University of Arkansas System
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Leigh Anne Tuohy from “The Blind Side”
Leigh Anne Tuohy from the movie “The Blind Side” embodies what it means to be a passionate, strong, and loving mother. She’s no bullshit, and it’s obvious on screen. When she speaks, she means it. She doesn’t want to raise spoiled, bratty kids; she knows better than that. When she gets tough, it’s not out of anger or hate. It’s coming from a deep place of love. She not only demonstrates her passionate-about-life demeanor to her children, but to everyone she comes across. She is never rude, bitchy, hateful, or disrespectful. But somehow she manages to remain a leader among everyone she meets.
In the recent years, there have been some new philosophies on parenting that try to brainwash the minds of parents in need of guidance. These parents don’t want to be mean or neglect their children. They see other parents spanking and yelling with anger, and they know that’s not the right way to go. The new philosophies confirm this, but take a radical stance on an alternative: No leadership whatsoever.
This sounds like something so wild and outlandish that it may actually work! Bend to the child’s every demand, and reward misbehavior. Disillusioned parents will try to look past the fact that their kids are not learning any responsibilities, demanding them around like servants, and progressing slower with behavior issues than other children their age. The scary part about it is nobody has yet seen the long-term affects of this “no discipline” parenting. Kids without strong leaders as parents are used to getting everything they need emotionally and materialistically from somebody else, and when they’re on their own, there is no emotional parental crutch to hold their hand through mature situations. Their realities go haywire, growing into selfish adults incapable of thinking about others. They’ve been raised to be the constant center of attention at all times, so considering another person’s well-being would be silly.
Either that, or the child grows to be depressed about life, finding out it doesn’t work the way their parents had originally presented it to them. I could go on explaining all the reasons why that type of parenting doesn’t work, but we’re over that. You’re smart enough to not go down that road with your kids, so now I want to guide you in the right direction. And Leigh Anne is going to help me. She is the perfect model for how CharismaticKid teaches leadership to parents, and she can be our company mascot if she wants to. (Leigh Anne, if you’re reading this… call me. We’ll do lunch.) It’s in her vibe, in her tone, and in her words. And she knows words play the smallest role when it comes to teaching leadership and discipline. Remember, children’s first teacher was body language, the next was verbal communication. Charismatic parents say more with one or two words than most parents can say with a whole bucket load.
When her charismatic kid, SJ, puts his feet up on the dashboard of her BMW, she turns from normal to “don’t even think about it” tone.
“Gitchyer’ feet off my dash.”
She said it calmly, as if she already knew he would comply. And he doesn’t have a second thought about it. He takes them off as if he knew he wasn’t supposed to, but forgot. “Thank you. Put on your seatbelt.”
When her daughter, Collins, smacked the floor after trying to save the ball from hitting the ground at her high school volleyball game, she gave her mother a look of “I can’t deal with this anymore.”
Leigh Anne knows that confident kids don’t come running to their parents when they encounter speed bumps. So instead of getting upset and feeling bad for her daughter, she gestures for her to get up, stop being a baby, and keep playing.
One word. Does this mean that Leigh Anne doesn’t love Collins? Does this mean she is trying to lower her confidence? Just the opposite. She is raising an independent woman, who will know how to deal with issues by herself. Strong women breed strong women. She loves her daughter so much that she won’t stand to let her become dependent on another person. Do you think Collins will end up being a needy, desperate woman in ten years? Don’t count on it.
This face is saying, “And I mean it, mister! Don’t you act like a sissy when it is your job to lead. Now LEAD!”
It’s obvious Leigh Anne doesn’t sugar coat life for her kids. She knows that when they grow up, nobody is going to sugar coat things for them then, so why do it now? If they grew up having a skewed view on who they are in life, reality will hit hard when they learn the truth. Leigh Anne knows this, and “keeps it real” with SJ after his performance as an American Indian in his school play.
“SJ, don’t let this go to your head, but I thought you were very convincing in the role of…” “Indian number three?”
It was a real compliment, and that is light years more meaningful than blowing smoke up someone’s butt. SJ will grow up to know how to react to real criticism in a confident and mature manner. He will learn to accept when he isn’t perfect, and this builds character. Someone comfortable with their vulnerabilities is the most confident person you can meet. She treats him as he wants to be treated, with sincerity. From watching the movie, it’s obvious SJ is mature for his age. Why do you think this is?
Another example of teaching maturity to your children is to give them adult decisions to make that can affect the entire family. When you do this, you not only give them a sense of worth for themselves, but you are also preparing them to make important decisions as they become adults. Leigh Anne demonstrated a good example of this when she gave Collins the decision to whether the family should keep Big Mike in their home, or to let him go.
Giving your child important choices to make on their own allows her to prove the maturity she wishes to show to the rest of her family. It’s funny how when you give your child a responsibility, if you expect her to follow through, most of the time she will.
4. Compassion and Responsibility
On their way home from the play, the Tuohy family saw Big Mike walking in the rain to the gym to get some warmth. He’s now homeless and has nowhere to stay. What would you do in this situation? Leigh Anne was teaching SJ a lesson in compassion when she made no argument to bring Big Mike home with them for the night. Compassion is an emotion, and the definition of an emotion is a thought that inspires action. Taking him home was the action, and to pass-up on that would be ignoring her responsibility. It is any healthy person’s responsibility to take care of others as a way of being grateful for life. It’s nice to think that we would do something like this, but would we really? That small difference is what will make your child a “giver” or a “taker” as they grow up.
