So I was up early on this Good Friday morning (because the dog doesn’t understand Bank Holidays) and I decided to put a Disney movie on, picking The Little Mermaid. (“Under the Sea” will be stuck in my head for the foreseeable future!)
Love the songs and the nostalgia, but have an issue with some plot points…mainly the stuff involving King Triton.
He is the typical over-bearing parent; he’s controlling, loses his temper easily and has an ‘my way or the highway’ attitude.
At the very start of the film he wants her to do a concert that she has no interest in. He’s not interested in why she was missing, just embarrassed she showed him up and disobeyed him. Guess what? She still did it anyway! She wanted to follow her own path, dreams and interests and he wants to push her a different way.
The thing he doesn’t realise is that if you push someone (even if it’s for their ‘own protection’) and try to bully them into going your way, they usually end up going the other way!
He loses his temper and destroys her property which makes her upset and angry enough to do something irrational and unsafe: She goes to the witch for help and he’s left regretting something he can’t undo.
His over-protectiveness has been so suffocating that she doesn’t know anything about the bad guys or how the world works…or even why he’s so over-protective. (We don’t discover until the 3rd film that Ariel’s mother was accidentally killed by a boat!)
He doesn’t show any regret until he loses her; in fact, they only happily spend time together when he’s changed his attitude…by then it’s almost too late as she is leaving to get married.
I firmly believe there is a learning opportunity in everything, even Disney films. So what can we learn from this?
- Don’t push children into our expectations and unreasonable demands
- Do explain why they shouldn’t do something (and who might be dangerous to hang out with!)
- Don’t explode when you’re mad, you’ll regret it and probably do more damage than the situation ever did
- Do take time to listen and pay attention to their interests
- Don’t make decisions for them: Discuss, guide and educate.
So I hope that clarifies why I have an issue with him and how we can learn to be better parents by not doing what he did.
Side note: As one of the next Disney films to be getting a live-action remake, I am interested to see how he’s portrayed in that. Rumour has it that Liam Neeson has been asked to play the role…while I love him and he’s capable of doing it, I’m not sure I want to see him play such a role.
Just some food for thought.
Have a good one!