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7 Positive Life Lessons From The Little Mermaid

Remember when I walked the red carpet for Disney’s Ralph Breaks The Internet?

Yeah, that was epic, especially meeting the actresses who voiced our favorite Disney princesses, including Jodi Benson, who looks so absolutely fabulous.

Can you believe The Little Mermaid film adaptation of Hans Christian Andersen’s story is 30 years old? Yes, 1989, baby!

In honor of its 30th anniversary, two-time Academy Award®-winner (Best Original Score and Best Original Song “Under the Sea,” 1989) “The Little Mermaid,” dives into the highly celebrated Walt Disney Signature Collection with all-new bonus features and a sing-along mode.

The magical, musical tale of mermaid princess Ariel — along with loveable sidekicks Sebastian and Flounder, and the love-to-hate sea witch Ursula — is shore to make a splash with all generations when The Little Mermaid comes home for the first time Digitally in HD, 4K Ultra HD™  and Movies Anywhere on Feb. 12, and on 4K Ultra HD and Blu-ray™ on Feb. 26.

I also had the pleasure of chatting with Mark Henn, who animated Ariel in The Little Mermaid, both underwater and on land, and who has worked on the animation of most of the Disney Princesses we know and love.

As he drew Ariel right in front of our eyes, we were listening to his stories and anecdotes about the movie.

I am so blessed to say that Disney sent me the hand-drawn and autographed print by Mark Henn – an honor I would have considered impossible to receive.

During our chat, Mark Henn said something I never thought about and that impacted my view of The Little Mermaid tremendously:

I’ve often told people who ask what makes this generation of princesses different from Cinderella’s and Snow White’s, is that the stories are more involved and their role in those stories is much more proactive.

The early princesses were very reactionary – things happen to them and they kind of go “Oh”.

Ariel set the mold of a proactive character that drove the story – she made decisions that advanced the story.

{ The princesses } are making decisions, instead of things just happening to them. Their part in those stories will always be more proactive – they won’t be the helpless.

With the Blu-ray release of Disney’s The Little Mermaid, it’s time to reflect on the life lessons from The Little Mermaid. This animated Disney movie has so much to offer to us moms. 

When you watch The Little Mermaid as an adult, as a parent, your life and the movie will make much more sense.

The Little Mermaid is filled lessons you may not have realized as a kid, but now you can be aware of, so you can consciously use them in your parenting and pass them on to your kids.

7 Life Lessons From The Little Mermaid

Re-watching The Little Mermaid with our kids as adults is quite an enriching experience and a great introspective exercise, plus, it’s fun when you know and sing to every line of every song with them!

Along the journey of the The Little Mermaid, we can learn a great deal of timeless life lessons, so I’ve put together a list of 7 positive life lessons from The Little Mermaid to get us started.

Elayna Fernandez ~ The Positive MOM“But who cares, no big deal, I want more.” ~ Ariel

Ariel had gizmos and gadgets a-plenty, whozits and whatzits galore, and even 20 thingamabobs, and she still wanted more because these things weren’t as meaningful to her as the passion behind it.

I always strive to invest in experiences, rather than on things, because there is a tradeoff for everything!

Things are nice, but things will never be enough, and will never fill the void of settling for living a life on someone else’s terms, based on false beliefs of who we are meant to be.

And our children are no different than Ariel. We can buy them all the stuff in the world, but they want presence, not presents; they want meaning, not matter.

Elayna Fernandez ~ The Positive MOM “It won’t cost much, just your voice!” ~ Ursula

We sometimes sacrifice our voice in order to fit in. Your voice is precious and speaking up is your birth right.

Ariel’s story is a cautionary tale so you don’t dare underestimates the power of your own voice.

Ariel didn’t fully realize how important her voice was until it was gone.

It was her most precious tool to fight for her rights, to demand her freedom, to express herself and speak her mind, to vent, to seek understanding, to use her singing talent, and to carry out the important relationships in her life. 

Ariel’s voice is what makes us fall in love with Ariel before we even see her, and what Prince Eric is head-over-heels for, no matter what she looks like.

Ursula tried to convince Ariel that it was her looks, having the right body, using the right body language that would “make” Prince Eric fall in love with her.

Her reggae singing crab friend Sebastian had told her she had to pucker up and bat her eyes, and yet, that wasn’t enough for Prince Eric to “kiss the girl.”

