Olivia de Havilland Inspires Parenting Scenarios

Who do you want to be like when you (mom’s) grow up? A grand lady? I met one recently: Olivia de Havilland (Melanie in Gone with the Wind). How to describe Miss de Havilland? Gracious. Gentle. Insightful.

The Character Study of Successful Business People

At a dinner gathering of noted CEO’s (I was the odd one out at this fascinating PathNorth event), Miss de Havilland shared a few thoughts. “Tonight, I have been studying the character of successful business people,” and she named several qualities, of which integrity and intensity.

Her words caught me off guard. I know life is a stage (and I fully partake in Parisian sidewalk café people-watching). Yet I forgot I'm part of the show...and so are my husband and children. Of course,character counts! (Aha moment)  Actors study character so that the person they represent in Scene 1 is coherent with the one in Scene 2 …

Application for Parents

Act 1 takes place during childhood. Act 2 occurs away from home. How will Darling Daring Devil and Whining Wishful Lala of the first scene turn out later?

Meet Darling Daring Devil in Act 1: he’s into all kinds of trouble. Yet even the reprimanding school principal and the obliging police officer admit, “Not a bad kid.” Our family knows a DDD first hand, and our first tendency is to stop ALL privileges NOW! But...

Consider the setting of Act 2: Isn’t it exhilarating to work alongside a Daring Darling: someone who takes risks, convinces management of the opportunity, and supports the team when the going gets tough? Similarly, Whining Wishful Lala may excel in public speaking, the ability to differentiate between good and great, and defining clear aspirations.

Be Encouraged

We mom's and dad's performed Acts 1 and 2. We're now in Act 3: being a parent!

The next time you want to barge in on the scene and play an enraged movie director, take five. Leave the stage, calm down and edit your parent-script; encourage the winning side of your child’s character.

I’ve benefited from Turansky and Miller’s book Good and Angry: Exchanging Frustration for Character…in You and Your Kids! They remind us that basic emotions have different expressions at various intensity levels. A tiny bit of “mischievousness” looks like “playful” whereas “destructive” occupies the other end of the spectrum.

How does this help at home? “Darling, stay playful without being destructive. ‘Playful’ means it’s funny and you would be glad if someone did it to you. ‘Destructive’ is when the other person gets hurt. Do you know what ‘revenge’ means? They might want it…and that hurts!”

Photo of Olivia de Havilland as Melanie in Gone with the Wind (1939) from allocine.fr and in Los Angeles in 2004.

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