Have you ever really paid attention to kids movies and how common it is that there is a death of a family member? In The Good Dinosaur, Arlo’s dad is washed away by a raging river. In Big Hero 6 a brother is lost in an explosion. In Finding Nemo, the mother is eaten by a barracuda and in Frozen, Anna and Elsa’s parents are lost at sea. And then of course there was Bambi whose mother was shot…
Research has shown that main characters in kids films are twice as likely to suffer a traumatic death as main characters in films that are aimed at adults. It’s not that cartons are trying to scare young viewers; it’s more that the deaths are being used to bring attention to the main character of the movie. Despite that being motive, accepting the death does not become any easier. And so sitting down and watching the movie with your children might give you the opportunity to talk to them about loss.
Loss becomes an important part of the movie that children are watching and it is also becomes an important part of life. Children generally don’t understand the permanence and inevitability of death until they reach elementary school age. And for the most part, movies don’t do much to show a realistic way of how to deal with loss and grief…I guess what I’m trying to say is that the only thing a child might get out of a movie is how to react when someone dies as opposed to learning how they might deal with the loss.
We all know that death is a hard thing for children to grasp. We generally avoid those conversations because we worry that it’s too depressing but it might be more terrifying to not get a straight answer than it is to get an honest one. Sometimes the earlier we can address them in a thoughtful, sensitive manner, the better.
Until next week,