Ariel needed to use her voice, and so do you. Let your voice be heard and don’t take it for granted. 

Elayna Fernandez ~ The Positive MOM “Life is full of tough choices, isn’t it? ” ~ Ursula

Ariel has a tough choice to make, and, of course, the evil sea witch, Ursula says she’s too busy to explain the deal in detail. “No more talking, signing. Zip!, she says.

Come on, you poor unfortunate soul. Go ahead! Make your choice! I’m a very busy woman and I haven’t got all day. You poor unfortunate soul.

Ariel falls for it because she doesn’t read the fine print. It’s great to be adventurous, to take risks, to dare, to “make the choice,” but we must do so consciously, not because someone else is pressuring us. Rash decisions made in a moment of desperation are bound to backfire.

Ariel signs the sinister contract with her eyes literally closed, but she didn’t have to sign the contract at all. Life is full of choices, but we must make choices out of love, not out of fear!

Sidebar – Ursula is one of my favorite Disney Villains. She’s great looking with all her curves, her purple skin, her eight tentacles, and her dance moves.

She is the epitome of the jealous “friend” we all need to watch out for who manipulates, condescends (“poor unfortunate soul”), and bends the truth to get what she wants.

Elayna Fernandez ~ The Positive MOM “He’s human, you are a mermaid!” ~ King Triton

King Triton discriminates against humans and Ariel pleads with him: “Daddy, they are not barbarians!”

But his past experiences with humans, his beliefs about humans (spineless, savage, incapable of any feeling), and the worry that he will lose his daughter are fogging his reason. 

I consider myself a reasonable merman,” he declares, but as parents, we are never reasonable when we try to control whom our children will love, no matter the “reason,” but even more especially when that reason is that they are different (different religion, different social class, different ethnicity) or the same (as in the same gender).

King Triton was wrong about Prince Eric, because he’s actually one of the most honorable and wise old school Disney princes.

Yes, Ariel was suffering because of Prince Eric’s rejection when she couldn’t speak, but he didn’t want a relationship based on her looks – he knew that a woman’s voice, her words, matter!

Elayna Fernandez ~ The Positive MOM “He would never understand.” ~ Ariel

Ariel had been secretly hoping to make her father her her mind: “If only I could make him understand.

I just don’t see things the way he does.” However, when King Triton destroys most of the treasures in Ariel’s Grotto (let’s not discuss her statue of Eric lol) with his magic trident to “get through to her.”

Ariel feels hopeless and now his case of so-called “tough love” has made her a perfect vulnerable target for Ursula’s evil plan.

We don’t get through to our children and teenagers by crushing their dreams.

As Sebastian eloquently says: “If everybody got somebody by the hand, maybe everyone could learn and understand.

Even if we may never completely understand our child’s path, we can at least hold their hand. That’s one of the greatest quotes and life lessons from The Little Mermaid.

I couldn’t tell you whether my kids are following a life I do or don’t want for them, because I really gave up on having desires for them, because they are fully capable of having and pursuing their own desires.

Sebastian would say “Children have got to be free to lead their own lives,” and that’s true!

I admit I’ve had to develop a humility I didn’t possess in order to stop thinking I know what’s best for them.

After all, my parents didn’t know what was best for me either and sometimes, they still don’t get some of the decisions I make – and would you blame them?

I think the big parenting lesson in The Little Mermaid is that our fear for our kids can potentially kill our relationship with them and even ultimately kill us.

It’s such a gift when someone doesn’t try to hold us back from our dream, accepts us for who we are, and loves us without having to “obey their rules.”

Oh, and if like King Triton, you find yourself wondering in remorse “Was I too hard on her?,” don’t ask your crab friend, ask your teen daughter – or son. I know by experience that they are always happy and eager to answer!

Elayna Fernandez ~ The Positive MOM“I’m sixteen years old, I’m not a child!” ~ Ariel

Sebastian’s complaint rings true to for many parents: “Teenagers, they think they know everything.” And well, so do parents, if we are honest.

Sure, Ariel didn’t have the information or life experience to be making life-or-death decisions, but she knew some things that King Triton didn’t know and could have come to see a lot sooner.

I know a lot of people say “I wish I would have listened to my parents more.”

