How 'Bluey' Challenged Me as a Parent

The animated preschool show has a surprising number of lessons for parents as well as kids.

Published April 6, 2023
Mother and daughter using a digital tablet together -

Beloved by kids and parents alike, Bluey is a cartoon that not only teaches your children important life lessons, but might also help you with the inevitable parenting obstacles we all face. Take a peek into the realistic, yet magical, world of Bluey and learn how this sweet, animated show about a family of dogs can help you along your parenting journey. These are all the things Bluey taught me about parenting.

Meet the Heeler Family

Originally broadcast on ABC Kids in Australia in 2018, Bluey is quickly becoming a popular animated series aimed at preschool-aged children. The show follows the namesake character of Bluey, a six-year-old blue heeler dog, and her family through their daily life. Bluey's four-year-old sister Bingo, laughable and lovable dad, Bandit, and relatable mom, Chili, join in her daily adventures.

Bluey, unlike most television shows produced for young children, uniquely focuses on the entire family dynamic. Viewers get to see not only how Bluey and Bingo learn age-appropriate lessons through play but also how Bandit and Chili handle situations as parents. In nearly every episode, there's a unique takeaway for both kids and parents. With beautiful animation, relatable characters, and hilarious dialogue, Bluey brings entertainment and parenting help to all the moms and dads stuck in front of the screen with their children.

Stars - just like us - are on board with Bluey, too. Icon Lin-Manual Miranda, who guest stars on the show, says it's a show he and his family love.

Run Your Own Race

The first episode of Bluey that left me with tears streaming down my face, episode 50 of the second season, is a warning for children and parents to avoid comparison. Ever-relatable mom, Chili, tells the girls of Bluey's journey in learning to walk. Discouraged by baby Bluey's progress compared to the other children in her mom's group, Chili finds the solution to her comparison problem by focusing on her own parenting journey instead of others'.

This episode has all the sweet, laughable, and teachable content that every episode of Bluey brings, but there is one key moment at the end that will touch the heart of any parent. Get ready to grab some tissues! As poodle mom Bella encourages Chili in her comparison struggle, the words "you're doing great" from the mom of nine change Chili's perspective. With tears welling in her eyes, Chili realizes that she shouldn't compare her child or her parenting to anyone else.

Chili's realization that she's doing a great job as a mom and just needs to focus on her own journey appears to change the entire structure of her parenting approach. Fast forwarding back to the present, nearly six years later, we see Chili is a confident mom with her own unique way of parenting her daughters.

Quick Tip

Chili reminds the girls to run their own race in life - and reminds parents we are all doing the very best that we can and need to stay in our own lane when the temptation to compare creeps in.

Childhood Only Happens Once

If you're a consistent Bluey viewer, you know each episode has a central theme and some are less obvious than others. In "Takeaway," we see Bandit struggling to keep the girls entertained while he awaits his delayed take out order and we don't get the point of the storyline until the final moments of the show.

The girls shower him with questions, beg him to play, and act like most four- and six-year-olds attempting to be patient in a public space. When the girls get fortune cookies to keep them happy, it's the fortune inside that changes Bandit's attitude. "A person is only young once" shifts Bandit's growing frustration and reminds him that this time with his girls is not permanent. Embracing the playfulness of his daughters, Bandit decides to just let them be kids for the moment and play in the nearby mud puddle as they wait.

Though there are certainly times we want to teach our children patience, manners, and common courtesy, this episode is a great reminder that childhood is fleeting and sometimes it's okay to just let them play in puddles and be kids for as long as they can.

Toddler girl embracing mother in doorway as she gets home from work

Sometimes You Just Need 20 Minutes

Perhaps the most relatable episode for moms, "Sheep Dog" centers on Chili's desperation for 20 minutes of quiet alone time. This episode perfectly showcases the perspective of a tired mom, a dad desperate to help, and small children who struggle to understand why parents need time away from kids.

Chili takes her 20 minutes while the girls get their dad into tons of hilarious trouble and emerges a whole new parent. I could watch this episode once a day to be reminded that a bit of quiet time isn't just good for parents, it benefits the whole family. If you're looking for permission to say "I need 20 minutes where no one talks to me," this episode gives you just that.

