Float on Disney Plus has lessons about grace and parenting we can all learn so we can enjoy judgment-free parenting.
Unless you’ve been living under rock, you either have Disney Plus or you’re not jumping on the bandwagon…yet. It’s taken the streaming world by storm (despite some rookie glitches) and our Family Movie Night to a whole new level! Between old favorites (Hello, Frozen!) and new favorites (I see you, Mandalorian), we’re all feeling like kids.
But, it’s the shorts I’m really falling in love with – none more than the SparkShorts original, Float.
Written from the perspective of a father to three sons, one of which is a child “deemed different,” it will give every mama all the feels.
float gets to the heart of parenting
From a young age, Alex displays an ability that makes him different from all the other kids. An ability noone understands, even his dad. To protect himself and Alex from the world’s judgment, Alex’s dad hides them both.
The fear keeps them hiding until the one day Alex’s ability just can’t be hidden anymore. Alex’s dad is faced with a dilemma: run back into hiding or embrace his son’s ability.
Whether our own children are deemed different-abled or neurotypical, Float gives us all something to think about when parenting our kiddos.
Although it’s available only on Disney Plus, you can get a couple glimpses of it in this trailer for all the Pixar SparkShorts coming out.
float teaches judgment-free (grace-full) parenting
We meet Alex first when his dad is throwing him in the air. After his dad blows on a dandelion, Alex is ecstatic.
Do you remember that same sense of awe when you blew on a dandelion to see the seed heads blow like tiny parachutes?
First, his hair begins to stick straight into the air and then he floats right out of his dad’s hands. At first, his dad is in awe of this new-found ability. That is, until he realizes the judgment that will come from it.
Seeing Alex stare in complete wonder brought back so many memories of my childhood. And then he floated. And dad’s look of terror (and embarassment and fear of judgment) brought back so many memories as a stressed-out mama who just didn’t know when things were going to get hairy. All it took was one “No” to bring out banshee-level screaming.
Public decorum is not a part of some kids’ vocabulary.
with the judgment we give in parenting, we often get back
Sometimes our kiddos show their butts in public – figuratively and literally (don’t ask). It only takes one time before we get looks from other people. Those looks tend to feel a whole lot like judgment.
We all fear judgment from others (and long for a little more grace). But in Matthew 7:1-2 (NLT), it says, “Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. For you will be treated as you treat others. The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged.”
This verse refers to treatment from others based upon our treatment of them.
Dr. James B. Richards, in his book “How to Stop the Pain,” discusses how our judgment of others actually causes us pain because it becomes an outward expression of what’s really in our hearts – judgment.
So what does this mean for us? The judgment we feel from others may be a reflection of the judgment we’ve given.
We may be assuming what others are thinking about us. Whether we’ve been judging ourselves or others, it’s causing more pain than we think it is.
free yourself from judgment
Alex’s dad was such an amazing depiction of this. Over the course of time, the once happy dad is now disheveled – his internal feelings so well-represented externally. He’s tired, unshaven, and not enjoying life as a dad.
Every time they leave the house, Alex must wear a hoodie to keep his hair from showing (because that floats too) and wears a leashed backpack with rocks to keep him from floating when they’re out in public.
What Alex’s dad doesn’t realize is he’s creating his own prison by living within the fear and judgment of others.
Let’s recognize the judgment in our own hearts more. Pour out grace so it is pressed down, shaken and overflowing – onto others and ourselves (Luke 6:38). Sometimes we feel judged because we’re placing that judgment on ourselves.
When we recognize our tendency to judge others, it actually frees us up to reject other’s judgment. It also helps us to not apply motives to others. Assuming other’s judgment of us can cause just as much pain as someone actually saying the hurtful words.
Do you find yourself judging others? Are you determining the quality of other’s parenting skills and projecting it onto them? Could this be some of the same things you’re feeling about yourself? And your kids?
I know these have all been true for me. And I didn’t even know it!
how to begin a more graceful approach to parenting
That leads me to the next thing.
No matter what’s going on in public, we should always make our long-term relationship with our kids more important than whatever short-term issue that’s going on.
handling public tantrums
Ever had a time when your kiddos started acting a fool in public? You start feeling your face get red and hot? You feel the daggers from on-lookers? Me, too, mama.
I think we all have.
In those moments, we have a tendency to be more concerned with what others think about our parenting than any long-term implications.
As Alex and his dad head out for a walk one day, they pass a playground. They briefly stop and Alex’s dad finds himself watching all the other kids playing with their parents – wishing he could do that, too. Suddenly, Alex is no longer attached to the backpack but is now floating across the playground!
A few moments of chasing his child down among the judgmental stares of other parents increases his anxiety. He finally catches up to Alex, grabs him by his hoodie and drags him out screaming like a banshee. He’s at the end of his rope, not knowing what else to do instead of yelling at Alex and screams, “Why can’t you just be normal?”
And that’s what we all think sometimes right?
moving away from judgment toward grace
Because we compare our kids to what we see on social media or even well-behaved kids in public. We think something’s wrong with our kids or we’re terrible parents.
We believe the lies: “Why can’t she just control her kid?” And we feel like we need to do something about it in a way that shows others we’re good parents and we’ve got our kids under control.
But that is fear-based parenting. Fear and love cannot occur at the same time.
We need to – even in those difficult moments – remember to extend the same grace to our kids that God extends to us whenever we mess up. To change our fear-based parenting to grace-based.
We need to aim for correction through connection – not control.
It doesn’t matter whether those other parents think you’re a good mom or not. Not everyone is going to understand your parenting decisions, and they don’t need to. It’s not their family. It’s not their kid. So they don’t know the intimate details of what needs to happen to love and discipline your child well.
You need to remind yourself what grace really is. And remember it’s for you and your kiddo – no matter how much of a turd they’re being that day.
In the end, I hope you have the same realization Alex’s dad did. Embrace the children God gave us, discipline them in a way that fosters connection, and love them despite what others may think (real or imagined).
At the end of the day, that’s what really matters.
SHARING IS CARING!