Finding Dory, the Finding Nemo sequel 13 years in the making, finally arrives in theaters on Friday, and it's inspired fans to revisit the 2003 classic. Some parents may not have seen the original because their kids didn't exist back when it came out. Others may have been kids themselves the last time they saw it, and not looking at it through a parent's lens. But watching it as an adult reveals quite a few Finding Nemo quotes that parents can learn from, believe it or not. Pixar movies are generally made for kids, but they never forget to add a little something for the grown-ups.
In fact, Finding Nemo might actually have more lessons for parents than it does for children. After all, it's Marlin, Nemo's dad, who learns the most, and does the most growing. He starts out as a helicopter parent who won't let his son do anything for himself, and they end up getting separated. When you never teach your child independence, what happens when they're suddenly forced to learn it the hard way? And what does that do to you, as a parent? Marlin encounters friends on his journey to rescue his son that challenge his thinking and make him see his son, and himself, from new perspectives.
"You Think You Can Do These Things, But You Just Can't, Nemo!"
So maybe we'll never be so blatant in our dream-crushing as Marlin was, but this is a good moment to keep in mind when your preschooler is learning how to buckle his own seat belt, and you're running late for an appointment. An exasperated "Just let me do it for you" might sound like this to a child.
"You Can't Never Let Anything Happen To Him."
When Marlin tells Dory that he promised he'd never let anything happen to Nemo, Dory tells him that's a silly thing to promise: "Well, you can't never let anything happen to him. Then nothing would ever happen to him." Translation: if you're a helicopter parent, your kid never gets a chance to grow, learn from his mistakes, or go on adventures.
"Well, You Never Really Know, But When They Know, You'll Know, You Know?"
Uptight Marlin can't believe it when laid-back dad Crush the sea turtle tells him that baby turtles hatch on land and make their way back to the ocean. "How do you know when they're ready?" Marlin asks. Crush's poorly worded response makes sense in just about any parenting context. How do you know when your kids are ready for potty training? Learning to read? Staying home alone? They'll know. And then you will, too.
"Dory, Listen To Me. We're Going To Play A Game."
When Dory starts bouncing on the jellyfish, Marlin tries in vain to reason with her and explain that they're dangerous. It finally occurs to him that the easiest way to get her away from them is to challenge her to a race. Games and races are often the easiest way to get a child to do something. Pro tip: instead of telling a child "Don't touch" or "Let go" of something fragile or dangerous, tell them to put their hands on their head. It's goofy, which kids love, and it's a "do," not a "don't," which is much more appealing.
"Just Keep Swimming."
Baby won't stop crying? Just keep swimming. Three-year-old having an epic tantrum? Just keep swimming. Playing your seventh round of Candy Land with a 5-year-old who cheats mercilessly and cries whenever you win? Just keep swimming. One day, they'll be teenagers who avoid you all day, right?
"It's Because I Like You I Don't Want To Be With You."
This isn't something you're supposed to actually tell your kids, but sometimes bedtime is the best part of the day. OK, a lot of the time. But it's because we love them.