Notice Leigh Anne’s sternness with Mike as he is acting standoffish towards her. Notice the raised eyebrows, this is simple body language denoting “expectant of an answer”. She uses strong facial expressions, body language, and eye contact with him to let him know she is not playing games. She didn’t talk to him from the car window, but instead walked straight up to him with little introduction. She was cutting to the point.
Here’s the shot of compassion.
Here is her glare of responsibility. SJ sees all of this. She is saying with her face, “Don’t you dare deny that this is our responsibility.”
She doesn’t ask, “Would you like to stay at our house tonight?” She knows he’d say no. That’d be a cop out for her. She can get back in the car and tell her family, “Well, I tried.” No, she knows that in order to be happy and to do the same for others, she has to take matters into her own hands. She TELLS him to come home with them. She knows it’s the right thing to do, and she knows Big Mike wants to, but is too shy. This is where her leadership skills come in as well. Most people are too scared to say how they feel. There always must be a leader in the group that calls the shots. Leigh Anne Tuohy takes that role seriously. Watch above how she doesn’t plead with him, she just turns around KNOWING that he will follow.
4. Body Language
SJ is at the age where he is getting most of the lessons, and a kid would be fed up with his mother’s discipline by now. But not SJ. Why is that? When Leigh Anne lays down the law, she doesn’t do it with anger or emotion. It is straight up unemotional discipline. She also makes sure everyone KNOWS she is in charge, so no one argues with her. SJ looks up to his mother because she is such a strong leader. Watch this clip below, and notice how her correction is quick, unemotional, and sure. SJ reacts like lightning, because Leigh Anne demands good behavior from her children, not just asks for it.
Notice how the correction of SJ’s behavior did not make the relationship between him and his mother sour? Even immediately afterwards, he was cracking up at his mother’s assertive attitude towards taking Big Mike shopping. He loves her! There were no hard feelings because Leigh Anne doesn’t mix feelings with discipline. Also take note of how quickly Leigh Anne changes her demeanor from “tough-love Leigh Anne” to “cheerful perky mama” after the correction has been given. Let’s talk about the subtle body language correction itself. SJ wasn’t rebelling by putting his elbows on the table, nor did he MEAN to be disrespectful.
He was simply being lazy and forgetful. Leigh Anne was acting as his temporary conscious brain reminding him of something he should already have known to do. When SJ gets older, he’ll be able to remind himself about bad body language, because he’s been given cues as a child for when to correct himself. Why correct bad body language in the first place? Because if ignored, it can turn your mood into the way it looks. Elbows on the table blocks off others from talking to you. SJ wasn’t trying to do that, but the repeated habit of it can eventually make him feel more comfortable eating without anyone bothering him. Leigh Anne is there to nip that in the bud.
Did I mention that charisma is about exposing your vulnerabilities? People are so caught up with the thought that confidence has something to do with only showing your strengths, but that’s just half the equation. When you can show your weakness to others, and take it even a step further and sacrifice yourself for their benefit, you are on your way to confidence mastery.
When Leigh Anne gives the famous speech to Mike on the field about protecting his family, she is putting him in a leadership role among the teammates. A leader’s job is not only to lead, but to ensure the well-being of the rest of the group. When you make the choice to protect your friends, family, or teammates, you are sacrificing the chance of your own well-being for others. This is what makes a loved leader. Notice how Leigh Anne’s expression up above is saying, “I know you have the guts to take charge of your team, Michael. So do it.” She’s not yelling at him, she is disciplining him…
… And it’s obvious that he enjoys and respects her stern demeanor. Leigh Anne doesn’t beat around the bush, and people not only respect but enjoy such direct interaction. (Don’t confuse this with bitchiness. Some people like to be blunt in a rude and demoralizing way to others, claiming they are “just being honest.” No, they’re not being honest, just negative. This isn’t a confident trait, it’s insecurity manifested into fake confidence. Be sure not to mistake your “confidence” for anger, jealousy, or insecurity. A confident person is self-LESS, an insecure person is self-ISH.)
6. Emotionally Stable
Most people in this world possess emotional instability. They get upset over things, whether big or small, and show anger towards others because of it. A confident person is always emotionally stable. There is never a time where getting upset is necessary or beneficial to a situation. It is always a deterrent to your well-being, as well as to the rest of the people in your family.
When Michael had gotten into a car accident with SJ sitting in the front seat of the pickup truck that the Tuohy’s had bought for him, he knew he screwed up bad. But aside from minor cuts and bruises, SJ was fine. Leigh Anne had a choice: to use anger as a way to teach Mike a lesson, or to calmly address the situation with a peaceful mind. The problem with using anger as a method for discipline is that it breaks the trust between you and your child.
They’ll begin hiding things from you, lying to you about the party they went to last weekend, and eventually your kids will be living a secret life keeping you out of the loop when it comes to their real lives. But aside from the trust factor, choosing to live an emotionally stable life lowers your stress level to zero, and teaches your children to do the same. When you can approach each and every situation from a place of calmness, you automatically set yourself up for a confident disposition. Your family members feel more confident in following you, because your choices do not come from a place of negative emotion, but rather positivity and love.