomes. The fun, laughter and conversations around the table create unforgettable memories and help raise happy children. Speak to your child and ask how her day was. Listen to her before you respond. Similarly, share your day’s happenings with her. Eventually, she’ll start asking you about your day. Share, listen and be there for each other.

Don’t forget to compliment your child regularly, even if it is for small actions. If your child cleans the table or puts away her books, appreciate her effort.

3. Believing in your child: Mr Ping from Kung Fu Panda

Parenting Lessons We Can Learn From 5 Animated Dads

Mr Ping, the overprotective dad and master noodle maker, reveals a trade secret to his son Po. He confesses that his soup has no special ingredient. This confession stuns Po, the panda. Mr Ping then says:

"To make something special you just have to believe it's special."

Great lesson for fathers: Believe in your child. Let him explore life and go through the ups and downs. Teach him to believe in himself and give his best in everything he does without worrying about the outcome. Make him understand that believing in himself is the first step towards success.
How? Does your child love to paint? Encourage him to learn the art and put in his best effort. Appreciate his painting and teach him to believe that it is unique and valuable. Set an example by being passionate about things you love doing. Show him that you value your interests and spend time building your talent and area of expertise.

4. Building strength of heart: Zeus from Hercules

Parenting Lessons We Can Learn From 5 Animated Dads

Zeus’ charming smile and witty remarks make him a much-loved dad. In the movie, Hercules loses his Godhood and the only way for him to regain it is by becoming a true hero. Zeus gives Hercules some worthy advice in this context.

"A true hero isn't measured by the size of his strength, but by the strength of his heart."

Great lesson for fathers: One of the best quotes of all time, Zeus’ golden words hold true in our life as well. Teach your child to be compassionate. At every opportunity, make him understand that physical strength does not make him a hero. But being kind, compassionate and forgiving will make him a true hero.

How? Narrate stories that teach kindness and compassion. The next time you see people tormenting street dogs, go out with your child and stop them. The person who bullies or hits the bully isn’t strong. The one who stops the incident and makes the bully understand his mistake is the hero. Teach your child to think with his heart as well.

5. Teaching the importance of hard work: James from The Princess and the Frog

Parenting Lessons We Can Learn From 5 Animated Dads

James was a hardworking and loving family man. He instilled the same values in Tiana and encouraged her to follow her dreams. With hard work and perseverance, Tiana starts her own restaurant. Here is a heartwarming conversation between young Tiana, her mother Eudora and James.

(Tiana looks out of her bedroom window)
Young Tiana: Charlotte's fairy tale book said, if you make a wish on an evening star, it's sure to come true.
Eudora: Hmm, won't you wish on that star, sweetheart?
James: Yes, you wish and you dream with all your little heart. But remember, Tiana, that old star can only take you part of the way. You got to help him with some hard work of your own. And then... Yeah, you can do anything you set your mind to. Just promise your Daddy one thing... That you'll never, ever lose sight of what is really important. Okay?

Great lesson for fathers: Hard work is everything. Like James, talk to your child at appropriate times about the importance of hard work and perseverance.

How? Set an example by working hard on a goal you’ve set out to achieve. Share the journey and result with your child. Let her see what you do to reach your goal, the hard work you put in and the determination that drives you. When your child has to face an exam, while praying helps, she should understand that it is equally important to work hard to succeed and get good grades. Guide her along the way and motivate her to focus and put in the necessary effort. Make your child understand that there are no shortcuts to success.

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