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Class Acts: Choosing Inspirational And Encouraging Movies For Your Teen

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By Mia Bolaris-Forget

Movies are a wonderful source of family entertainment. Still, many concurring experts suggest that simply watching television or movies with your children does NOT constitute “Quality” time….but say some entertainment can be exceptionally educational and an excellent tool for learning and communication.

Young adults NEED to learn about themselves and the world around them Movies are one interesting, often action-packed way of exposing them to different values, ideals, and ideas, encouraging them to think, ask questions and reflect not only on themselves but others around them. In fact, movies can really make reality (and learning about it) fun and entertaining.

“Educational” films have a specific influence especially on young women. They often free her from her own limits and allow her to identify with one of the characters, reassess herself, her goals, ambitions, and desires and live “vicariously”.

Furthermore, movies “inspire” girls to ask questions (about themselves and the world around them). In fact, experts suggest that what she experiences on the screen is perceptually more authentic for her than it is for you. According to the experts it the best opportunity to address her needs and concerns, and questions, especially by focus on HER reactions to what’s going on and which character she seems to identify with and why.

Some inspirational and thought provoking films you (both) may want to share and discuss:

My Brilliant Career: This 1979 G-rated classic examines the life of a poor teenage girl, her struggles, her dreams, and her rise to “the top”. Based on a true story from turn-of-the-century Australia, this movie is exhilarating and motivating.
Little Women: A classic based on Louisa May Alcott’s novel. It tells the heartwarming story of a mother and her four children, surviving without the help of a man in the house. A wonderful depiction of female strengths, “weaknesses” and bonding.

Flying Away Home: A wonderfully touching and inspirational documentation of a real life “sag”. Flying Away Home is the true story of a young teen who goes to live with her father after her mother’s passing. It follows her new life and her journey into adulthood as she learns about love, caring and “mothering” through a gaggle of Canadian Geese she finds and cares for.

The Secret Garden: The encouraging story of a young orphaned girl whose altruistic love and attention brings back to life that has been ignored for 10 years. It also depicts her inspirational “journey” in assisting her ailing cousin regain his health.

The Trouble With Angels: The lighter side of “inspiration”. This 1966 classic is a comical depiction of a convent turned into a school for “unruly” youth. Lots of clean, “classic” family fun and for many parents a quintessential walk down memory lane.

I Am Sam: One of the best “recent” releases. This 2002 release features Sean Penn as a mentally challenged man battling to gain custody of his 7 year-old son. It’s a sensitive film with many good lessons about the challenges in life and what’s really important. Great entertainment for the entire family.

The Little Princess: A heartwarming “riches to rags” tale that teaches kids of all ages about the trials and tribulations of life and how to face “adversity”. This 1939 classic is about a young maiden; the daughter of a wealthy British soldier who falls from “Grace” after her father is killed in the war. It depicts her first as the popular, top notch student who befriends other less popular classmates and school employees, and then as a young girl struggling as a servant at the school to settle her late father’s debts; all the while, while her uncle is “secretly” searching for her.

Ruby Bridges: A fantastic movie for the whole family. This Disney film candidly illustrates the courage of one bright and effervescent young girl who was the first to be desegregated….and focus on both her personal and her family’s struggles.

Chap Flicks:

October Sky: An1999 box office hit is excellent motivational movie for girls and boys…but especially for the brothers. This is rousing film about beating the odds and rising above all challenges and circumstances to fulfill and realize your dreams. It is an ideal teaching tool with valuable lessons in persistence and self-confidence.

Shiloh: A movie about self-discovery, morals and emotional turmoil. This 2004 release challenges a young boy to make the right decision upon be followed home by a “stray” pup belonging to his cruel and indignant neighbor. It also contains some valuable lessons in love and conviction (to doing the right thing) and choosing between right and wrong.

The Sign Of The Beaver: Based on the Newbery Honor novel, this is the story of a young man’s struggles of survival in the wilderness. Based in 1768, this young boy is left in the woods of Maine as his father sets out to claim the rest of the family. The days grow longer and his chances of survival “slimmer” until his “miraculous” rescue by the “native” locals. A compassionate tale of trust, friendship, faith, love, loyalty, and life in colonial times.

Boys Town: An awe-inspiring story of one priests dedication to rehabilitating “troubled” youth. The movie depicts his dedication to his belief that there’s no such thing as a “bad boy” and through his fervent insistence getting through to even the toughest kids and giving them hope, direction, and the realization that they are “NOT” hopeless.

Long Island Family Life & Parenting Articles > Class Acts: Choosing Inspirational And Encouraging Movies For Your Teen

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