Best Movies to Teach Kids Persistence

Learning doesn’t have to be boring.  Kids can learn from movies – especially if you take the time to prep them to watch and to have a discussion afterwards about what you hope they discovered.

Persistence is something I am trying to help instill in my own grandchildren.  It is, I feel, THE most important characteristic to have to get where you want to go.

Below are a few of my favorite movies to teach tweens about persistence.

Unstoppable PG-13 (2010) Starring Chris Pine & Denzel Washington

In this thriller, a runaway train must be stopped before it hits a populated area and goes off track and explodes. Denzel is Frank, the experienced train engineer running engine 777 with Will (Pine) as his conductor – just out of training.

Frank and Will initially try to get their engine 777 out of the way of the runaway – heading straight towards them on the main track. Once the runaway passes, Frank decides to try backing up to hook onto the end of the train to slow it down so that someone can climb on and take control. Through multiple challenges, and in direct opposition to what the bosses are saying, and even though he has been notified that he is being retired early, Frank persists in trying to stop the train.

Will initially lets home problems interfere with work, causing him to make mistakes. Frank persists in demanding that Will pay attention to work and teaches him to do it right. In the end, Will, with an injured foot, jumps from the engine (going 70 MPH) into a truck bed which carries him to the front of the train where he is able to climb aboard the runaway engine

Wall-e G (2008) – Disney Pixar animation Starring voices of Ben Burtt, Elissa Knight, Jeff Garlin

Wall-e, Eve, Burn-e and the little robot who cleans up Wall-e’s messy tracks all consistently persist in their goals. Wall-e and Eve try and try to get the little green plant to the spot on the ship that will take the ship back to earth. Burn-e overcomes many frustrating problems to replace a light bulb on the ships exterior and the little robot who cleans the floor is practically anal about keeping it clean!

Pursuit of Happyness PG-13 (2006) Starring Will Smith, Thandie Newton, Jaden Smith

Chris Gardner (Will Smith) is a risk taker who put his life savings on the line to buy portable medical scanners to resell at a profit. He persists in selling the scanners, even though they are hard to sell. He sees a chance to try for a financial broker internship (which turns out to be unpaid and highly competitive) and takes it once his wife leaves him.

In spite of doing multiple really stupid things (like leaving his expensive portable scanner with a stranger on the street), Gardner persists in keeping his son by his side through homelessness, getting thrown in jail for traffic tickets and other adversity and works smart and hard to meet his goal of winning the financial broker job.

Secretariat PG (2010) Starring Diane Lane, John Malkovich, Margo Martindale

Penny (Diane Lane) inherits a race horse from her parents and sets herself a goal of getting the horse to race and win. She goes against wishes of her spouse and her brother and multiple horse ‘experts’ to reach her goal.

My Fair Lady G (1964) Starring Audrey Hepburn, Rex Harrison, Stanley Holloway

In this classic musical Eliza demonstrates remarkable persistence in learning how to change the way she speaks so that she can become ‘a lady in a flower ship’ instead of a street girl selling cast off flowers to passerbys. She succeeds in spite of working without any acknowledgment of her efforts.

Ratatouie G (2007) Disney Pixar animation Starring voices of Brad Garrett, Lou Romano, Patton Oswalt

Remy the rat (Patton Oswalt) has a dream. He wants to become a great French chef despite being a rat and going against society’s inborn phobia of rodents as well as his rat family. He persists despite the ridicule of his family, not knowing how to cook, the need to team up with humans and the disapproval of his father.

Chicken Run G (2000) Dreamworks animation Starring voices of Mel Gibson, Julia Sawalha, Phil Daniels

Ginger the chicken (Julia Sawalha) tries and tries to find a way to organize a great escape (for all the fowls) from the chicken coop. When Rocky the rooster (Mel Gibson) comes flying over the fence, she just knows he can teach them all to fly. However, she soon finds out he is shot from a rocket at the local fair and can’t fly at all. Ginger persists in searching for ways to free them all and eventually succeeds, following several mis-steps.

