Respect Your Elders: 15 Life Lessons Learned from the Elders in Mulan

Where were you 15 years ago?

June 19, 1998: I was 21 years old and 6 months pregnant with my first child. I remember watching the movie trailer for the much anticipated release of Mulan. While I didn’t go to the theaters to watch the movie, I remember watching Mulan for the first time with my husband and newborn baby at home.

Fast forward 15 years, three kids and a popular Disney blog later, Mulan is still my favorite Disney movie of all time.  I love the simplicity of  Mulan’s character.  I admire the respect that is shown for the elders in the family (something that is slowly being lost in today’s families) and most of all,  I love that this whole movie is based on honor and tradition … and not love and fairy tales.

There’s a lot to learn from this gal and her mission to go forward by clearly defying her father, to bring justice and honor to her family.  Join me as we reflect on 15 life lessons from the elders featured on this 15 year anniversary of Mulan.

  • Respecting our Elders 1 of 16
    life lessons mulan

    Respecting the elders in our family is so important for a lot of people.  Take a look at 15 life lessons we can learn from the elders in the movie,  Mulan.

  • Lesson 1: Never underestimate late bloomers 2 of 16

    Fa Zhou: My, what beautiful blossoms we have this year. But look, this one's late. But I'll bet that when it blooms, it will be the most beautiful of all.

    See! Never underestimate late bloomers.

  • Lesson 2: Blossom in adversity 3 of 16
    mulan horse

    The Emperor of China: The flower that blooms in adversity is the most rare and beautiful of all.


    The best lessons are learned when we go through tough times. I've learned quite a few.  Have you?

  • Lesson 3: Play nice 4 of 16

    Mushu: No time to talk. Now remember, it's your first day of trainin', so listen to your teacher and no fightin', play nice with the other kids, unless, of course, one of the other kids wanna fight, then you have to kick the other kid's butt.

     As a parent, I've had to deal with some some issues with petty fights between my kids and their friends.  This comes to mind every time I sit and talk to the kids about playing nice.

  • Lesson 4: Protection is an honor 5 of 16
    mulan rain

    Fa Zhou:  It is an honor to protect my country and my family.

     I love this quote from Mulan's father.  It reminds me of what our soldiers fight for.

  • Lesson 5: Doomed 6 of 16
    mulan- army

    Mushu: I'm doomed! And all 'cause Miss Man decides to take her little drag show on the road.

     Ah, Mushu.  Whether our situations in life dire or not, we all need a little humor.

  • Lesson 6: Be true to yourself 7 of 16
    mulan- dad

    Emperor of China: You don't meet a girl like that every dynasty.

    I tell my husband this all the time! It's true, right?  Rings true if your son has met the right gal, too!

  • Lesson 7: Pay attention 8 of 16
    mulan- gmom

    Mushu: No, they're men. And you'll have to act just like them, so pay attention.

     Sometimes, paying attention to our surroundings will save us a heap of trouble!

  • Lesson 8: Keep your family in mind 9 of 16
    mulan- hair

    Mushu: Oooh! All right, that's it! Dishonor! Dishonor on your whole family!

     No matter what we do, let's keep in mind the honor of our families!



  • Lesson 9: Grandma’s wisdom is important 10 of 16
    mulan- prayers

    Grandmother Fa: Great. She brings home a sword. If you ask me, she should've brought home a man.

     Gotta love our grandmothers! Do you have a sassy grandma? What words of wisdom did she pass on to you?

  • Lesson 10: You can lean on faith 11 of 16

    Fa Li: I should have prayed to the ancestors for luck.

     Sometimes, we have to rely on faith to bring us through life's journey.

  • Lesson 11: Never give up 12 of 16

    The Emperor of China: No matter how the wind howls, the mountain cannot bow to it.

     This needs to be taught more often.  How perfect is this quote for the family? Love!!!

  • Lesson 12: Let your challenges inspire you 13 of 16
    mulan- sword

    Matchmaker: You are a dis-*grace!* You may look like a bride, but you will never bring your family honor!

     Have you ever had something said to you that hurt so much, it made you challenge yourself to reach for something bigger in your life?  I'm sure this made Mulan confirm her decision to fight for her family.

  • Lesson 13: Prove yourself 14 of 16
    mulan, great wall

    Grandmother Fa: This is your chance to prove yourself.

     We've all had a chance to go above and beyond someone's expectations and when the outcome is awesome, there is no greater joy than seeing our hard work come to life.

  • Lesson 14: Be the difference 15 of 16

    The Emperor of China: A single grain of rice can tip the scale. One man may be the difference between victory and defeat.

     Another gem from the Emperor. We can be the difference in our home, community and the world!

  • Lesson 15: The Greatest gift 16 of 16

    Fa Zhou: The greatest gift and honor... is having you for a daughter.

     Have you ever said these words to your son or daughter?  You should, if you haven't.

Photo Source: Walt Disney Studios


Happy Anniversary, Mulan!  Thanks for the many words of wisdom!

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