“Do you want to build a snowman?”
What Disney’s Academy Award-winning animated musical Frozen teaches us about childhood, love, and the importance of protecting children.
I’ve seen Disney’s Frozen at least four times now. I like it even more each time; I still get chills every time “Let It Go” plays on the radio.
So many of my adult friends — who don’t even have kids — love this movie, and it’s got me thinking about childhood. We talk about there being a kid inside each and every one of us, but the more I think about it, the more I think we’re still the same people we were as kids — just older and with more responsibility.
Maybe that’s what childhood really is. Rather than a range of ages, it’s a time in our lives when we’re cared for by someone else. Loved. Protected. And then when we grow up, we care for and protect ourselves (more or less).
Revise that: Maybe childhood is a time in our lives when we’re supposed to be cared for and loved.
In the beginning of Frozen, we watch two sisters grow up separated from each other: best friends at first, but separated by their parents – to “protect” them, essentially, but focusing on fear instead of love. This beginning really sets up the dramatic arc of the story as these sisters journey to rediscover how to love the way they should have as children.
The sad truth that I see every day through World Vision’s eyes is that there are far too many children around the world who don’t get to have a real childhood, this time of protection and love. They’re children only in the basic sense of age — too young to be adults, but still carrying the burdens that actual adults have learned to carry.
Girls forced to marry early haven’t learned how to be wives and mothers, and yet they are. Children forced into labor — often at dangerous jobs — belong in school, and yet they’re working. Children trafficked know only exploitation, not love, and because of that, they’re missing a vital element of the essence of childhood.
World Vision has a new program called Childhood Lost, which aims to address child trafficking and slavery in Bangladesh. And we do this kind of work all around the world. Working for World Vision, I hear amazing stories every day of children who have been protected from early marriage and slavery and other tragedies children face everywhere. This is a big deal, because child protection issues exist all around the world: Guatemala, Uganda, Tanzania, and in every other country — even here in the United States.
I was fortunate enough to have had a loving and protected childhood. But somehow I’m actually able to imagine (I think) what it might be like not to have had that. And that scenario is devastating to me. I’m passionate about so much of World Vision’s work, but the issues that our child protection work addresses are the ones that actually get me angry inside.
That’s why I’m so thrilled — relieved, even — every time I hear a success story of a child who is now protected after facing unimaginable neglect, abuse, exploitation, or trauma.
One thing I really love about Frozen is that it shows a character who grows up during the movie, but rather than becoming an evil antagonist as an adult, she turns toward love. Adulthood doesn’t mean that we stop loving or being loved; it means we’re responsible to turn back and love the next generation.
It means we’re responsible to protect childhood for the next generation.
Frozen is speaking to so many adults because it strikes a chord with a warm and safe time in our lives that we remember, when we were loved and protected.
But many children grow up early without such memories to look back on fondly.
… and 3-year-old Sharon, whose pierced ears help protect her from child sacrifice …
… and Su Su, who was able to break free from the sex trade …
… and the 6-year-old girl in Tanzania whose community stepped up to say no to her very early marriage.
If you’re ready to help save a lost childhood with love, you can sponsor a child here.