The Day I Almost Threw Frozen in the Trash.

We watched Frozen today. It was the Pickle’s choice as part of her quiet time after I cut her car nap short and forced her to go into Aldi with me to buy peppers. She likes Frozen. I think it’s cute, and while it’s not my favorite Disney movie ever, for various reasons, I think it’s fun that my three year old is starting to enjoy longer storylines.

I will admit, there are a couple of things about Frozen that I don’t care for, but for the last several weeks I’ve just assumed that I’m an old fuddy-dud English teacher mom who thinks too deeply and just needs to let a kids show be a kids show.

Until tonight.

Frozen in the TrashLong after Frozen was over and JUST before supper was on the table, the Pickle wanted to play on Daddy’s iPad. For the record, Daddy did say she could even though he was standing right in front of me as I stirred in the very last ingredient for our meal. He knew I was done, but I think he wanted her to hush. So he said yes, only to tell her five minutes later that she needed to eat first.

Cue meltdown.

A big one.

Like, she crawled under the kitchen rug and cried because she didn’t want to eat and wanted the iPad and didn’t love her green blankie and…

I promptly took her in and sat her on the couch and told her that she could come back to the table when she had control of herself. It took awhile, but she eventually calmed down and was just sitting there, when suddenly I heard it come out of her mouth:

Don't Feel“Don’t feel. Don’t feel. Don’t feel.” she said quietly to herself.

The alarm on my face and the jab in my heart was tangible. And for a split second I almost made the rash decision to remove Frozen from the house for, oh, several years… or decades.

Movie or not, those are words that I do NOT want coming out of my three-year-old’s mouth. Ever.

Come to think of it, those are words I don’t want coming out of my child’s mouth no matter how old she gets!

And suddenly I remembered why Frozen is not my favorite. Because, lifelike as it may be, what with Prince Hans being a deceitful liar, Elsa being an emotionally damaged recluse who lives her life in fear, and Anna being a delightful ditzy heroine sort of figure, there are just some themes in there that are a bit too psychological for my liking.

Sure, Simba runs away because his Uncle kills his dad and convinces him that it’s his fault and he should never show his face in public again. That’s rough.  But we all KNOW Scar is evil.  Right?  This is pretty clear.

And my favorite movie, Tangled, is a bit disturbing. The kidnapping, manipulative, evil Mother Gothel and this beautiful Rapunzel who somehow just turns out ok and positive and well-adjusted.  Not sure how that happened, but I’m glad it did.  And again… we KNEW Mother Gothel was evil from the very beginning.  They literally spell it out for us.

But little girls LOVE Elsa. They adore her. They love her blue dress. Her long braided hair. Her song… about shutting the world out and not caring what anyone thinks of her (cue red flag). About running away from her past and living freely in isolation where she can be herself. But here’s a beloved character who we desperately want to believe is not evil, who rather lives in fear that she will hurt everyone around her and thus spends her whole life training herself to try and not feel anything- fear, pain, anger, or love.  Making… FEELING the evil in this movie.  Feeling anger.  Feeling fear.  Feeling stress.  Until the end, of course, when everyone magically figures out how to channel their feelings appropriately and love each other.

Which is all fine and good on the big screen, but when it enters your home?

And you have to explain to your three-year-old why it is perfectly fine to feel?

That we need to feel?

That God created us to feel?

And the only thing we really need to work on is how we respond to our feelings?

That’s just not a conversation I should be having right now.  No, I don’t want her melting down every time she hears the word “no”, but I don’t want her completely shutting down either!  I’ve seen that in kids (and adults).  It’s not a good alternative.  It’s heartbreaking.  It’s lifeless.  And it steals your joy… as seen in the movie.

The mantra, “Don’t feel!” is NOT an acceptable one to me. And it’s especially not acceptable for a little girl such as mine who is an intense feeler. Deep anger. Impassioned love. Unabashed joy and excitement. Heart-wrenching sorrow.

Drive me nuts or not, I never EVER want her to shut those down. Handle them appropriately? Yes. Channel them? Please! But don’t feel them?

Poppycock.

And no Disney movie is going to convince me otherwise… I don’t care how good the songs are.

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3 thoughts on “The Day I Almost Threw Frozen in the Trash.

  1. Hello there!
    First off, I want to say that it is good that you are thinking about your child’s safety and proper upbringing. I’m also glad that you are actively thinking about the content that your child is watching. I actually wish more parents did this.
    However, I think that you are entirely missing the point of Frozen. Don’t get me wrong. I have some issues with the film and do not think it’s perfect. But those issues are not relevant, so I will not discuss them here.
    But I think it is a little too much to blame Frozen (and Disney in general) for the little episode with your three-year-old. I think your three-year-old is incredibly smart and very empathetic to characters, and I think this is why she connects with Elsa. She sees herself as the one unjustly punished.
    I agree that the “Don’t feel” mantra is unhealthy, but I think that’s the entire point of the film. I don’t know if you have watched the movie with care, but everything is not “magically okay” at the end. Elsa learns to love and not fear her feelings/powers. She learns to accept herself, and I think that is actually a very powerful message for children who look up to her.
    Obviously if you think that your child is too young to see such a deeply emotional and symbolic film, I understand. She is your child, and her upbringing is your responsibility. However, my biggest problem with your views on this matter is blaming the media. I always say to other parents that banning media is the worst offense you can commit for your child; it will have the opposite effect and ensure that children *only* learn from media.
    In your particular case, I think you could have actually used Frozen and Elsa as a good channel to talk with your daughter. You could have told her that the entire point of Elsa’s struggle is to actually talk about her feelings rather than to hide them. “Look at what happened to Elsa, honey, when she didn’t feel! She almost hurt her sister!” You could appeal to her reasoning by providing the evidence already present in the media instead of accusing it as problematic.
    One last thing: You brought up an interesting point about good vs. evil. You are right that Disney’s evolution has convoluted the line between good and evil. But I actually think this is a more realistic view of Disney towards real life. Good and evil are not always black and white. What appears to be evil may not be (i.e. Elsa’s magic) and, vice versa, what appears good (Hans) does not necessarily ensure goodness.

    • Wow, I appreciate your views! I also have mixed views about the movie, which is why I did NOT throw it away and why we still watch it whenever she asks for it. I can’t say I’m blaming Disney or Media and I’m definitely not censoring anything from my child. But again… she is three. And outside of this post we have had lots and lots and lots of discussions about controlling her emotions and dealing with feelings. But you wouldn’t know that. So I definitely appreciate your perspective on my parenting based on your limited glimpse into my life! I’m still torn about the good vs. evil thing in movies. When I was growing up it was very clear who the ‘bad guy’ was and who the ‘good guy’ was. I’m not so naïve to think that in the world today evil is not incredibly subtle. In fact, I’ve lived it, as I’m sure you have, too. But to my three-year-old, whose world still is very black and white, I can appreciate it when she can see the difference between the ‘good witch’ and the ‘bad witch’. I will let her learn the subtle nuances of reality as she gets older. Thanks again for your thoughts and suggestions.

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