Disney movies are a hallmark of childhood. I loved them and my boys did too. But I always wondered why Disney chooses to kill off parents in seemingly every single movie. Bambi (mother shot), The Fox and the Hound (mother shot), Jungle Book (mother killed by tiger), Tarzan (mother killed by leopard), The Hunchback of Notre Dame ( mother killed by priest), Finding Nemo ( mother killed by barracuda), Brother Bear (mother killed by indian brave), The Good Dinosaur (father killed by flood) and Frozen (parents killed in shipwreck). And that’s just a partial list. It’s hard to watch because it’s so sad. My first instinct as a parent was to protect my kids by forwarding through the part, covering their eyes, or just not watching the movie at all. But is that the correct thing to do? Why do we shield our children from sadness?
Experts say we shouldn’t, even if it makes us uncomfortable. Why? Because learning to cope with sadness is a lifeskill that everyone needs. That sad scene could be a good starting point for a conversation about feeling sad and what to do if you feel sad. Processing though feelings with a supportive parent or adult can be helpful and have long lasting, positive effects. Recognizing what you are feeling, be it sadness, fear or anxiety, is important.
All that being said, if you feel that your child isn’t ready to see a particular movie, it is fine to say no. If you have questions about the content of a movie, Common Sense Media is a great tool. You can type in the movie you are considering and learn exactly what is behind the rating. With more and more movies being rated PG, it is nice to know why. Typically with children’s movies, you are dealing with a PG rating because of “scenes of peril” (The Good Dinosaur is an example). But even some G movies have sad scenes or situations.
Above all, you are expert on your child. What is fine for one four year old isn’t fine for another. I clearly remember taking my son to see the Curious George Movie, which was rated G, and having to leave early because he was disturbed by George’s antics. The same son had no problem with Finding Nemo, which I thought was way more intense. Use your best judgement, based on what you know about your child.
Let Them Fly!