Commodus is a poor leader for the people of Rome. That we also understand.
But how do we know what makes a great leader? What is at stake if somebody has poor leadership skills?
There is one thing that helped me to learn the qualities on what takes a great leader: the very leaders of my own life—my mom and dad. Today, my lesson for this film is how every parent has the responsibility to be positive role models for their kids.
Six-Word Lessons for Dads with Autistic Kids, Lesson #58: He Must Know When He’s Wrong.
It took me a bit longer than others over time to learn how to pick up social cues, which was why my parents helped me learn by being socially well behaved themselves, and making sure that I saw that, even today with me as a grownup. Too many parents underestimate the heavy burden that every parent has in setting proper role models for their kids. Gladiator therefore contrasts positive role model (Maximus) against how a negative role model (Commodus) should look.
Commodus does all he can to win the people over, with great emphasis put on the deadly gladiator games. He even strives to win the honor of his nephew, who boasts of how he much prefers Maximus as the “savior of Rome.” Maximus didn’t have to live under the same roof as a child to leave a greater influence than the child’s corrupted uncle.
Six-Word Lessons on Growing Up Autistic, Lesson #61: Teachers Can Make a Big Impact.
We as humans are just naturally prone to mimic what older people do.
As for me, growing up, it took me longer than others to learn what to say or not to say in a conversation, or whether or not if a certain question would offend somebody. So it was a greater responsibility for the people around me to teach me right from wrong.
While I was a toddler, my parents took me to a speech therapist who always used toys to help me feel comfortable with her, thus I always referred to her as “Kathy with the toys.” She helped me with basic communication skills such as eye contact and identifying various signals. Throughout grade school, I worked a lot with special education teachers who taught me about the proper things to say to other people, and the appropriate reactions to problems.
But even with all the educational support, there is nobody more influential in a child’s life than the two people who s/he spends the most time with: mom and dad. My own parents were always the first to tell me right away if I was acting socially unacceptable, and were not afraid to blatantly say it like it is. In addition to guiding me towards the proper morals, they were just as well behaved themselves: As hard as my father works to bring in a sustainable income, he has always joyfully dropped anything he was doing to help me or my sister or my mother with whatever only he knew the solution to. My mother always stayed clear of smoking and drinking, practicing yoga to keep herself mentally and physically healthy. These are the qualities that match the committed and courageous virtue that Maximus has to his own family and the people of Rome—he has the long-term reward in mind.
I most of all want to stress how each parent needs to know what is at stake for our kids to grow up merciful and hardworking like Maximus, not exploitive and manipulative like Commodus. It may be difficult to see in the present moment, but even the little things that we do will start a chain reaction leading on in a never-ending domino effect. What we do in life echoes in eternity, and what you most value in your life will for sure affect the next generation.
- Keep in mind to show your kids what interacting with friends and peers looks like in a real world setting. This is perhaps the most powerful method of mentorship. In Gladiator, this type of mentorship can be seen in the way Commodus’ nephew talks about Maximus.
- Take care of your own social skills first though: do similar to what Maximus tells his fellow soldiers to do as they’re out in battle. Teamwork, organization, and setting a goal are key to anything you ever hope to accomplish.
- Don’t try to win the favor of others. Commodus tried to win the people of Rome over through the gladiator games, but Maximus’ mercy ended up appealing to the crowd more. Make sure that your kids not only know this, but see you act it out.
If there is a specific movie you’d like me to do an autism lesson on, please email me at Trevor@TrevorsViewOnHollywood.com for your recommendations.
Have a great weekend, and happy watching!