What Rudolph the Reindeer Teaches us About Bullying
Updated: Aug 22
Who doesn't love a good underdog-to-overcomer story? And Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer is a perfect example of a classic tale of someone who goes from outcast to hero. It is packed with life lessons for children, especially teachings on bullying. I was bullied throughout elementary and middle school, so I love using this hallmark story to show my children how we should treat, love, and respect others. Like Rudolph, I overcame the hurt and loneliness of bullying, shed my insecurities, and embraced my differences. All with a secret weapon, and it wasn't Santa! It was God – our rescuer and redeemer.
The History of the Famous Reindeer
The beloved story of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer was created by Robert L. May, who had a childhood story of bullying similar to Rudolph's plight. The inspiration for the famed character came from May's daughter, who loved reindeer. According to Wikipedia, Rudolph started as a Christmas coloring book for Montgomery Ward to give away during the holiday season in 1939 and was initially written as a poem. The treasured reindeer made his first screen appearance in 1948, and the song was recorded in 1949.
Doing My Homework
When I took this article assignment, I decided I needed a refresher on Rudolph's story. So my family and I popped some popcorn and watched the movie that has been around for almost seventy-five years. My sons commented on how fake the characters looked and asked me if I was a little girl when this movie came out. The constant questions and comments about the reindeer, Santa, elves, and a random math question of "what is one gazillion times 35.213 trillion?" continued throughout the movie. If you have young children, you understand this interrogation; I mean precious conversation with curious minds, all too well. Children are naturally observant and curious whether they are obsessively vocal, like mine, or quiet. Kids are always listening even when it doesn't seem that way.
Below you will find seven ways to relate Rudolph's challenges and trials with the hope, promises, and love of God. Watching the movie or reading the book is an opportune time to sneak in life lessons with your children.
Lessons on Bullying
God wants us.
Rudolph's father tried to hide his glowing red nose from the other reindeer because he was afraid that no one would accept him and that he would not be part of the sleigh team. The other reindeer leave Rudolph out of reindeer games when the covering falls off, and his nose is displayed. The others rejected and bullied him because of something that made him different. But God not only accepts us for who we are; he wants us, cares for us and loves us. We are reminded of these truths in Jeremiah 29:11. "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."
2. We are never alone.
Rudolph found himself alone after running away from home until he met his new friends, Hermey and Yukon Cornelius. But Rudolph was never truly alone even though he felt that way because God is with us always, especially in the hard times. We can overcome our loneliness by drawing near to God through prayer and reading the Bible. When we ask God to come near us, He draws close (James 4:8). Psalm 34:18 tells us, "The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit."
3. Our words matter.
The other reindeer laughed at Rudolph and called him names, which obviously hurt his feelings and made him feel ashamed of his nose. No one likes to feel sad and embarrassed, so we must steward our words to be life-giving ones. God tells us to use our words wisely and use them to build others up. Proverbs 15:4 describes this command. "Gentle words bring life and health; a deceitful tongue crushes the spirit." We must never believe the hurtful things people say because our identity is based on God's words.
4. God sends helpers.
Rudolph found friends who loved him for who he was – red nose and all. Clarice, Hermey, and Yukon Cornelius become Rudolph's good friends before he saves Christmas. When we go through trials and tough seasons, God often sends people into our lives to help us, especially when we pray for helpers. And sometimes, we play the part of the helper for others who are hurting. We need to open our eyes and hearts to see how God sees others. 1 Samuel 16:7 says, "Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart." We must remember we are never alone or ill-equipped to face the challenges of this world. God sent us the ultimate helper – the Holy Spirit, who dwells within us. The Holy Spirit helps us hold fast to God's truths and promises and tell others about Jesus. "But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you" (John 14:26).
5. We are called to be kind and love.
We don't like how we feel when someone is mean to us, so we must remember to treat others with kindness. While this is sometimes hard to do, it is the right thing. Even when others are mean to us, Jesus commands us to love them anyway, be kind, and pray for them. "' Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself'" (Matthew 22:37-39).
6. Practicing forgiveness heals our hearts.
One of the hardest things to do is to forgive someone who hurt us. Most things God tells us to do are tough, and forgiveness is one of them. We are reminded in Ephesians 4:32 to "Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you." Practicing forgiveness even when someone doesn't apologize is part of being a good child of God. And it helps to heal our hearts by freeing up the broken space.
7. God creates a way when we are faithful and don't give up hope.
Rudolph persevered and never gave up despite all of the trials he faced. With courage, he saved his family and Clarice from Bumble. Rudolph also saved Christmas by guiding Santa's sleigh through the thick fog with the very thing he was picked on about – his bright red glowing nose. God has a purpose for all His children and often uses our differences as gifts for others. Once we learn to embrace the things that set us apart for God, we will become unstoppable. Proverbs 3:5-6 tells us to have complete trust in the Lord. Then He will set our paths straight.
Just for fun, consider singing the carol with your kids: You know Dasher and Dancer and Prancer and Vixen Comet and Cupid and Donner and Blitzen But do you recall The most famous reindeer of all? Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer Had a very shiny nose And if you ever saw it You would even say it glows All of the other reindeer Used to laugh and call him names They never let poor Rudolph Join in any reindeer games Then one foggy Christmas Eve Santa came to say "Rudolph, with your nose so bright Won't you guide my sleigh tonight?" Then how the reindeer loved him As they shouted out with glee "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer You'll go down in history" Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer Had a very shiny nose And if you ever saw it You would even say it glows All of the other reindeer Used to laugh and call him names They never let poor Rudolph Join in any reindeer games Then one foggy Christmas Eve Santa came to say "Rudolph, with your nose so bright Won't you guide my sleigh tonight?" Then how the reindeer loved him As they shouted out with glee "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer You'll go down in history" *Song by Gene Autry and The Pinafores
Originally published on ibelieve.