Kids’ shows usually make me cringe – but I finally watched the animated show ‘Bluey’ and was surprised at how much it had to teach me about parenting.
I had grand visions pre-children of only showing my kids television shows about nature — if I ever put them in front of a screen at all. My philosophy behind that idea was not particularly well-developed and was mostly based on the fact that a lot of animated kid shows annoy me. Now that I am in the thick of parenting little kids it turns out that my children are familiar with screens and do watch things other than documentaries narrated by Sir David Attenborough.
Still, my bias against kids’ shows persists. I am always loath to check new ones out. Then an animated show from Australia called Bluey came along. My mom encouraged me to watch it, but I resisted, and resisted, and resisted. After finally watching a couple of episodes (delightfully short at eight minutes apiece), I understood how lovely the show is, and was surprised at how much I could learn about parenting from it.
The power of play
The first thing I’ve picked up on is how important the power of play is in showing love to your kids. Each episode is about a different game the dad plays with his daughters. The dad is particularly creative and engaged with his kids in their games — be it keeping a balloon up in the air or pretending to be a patient in a doctor’s office. He helps them engage their imaginations and takes and redirects their silliness in stride. And his kids seem delighted and secure in their dad’s love for them.
Watching their onscreen interactions makes me reflect. Do I love my kids? Certainly. But do they realize how much I love them? Do I show that in a way they can understand? Do I engage with them in a way that celebrates and respects their particular interests and personalities? When they are older and have more developed interests that might be easier to pinpoint. But for now, when they’re little, playing actively with them is a way they will feel loved.
A different ongoing theme in the show that speaks to me is that the mom and dad enjoy each other’s company and work as a team. You see the moments they share while they play with their daughters, their conspiratorial winks to each other, and even a moment of grief as they remember the loss of a baby. Often one or the other has to head to work or a social event, and even in the way they say goodbye to each other and the girls, you can see that they are on the same team and care deeply for each other.
I’m reminded that my husband and I can be a team in the fun, silly moments of life alongside the nitty gritty or routine logistical moments of the day.
Seeing what’s special
Finally, I am struck by the beauty of seeing the world through a child’s eyes, particularly how the show’s kids (Bluey and Bingo) see the dignity of everyone they meet. The protagonists see every dog in the show (did I mention it is a show where everyone is a dog?!), whether old or young, part of the family, neighbor, or passing guy on the street, as someone special and worth getting to know.
Most little kids have a special knack for being interested in everybody they see and wanting to know more about them. The show reminds me of that kid quality, and the way the dad treats everyone he meets reinforces the idea that adults can have the same awe and wonder about other people.
At the end of the day, we are actually called to have that vision of other people. Our goal is to see and love Jesus in every person we meet. Thanks for the reminder, Bluey!
You can check out an episode of Bluey here: