A Mom’s Movie Guide to Avoiding Back-to-School Drama

children sitting on brown chairs inside the classroom

Feature Photo by Arthur Krijgsman on Pexels.com

Discover how movies from the ’80s and ’90s can help you navigate the back-to-school drama. Learn valuable lessons on friendship, fashion, peer pressure, and preparation.

by Jordan Paul

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These past few days you may have found yourself surrounded by spilled coffee, crying teens, messy rooms, water-logged homework, and unemptied lunchboxes. Well done!

You’ve survived the initiation…and drama of back-to-school. As a mom of two girls who started school this year, who insist on watching the same movie every.single.day when they come home, I found myself missing the simple life lessons of movies from “my day.”

If there’s anything that movies from the ‘80s and ‘90s taught us, it’s that if we watch them enough to be used as a reference, we can be successful in avoiding the dreaded “back-to-school drama.”

Let me explain.

1. Choosing your friends is IMPORTANT 

Drop Dead Fred: (1991) 

I know as a parent to two little ones, I am constantly nagging them to be kind, share, be the type of person they’d also want to be around. The changes in the new school year bring on large amounts of pressure for them to find new friends in classrooms full of strangers, while still maintaining the foundation of old friendships that took the previous school year to solidify.

Our kids are left to their own vices on this one and we hope that when they’re nagging us to have a play date with Jimmy, that Jimmy is 1. real and 2. doesn’t encourage you to wipe “icky, smelly dog poo” on the living room couch. I’ve found that when my parents gave me the autonomy to choose my own friends, I felt like I also could choose when those people weren’t my friends anymore. So, when it’s time for my kids to pick their friends, it isn’t a power struggle I want to partake in. Instead, I just hope that their moms are cool, too.  

2. First Day Outfits MATTER

Clueless: (1995)

Even I, as a grown woman, have a hard time deciding what to wear on the “first day.” Although now as a mom, my firsts are usually being the first in line to the new donut shop opening in town or the first day walking into the supermarket since they got new carts.

The pressure isn’t really that intense in the grand scheme of things, but I get it. So when my toddler INSISTS on wearing a teal shirt with stripes, a polka dot skirt, seventeen hair bows, rain boots, and a unicorn necklace on her first day of school, I let it slide. Someone will break her spirit one day…and it won’t be me. In her mind, her fashion statement will say big things about who she is to the new group of schoolmates. While I stand there in annoyance, patience leaking from my eyeballs in the form of exasperated tears, I don’t say a thing except to ask if she feels beautiful. 

I know I’ve worn outrageous things; hello, 1998 Silver Pleather Pants. I know you’ve done it, too. And I also know that we’re both guilty of standing there and suggesting something simpler to our kids. But come on, them wearing an outfit from Walmart that isn’t following current fashion trends?! UGH! AS IF! UGH! As if!

3. Peer Pressure is REAL! 

Grease: (1978)

Sandy really gets put through the ringer trying to fit in with the cool kids at school. Watching the movie as a kid, I never realized just how terrible school pressure is…until I was bullied myself. And that sucked.

Every year, I anticipated the torment I’d experience and the self-doubt crept into other areas of my life. In years where I was supposed to be “finding myself,” I was actually “losing myself.” My mom quickly enrolled me in karate and made sure she knew I’d still be loved if I had to defend the jerky girls trying to make me feel like an outcast.

Our children are just starting to figure out who they are and now there are kids telling them that what they’ve chosen isn’t right?! WHOOF. It’s high stakes these days and as a mom of impressionable girl minds, I make sure they know that who they are is enough for me and it should be enough for them. No one has the right to tell them otherwise. I encourage you to do the same. Save them from the inevitable school drama by allowing your kids to feel safe and accepted when they knock on home’s door, regardless of who tries to knock them down. Making fun of me, Rizz?

4. Preparation is KEY

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off: (1986)

Take it from the master in fun, Ferris Bueller, that a well-executed plan is the key to success. As parents, I think we can take notes from this one that no matter how prepared we feel for the school year, our kids will still be unshakeable and un-wake-able at the sound of their alarm, they will still mope around the house as time ticks away before the bus comes, and they will forever be in a summer state-of-mind.

They’ll pull every trick in the book to prolong the days past. Long gone are the days of sleeping in, pool-time, naps, and late nights. Truly, though, I wish occasionally, that I would regain the sense of wonderment and fun our children seem to perpetually exhibit. Instead of marching and yelling behind them as they stumble around those first few early mornings, avoid the drama altogether and remember that childhood years are fleeting. “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

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