Mama Bear Knows Best

The Berenstain Bears co-creator, Jan Berenstain, has died.

There are few things as life-saving for a family road trip as the portable DVD player.


Granted, we aren’t doing 34-hour round trip road trips twice a year these days, but the DVD on any drive whatsoever has become a very valuable resource for our family.


I try to justify strapping our children into restraint devices in front of media by showing them “educational” movies… we’re big fans of the LeapFrog movies, Animal Atlas, Scholastic books on DVD, and, of course, The Berenstain Bears.


There have been many times I’ve listened to The Berenstain Bears while watching the blacktop speed along and envied Mama Bear and her wisdom:


  • “Don’t waste today worrying about yesterday.”
  • “I don’t think jumping rope is for baby bears, but it’s most important what you think… just like yourself and others will like you, too.”
  • “There’s more to Christmas than the fuss.”
  • “To make a wish on a star is a start, but if you want it to come true, you may have to do your part.”
  • “Bullies can point out what about you is wrong, but a good friend can show you what about you is strong.”


Thanks to the Berenstain Bears my kids know jealousy can be called the Green Eyed Monster, grandparents can be a lot of fun to hang out with, if you want to be a team mate you keep a positive attitude and just do your best, and helping others is a good way to help yourself.


The gender roles in the series are a little confusing… Papa Bear is always good intentioned but blundering and Mama Bear always has the pithy statement to wrap things up and provide a character lesson.


I have often been jealous of Mama Bear, wishing I had a smidgen of her wisdom tucked inside my brain. She is the consummate mother.


As of today, the world of Mama Bear may have changed forever. Jan Berenstain has died. Stan passed away in 2005, but Jan has continued to write and illustrate… but now, the era is over.


Their sons are heavily involved in the books, so I doubt the Berenstain Bear Country empire will disappear altogether, but it is sobering to know the co-creator and mastermind behind the charming family will no longer be contributing to the character development of children.


And of adults, learning about what makes people tick as they read stories and tuck their children into bed.


Yes, the stories are formulaic and trite, but they fill me with a sense of satisfaction there are still good, hopeful things in the world… all kicked off with LeAnn Womack singing that theme song: “When things go wrong as things might do, the Berenstain Bears will find a way through…”


So here’s my moment of silence in appreciation of DVD players, books, and Mama Bear… and a heartfelt thank you to Stan and Jan, the creators of the series.


What are your favorite Berenstain Bear books/memories?

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