Millenial Parents with Fond Memories of Disney, We Need To Be On Guard

Millenial Parents with Fond Memories of Disney, We Need To Be On Guard

Mar 13, 2022

I grew up like many other millenials did in the 90s – Disney movie OBSESSED. I watched all the classics – Beauty & The Beast, Cinderella, Peter Pan, Aladdin, Sword in the Stone, Robin Hood, Mulan – you name it, I watched it. With one exception – The Little Mermaid. My parents decided that was one we would skip because Ariel had a “rebellious attitude.” I thought it was silly – I didn’t understand their reasoning as a kid. But today as a parent of three young girls 7 and under, I realize they were onto something. 

I thought it was silly – I didn’t understand their reasoning as a kid. But today as a parent of three young girls 7 and under, I realize they were onto something. 

inThere are many of us who grew up with Disney movies as a staple in our home. We affectionately remember the characters, songs and stories we loved as kids – and we want to share them with OUR kids.

That isn’t wrong in and of itself – I too love sharing the joys of my own childhood with my kids. But I’m noticing a dangerous trend amongst Christian parents around my age – and that is what I want to caution against today. 

As a generation, we are raising kids who are now infants to 15 years old, give or take a few years. And we are not taking as seriously as we should the desired influence companies like Disney we grew up with want to have on our kids.

We must take a more sincere and critical look at the moral and spiritual agenda of companies that are producing these movies and ask whether the entertainment gained is worth the messages received

Now before you think I’m some Disney-hater who is going to tell you if your kids watch TV they will grow up to be God-hating atheists, let me assure you, that isn’t me.

I have let my little girls dress up as Disney princesses for Halloween virtually every year since they were born. I have let them watch most of the Disney classic animated movies (Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast, Cinderella, etc.) and there are many movies we love as a family and allow our girls to watch.


Part of the appeal Disney has is that it is seemingly so innocuous and harmless. How bad can an animated film be, after all? “They’re just cartoons!” “The jokes went right over my kids’ heads!” “Lighten up- It’s just a movie.” These are all things many of us have said or thought at one time or other. And they are things I see parents saying even now about movies releasing today. I have watched movies like that and I have at times let my kids watch movies like that. I assure you I am not Moses coming down from on high to deliver the law. The problem is, the movies from back then actually DID have an agenda, whether we realized it or not, and the movies being produced today are much more brazen in communicating that agenda to our kids.

I believe part of the reason Disney is so effective is because of the power of story. Story has incredible power over us. Good stories have the ability to make us cry, to make us laugh, to change our minds. To teach us about people and places and things we didn’t previously understand or know about. Stories that make a mark on us wiggle their way into a special place in our heart that isn’t subject to the same level of criticism we’d otherwise have for an idea or a thought. This why Disney is so effective and has stood the test of time. Isn’t this how these classics continue to be passed from one generation to the next? We keep showing them to our children and they keep doing the same – because they were “what we loved watching as a kid.” Problem is – the movies Disney is releasing today have a much more bold and provocative message than the old classics did.

But we, the heart-warmed millenials with fond memories of Cinderella that we are, keep showing our kids the movies under the assumption they are just as “harmless” as the classics we grew up on.

Now let me be clear – my beef is not primarily with Disney. My beef is with parents being too trusting because of nostalgia and seeing something as innocent and harmless when it is anything but.

Fellow Christian millennial parents, we need to realize that the intent of film producers is not merely to entertain, but to teach.

Fellow Christian millennial parents, we need to realize that the intent of film producers is not merely to entertain,
but to teach.

The first question in your mind when you hear someone aims to teach your children is – from what worldview? What are their assumptions about reality? Who is God, who is man, why are we here and what is this all for? Is there an absolute standard of truth and beauty or are they merely subjective and found in the eye of the beholder?

My hope is not that you throw away your Disney movies and ban your kids from watching them. I don’t think that’s the answer. But a more discerning, critically-thinking and engaged parent is a bulwark against deceptive indoctrination. I hope that what you are challenged with is how you approach consuming movies as a family and particularly which ones you allow to shape and influence your kids.

If you’ve seen a Disney movie, it will come as no surprise to you that nearly every film presents a negative view of the family. Nearly all of them denigrate and diminish the concept of the nuclear family. They distance children from parents (in how many of them is one or both parents dead?) and demonize parents (think of all the evil stepmothers and overbearing or controlling parents.)

