With the Oscars just around the corner, North Americans are rushing to see the films that critics have been raving about for months. Some families in the Touro University Worldwide (TUW) Marriage & Family Therapy Department reviewed a few of this year’s Oscar Nominees and the family lessons that can be learned from their plots. Have you ever considered using movies to discuss difficult family topics?
1) Dealing with Parenting – “Brave” is the favorite for winning best animated film, but it is also a favorite for understanding the conflicts that arise between parents and children. The strong-willed Merida defies her mother as she hopes to change the future her parents have planned for her. Ultimately, both mother and daughter learn that parenting is about compromise, which is a lesson that both children and adults can take to heart.
2) Dealing with Mental Illness – Mental illness is often a taboo subject; families do not discuss it and prefer avoidance over acceptance. Movies such as “Silver Linings Playbook” have brought the realities of depression and mental illness into the spotlight. Families need to be open about mental illness with their children so that they can understand that it is an illness and it is ok to ask for help. Movies are good starting points for talking about difficult topics, and “Silver Linings Playbook” fits the bill.
3) Learning about Societal Struggles – “Les Misérables” was revolutionary when Victor Hugo first published the acclaimed novel in 1862, and many of the struggles and lessons learned by its characters are still relevant today. Talking to your children about poverty and racism can be difficult topics to introduce, and sometimes looking at how far the world has come is a good starting point. Using historical movies like “Les Misérables” can teach your children lessons such as the importance of service to society, intellectual pursuit, and the giving back to the underserved, all principals that TUW is built upon.
4) Learning about Loss – “Amour” is the favorite for winning the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film, but the topics the film focuses on such as elderly relations and loss are not foreign. Talking about loss is a difficult subject to broach at any age, which is why it is important to watch movies that showcase the pain of loss and show family members how individuals deal with this agony.
The Marriage and Family Therapy Program at Touro University Worldwide presents an extraordinary opportunity for interested individuals to become actively involved in an expanding and promising area of study. The need for Marriage and Family Therapists is growing as an integral and important part of our nation’s health and mental health care delivery system. So watch the movies, learn the lessons, and then become part of the TUW community that teaches these lessons every day.