There comes that point in every parent’s life when you are watching a Disney movie with your kids and you realize you totally agree with King Triton. (Listen princess, you are only 16, just trust Papa.) And then you realize, oh wow, I am old: I am no longer the target demographic. You start to see the movies differently and maybe if you are a Disney nerd like me, you start to see parenting lessons in Disney movies.
During one of our many screening of Frozen, I had this huge parenting revelation thanks to the choices of the King and Queen of Arendelle. They are only in the movie for 8 whopping minutes, but it is their choices as parents that guide their daughters’ actions the rest of the movie.
This lasting impact side of parenting (for better or worse) is one of the horrifying parts of parenting. Your daily actions and choices for your children shape their whole future. No pressure, though.
Okay, so it is going to look like I am throwing shade at the King and Queen of Arendelle (may they rest in peace) but let’s look critically at the choices they made and attempt to not raise little ice queens.
First, they didn’t acknowledge that accidents happen. Elsa didn’t mean to hit Anna with her magic, it was just an accident. By rushing to the aid of Anna, they forgot to care for the emotion of Elsa as well. She loved Anna as much as they did and needed to be reassured that all would be okay. That didn’t happen. Lesson here? Don’t assume your kids know everything emotionally. They need your support even if they were the incendiary in the accident.
Second, they let the magic be removed from Anna. The sisterly love these girls show in their short 3 minutes of film together as children is huge. They share a room, they tease each other, they love to play together. By allowing the magic to be removed from Anna, she is missing out on an essential part of the sister relationship. The magic of their sisterhood is removed. Elsa is essentially told she can no longer be herself with her closest confidant.
Remember, it is Anna who asks for the magic. Elsa’s magic makes them both happy. With the removal of the magic, the King and Queen unintentionally broke down the makeup of their sisterhood. To me, the lesson here is that sometimes we get lazy about educating our children. Kids understand way more then we give them credit. Anna and Elsa both needed to learn about the limitations and risks around Elsa’s magic. Removing the magic was taking the easy road out.
Third, there is the whole “Conceal, don’t feel. Don’t let it show” business. Okay, I can totally see why they went to this decision in the beginning. I do this all the time: just tuck that emotion away and move on. That clearly doesn’t work for Elsa; shockingly, it doesn’t work for me either. We see that over the years this approach is not working. Surprise! We even see Elsa’s powers become stronger, less controlled, and yet her parents choose to stick with this approach. I think the lesson here is that sometimes as a parent we need to re-evaluate our parenting decisions. If “conceal, don’t feel” is just not working or even making the situation worse, it is time to regroup. Work as a family to come up with a different approach. As a side note, I am pretty sure “conceal, don’t feel” isn’t a good approach to anything, except maybe dieting.
But to me, the biggest parenting sin here is the isolation that is forced upon this whole family. It can be hard to have a child that is different. It takes extra planning, extra effort to do anything. You have to trust that society will be accepting. That is hard to trust. However, it is vital that as a family you experience the world. It is important to let your children interact with the world so that they can change the world, make it a better place. Incidentally, this is exactly what Elsa and Anna were able to do, when they got the chance.