There's more to Dory than just whale talk, you know. Everyone's favorite animated blue tang fish from Pixar has really got it going on. She's funny, she's kind, she's clever. OK, she might not be great at remembering people, but she's not too shabby at getting people to remember her. And while she might not be a mom, these nine parenting lessons from Finding Dory prove she knows how to be a parent.

(Ahoy — spoilers ahead for 'Finding Dory!')

I took my niece to see Finding Dory on Friday, where we both enjoyed an excellent combination of popcorn/candy and a good cry. While Finding Dory is as funny as you might expect, relying on such hilarious voice talents as Ellen DeGeneres (if you don't know who she is, I have to wonder where you've been?), Ty Burrell (Modern Family), and Kristin Olsen (Sweet Dee from It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia) to name just a few. But beyond being funny, it's sort of tender and heartbreaking too. Like, my niece and I hugging like it's end-of-days kind of heartbreaking. Because somehow those talking, animated fish really nail human frailty, you know?

Marlin, Nemo, Dory, and the gang understand what it is to need each other, to lose each other... and to find each other again. So here are a few tips they taught this girl along the way. Come along on this voyage, won't you?

School Is Important

Dory has forgotten her parents. She's moved on with life, happy enough with her pals Marlin and Nemo. And then... she's at school with a reluctant Mr. Ray. There's an undercurrent. There's talk of "The Jewel Of Monterey Bay." And little by little, her childhood comes back to her. So stay in school, kids, you never know what you're gonna learn.

Turn Everything Into A Song

Dory has forgotten what her parents look like for years. She's forgotten their names, their home, how much they loved her. But she never, ever forgot the song they sang her. "Just keep swimming." So let's all come up with a few verses our kids will get stuck in their heads for eternity, shall we? "Just keep cleaning your room," "Just keep eating your vegetables," "Just keep making good choices in general"... I'll keep working on these and get back to you.

Know Your Kids' Friends

I can't even tell you how vindicated I felt when it turned out Dory could actually speak whale. She had been taught by her pipe friend, Destiny, a near sighted whale shark. Which just goes to show, you should always pay attention to your kids' friends. Who knows what them might be learning from them (here's a clue: It's not always whale talk).

Teach Them Self-Reliance...

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So this made me awfully sad. When Dory's parents had to prepare her to find her way on her own, just in case. Just in case she got lost, just in case she forgot them. And while it took Dory years and thousands of miles of ocean...

... But Also Never Let Them Go


... eventually she found her way home. Her parents had spent years leaving trails of seashells for her to find. And I think that's a perfect definition of parenting. Studiously making trails of seashells, not knowing if your kids will find their way. But sort of trusting they will all the same.

Trust Them To Know More Than You Think

I say again, people; whale talk. She knew what she was doing.

...Until It's Time To Remind Them You Know More Than They Think

Marlin, the clownfish who does not know funny as much as he thinks he does, really learned to take charge in this movie. When Nemo thought all was lost, who was the one who leapt over fountains to escape the aquarium, huh? Who?

Everyone Needs A Little Adventure Sometimes

Crush should be every dad's real life goal in some small way. He's cool, he's happy, and he's teaching his son how to love life. Righteous, right? Totally.

You're Going To Make Mistakes & That's OK

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She forgot her parents. They've been looking for her for years. But they don't care. Because that's what parents do. We just love you guys. So make mistakes, ok?

Sometimes they're the best part.