What I learned from Brave – Part 1

So I saw the extremely popular Brave this last weekend, giving in to the Disney franchise, AGAIN. This time, it got me (and my girls) bad with the messages that I should be taking back as a dad. Aside from the dad being a physically large man, he and I have a lot in common. Mostly? Being a dad to a red-headed daughter. But I also learned what NOT to do with in that relationship with my daughter. That’s what we’ll cover in Part 1 today **Mini Spoiler alert**
What the dad from Brave taught me NOT to do
#1 – Be an idiot
Quite honestly, the dad echoes the popular media’s view of dads/men. He’s somewhat of a bumbling, fighting, goon. He doesn’t really interact with his daughter, as that’s more of his wife’s job. It’s obvious that dad is sort of in his own world and defers to his bride on issues with their daughter (of which there are many).
As the movie plays out, the wife is the wise one. She’s calm, thinks about her actions, and carefully chooses her words. The husband is seen as the goofy brute, not really with a mind, but just muscles. With that, all the characters view him in that same light.
A dad like that wouldn’t be approached by his daughter for advice. He wouldn’t be consulted or given a chance to be an ear for her during a time of need. But you reap what you sow, if you don’t show control and act like a moron, people will treat you like a moron. Then your daughter will seek out a moron for a mate. That’s not who you want to go fishing with.

Looks like the first time he’s seen a book.

#2 – Mince words
Along with that stupidity comes the inability to convey a simple message. There are multiple times where the dad is charged with speaking, but with a few pregnant pauses, in jumps the wife. Not just with the daughter, mind you, but with other dudes. That’s just not owning up to responsibility.
I mean, seriously, if you can’t talk to your daughter, you’re going to want to figure out how. I don’t know if they plan on making a Brave 2 or not, but I’m pretty sure that focus of that movie, if it did exist, wouldn’t be how that Merida owes it all to dad. Just being able to speak with her is step #1. But that can be a big hurdle for some dads.
Anybody reading this ever been cut off by their significant other? Yeah, it sucks, but it’s half you and half them. If it’s a common occurance, and you want it to change, you have to start speaking up. About boys, drugs, sex, life. Don’t just let everyone else speak for you. If they do that, she has no reason to listen to you as a source of wisdom. Or advice. Or authority. So speak up, man!

He’s not the sharpest knife in the drawer

#3 – Be selfish- go after your own goals alone
So most of the movie, the dad is after something. I’ll just throw this one spoiler: Bruce Willis is dead at the end of Sixth Sense. I didn’t say which spoiler, fyi.
So the dad is after something. Because of that, he’s oblivious to what’s going on around him (which a large part of the plot depends on, but stay with me). Since he’s oblivious, the daughter avoids him rather than consults him. He doesn’t understand her and doesn’t care much about her problems. He’s after something and that’s all that matters in his life.
Look, we’re men and we’re told to conquer, to go after our dreams, to look out for number one. So we do it. Then we turn in to work-a-holics, or barely make 3 of our kids 20 games, or care more about poker night than eating dinner as a family. Yes, you have goals. You have dreams. But you can find that balance. You can put your family as a priority and still work on your dreams. Yes, it means you have to be unselfish and sacrifice a bit. But isn’t she worth it?
You might already be sacrificing for them right now. Working a difficult job? Bucking cultural influence and being a stay at home dad? Stopped drinking because your teenagers don’t need that influence? Those are all real examples of dads I know. That’s the way to do it. They’re not just thinking of themselves or doing it out of obligation, they’re doing it out of love and responsibility. The responsibility to provide…and not just money. Providing time. Love. Wisdom. Care. You have to actually BE PRESENT to provide those.

Let’s play another round!

That’s how to be an unselfish dad.
Those are all things I want to avoid. And not just avoid, but check myself to see if I’m doing these things, then do my best to improve. Stop back for Part 2 where I talk through the things I need to make sure I AM doing.
Thanks for reading and thanks for being a dad…

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