Parenting like Optimus Prime

by Heligirl on July 11, 2011

in Mom Tip Monday,Parenting Articles,Positive Discipline

The blockbuster movie today is Transformers: Dark of the Moon, the third installment of the live action run of the popular 80s cartoon Transformers. Almost every child of the 80s knew about Transformers.

When researching a parenting topic for this week I came across a great article in USA Today published in 2007 just before the first live-action Transformers was released. In it the author made a connection that struck a chord with me. The creators and actors in the 80s animated series were genius.

The hero of the show, Optimus Prime, leader of the good Transformers who call themselves the Autobots, engenders some ideal father figure traits – integrity, patience, dignity, intelligence and even valuable positive discipline traits kindness and firmness when it came to the Autobots he led.

“As a stoic, stern but forgiving father figure to the little yellow rookie robot known as Bumblebee (a VW bug in its original incarnation, and a Chevy Camaro in the live-action film), Prime never lost his temper, and even in the heat of battle never lost his dignity or desire to preserve the lives on Earth,”ย the author writes in the article.

I’d add that Optimus also displays incredible belief in the teenager Sam in the live-action films, showing almost more faith in the teen’s abilities and potential than his own father. In a way, it’s very inspiring.

A generation of boys heard Optimus’ smooth, fatherly delivery and idolized the character. Interestingly, the voice of Optimus, Peter Cullen, infused many of these qualities in the character consciously. He drew on his brother’s post-Vietnam persona, one of a calm leader with a sense of honor. A leader shouldn’t lose his temper, but instead lead with calm, firm conviction, he said. Prime is honest, brave and respectful of his power and strength.

Cullen nailed it.

Alternatively, the bad guy, Megatron, leader of the evil Decepticons, is the stereotypical bad parent. An authoritarian, he’s quick to anger, is constantly kicking, hitting, shooting, punching and slapping his charges, and his cruel words are guaranteed to suck the self esteem from the most battle hardened warrior. His often repeated catchphrase to his first in command, “หœStarscream, you have failed me again,’ most certainly hit a chord with kids who struggled for unachievable parental approval.

So while I wouldn’t condone taking kids younger than 13 to the PG-13 live-action franchise, I think there is a lesson in there for us parents from Optimus Prime.

Lead, and parent, with kindness but firmness.

Be gentle and respectful with the great strength we wield.

Show an undying belief in our kids, encouraging them to reach for their potential.

Be very slow to anger, instead choosing to speak calmly with conviction.

Show respect and appreciation.

It’s sometimes odd, sometimes comforting, that I hear Optimus/Cullen’s voice when I’m feeling challenged by the kids. But now it makes all the sense in the world.

And if you have school age kids a little too young for the violence in the movies, there is a current cartoon of the franchise, Transformers: Prime, on cable. The best part? Cullen remains as the voice of Optimus for a whole new generation of kids to idolize.


SharleneT. July 11, 2011 at 7:48 am

And, of course, solar cookies and milk at the end of a hard day at school helps with the homework! Great post. Thanks for the hard work.
SharleneT. recently posted: Stuffed Shells a Hit at Midtown Market

Twitter: Heligirl
July 11, 2011 at 6:41 pm

Haha, I love it. I was rather proud of the creativity with this post. I’m seeing the positive parenting in a lot of place these days. I hope to have one of your solar cookies one day!

kt moxie July 11, 2011 at 12:32 pm

Loved this post! And my husband would agree with you entirely. So would my son. (Both huge Transformers fans!)
kt moxie recently posted: Geeks get cultured.

Twitter: Heligirl
July 11, 2011 at 6:44 pm

LOL, I hoped I had some Transformer fans out there. It’s been crickets on Twitter every time I mentioned this. Thanks so much for letting me know you liked it my dear. I really found it fascinating, the relationship between the two parenting types in the two main characters and how so many kids could relate in one was or another. ๐Ÿ™‚
Heligirl recently posted: Parenting like Optimus Prime

Jason July 13, 2011 at 7:01 am

I really loves this post. I agreed with you. Us parents, we must be Transformers. hahaha.

great post!
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Twitter: Heligirl
July 14, 2011 at 1:39 pm

Thanks Jason. Yup, more often than not, we are Transformers. ๐Ÿ™‚

MamaSpaghetti July 13, 2011 at 11:32 pm

I love the idea of showing an “undying belief” in your kids! Great post.
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Twitter: Heligirl
July 14, 2011 at 1:40 pm

Thanks. Yes, after reading that USA Today article I really got to thinking about it and that one trait runs very strong in Optimus. In fact, I built the post around it. It’s a great trait to have. ๐Ÿ™‚

Susan July 14, 2011 at 9:55 am

Excellent post!! Thanks for educating me a bit about the finer points of Transformers. (I just missed that craze- a tiny bit too old?)
Susan recently posted: A Different Perspective of Death: Pure Alignment in a Moment

Twitter: Heligirl
July 14, 2011 at 1:42 pm

LOL, I only scratched the surface of that universe here, but I’m glad you got a bit of a taste. Hope you liked it. ๐Ÿ™‚

Daisy@Marshal Firth July 18, 2011 at 5:05 pm

LOL. This is a bit funny seeing the good ‘father skills’ of Optimus Prime in the Transformers movie. I agree that Optimus Prime has all those qualities of a good father – qualities such as patience, encouraging, brave, and strong. Optimus Prime is also true to his words. Being the leader, he has always been a good example to the Autobots and also to the teenager Sam.
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Oneirosia October 1, 2011 at 2:25 am

Haha! I really enjoyed this article! Optimus Prime seems like a great role model for a dad! XD

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