Thumper! What did your father tell you?– Thumper’s Mother, Walt Disney’s Bambi (1942)
These are the famous words of Mrs. Rabbit (A.K.A. Thumper’s mom) in Disney’s sixth feature film, Bambi. Mrs. Rabbit’s cute little bunny often needs correcting, and she does so by reminding him of his father’s tenets. Fictional character though she may be, Thumper’s mom exemplifies this Proverb for us:
My son, comply with the commandment of your father, and do not ignore the teaching of your mother. – Proverbs 6:20
This is familial headship in practical action. Thumper’s dad gives a command; Thumper’s mom teaches that command. Thumper’s dad lays down the law; Thumper’s mom supports that law by making sure it is carried out by their little bunny. Mrs. Rabbit carefully mothers Thumper in a way that is in subjection to her head. This is following in the footsteps of Jesus Christ, who said, regarding his Head:
I did not speak on My own, but the Father Himself who sent Me has given Me a commandment as to what to say and what to speak. – John 12:49
Reviled and rejected though the concept may be in our upside-down culture, headship is God’s system. Families thrive when they live according to God’s system. Do you want to thrive? Allow me to share with you two ways that Thumper’s mom is a positive role model for motherhood. Firstly, we would do well to follow Mrs. Rabbit’s example in…
Thumper: “He doesn’t walk very good, does he?”– Walt Disney’s Bambi (1942)
Mrs. Rabbit: “Thumper!”
Thumper: “Yes, Mama?”
Mrs. Rabbit: “What did your father tell you this morning?”
Thumper: “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say nothing at all.”
Thumper’s father laid down a standard on the kind of bunny Thumper was to be on the inside. He expected his bunny-boy to be kindhearted and to handle his words with care. In the absence of Mr. Rabbit, it was Mrs. Rabbit’s duty to see this wish through – to mother the inner bunny.
How does your husband wish for you to “mother the inner bunny”? In other words, what kind of spirit does he want his children to exhibit? What are his standards for the children’s social conduct? What attitudes does he accept? What attitudes does he reject? What kind of words does he expect the children to use? What kind of words does he expect the children never to use? A good mother (with the exception of a single mom or widow, of course) looks to her husband for the children’s inner upbringing.
Unless you enjoy the privilege of a husband who works from home, chances are that your husband is gone much of the day while you are home with the children. If this is the case, you have a responsibility as Mom to make sure that Dad is present in feeling even when Dad is not present in fact. You accomplish this by building him up to the children…talking of him throughout the day…constantly reinforcing his values by way of timely reminders. Thumper’s Mom upheld the authority of Thumper’s Dad (even in his absence) in the most genteel way. Godly mothers do the same…
Such repetitions ingrain a father’s authority and leave no question as to who is boss. Children know exactly where their boundaries lie when Mother is always in Father’s corner, supporting him and instilling his values with or without his presence. One source of authority (Dad) eliminates confusion, creates a meaningful sense of security, and empowers the household. God’s system just plain works! Honor your head and mother the inner bunny.
Hear, O sons, the instructions of a father, and give attention that you may gain understanding. – Proverbs 4:1
The second way we would do well to follow Mrs. Rabbit’s example in, is…
Thumper: “Just eat the blossoms. That’s the good stuff.”– Walt Disney’s Bambi (1942)
Mrs. Rabbit: “Thumper!”
Thumper: “Yes, Mama?”
Mrs. Rabbit: “What did your father tell you?”
Thumper: “About what?”
Mrs. Rabbit: “About eating the blossoms and leaving the greens.”
Thumper: “Oh, that one.” *Clears throat* “Eating greens is a special treat. It makes long ears and great big feet.”
Thumper’s father laid down a standard on the kind of bunny Thumper was to be on the outside. He expected his bunny-boy to be strong and to nourish his body with healthful foods. In the absence of Mr. Rabbit, it was Mrs. Rabbit’s duty to see this wish through – to mother the outer bunny.
How does your husband wish for you to “mother the outer bunny”? In other words, what kind of soma does he want his children to exhibit? What are his standards for the children’s bodily activity? Does he prescribe to a particular type of diet? Does he want his children to be active in sports? Are there certain skills he finds it important for his children to learn? What kind of routines does he want to see implemented into the household schedule? A good mother (with the exception of a single mom or widow, of course) looks to her husband for the children’s outer upbringing.
Again, it all comes down to making Dad’s presence acutely felt even when he is away from home. Though he be out of sight, he ought never be out of mind. A faithful wife is intent on seeing her husband’s wishes for the family being carried out at all times. He is the reason behind her choices…
Children who learn to joyfully submit to their father’s authority grow to be men who joyfully submit to their Father’s authority. Childhood is a training ground that sets the tone for their future. Will it be one of blessed obedience? Or cursed rebellion? Ultimately, the choice is theirs…but it is your job to set them up for success by your good efforts. Honor your head and mother the outer bunny.
Hear, my son, your father’s instruction and do not forsake your mother’s teaching; indeed, they are a graceful wreath to your head and ornaments about your neck. – Proverbs 1:8-9
“What did your father tell you?” These were the words of an animated mother bunny created more than 80 years ago. In 2023, these simple words of Thumper’s Mom still ring true for those of us who advocate for restoring the family unit as God intended. Fathers are distinctly called to “bring them [children] up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” (Ephesians 6:4) As mothers, it is our privilege and honor to assist in this mission…not by taking the lead in the children’s upbringing, but by standing by their Dad as his biggest fan and most loving support.
Do you have it going on, like Thumper’s Mom? I exhort you to uphold God’s design for marriage and motherhood, and be a little more like Mrs. Rabbit each and every day.
He is the breadwinner; she is the breadmaker. He is the sun; she is the moon, who reflects and extends the sun’s light where the sun is not. He forms; she fills. He sets the melody; she brings the harmony. He empowers her; and she uses that power to enlarge the domain of their household.– Joe Rigney
For God’s glory,
Mrs. Dustin Bolks
Chaste Bolks is a church of Christ preacher’s wife, and the home educating mother of two children. She and her family currently reside in Northwest Iowa.