What “Home Alone” can teach us about parenting – what to do when your kids are emotional.

“Look what you did you little JERK!”

That iconic line of the movie Home Alone was the culmination of the insults thrown at the young Kevin McAlister by his family.

A small child, precocious, lost in the shuffle, Kevin was the odd one out. 

Overwhelmed in the crowded house full of stressed out parents and fighting cousins, Kevin got the short end of the stick being the youngest – having to sleep in a scary attic with a cousin who peed the bed – and he was not happy about it. 

Then as everyone shoves their faces with the long awaited pizza, his favorite kind – plain – is gone by the time he gets to the kitchen.

He’s pissed, and to add fuel to the fire, his bully of a brother pretends to puke up his piece of pizza so Kevin could have some. 

Buzz’s dry heaving was the last straw that caused the volcano of emotions that Kevin was feeling to explode and he pushed his brother who knocked over all the drinks onto the pizza, making a huge mess.

“You’re what the French call, ‘les incompétents'”, says his sister.

“Kevin, you are such a disease.” jabs his uncle.

“There are 15 people in this house and you’re the only one who has to make trouble.” seethes his mom.

Kevin gets banished to the attic as punishment, and retorts to his mom, “I wish my family would disappear.”

“Say it again and it may happen” she retorts.

“I wish my family would disappear.” He stomps up the stairs, slams the door, and the rest is history.

Parents and kids alike can empathize with and probably experienced something similar to what Kevin was dealt.

But that doesn’t make it right or ok.

I’m curious what this movie would have looked like if Kevin’s mom knew about positive parenting.

It would have made for a much less interesting movie, for sure, but also may have prevented Kevin (and his parents) from some completely unnecessary trauma.

What if Kevin’s mom or dad empathized with Kevin when he was upset about sleeping in the attic with Fuller and asked him to create a solution that both him and his parents could be happy with?

What if when Kevin spilled the drinks onto the pizza, someone had validated how much it sucked that his plain pizza was already eaten, calmly asked him to help clean up the mess, and then helped him find food that he was willing to eat?

What if instead of his mom banishing him to the attic alone as a punishment, she calmly spoke to him about his behavior, holding him accountable for actions with empathy, and asked his brother to make things right with Kevin?

What if when Kevin said he wished his family would disappear, his mom got curious about why he was saying that and helped him to express himself and his anger in a more appropriate way?

Now, there were some redeeming moments later on in the movie.

Kevin saw his scary neighbor as a man in pain and they became friends.

Kevin’s mom desperately tried to get back to Kevin and almost had a nervous breakdown from the anxiety.

When Kevin’s family returned, they all started to respect Kevin when they saw he took care of himself and the house, was resourceful, brave and capable, and acted very mature.

And of course they all apologized and felt much more appreciation for having each other in their lives once Kevin was found safe and sound and all was well.

But how long would all of that last? When would they go back to shaming and punishing and bullying? Not long is my guess.

They could have respected and appreciated each other from the beginning without having to have a harrowing event bring them together.

Still, we all love this movie as the love in the end is powerful and we feel all warm and fuzzy when it resolves. 

This holiday season, this is my wish, on my grown up Christmas list (thanks Amy Grant):

For all parents to see their children as whole, capable, beings, in need of care and love from us.

For all families to see each other as fellow suffering humans who need love and support and acceptance.

And for all of us to see ourselves as we were when we where first born, worthy of love, acceptance and complete and perfect as we are.

I am so grateful for you all for being a part of this community and listening to my diatribe about Home Alone.

I hope to see you all in person or chat with you virtually sometime.

Happy Holidays, my friends, tread lightly, trust in humanity, and I will see you in the New Year. Here’s to this community and to parenting with trust and love,

Want to know how to help your child be confident, have good self-esteem and feel capable? Schedule your free consult here to learn how positive parenting and modeling can help you to coach your child so they have less meltdowns, angry outbursts, anxiety, and know how to handle any emotion and relationship with grace.
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