3 Lessons from Mrs. Doubtfire to Teach Kids About Divorce

PARENTS-DIVORCE

Robin Williams has always been one of my favorite actors of all time. And so as I learnt of his passing, my first instinct was to pop in one of my favorite movies ever, “Mrs. Doubtfire”. And what a great film it is, too. Because it helped me go through a similar crisis of my own. And as I would come to learn, I was not alone. Mrs. Doubtfire, through Williams’ best Scottish nanny voice, became the beacon of hope for thousands of other kids going through their parent’s divorce.

So listen up parents who have decided they’re splitting up. It is difficult for kids to understand why their folks won’t be living together anymore. So if you want to gently let them know that you indeed plan to divorce, I would recommend that you watch this movie together. Because it teaches you wonderful, valuable lessons such as these…

Lesson 1: There are Many Kinds of Families

I suppose kids always grow up with the idea of traditional families, i.e. one mum, one dad and them (the children). Which is when parents decide to split up, the children somehow get the idea that they are not going to be a family anymore. Mrs. Doubtfire taught me that there are many different kinds of families. Some have single mums, some single dads, some no parents at all. But just because they don’t adhere to the tradition ideas, doesn’t mean they’re not a family. And that is an important and truly wonderful message to give to your kids, especially when you break the news to them.

Lesson 2: The New Significant Other is Not Always Evil

You know what I absolutely loved about this movie? The fact that they did not demonize Pierce Brosnan’s character. If you haven’t seen the film, he plays the love interest to Sally Field (who plays the mother of the children).

The media has always taught us to resent our parent’s new significant other. Be it the evil stepmother in Cinderella or Meredith from ‘The Parent Trap’, new entrants in a parent’s life are always the black sheep. These plotlines are always followed by the kids trying to get their mums and dads back together.

But Mrs. Doubtfire showed how Stuart (Pierce Brosnan) had good intentions with Miranda and how he loved the kids, too. And the children saw how their mother was happier.

So if you’re going through a divorce with your partner, this is another great message you should give to your children.

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Lesson 3: Bad Husband Does Not Mean Bad Father

And vice versa. We always talk about the children blaming themselves when we talk about divorce. But the reverse is also true where you start thinking bad partner = bad parent. That’s not true at all. You blame yourself for the wrong reasons. Your relationship with your kids is way different to the relationship with your partner.

We see it in the way Daniel and Miranda cannot fix their own marriage, yet how they both still work hard in doing what is best for their children. One hires a competent nanny to take care of them while she’s away, the other becomes the nanny that does the care taking.

good father

Laugh along the Way

Let’s say it as it is, divorce sucks and having to put your kids through it sucks even more. But it is how you deal with it that matters. Laughing along the way in times of crisis may seem like the most difficult thing to do. But it helps. And it makes your kids believe that it is not the end of the world, too. It’s what Robin Williams taught us through his body of work—as the Scottish nanny and the Genie and Patch Adams.

So sit your children down and teach them these lessons. Let them know you won’t stop loving them and all of this will work out. Good luck, and as Mrs. Doubtfire would say, “All my love to you, poppet.”

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