Run Forrest Run, or Learning Life Lessons from a Tom Hanks Classic

How will you prepare your children for life's challenges?

We go to the movies to escape. In the darkness of the theater we meet super heroes, crime fighters, super sleuths and glamour girls.

Sometimes when the lights come on we realize we may have met a role model.

When Forrest Gump came out in 1994 I was the mother of a 4 year old and 1 year old. Life was sleep deprived but simple and uncomplicated. It was a sweet movie and I probably shed some tears over its tenderness.

I recently watched it again and saw it with a fresh pair of eyes.

Forrest was the underdog I cheered for back in 1994, but Momma is the character I admire in 2012.

From the early scene when Momma was told her son was “stupid,” Momma won my affections. She was determined not to let any one person or society label her child.

“Remember what I told you, Forrest. You're no different than anybody else is. Did you hear what I said, Forrest? You're the same as everybody else. You are no different,” she empowered him.

She chooses to ignore what others thought and helped Forrest build his self-confidence. Instead of feeling bad for her child’s challenges or embracing a “woe is me" attitude, she turned up her chin and carried on, determined to give Forrest the thing he would need his entire life.


A friend once told me the mantra she recites raising her special needs son: “I need to figure out how he will fit into the world because I don’t expect the world to change to accommodate him.”

It is not easy to watch your child miss the mark but there are lessons to learn from every experience.

There is a scene in the movie when Forrest encounters bullies walking home from school. They throw rocks at him and call him names.   There is no adult or HIB policy to protect Forrest from the torment. Forrest is forced to take care of his welfare all by himself.

In the scene where Forrest begins to run, we learn Forrest has a hidden talent. This leads to a college scholarship for him. I am not advocating for you to throw sticks and stones at your child in order to see what they are made of. What I'm saying is your child will encounter adversity, how you prepare them for those challanges today can be a life-saver.

The auditions are in full swing for the school musical. Parents are holding their breath and fretting. What if their child doesn’t get the part they're hoping for? The tears and sadness of disappoint and the helplessness of mom not being able to fix it.

Making the sports teams, receiving invitations to parties, hanging out with the "in-crowd," getting into your dream college, snippets of life. A life full of pleasure and disappointment.

Just like Momma told Forrest: “Life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.”

Erika Dankovits Kao February 02, 2012 at 08:35 PM
Susan Blezow February 02, 2012 at 11:41 PM
Children need to experience disappointment and adversity in their lives to grow into healthy adults. We do them a disservice to protect them from life and its challenges. JMHO.
Carol Francica February 03, 2012 at 03:07 AM
As a girl scout leader I feel your article is so inspiring! Thank you for sharing!
John J Bruggemann Sr. February 03, 2012 at 04:32 AM
Lynn as usual you hit on a subject that most people didn't see.Good work and keep the column coming.You really do a great job in bringing ou the meaning of things.John J Bruggemann Sr.
Christine Becker February 03, 2012 at 06:35 PM
Perspective, coupled with life experience, is a wonderful thing. Thanks, Lynn, for sharing your thoughts and insights on this great film!


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