Think of all the sinful attitudes that are glorified as “self-discovery” or “finding oneself” or “honoring yourself more than your parents” as with the latest release, Turning Red.

In full disclosure, I have not watched Turning Red. I don’t need to. I don’t need to see it to read quotes from the movie and see the messages that this movie is clearly seeking to get across to kids. 

Here’s a few quotes from the film: 

“Don’t hold back. For anyone.”

“Honoring your parents sounds great, but if you take it too far, well, you might forget to honor yourself.” -Mei

“I’ve been obsessed with my mom’s approval my whole life. I couldn’t risk losing it. But losing you guys is worse.” -Mei

There is so much more that can be said about the particulars of this movie – but this is not a movie review – this is a call to Christian parents to take more seriously their role as gatekeeper – even if it means keeping their kids from having the same “cinematic experience” they fondly look back on as kids. Even if it means your kids haven’t seen all the newest movies Disney releases. Even if means they are “out of the loop” with the newest loot Target and other stores will have lining their shelves with each new film. 

Don’t be so afraid of being left out and uncool that you put something before your kids that directly goes against what God’s Word says is good. 

Why, Christian parents, are we teaching our children the fruit of the spirit on Sunday but then when Friday night rolls around indoctrinating them with worldly ideologies, sinful attitudes, disrespectful (at best) speech and ungodly teachings? It doesn’t make sense – except for that, it’s nostalgic to us. The movies are an escape. A way for us to connect and share a favorite pastime. 

Our family LOVES a good movie night, and in fact over spring break we are having a movie marathon where we are showing our girls many of the movies we loved as kids (Angels in the Outfield, Paulie, Indian In the Cupboard, etc). But I never want entertainment to come at the expense of shepherding my kids’ hearts and minds. Never at the expense of teaching my kids to be entertained by things Christ died for.

I do not hope to demonize Disney with this article but merely to offer an encouragement for us as millennials coming to a greater awareness of the agenda that is in many of these movies for our kids – ESPECIALLY in ones being released in this day and age -that we need to be more on guard than even our parents were. We need to walk wisely and not foolishly, as Ephesians 5: 15-16 says “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.”

I believe we can raise informed and educated children without isolating them completely from the world and its influences. I believe we can gently and carefully allow them to see age-appropriate films while shaping their minds in regards to those things the films contain. I believe it is not just possible to do this but our duty as parents. 

Practically, this may look like pausing the movie to speak truth to a lie or to have a quick chat about the character’s attitude or response. If they are older, it may look like posing a question to them at the outset and inviting them to look for a certain worldview or ideology presented and disguised in the film and then discussing as a family afterwards.

After all, training requires resistance. And at some point your children ARE going to encounter the lies of the culture. So where better for them to be equipped to spot and respond to them than under your care? Of course this has to be handled with great discernment and wisdom, realizing your own child’s particular readiness and capability of understanding a certain topic or issue and discussing them in age-appropriate ways. 

 I am not here to tell you which movies your kids should watch and which ones they shouldn’t. I just want to say that as parents, as the ones with primary and marked influence on our kids minds and hearts, it is on us to protect them. It is our literal job and duty to equip and empower them to one day field all sorts of messages and false ideologies on their own- and that starts now, in front of your television screen.

Don’t check out of what media your kids consume. Don’t be overly trusting. Don’t think the best of media companies. Don’t give them the benefit of the doubt. When it comes to your kids, we should not think those who have a lesson to teach them are “innocent until proven guilty” but rather “guilty until proven innocent.” 

Be fierce. Be ruthless. Be protective.

Fiercely protect the gate to their heart and mind while training them to protect their heart and mind without your help some day.

Fiercely protect the gate to their heart and mind while training them to protect their heart and mind without your help some day.

Our homes are training grounds – but if they are to serve as such, we need to look at everything that hits our kids eyes and minds (and therefore hearts) in the mindset of critic and coach – not mindless consumer.

The days are evil, friends, and so are many of the movies. Use wisdom and discernment when picking what your family watches and be aware of the forces of evil who would like nothing more than to influence your children via a “harmless cartoon.”