The movie Blind Side is inspirational and amazing. Sandra Bullock portrays Leah Anne the matriarch of the affluent Memphis family who adopted Michael Oher an offensive tackle for the American football team the Baltimore Ravens. Michael was held back two years in elementary school and had a spotty educational record with a 0.6 GPA in high school. Michael was born to a family of 12 children and spent most of his life a ward of the state of Tennessee.
His biological mother described Michael as a runner, that when in foster care that when he was placed with families he would runaway trying to find his way back to his mother. In the movie Blind Side Michael is taken in by Leah Anne and her family. They provide him with love, nurturing and the opportunity to be successful. And he was successful. He was able through the help of a tutor to bring up his GPA from 0.6 to 2.56 and with continue support through tutoring he received a college degree before becoming a professional football player. While the movie hinted at the importance of religion was to Leigh Anne the extent of the importance of her faith was not entirely evident.
Leigh Anne and her husband started a church in Memphis. This fact not mention in the movie, but is hinted of the importance of faith for Leigh Anne leads me to believe that Michael was exposed to a religious community and was involved in attending church and church activities with the family. I mention this because I want to emphasize the importance of involvement for families for their children’s development. Religious organizations provide enormous benefits to family for involvement, support, and growth. Studies reporting on substance use of tobacco, alcohol, and drugs have shown that children that have attended religious services were less likely to have experiment with substances. The studies have also shown that the more services attended by the child the lower the possibility of experimentation with substances. In addition to religion being a positive in reducing drug use, religious organization provided opportunities for children to develop social skills to improve peer relationships. They also provide a sense of belonging for the child and the family. Religious communities also provide opportunities to understand, celebrate, and grieve life events.
In one scene of the movie Michael and PJ were at the football field getting ready to work out. Michael wanted to go home and play video games. PJ informed Michael that it was expected that Michael not only play football, but that he strive for excellence. That everyone in the family has played sports or participated in an activity, the father played basketball, the sister ran track and played volleyball, the mother had been a cheerleader, and that he (PJ) played all sports. While every child may not grow up to be a Michael Oher sports and other social activities are fundamental to child development. I think that another lesson to be learned from the Blind Side is the fact that the family did not just encourage Michael to play sports, they supported him. The family supported him during practice and was at the games to support him.
Children need to have their efforts recognized and validated, not just the Michael Oher’s of the world, but the children who spend the game on the side lines, need to know that their family care enough to show up. There are other social activities that are beneficial to children include, boy scouts, girl scouts, and explorer scouts to name a few. What is important is that you involve your child in activities using community social groups; community sports organizations, or sports and social groups through the child’s school. The more involved you are as a parent the better, it sends a message to the child that you support the child and that they are important.
The movie Blind Side teaches us the lesson to be involved in the child’s school is important. There are several scenes where Leigh Anne is talking to school staff and teachers about Michael. This is what we call the home school link. Research has found that the greater the home school link the better the child’s performance in school. This includes school attendance. There are schools that have programs that allow the parents to come to school and have lunch with their child if your child’s school has a program take advantage and have lunch with your child. Don’t wait until your child brings home their report card to find out how your child is doing, call or go by and talk to her teacher. Leigh Anne did just that in one scene, she talked to Michaels English teacher and she asked him what Michael had to do to be able to pass his class and the teacher told her what Michael needed to do. Michael did exactly what the teacher told Leigh Anne that he needed to do, and he passed the class.
In the movie Blind Side Michael had a private tutor to help him with his school work not only in high school, but also through college. While we all cannot afford to hire private tutors for our children, we can sit down and help our children with their homework. If we find that we cannot help our children with their homework, we can ask for help at the school. There are schools that have peer tutoring, some schools have after school tutoring programs, there may be a tutoring program at a local church, community college, or university that have students going to school to be teachers that can provide tutoring. There are community organizations that provide tutoring, like the Boys and Girls Club. If you have trouble finding resources or opportunities for your child most likely other parents are having the same problem. Network. Set up your own tutoring group with the help of your parents of your child’s peers. Start a learning group of 3 or 4 children and get help from the teacher to help you with study material. The parents can even split up the subjects and each one take responsibility for a subject and lead their child’s study group. Be creative.
As in all things in life, the more positive time and energy you invest in your child the greater the reward. Engage your child in social, community, and school activities, participate with your child and be supportive and available. Take an active interest in your child’s school work; find out what resources are available to help your child learn. Talk to your child’s teacher on a regular basis, not just parent teacher conferences. Help your child with her homework. Show your children that their homework and activities are important and are a priority. Do not use sports, community activities, or religious activities as a reward or consequences for behaviors. Participation in activities are growth opportunities and the more involved your child is in these activities, the less likely your child will be tempted to experiment with drugs, tobacco, and alcohol or engage in delinquent behaviors. These are the parenting lessons that are learned from the movie the Blind Side.