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How Bluey—and Jesus—can make us better parents image

How Bluey—and Jesus—can make us better parents

Lessons from Australia’s favourite canine family.

I’m sure most of you are already familiar with Bandit Heeler, AKA ‘Bluey’s Dad’. If not, he’s the archaeologist, footy-playing, fun-loving dad voiced by Dave McCormack, former frontman from the 90s alt-rock band, Custard. 

Bandit’s style of parenting has taken the world by storm—in fact, so popular is the show outside of Australia that many young American fans are reportedly picking up an Aussie twang from watching it!

In chats with my husband and other dads I know, Bandit is held up as an aspirational figure. ‘I wish I was as fun/patient/wise/creative as him’ is something I’ve heard on multiple occasions.

In Bluey, parents have seen a glimpse into a home that is at times relatable—like the time Bandit and his wife Chili struggle to assemble some flat-pack furniture while their girls have loads of fun playing with the packaging. At other times, the image presented is completely beyond all hopes and dreams for families—like the sublime ‘Sleepytime’ episode where, despite their tiredness, Bandit and Chili are able to comfort their daughter and help her into a dream world where she flies among the stars.

There is no doubt that this generation is being shaped by the example of the Heeler family. I want to share not only the lessons we learn from Bluey, but the even better lessons we learn from the gospel.

Parents aren’t perfect

Bandit makes mistakes, just like all parents. Yet, he not only admits his limitations, but makes atonement for them. Take for example the time he eats Bingo’s last chip at a restaurant and then offers her the power of ‘Dance Mode’ which allows her to make him dance whenever she wants—including in front of a crowd in the mall. Or the time when Bandit was distracted by taking work phone calls, hurting Bingo’s feelings. Bingo, now frozen from sadness, can only ‘unfreeze’ if Bandit dances around his letterbox with rollerskates on his hands.

Lesson: Bandit’s mistakes as a dad are real—he admits it and seeks to make things right.

Better lesson: While it is good to make recompense when we hurt our children’s feelings, the gospel also reminds us that God doesn’t require us to make our own atonement—peace was won by Christ on the cross. Parents, let’s remember that modelling and talking about God’s forgiveness is one of the most important lessons we can impart to our children.

Make the most of every opportunity, no matter how brief

One morning before heading off to work, Bandit creates ‘rug island’ to play on with the girls. The island is an old blanket and the treasure is a bunch of textas. Of course, the game can’t last forever because Bandit has to go to work. Bingo gives her dad a small present to remember their time while he’s a work: it’s just a yellow texta, but to Bandit, it’s ‘everything’.

Lesson: Even small moments of joy can have a big impact on children—and their parents.

Better lesson: Just as it’s hard to measure the cumulative impact of small moments of joy in family life, so too, we can’t immediately see the full impact that living authentically Christ-centred lives is having on our children for this life and the life to come. Remember to be on the lookout for small, special moments to connect and show Christ’s love in everyday life.

Reach out to fellow parents, no matter how hard it is

Bluey encourages her dad to step out of his comfort zone when she meets a new friend Winnie at a park. So excited is she about her new friend that she wants her dad to invite Winnie and her dad Fido over for breakfast. Bandit initially says no, explaining that it’s much harder for grown-ups to make friends than for kids. Over time, they keep running into Winnie and Fido until Bandit finally realises that it’s not too much of a stretch to invite the pair over, no matter how awkward he feels.

Lesson: Remember how easy it was to make friends when you were a kid? Why should it be so hard as an adult?

Better lesson: Christian families have a unique opportunity to invite their children’s friends and their families into Christian community. In some situations, you may be the only Christians these families ever meet. Be bold and reach out. God could use you in bringing people into his kingdom.

There’s so much we can learn from Bluey, Bingo, Bandit and Chili Heeler. The lessons taught by each episode are heartwarming, real and at times challenging. Whether intended or not, they represent part of God’s good plan for families—but not the whole story. It’s great to watch Bluey together and be inspired to build a family culture that’s authentic, joyful and welcoming. But let’s also look to Jesus, the one who came from the ultimate Father, and build our family culture on his grace and truth.

Image courtesy of ABC. Used with permission.


Jenn Phillips left a career in academia to devote herself to SRE (Special Religious Education) teaching. In her former life, Jenn taught courses in English Literature, History and Cultural Studies at universities in Australia and China. Jenn is now a member of Youthworks' Ministry Support Team and is thankful she can devote her time and energy towards advancing high school SRE.


The Word War

Lucy and Zac were the best of friends … until a war of words—silly, thoughtless words—began to fire from both sides.Such words are powerful weapons that can wound and anger the people we care about. But ultimately, Lucy and Zac realise that one particular word, ‘sorry’, when coupled with its response ‘I forgive you’ can break down any barrier.

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