We Can Tell Our Kids Parenting Is Hard

One of the recurring themes in Blue is the honesty of the parents regarding life's difficult moments. In more than one episode, we see Bandit and Chili explaining to the girls that parenting isn't easy and parents are far from perfect. Rather than pretending they have it altogether, Bluey's parents are upfront about their mistakes and uncertainties.

This consistent reminder in Bluey gives parents two encouraging takeaways. The first is a much-needed reminder that even seemingly perfect parents, like cartoon dogs, have struggles. The second reminder is that we as parents can let our children know we aren't pretending to be perfect and that being a parent is a tough job, but that it's our unconditional love that keeps us going when parenting throws us curve balls.

Letting Go of Control Can Be Good

Throughout the series, we see Bandit and Chili take a step back in their daughters' lives and let go of their own need for control. In every episode this parenting practice occurs, the girls rise to the occasion or learn an important lesson. This philosophy, tucked into laughable moments and silly imaginary play, gives us a parenting reminder we all need from time to time.

In "Bin Night" we see Bandit and Chili take a hands-off approach to a less-than-kind child at Bingo's school. Instead of intervening, they give their daughter advice and help her work through the problem on her own, eventually making a friend of the would-be bully.

We see a similar approach in "Omelette" as Chili learns to step back and let Bingo make her dad's surprise breakfast, even if she does so imperfectly.

Helpful Hack

This recurring theme in Bluey helped me see the importance of not only teaching children important concepts, but learning when to step back from the situation and let my child learn how to handle themselves, whether it's learning to make an omelette or navigating difficult relationships.

We Need to Focus on Our Child's Heart

In the hilarious "Chest" episode, Bandit attempts to teach the girls how to play chess and learns a valuable lesson. As Chili watches the event unfold, she realizes Bandit is simply hoping to make his girls smart. Through Bandit's struggle to get the girls to focus and learn, we see the girls take an imaginative approach to the game. As Bandit is giving up on the chess lesson, Chili reminds him that helping them gain knowledge is great, but during this season, it might be best to focus on their hearts and foster their existing compassion and kindness.

A great reminder for all parents, this episode of Bluey helps us see the value of prioritizing emotional intelligence in our children during the younger years. Teaching children to tap into their imagination, their longing to help people, and their understanding of emotions will serve them as they grow and gain academic intelligence later on in life.

We Shape How Our Children See Themselves

Countless episodes of Bluey show the importance of helping our children create a view of themselves within the world around them. We see Bluey's young cousin, Muffin, act out after misunderstanding the reason her dad says she is the most special child in the world in the episode "Library." Bluey experiences a personal struggle with striving for perfection in "Perfect" and we see Bluey and Bingo struggle with the parents noting their differences in "Mini Bingo." The common theme in these episodes is the impact of parents' words on their children.

Seeing the young characters on Bluey respond to even the smallest comments from parents reminded me of how impactful our words are and how much of our child's view of themselves is shaped by how we treat them. Remembering Muffin's entitlement to special treatment, Bluey's struggle with perfectionism, and Bingo's worry that she isn't enough like her sister, helps me be hyperaware of my words around my child.

Quick Tip

Even a well-meaning comment can have a negative impact in certain contexts, so it's always a good idea to be intentional with your words as a parent.

We Can Learn From Our Children

In many episodes of Bluey, we see Bandit and Chili learn valuable lessons from their own children. Every time I see one of these episodes, I'm reminded of the importance of quality time and truly listening to what my child has to say.

Though we as the parents teach and display principles in the lives of our children, it's usually the children that remind us of principles we have long forgotten. The family dynamic between Bandit, Chili, Bluey, and Bingo showcases the value of humility as an adult and being willing to learn from even the youngest members of our family.

Join the Bluey Fanclub

If you haven't yet joined the group of parents and kids obsessed with Bluey, don't walk but run to your nearest streaming service to binge all the episodes with your child. You can even find Bluey books and games to enjoy with your child as you fall in love with this beloved family of animated dogs.

Take a Cue From the Heelers

Parenting comes with obstacles, joyous moments, and everything in between. Bluey makes parenting, with all its wonderful and difficult moments, feel less isolating. After watching the seasons multiple times with my child, I feel less overwhelmed as a parent and more confident in myself as a mom. If you need a little pick-me-up in the middle of a trying day of parenting, an episode or two of Bluey can turn your entire day around. Just be prepared to cry as often as you laugh.

How 'Bluey' Challenged Me as a Parent