Movies impart many life lessons by expressing views currently held in society, reflections on the past and hopes for the future. Movies also influence how people think and, because children are highly impressionable, they look to movies as one of their sources of guidance. When watching a movie with your child, it's important to use it as a tool to teach him about one of life's most important themes, respect.
Released in 1994, this movie centers on a disabled boy named Forrest Gump who learns about both sides of respect. He is teased at school until Jenny befriends him and he learns what it means to be respected. By example, Forrest's mother also teaches him respect, standing up for him and instructing him to treat others well. When Forrest grows up and enters the military, his notion of respect is cemented when he rescues Lieutenant Dan, saving him when nobody else would because he viewed his leader as an authority figure whose voice commanded listening to.
Pay It Forward
In this movie, a young boy decides his school assignment will be to commit good deeds to three people, under the proviso that the recipients pass them on in the same fashion. Although Trevor is only 11, he teaches respect to the adults in his life. His mother learns to respect Trevor's teacher's past, taking him for who he is and, in turn, Trevor's teacher administers the same respect to her. Both adults also show respect to Trevor, treating him as a human being who's capable of being a good person.
Parents with two misbehaving children hire a nanny with unorthodox methods to teach their children respect. When Mary Poppins enters the lives of Jane and Michael, she shows them that treating each other well, dressing neatly and tidying their respective rooms are all signs of respect. By the end, the Banks children are almost unrecognizable in how far they've come learning about what it means to respect people, property and authority.
Remember the Titans
At first glance, this football movie may seem more about finding inspiration to overcome obstacles, but hidden just under the surface is a strong theme about respecting others and their differences. The film uses sports as a vehicle to show how respect for a fellow person is a more important goal to achieve than winning a game. It also teaches children that respect is a difficult -- yet rewarding -- virtue to grasp, especially when others around them don't seem to share the same mentality.