“Mother knows best! Take it from your mumsy…”

Best Disney princess movie yet, I think.  I love that Flynn Rider undergoes plenty of character change along with Rapunzel.  That’s just so uncommon in Disney princess movies!

But Disney’s Rapunzel certainly got me thinking more about a subject that has tickled at the back of my mind for quite a while:  Why in the heck are there so many books or stories featuring bad mothers/absentee mothers?  I suppose there are plenty of books and stories where both parents are negative forces/absent, but perhaps because I am a mother, I’m particularly bugged by the moms.  And this is not a new trend in writing, either.  Consider some traditional fairy tales, like Hansel and Gretel, Cinderella, and even the real story of Rapunzel!

Here’s a thought:  Kids love adventure, and let’s face it, sometimes mom and dad squish the adventure bug (Especially mom.  “Be careful, Jack!”  “Don’t do that, Susie!”). Better to be rid of the parents, right?  Or perhaps a child’s need for nurturing parents is a crucial aspect of the young character’s development?

I had planned to dissect this a bit more, but my kids want me to play with them.  Ironic?

I’d love to hear your thoughts about this topic.  Are the parents in your favorite stories a positive presence or a presence at all?

3 thoughts on ““Mother knows best! Take it from your mumsy…”

  1. I have noticed that too and it drives me crazy! The only reason I can think of is to give the main character more freedom. If they had a good mom who cared about them and looked after them then they wouldn’t be able to run off with the vampire/werewolf/fairy king/demon hunter or whoever the heck it is that she isn’t supposed to fall in love with. LOL… (Can you guess what kind of books I read?)

    But yes, it bothers me that either the mother has abandoned them or just isn’t involved much in the life of their child.


  2. I don’t have a problem with bad parents in YA. Sometimes you even see it in MG, but in MG or lower, it makes me sad. I think of “Because of Winn Dixie,” or any other numbers of books where the protag needs to come to terms with either the death of her mother, or the death of her idealism of her mother. In YA, it just seems like a necessary rite of passage, a way of gently, or not so gently, kicking the child out of the nest. At that age, even if the parents are wonderful in almost every way, kids have a way of perceiving them as being awful.


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