The following was produced in partnership with our friends at the Disney Princess ‘Dream Big, Princess’ campaign, whose empowered characters inspire girls to dream big and achieve big. For every girl who dreams big, there’s a Princess to show her it’s possible.
As you wish your kids nothing but the greatest success in life, you might remind them to remember you when they make it to the top. Not just because you want them to hook you up with that sweet corner room in the retirement community one day, but because one of the most important things in life is to remain connected to your family while finding your own way.
That’s the story of Disney’s Mulan, a warrior princess who doesn’t discover her own strength until she secretly takes her father’s place in the army to defend her country and her family’s warrior legacy. As Mulan’s parents found out, the path your kid chooses isn’t up to you. In your case, you can’t send an ancestral spirit dragon to protect them and ensure they honor their roots as they forge their life’s journey. You can, however, do the following:
Be The Hardest Worker In The Room
At training camp, Mulan passes as a man easily. As a soldier, not so much. But with hard work and Captain Li Shang’s guidance, Mulan and her pals Yao, Ling, and Chien-Po become legitimate warriors. That’s the kind of thing your daughter needs to learn as she fights for her dreams and opportunities in life.
If a Disney folk hero isn’t enough proof that hard work pays off and builds filial love, take it from an internet folk hero. Entrepreneur and investor Gary Vaynerchuk credits his father’s relentless work ethic for his success but recognizes where the true strength of their enduring bond comes from. “My dad and I had a successful family business because we loved each other more than we loved the business,” Vaynerchuk says. “And I plan on loving my children more than any other variable.”
Make Their Passion Family Business
Kyle Larson’s parents encouraged their son’s passions from the start. From his first go-kart lap through his current NASCAR career they’ve been at every race from Daytona to Sonoma. And Larson loves them for it every time as if it was the first. Now he’s got a kid of his own and knows he must be the positive force in their lives. The circle continues — and not just because his job is driving in them.
Mulan’s parents don’t follow this advice exactly to the letter, but they do make sure the family is close by no matter where Mulan is in life by praying to their ancestors who order the “Great Stone Dragon” to protect her. Granted, the dragon she gets is smaller in stature, but he keeps the family connection strong and serves as a reminder that Mulan’s ancestors have her back.
Or Don’t … But Support Them Wholeheartedly Anyway
Like most comedians’ parents, Dave Hill’s dad never quite got how the whole stand-up thing would pay the bills. But he loved his son unconditionally, let him follow his own path, and now they’re melting faces on YouTube playing Stairway To Heaven together. Your kid’s journey doesn’t have to make any more sense to you than a young woman joining the Imperial Army disguised as a man.
Mulan struggles with her inner spirit not being reflected in a way that makes sense to her parents and community, and worries she won’t uphold her family’s honor. In the end, her parents are just glad to have their daughter home safely. As long as you support your kids emotionally (and, if they’re a budding stand-up, maybe financially) they’ll appreciate it and remain forever connected to you no matter what.
Never Stop Learning
Former Secretary Of Education John B. King talks about how his father literally read the dictionary. Multiple times. (With check marks beside every word to prove it.) And his grade school teacher followed every completed book with a suggestion for the next one. Today, King still reads the New York Times every morning and bonds with his 2 daughters over their favorite learning experiences at school. This from a guy who was kicked out of high school.
King could have turned his back on the school that didn’t want him, but family, community, and honor kept him grounded and he ultimately become the head of the entire education system. Mulan could have renounced the army after being discharged for her dishonesty, yet, because she’s learned the ways of warrior honor from her father and commander, she rushes back to the Imperial City to warn against the advancing Huns’ plot to overthrow them. Keep your kids continuously seeking knowledge and they’ll remain forever connected to the family and community that helped give them the wisdom to take on the world.
You can never be sure where your kids will end up once they start following their dreams. But thanks to Mulan, you can be certain they’ll have you on their mind when they get there. And in that way, you’ll always be with them. Your other option is to teach a cricket to chirp your name and strap it to your kid’s jacket in a tiny cage. Instilling them with strong family ties seems like it might be the more practical option.
Learn more about Disney Princess ‘Dream Big, Princess’ and follow them on Facebook and Instagram for more inspiration to help girls dream big and achieve big. For every girl who dreams big, there’s a Princess to show her it’s possible.