A League of their own PG (1992) starring Tom Hanks, Geena Davis, Lori Petty

Although Dottie Hinson (Geena Davis) is the ‘star’ of the movie, it is really Kit Keller (Lori Petty) her sister who is the persistent one. When major league ball takes a hit due to the men going off to fight in WWII, league owners organize a women’s league. Kit gets wind of it and is stoked to join up, but the recruiter is more impressed with big sister Dottie. He finally agrees to take Kit if she convinces Dottie to join up. But once on the field, it is Dottie who becomes the persistent one – finding ways to bolster flagging ball game attendance by showing the women how to be more flamboyant players. Along the way, the women convert has been player, now coach – Jimmay Dugan (Tom Hanks) from being a drunken side stander to becoming an active and involved coach.

Erin Brockovich R (2000) starring Julia Roberts, Albert Finney, David Brisbin

Former beauty queen and unemployed Mom – Erin (Julia Roberts) persists in convincing Ed Masry (Albert Finney), the lawyer who unsuccessfully defended her in a car accident case, to give her job as a legal assistant. When he hands her a case, expecting her to do some simple followup, she goes on the road for days to interview the plaintiff and gather facts. She persists in developing the case against giant PG & E despite being ridiculed in the office, doubted by her boss, and beset with child care issues. Due to her persistence, folks who suffered cancer due to PG & E illegal dumping of toxic wastes, end up getting financial compensation to help with medical bills.

True Grit G (1969) starring John Wayne, Kim Darby, Glen Campbell

Teenager Mattie Ross (Kim Darby) is seeking vengeance against the murderer of her father. She is in town to pick up her father’s belongings to take them home, but decides to hire the best qualified person to help her hunt down the murderer – Marshall Rooster Cogburn (Wayne). This teen age fire ball, in a time way before women’s rights, speaks out, stands up and fights for what she wants – over and over again. She persists at every turn when society, Cogburn and others try to dissuade her from her goal. she hires her man, fights to go with him, and speaks her mind at every turn.

Helping Your Aging Parent Deal With Their Finances

If you have elderly, but still healthy, parents, grandparents or other relatives who rely on you – now is the time to think about your role with their finances in the event that you may need to help them manage at some point in the future.

Even if your senior is fully functional mentally, other factors may impede them from properly taking care of the business of life.

For example, my 94 year old Mother-in-law lives in a senior living complex, but is not on assisted living of any sort (other than she gets meals and laundry help). She has been quite alert, but has macular degeneration (which means she can’t see well at all) and consequently, her handwriting is unreadable. She can no longer make out a check to pay her bills. She also walks very slowly with her walker and tires easily, meaning she is slow to get things done.

Recently, she fell in her apartment and couldn’t summon help because she stubbornly refuses to wear the call button the family pays for her to use in such situations. She couldn’t get up, was stranded on the floor for at least a day and a half and developed bedsores from the inevitable mess she made.

No one has a power of attorney, let alone a durable power of attorney. The family would have to get a court order to have her judged incompetent in order to get one. This will make it more difficult for the family to help take care of her.

Although I’m encouraging my spouse to be prepared to handle her financial affairs, he is reluctant to do so. Handling someone else’s affairs is fraught with psychological pitfalls. He has 3 siblings – will they think he is trying to take over? She is nearly broke, so it wouldn’t be to get money. He fears that if he starts handling her financial affairs, it will break our bank (i.e. the other siblings wouldn’t volunteer to chip in on the expenses). She is still in her right mind and quite stubborn. There is a lot of history and murky waters between her children and her. She has never voluntarily shared information about her finances. She probably would resent someone handling them for her. Yet, at any time, just that might be needed.

If you have a situation similar to this, how can you prepare? Here are the suggestions I have found and am passing along (or doing with my own grown children).

Have the money talk.

If your parent is willing to talk about their finances, you are lucky. Just start the conversation by letting them know that you aren’t trying to wrest control away, but just want to be prepared in for if and when they might want or need help. Let Mom or Dad show you their filing system, their financial statements, listen as they share with you their cash flow and savings situation. Understand if they want to share the history of special objects they have collected or perhaps inherited from their parents.

