Raising women: Movies for girls (and teens)
People imitate what they see. That is my guiding principle when choosing movies for children and teens (and adults, too, truth be told). So I don’t show them what I don’t want them to imitate, and I try to go out of my way to find stories they should imitate.
Last month I shared movies that I don’t mind my boys trying to imitate. This month, I share a “dad’s list for girls” — with a lot of input from my own wife and daughters.
I don’t want my daughters to imitate high-drama teen romances. I don’t want them to imitate girls who use their bodies to get what they want. And I don’t want them to imitate those who reduce womanhood to an imitation of male action heroes or cutthroat competitors.
I do want them to imitate the virtues of femininity that St. John Paul II calls “feminine genius.”
A couple of notes on this list:
Why is your favorite missing? These are movies I (or my wife or daughters) have watched. If Hoopeses haven’t watched it, it isn’t here. If these categories are helpful, add your own favorites in the comments or on your own.
What ages? There are some movies here for young girls; others are for older teens. Always preview movies, double-check yourself with the IMDb parents reviews and/or KidsInMind.com — and use your discretion.
First: We want girls to be realistically fearless (and/or encouraging).
Girls need to learn they can grapple with the world and accomplish their goals in life. But they don’t need the endless stream of movies that show girls effortlessly triumphing alone like superheroes. So here I share movies about women triumphing through their own strength, with help from others; notably God.
Finding Dory (2016)
The Miracle of Our Lady of Fatima (1952)
The Mighty Macs (2009)
Nim’s Island (2008) (The girl is “superhero-ish” but Jodie Foster’s character is not.)
The Song of Bernadette (1943)
The Incredibles (2004)
Chicken Run (2004) (A great, great girl movie!)
Beach Blanket Bingo (1965) (I haven’t seen it, but it was vigorously promoted for this list by Facebook friends, so here it is.)
Soul Surfer (2011)
Joan of Arc (1948)
Sophie Scholl: The Final Days (2005)
The Village (2004)
Second: Girls should show “emotional virtue.”
This is the term Sarah Swafford coined for the drama-free living we want from girls. We don’t want relationships, outward appearance, and others’ opinions to dominate our girls’ hearts and minds.
Pride and Prejudice (television series, 1995)
Sense and Sensibility (1995)
Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison (1957)
Anne of Green Gables (1985) and Anne of Avonlea (1987)
Frozen (2013) (Teaches the danger in believing rom-com lies about love.)
Fiddler on the Roof (1971)
The King and I (1956)
The Trouble with Angels (1966) (Two girls learn to stop fighting the system and respond to it with love.)
Inside Out (2015) (A reminder that “emotional virtue” doesn’t mean “bottle it up.”)
Third: We want girls who know how to bring the best out of others.
St. John Paul II praises the feminine genius for recognizing the gifts of others and arranging things such that everyone feels included and respected.
Charlotte’s Web (1973)
The Blind Side (2009)
Beauty and the Beast (1991)
The Secret Garden (1987) (The 1993 version of this classic novel is better, until it substitutes witchcraft for the novel’s Christian hymn near the end.)
Heidi (1937) (Yes, this is the cheesy Shirley Temple version. … There is a reason she was so well loved.)
The Wizard of Oz (1939)
Babette’s Feast (1987)
Fourth: We want girls who respect the virtues of motherhood.
Too often, the virtues of motherhood are forgotten or belittled in movies. That is a shame.
The Sound of Music (1965)
The Emperor’s New Groove (2000) One of the best Disney families; great in-command at-home mom.)
Mary Poppins (1964)
Little House on the Prairie (television series; 1974–1983)
One True Thing (1998) (But skip the last 30 seconds, which ruin it! As soon as they walk toward the grave, turn it off!)
Fifth: We want girls who know what true romance looks like.
Return to Me (2000)
In This House of Brede (1975)
The Singing Nun (1966) (The songs in this movie are extremely dated, but it fascinatingly brings up some very contemporary issues in helpful ways as conversation starters.)
Yours, Mine and Ours (1968)
Father of the Bride (1991)
Sixth: We want our girls to be women of valor.
In Proverbs 31, Scripture paints a picture of a great woman. She has “valor” which is a word the text uses to denote her strength, which is greater than simply physical or emotional strength; it is intellectual and virtuous. Show girls women who find their worth in the life of their mind and soul.
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (1945)
Akeelah and the Bee (2006)
Queen of Katwe (2016)
Hidden Figures (2016)
Little Women (1994)
Legally Blonde (2001)
Cold Comfort Farm (1995)
My Fair Lady (1964)