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Cinematters - Freaky Friday


By Kelly Parthen and Shannon Payette Seip

Mom & teen flip-flop places to understand each other

Your son's teammate just missed the game-winning shot. Does your son blame his friend for the loss, or is he the first to pat him on the back for the valiant effort? Does your daughter make friends with the new girl standing alone on the playground, or does she just keep playing with her same old pals?

If it is sometimes hard for your children to realize how others feel, Freaky Friday can help them take steps to become more sensitive. And our "Flip-Flop Swap" activity will bring the lesson to life.

In this remake of the 1976 movie, Dr. Tess Coleman (Jamie Lee Curtis) and her teenage daughter, Anna (Lindsay Lohan), bicker constantly and can't agree on anything. Anna is mad that her mom doesn't understand her musical aspirations or her daily teen trials. Tess is disappointed that Anna doesn't support her upcoming remarriage and all the responsibilities Tess must juggle while planning it. Each is convinced the other couldn't survive a day in her life.

Magical fortune cookies provide a chance to test that theory. After eating them one night, Tess and Anna are horrified to wake up the next morning trapped in each other's bodies. They literally walk a mile in each others shoes--Tess must face a vindictive teacher, a bratty kid brother, and a malicious friend turned enemy, while Anna realizes that her mom's main mission isn't to ruin Anna's life.

As they try to return to their own bodies, the two find a new respect for each other and realize that things aren't always as they seem.

Family Activity: Flip-Flop Swap
Members of your family don't have to switch bodies to see things from another perspective. Together, try the "Flip-Flop Swap" activity to learn how to step up awareness of others' feelings.

First, talk about why it was hard for Tess and Anna to understand each other at the beginning of the movie. Discuss times when your child has been so caught up in his own world that he's forgotten to think about others.

Next, name some of the things that Tess and Anna learn about each other when trapped in the wrong bodies, from discovering that the teacher really does treat Anna unfairly to realizing the demands of single parenting.

Then, talk about how your children might react in certain situations if they take the time to see another's viewpoint. Would your son join his classmates in misbehaving with a substitute teacher, or can he recognize the teacher's frustration amid the classroom chaos and choose to cooperate?

Materials needed:
Flip-flops (or other inexpensive shoes you can write on)
Permanent markers

Together, think of a time when it was hard for your child to see someone else's perspective. Does your older child get frustrated by a younger sibling who won't leave her alone? On the bottom of the left flip-flop, write words that represent the situation as your child sees it--such as "pest" or "nosey".

Now, have your child "swap places" by thinking about the situation from the other person's point of view. On the bottom of the right flip-flop write words that represent that different view--for example, the words "role model" or "cool" might remind the older child that her younger sibling really looks up to her.

Explain that the next time the situation arises, your child should remember to react the right way. In addition to seeing things from her own point of view (the left flip-flop), she must remember to put herself in the other person's shoes (the right flip-flop).

Finally, for a little extra fun, decorate the top sides of the flip-flops with doodles and designs.

Through the activity, everyone in your family will learn that to be more aware of others' feelings, they need to put their best foot (or flip-flop) forward.

E-mail your comments or ideas to [email protected].

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