Parenting Lessons from the Blind Side of Film
The Blind Side movie is inspiring and amazing. Sandra Bullock plays Leah Anne, the matriarch of the wealthy Memphis family who adopted Michael Oher as offensive tackle for the Baltimore Ravens football team. Michael was two years behind in elementary school and had a spotty educational history with a 0.6 GPA in high school. Michael was born into a family of 12 children and spent most of his life in the conservatorship of the state of Tennessee.
His birth mother described Michael as a runner, who when he was in foster care when he was placed with families, would run away trying to find his way back to his mother. In the movie Blind Side, Michael is taken in by Leah Anne and her family. They give you love, care, and the opportunity to succeed. And he was successful. With the help of a tutor, he was able to increase his GPA from 0.6 to 2.56 and with continued support through mentoring, he received a college degree before becoming a professional soccer 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 started a church in Memphis. This fact is not mentioned in the film, but the importance of faith to Leigh Anne is hinted at, leading me to believe that Michael was exposed to a religious community and participated 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 enormous benefits to the family for their participation, support and growth. Studies reporting substance use such as tobacco, alcohol, and drugs have shown that children who have attended religious services are less likely to experiment with substances. Studies have also shown that the more services a child frequents, the less likely they are to experiment with substances. In addition to religion being positive for reducing drug use, the religious organization provides opportunities for children to develop social skills to improve relationships with their peers. They also provide a sense of belonging for the child and the family. Religious communities also provide opportunities to understand, celebrate and mourn the events of life.
In one scene in the movie, Michael and PJ were on the soccer field getting ready to work out. Michael wanted to go home and play video games. PJ informed Michael that Michael was expected not only to play football, but to strive for excellence. That everyone in the family has played sports or participated in some activity, the father played basketball, the sister did athletics and played volleyball, the mother had been a cheerleader, and that he (PJ) practiced all sports. While not every child may grow up to be a Michael, other sports and social activities are critical to child development. I think another lesson to be learned from Blind Side is the fact that the family not only encouraged Michael to play sports, they supported him. The family supported him during practice and were at the games to support him.
Kids need to be recognized and validated for their efforts, not just the Michael Oher of the world, but kids spending the game on the sidelines need to know their family cares enough to show up. There are other social activities that are beneficial for children such as boy scouts, girl scouts, and explorer scouts to name a few. The important thing is 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 them and that they are important.
The movie Blind Side teaches us the lesson that getting involved in a child’s school is important. There are several scenes where Leigh Anne talks to the school staff and teachers about Michael. This is what we call the link between school and home. Research has found that the stronger the link between home and 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 have lunch with their child if your child’s school has a take advantage and eat lunch with your child program. Don’t wait until your child brings home her report card to find out how she’s doing, call or stop by and talk to her teacher. Leigh Anne did exactly that in one scene, she talked to Michael’s English teacher and asked him what Michael had to do in order to pass her class and the teacher told her what Michael had to do. Michael did exactly what the teacher told Leigh Anne to do and passed the class.
In the movie Blind Side, Michael had a private tutor to help 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 them with their homework. If we find that we cannot help our 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. The net. Set up your own tutoring group with the help of your parents or your child’s peers. Start a learning group of 3 or 4 children and get help from the teacher to help you with the study material. Parents can even split subjects and each take responsibility for one subject and lead their child’s study group. Be creative.
As in 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 schoolwork; 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 her homework. Show your children that their homework and activities are important and a priority. Do not use sports, community activities, or religious activities as a reward or consequence for behaviors. Participation in activities are opportunities for growth, and the more involved your child is in these activities, the less likely he or she will be tempted to experiment with drugs, tobacco, and alcohol or engage in criminal behavior. These are the parenting lessons to be learned from the movie Blind Side.