[su_highlight background=”#deff99″](by the way, there is a giveaway at the end of this post…)[/su_highlight] Several days ago I got a bulk email that was clearly not intended for me. Not a big deal. Since the subject of the email was about a movie I was planning on seeing I decided to go ahead and read it. It was for a sweet campaign encouraging fathers to take their children to see Kung Fu Panda 3. Since I knew the person who sent the email I wrote her back, “ha ha”.
Why “ha ha”? Because I’m not a father – I’m a single mother. Being mistakenly placed on the “dad list” was amusing to me.
I wasn’t prepared for my friend’s reaction. She responded with a heartfelt apology and was worried she had offended me. It was then that I realized my silly response had triggered a reaction that I often get when the subject of fatherhood comes up around me. People are afraid to talk about it. I probably didn’t help much by sending her my laughing response – which I absolutely meant as, “isn’t this funny that I am on the dad list because I am totally not a dad.”
When there isn’t already an open dialogue about fatherhood around single moms it IS hard to know how to talk about it. Meeting a single mom for the first time and not hearing where the father element intersects in the parenting story might be confusing.
I know many women who weave extra layers into their introduction to help make things clear, “I’m divorced and my son has a great relationship with his father.” or “I’m single and my daughter’s father is no longer a part of our lives.” Those sentences help make it a bit clearer on how to broach future conversations about fatherhood.
As a single mom via anonymous donor sperm I am an enigma. My son does not have a father in his life. However, I do not hate fathers. I think fathers who are actively involved with their children are pretty fantastic. If my son grows up and decides to become a parent I would be thrilled if he was a great dad. He is seeing examples of engaged and loving parenthood at home, but for specific fatherhood stories we see them with our friends. And we also see them in films.
The fatherhood themes in Kung Fu Panda 3 are out front and center and they are lovely. There are two dads who show their love the best way they know how. They make mistakes, they grow, they forgive, and they accept and marvel at who their son is. That is just kick butt parenting.
I did not feel excluded or omitted or not represented because I was able to find many threads similar to my parenting journey within the film. For years Po was raised by a single parent and the singular dedication and devotion is perfectly portrayed by Mr. Ping the noodle shop owning goose. There is also a great moment where you catch a glimpse of Tigress literally juggling childcare and work and I imagine Angelina Jolie, who plays the character, knows a thing or two about this.
My Review of Kung Fu Panda 3
What’s the story: The universe reunites Po with his birth father in the hopes he will learn to master Chi and overcome the evil Kai unleashed from the spirit realm.
What parents may like about this movie: I loved the repeated reminder to be true to yourself and to be the best version of yourself. I also appreciated that, for a kung fu movie there were not a lot of moves that my kid decided to simulate in the living room later.
What kids will like: Jack Black’s Po was perfect for kids. His zany dialogue combined with great gumption was inspiring to my little guy.
Concerns: Be prepared for your kids to repeat a line of dialogue that is the film.
Positive themes: There are wonderful themes of family in this film. What is family? Who is family? I loved talking to my son about identity after we watched the film. There are also nice themes centered around working together and celebrating your personal strengths.
Violence/scare factor: The villain of the film, Kei, is a really good villain. He may be over the top for some younger viewers. He does have a bit of a theme song so if you listen you get a bit of a warning before he makes his entrances.
Sex/Romance: Mei Mei, an aggressive panda ribbon dancer*, attempts to seduce Po with a dance.
* a phrase I never thought I would type.
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