I don’t. I’m glad I didn’t, for the most part, actually.

That doesn’t mean I don’t love them or I don’t respect them and it definitely doesn’t mean that I am not grateful for all their effort and sacrifices, I’m just happy I made my own choices – yep, including what you’d consider ugly mistakes.

The truth is, and research agrees, that sixteen year-olds really aren’t children.

Adolescence is an awkward and difficult transitional phase in which hormones begin to rage, the brain executive system is still developing, and the pressure from parents and peers goes dramatically up.

This doesn’t mean that our teens don’t know who they are or what they want, it just means they need extra support, compassion, and understanding.

I wanna be where the people are,” Ariel exclaims with all the strength in her soul.

This has been her dream for a long time! King Triton is a single dad juggling his responsibilities as a king and 7 teenage daughters, so he doesn’t really know Ariel or her dream all that well.

Ariel’s desire is not really about a prince she just met, it’s about satisfying her burning curiosity, exploring, learning, and experiencing the human world freely.

Ariel wanted to go on a journey to discover who she truly was, rather than to be told who she should be.

She loves her fish friends, but she can’t deny her connection to people. She wants the freedom to be more than a mermaid.

You know, I’ve gone against my parents’ wishes, I’ve also followed my heart and changed my whole life for a man I didn’t really know, and left my family and friends back home.

I can’t say for sure it was the best choice, but it was what I wanted to do and I’m happy I did it, even though sometimes I still don’t feel like I’m part of their world.

Are you loving the life lessons from The Little Mermaid? Let’s go to the last one!

Elayna Fernandez ~ The Positive MOM“Far better than any dream girl is one of flesh and blood. One warm, and caring, and right before your eyes.” ~ Grimsby

I think the most overlooked lesson in The Little Mermaid is how Prince Eric is so obsessed with finding his dream girl that he almost loses her forever, even though she was in front of him the entire time!

Grimsby, Prince Eric’s caretaker and confidant provides wise words, especially in a world where everyone is looking for a perfect someone, striving to be perfect, or even pretending to be perfect. 

My heart was so broken when I was married with someone who was so caught up in his fantasy world that he completely failed to see me – to see our family.

This was one of the life lessons from The Little Mermaid that I just learned, because things hit differently at different stages of our lives.

It was such an amazing experience to finally meet Mark Henn, to learn how to draw Ariel, and to learn more about how The Little Mermaid was made!

What positive life lessons from The Little Mermaid? Share your life lessons with us in the comments below and stay tuned for interesting facts and all the details on The Little Mermaid Blu-ray coming soon. You can also join the conversation with #LittleMermaidBluray

Elayna is a single mom of 4, award-winning Storyteller, Story Strategist, and Student of Pain. She’s a bestselling author, internationally acclaimed keynote speaker, and 4x TEDx speaker. Founder of the Positive MOM® and creator of the S.T.O.R.Y. System: a blueprint to craft and share powerful stories that will transform your results, so you can have the wealth, opportunities, and freedom you deserve. Connect with Elayna Fernández at thepositivemom.com/keynote-speaker and follow @thepositivemom. To receive a gift from Elayna, click HERE.

Be Positive and You Will Be Powerful ~ Elayna FernandBe Positive and You Will Be Powerful ~ Elayna Fernandez ~ The Positive MOMez ~ The Positive MOM
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Amanda Rosson

Monday 8th of July 2019

So crazy to think this movie came out the year I was born! It still stands as one of my Disney favorites - never realized it had so many great lessons in it too!

Kalyan Panja

Tuesday 2nd of July 2019

That looks a great list of reasons to watch this lovely series, perfect to spend the summer weekends in style.

Sue-Tanya Mchorgh

Monday 1st of July 2019

The Little Mermaid was one of my favourite shows when I was younger. I never really though about the lessons because I was so young but now looking back I can see how you got these lessons.

Kim Seghers

Sunday 30th of June 2019

What an amazing experience. I love your videos. I bet it was exciting to meet Mark Henn and talk with him. I have always loved the Little Mermaid but, never thought about the life lessons it teaches. I need to rewatch it now and pay attention to it closer.

Melissa Chapman

Sunday 30th of June 2019

I can't believe it has been 39 years already, it seems like it was less. I watched this with my daughter and now she is 18, I hope she still will watch it with her daughter when the time comes.