Let them make a list, or you start making one to keep track of all of this. Include contact information for medical, dental, insurance, investment, banking, legal, and accounting or business information. If they are willing to share account numbers or social security numbers, let them – but keep the information in strictest confidence and away from the online world.

My spouse and I started yearly family meetings for just these types of purposes. We update both our grown children and their wives with our net worth and prepare and updated home inventory, account list, along with information about our files and locations of documents and valuables.

Make suggestions.

If you, or your senior, are hesitant about talking finances, try sneaking in suggestions during conversations with them.

For instance, your conversation could go something like this:

“Mom, did you hear on the news the other day about so and so? A woman in her 90’s who lived alone had her electricity turned off because the electric company couldn’t read her checks and couldn’t reach her on the phone. Remember yesterday at the grocery store when the clerk couldn’t read your check? If you like, I can make out your checks for you, or if you would prefer, you could fill out this (durable power of attorney) form and we could get that signed, then you wouldn’t have to bother with paying the bills and such. What do you think?”

Be respectful. Give them time, give them choices. It is after all, their money.

Inch your way in to learn about their finances.

If your parents are reluctant to talk money, offer to help them – sort the mail, pay the bills, clean out file cabinets, prepare their tax return and etc. This will get you in the door so you can begin to get a feel for where they are in their financial life and where you will need to look if they become incapacitated.

Offer to do unpleasant tasks and suggest they do something enjoyable in its place (like go to lunch with you once a month in place of balancing their check book to the bank statement.

Get their mail.

If you live close enough or visit often enough, bring their mail in (surreptitiously noting what kinds of mail they are getting). If they don’t object, help them sort through it, noting any bills or requests for money and maybe using them to start a conversation.

My 94 year old Mother-in-law lives independently in a senior facility where she gets some services but has her own apartment. She still gets her mail, but doesn’t always bother to go through it. If she does, she sometimes will try to send off money to any charity with a request. She can’t afford to do that anymore.

My sister-in-law visits her several times a week and has the opportunity to scan through the mail to look for bills or checks that may have come.

Search their home.

With permission, if your parent is still competent, look through piles of paper, file cabinets, stacks of magazines, safety deposit boxes, cabinets, drawers, closets and more to make a list of bills, income, assets, liabilities.

If your parent is no longer capable, do make a search to find the information you need to help your parent with their finances.

Talk to siblings to see what they remember about finances/institutions used.

Over the years, parents may have mentioned in casual conversations, the institutions they used for their financial affairs. Many times, these may still be in effect.

Follow up on each lead.

Call any institutions you find reference to – either from statements, check registers or family members. Ask your parent if they still use so and so person or such and such institution. See if the institution will confirm whether or not your parents have an account there.

What to explore about your elder’s finances.

  • Life insurance (is there a policy on her life, or could there still be money in a policy on her spouse’s life)
  • Cash needs (how much cash does she keep or need to keep around the house)
  • Credit cards (which ones does she have and does she use them)
  • Accounts (will she share information on bank/safety deposit box, brokerage, mutual fund and etc accounts – where are they, who are the contacts, what is the current value, etc)
  • Expenses (what are her typical bills and what categories are they – utility, taxes, clothing, etc)
  • Income (What are the income sources, where does each go, are there any that come in the mail, does the monthly income cover the expenses, etc)
  • Health/car/liability/renters/home and etc insurance (what insurance does she have and with whom)

Communication is paramount.

If you do have to handle someone else’s finances, make extra efforts to not only keep them informed, but also to document everything you do on their behalf and share it with siblings or other primary interested parties, to keep everything out in the open and above board.

Other areas to investigate.

While you are at it, make sure your elder is informed about the following as well:

  • Availability of do not resuscitate orders
  • Medical power of attorney (who can speak for them if they can’t speak for themself)
  • Living will – including what they do and don’t want done if they can’t speak for themselves.
  • Preferences for funeral arrangements (did they prepay, how do they want their remains handled, particular things they want done or not done)

If you are dealing with elder parents or grandparents, what suggestions do you have?