9 Awesome Parenting Lessons From 'Finding Nemo'

Only two more sleeps, you guys! Finding Dory is set to be released on Friday, and I honestly couldn't be more excited (said in the voice of Chandler Bing from Friends). By my count, it has taken approximately 7,000 years for them to pull this sequel together, so my expectations are high. Like, unrealistically high. It's just that I loved Finding Nemo so much, you know? In fact, I think I got my nine best parenting tips from Finding Nemo. Because it was just that good.

When Disney/Pixar released Finding Nemo in 2003, it was an instant success, which should have surprised exactly no one. As Rotten Tomatoes put it when IT averaged out the critical reviews and gave it a Certified Fresh whopping 99 percent, "Breathtakingly lovely and grounded by the stellar efforts of a well-chosen cast, Finding Nemo adds another beautifully crafted gem to Pixar's crown." It was a little bit of magic, seeing that movie on the big screen. And not just because it looked incredible. It was tender and honest and sweet in a way that had parents connecting to kids and vice versa. When I walked out of the theater with my four little boys, I felt this sort of release. Like I knew my kids better because I had connected to something that was still inside me. I hate to say my inner child, but... well, yeah my inner child. Here are a few of the things I learned.

Yours Kids Are Tougher Than You Think

Let's do a brief rundown of Nemo's short life, shall we? First off, almost his entire family (including his mother) were killed by a barracuda. Then he is fish-napped by a dentist who wants to give him to his sociopathic niece Darla as a present. Then he has to escape through a drain and find his father in the ocean. And you know what? That kid is still pretty damn cheerful. And it serves as a reminder to us all that our kids are tougher than we think.

A Sense Of Humor Will Take You Far

Marlin is a clownfish who isn't that funny. Admittedly, the dude(fish) has had a rough go of it. He lost most of his family, he's nervous and agitated all the time, and he's searching for his son and meeting up with sharks and what have you. And it all would have been pretty grim without Dory. Dory is funny, and she's proof that we can all manage to lighten up even in dire situations...like when my kids used to pour yogurt down the heating vents.

You're Tougher Than You Think

It is one of the beautiful mysteries of parenting, the things we can live through for our kids. And I'm not just talking about the level of sleep deprivation that the United Nations might classify as a torture device. Even the most timid among us can stand up to insurmountable odds when it comes to our kids. Even those parents who don't believe they can... you can. Trust me. After all, Marlin made friends with a great white shark. So how bad could it be?

You Don't Have To Know All The Answers

Like when Marlin didn't know how long turtles could live for. It's OK, you don't have to know everything. That's why they invented Google.

Go Ahead, Ask For Help!

Guess who couldn't find his way to Sydney? That's right, Marlin. Guess who needed directions? That's right, Marlin. Sometimes you can't do it yourself, you know. Which brings me to my next point...

It Takes A Village (Or An Ocean) To Raise A Child

Marlin starts the movie on his own with Nemo, and by the end has a whole cast of characters who are watching out for his son.

This one was especially close to my heart. I'm a single mom, but I have to tell you I have not raised my kids alone. I've got friends and family, their teachers, their coaches, any number of people who have chosen to invest themselves in my kids. Whether you're in a relationship or flying solo, the more people who love your kids, the better. Period.

Mistakes Are Gonna Happen. Just Keep Swimming.

Parents are so hard on themselves sometimes. Relax. Sometimes the mistakes are the best part.

You Can Learn A Lot From Your Kids

We tend to think we know everything on account of we're the grown ups. But we don't always know stuff. I literally can't turn on my television if my sons aren't home. Also I don't think I have the upper body strength for lifting anymore. Follow Marlin's example: he trusted Nemo when he said he could save Dory and the rest of the fish from the fishermen (side note: this movie makes us humans look like jerks). And Nemo was right. Sometimes kids see things clearer than their parents, and it's inspiring.

Your Kids Are Hardwired To Love You, No Matter What

Even though Marlin and Nemo fight before he goes missing, and Nemo says awful things to his father, he wants nothing more than to get back to him. Because he is hardwired to love him. This has been the single greatest surprise of parenting for me too. No matter how badly we mess up, our kids just really want to love us.

And that is a beautiful thing. So take your kids to see Finding Dory this weekend. Because that's one other tip: hanging out with them is always a good idea.