Photo from billyelliotbroadway.com
Last week, while briefly in NYC, I caught a matinee of Billy Elliot: The Musical on Broadway. I knew I loved the movie Billy Elliot, which my husband and I saw almost ten years ago before we had kids. However, what I didn't realize is that the story holds a deeply valuable lesson in parenting as well.
Play PreviewBilly Elliot, who is 11, finds an unlikely passion for ballet dancing while coming of age in Northern England amid the 1984 Miner's Strike. His father, a hardworking miner, is horrified by the idea of his son doing ballet, let alone wasting time in point shoes when he, Billy's older brother, and many members of the town are on strike in the name of their livelihoods. However, when Billy gets an audition at the Royal Ballet School, his father, brother, and the community band together to help deliver Billy to his dream.
Billy's story, overall, is such an inspirational one — one that beckons us to dream and follow our passion, in spite of any backlash we may experience along the way.
However, from a parent's perspective, this is also a story about letting our children dream and follow their own paths, even if they are not the ones we had in mind for them. This may seem simple in some ways, but when our inner beliefs, values, and views are challenged, then it's really not that simple.
I was watching (and sobbing through) Billy Elliot, feeling pretty righteous, thinking I wouldn't really care if one of my sons chose a more traditionally feminine path, like dancing, nursing, or even being a stay at home dad. I would support him in these things. After all, I tirelessly respect and value dancers, nurses, and SAH parents. However, then I had to get off my high horse and see the deeper lesson in the tale. Could I, in the same way, support my boys if they were truly passionate about something I don't understand or relate to as much?
This, of course, made me squirm a little and question myself a lot more.
But I just can't see being proud of my role as a parent if I turn out any other way. And for that, I will not only cherish Billy's inspired passion, but I will carry Billy's father's story of strength, courage, and one very difficult change of heart with me along the way.
What movie, TV show, musical, or play have you seen lately that had a hidden lesson about parenting?