I was sitting in a dark movie theater watching Brave with a four-year-old in my lap, when I had a terrible feeling.
“Oh no, the mom’s going to die!” I thought to myself.
My girls get extremely upset when parents die in movies. And, yet, this seems to happen in almost every kids movie that we see -- especially the “princess” movies. The only time that the mom doesn’t die is when she is already dead before the movie opens.
Brave had just started and the reason that I was sure that the mother was going to die was (1) the young girl was a princess, and (2) her mother was kind and loving.
Watching the Queen and young princess laugh together was just like watching a horror movie and seeing a teen couple start making out in a parked car in the woods -- you just know that something bad is about to happen.
So I braced myself to comfort my hysterical girls -- and I prepared for the future nightmares. Soon a bear entered the scene and I thought I knew for sure HOW the mom was going to die.
Only, she didn’t die.
I won’t ruin the movie for you, but Brave isn’t “The Usual Suspects” -- I think you can still fully enjoy the movie with this knowledge:
The mom lives and actually fights off and helps defeat the evil character in the movie through her strength and courage. She also heals her relationship with her teen daughter and they become closer than ever.
A lot of people are talking about how important Brave is because it shows girls a new kind of “princess” -- Merida is a strong Princess who can take care of herself and wants more out of life than just getting married to a prince.
I agree that this is a great movie for girls -- since seeing the movie, my four-year-old has stopped running around the house in a princess dress and pretending to marry a prince and now she is running around with her (play) bow and arrow and growling like a bear.
Photo By Disney/Pixar
However, I think it’s important to say that this is also a great movie for moms -- especially moms of daughters.
I sat between my two girls watching Brave and felt truly exhilarated to see the Queen transform into a strong mother who was both strong enough to defend her child against the most frightening attacker and brave enough to truly listen to her child.
Mothers and daughters have always had complicated relationships. Now that I have two girls who seem to be getting older and bigger by the day, I live with the constant knowledge in the back of my mind that someday they won’t rush into my arms, someday they will start pulling back and rolling their eyes at me. Somehow I will have to find a new way to have a relationship with them that will survive the turmoil of their teen years and their natural pulling away as they grow older.
I think Brave doesn’t just show little girls a new way to be a princess -- it shows moms a new way to be mothers -- by truly listening to their daughters and respecting them as individuals who have different values, ideas, and beliefs -- and the need to do things their own way.
My girls are still little and I’m still in the mama bear stage of fiercely defending them.
However, I realize they will be teenagers before I know it -- and while I will always fiercely defend them, I also want to always remember to be brave enough to listen to them.
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