Mr. & Mrs. Parr have one of the few happy Disney marriages we see, and in my opinion they are a pretty great couple. Here are five things I learned about parenting from Elastigirl and Mr. Incredible.
1. Flirt. Bob and Helen Parr are big flirts. Kissing, butt pinching, and flirtatious dialogue? Frisky! This couple is clearly in love and they aren’t afraid to show it. They don’t hesitate to show affection even around their own children, eeew! Actually, this is great parenting advice. Research shows that children who see their parents show affection towards each other feel more assured in their parent’s relationship. Doctor Susan Knell says in an article for San Diego Family: “They can see what an adult, marital relationship should look like, and give them a basis for relationships in their later years.”
2. Fight. I think the reason Mrs. Parr might be my favorite Disney mom is because she yells. She loses her temper, she fights with her husband. This is not a woman who is in perfect control of every interaction she has with her loved ones. How great is that? What makes it even better is this is a mother who says I am sorry, admits when she is wrong, apologizes for getting angry. She also shows an increase of love afterwards.
Helen is not perfect, but she tries really hard—and that is worth its weight in gold. Again, let me note the research on this one: ”When conflicts are handled constructively, kids learn to compromise, compassion, and to use humor and warmth to solve disagreements,” Anne Murphy, parenting contributor for Good Morning America, says. “They also learn that conflict with someone you love is not the end of the world.”
3. Have Family Dinner. One of my favorite moments in The Incredibles is the family dinner. Remember this part? Dad breaks a plate, kids injure each other, and eventually total family chaos erupts? In my own marriage we regularly quote the moment when Helen yells, “BOB! IT IS TIME TO ENGAGE!” Cracks me up every time. This is clearly not an ideal family dinner, but it is also clear that family dinner happens in this family. They use it as a time to talk and to check in with each other, even if it isn’t perfect. And it is a great family practice. Did you know it has been shown that kids who have a sit down family dinner have higher GPAs than others? Check out all the incredible bonuses families receive when they eat together at thefamilydinnerproject.org
4. Be a team. Each individual is stronger when a family works as a team. One of the things I love about this story is that not only are the Parrs able to accomplish more when they work together, but individually they all experience greater powers because they are working together. We see Violet suddenly have heroic control of her force field in order to protect her brother, causing Dash to exclaim, “How are you doing this?!?” We try to find opportunities for this in our family. I have one son who has the superpower power of talking and one who is a super snuggler. We love to get extended family members squished between the two of them and just let these boys love them like wild. Who can resist snuggling accompanied by a toddler love ballad? Guaranteed that is going to make your day better We all have different talents but when we work together we can heighten each other’s powers.
5. Celebrate accomplishments. Over and over we see the Parr Family celebrate each other. My favorite moment we see is when they all reconnect in the forest after the first family battle, and all four family members are talking at once, excitedly answering each other’s questions and encouraging one another. It is a full-blown tornado of affection. We see this love and celebrating again in the limo ride near the end of the movie ending with Dash melting into the bench and crying out, “That was the best vacation ever. I love our family!” Take time to celebrate as a family. Family is the one place a kid should be able to relive their glory moments over and over and be celebrated.
The Parrs are a great family. In part because they genuinely seem to try hard to be good to each other. This is something I work hard to do as a mother because I would be proud someday to hear my son say to me, just as Violet says to her dad, “Well, I think Dad has made some excellent progress today, but I think it’s time we wind down now.”