Can you believe that 25 years have passed since Macaulay Culkin stormed into our lives in Home Alone? It’s been a quarter of a century since we first laughed at little Kevin McCallister’s wild antics and shamed his awful parents for (accidentally) leaving him behind when the family took off for Paris. Back in 1990, as a young adult, I obviously identified more with Kevin and his excitement over his new-found independence. But watching it now with my kids, I relate more to his parents. It’s funny how many parenting lessons you can find in Home Alone. Here are a few:
1. There’s no such thing as too many head counts. Obviously.
2. Kids are smarter than we think. It’s like an anti-helicopter parenting movie. Kevin proves that, even at the age of eight, he can fend for himself and take care of his home—and he does it all with crazy kid logic. I hardly expect my three kids to create elaborate schemes to ward off a couple of burglars, but they do have many areas of expertise and more wisdom than I give them credit for.
3. It’s possible for kids to enjoy old black and white movies. Even though the (admittedly inappropriate) movie Kevin watches endlessly—Angels with Filthy Souls—isn’t a real movie, it serves as a good reminder that actual film classics are worth watching as a family. They create straightforward suspense and hilarity without gimmicks, and your kids can learn to pay attention to a movie that isn’t all CGI.
4. Have a family escape plan. Do your kids know where to go in case of an emergency? Do they know how to exit your house from the second floor? They should. Do you also have an escape plan for when the kids are driving you crazy with their antics? You should have one for that scenario, too.
5. Sometimes kids like to be alone. It’s not just you; even your little ones need a break from the family. Kevin doesn’t immediately fall apart when he realizes that he is alone in an empty house—in fact, he thinks it’s absolutely magical. I get it, and I bet your kids do, too.
6. Get to know your neighbours. This is important. You don’t have to be the best of friends, but neighbours can offer help when you need it. Your family should make an extra effort to get to know them better, even if they’re seemingly scary old men who shovel snow late at night—you never know when that shovel could come in handy.
7. Forgiveness is always possible. Kevin forgives his parents for leaving him behind, even though they don’t necessarily deserve it. The reunion hug between Kevin and his mom (played by Catherine O’Hara) is a tissue-worthy moment—even more so now that I’m a parent myself. I know I’ve needed forgiveness from my own kids on occasion.
8. Twenty-five years can pass in the blink of an eye. I first saw this movie with my university friends after a night on the town. Back then, the idea of having our own kids and organizing family dinners still seemed like a lifetime away. Now, as I do head counts at the airport, on the subway and sometimes even as we exit the house, I can’t believe that it’s been a quarter of a century since Kevin was left home alone. It still feels like yesterday.