How Can Kids Heal When Divorced Parents in Movies Always Get Back Together?

The movies aren’t anything like real life – but kids struggle to make those distinctions, so it can be very hard for them to separate reality from fantasy.

Kids’ movies are usually unrealistic. The princess always gets her prince, the endings are always happy, and everyone always gets what they wished for in the end. Which is fine, when you’re the sort of person who sings along with birds in the forest, or sews clothes with mice. Most kids might wish for the lives they see in Disney movies, but they realize it’s not real. However, that kind of logic doesn’t work as well when the characters are “real kids” just like them, leading “normal lives” and dealing with difficult situations, like your parents getting divorced.

This isn’t a problem, unless the kids in the movies get that one magical outcome at the end – their divorced parents getting back together. Because a lot of kids right here in Oakland County (just like kids everywhere) don’t understand that Hollywood isn’t anything like real life. Everything you see on the screen was carefully created to entertain, not to resemble real life, marriage, breakups or divorce in any way. Which means nothing is real. And their parents aren’t likely to get back together, no matter how badly your children want it, or how many stars they wish on.

Life isn’t like the movies, and divorced parents rarely get back together!

It’s got to be heartbreaking for a child, to be given a glimpse of that false hope, only to have their dreams popped like a party balloon when they realize reconciliation is never going to happen. It makes healing and moving on so difficult for children. And yet Hollywood does it over and over – and there are tons of movies featuring divorced or estranged parents who are brought together by mischievous children, hilarious circumstances, or unexpected twists of fate. They suddenly remember why they fell in love all those years ago and forget why the relationship didn’t last. The question we want to ask is: why?

Not ‘why’ as in “why do people get back together?” We already know that while it’s rare, it does happen (even here, in the Detroit area). What we’re wondering is “why there are so many movies aimed at children and families that emphasize getting back together after a divorce?” We understand that movies are about fantasies and best-case-scenario endings, but in this case it almost seems unfair to children, don’t you think? Think about it. Whether you live in Farmington Hills, Novi or Bloomfield. How many divorced couples do you know that put their marriages back together after a divorce. We know of only one couple that did it successfully here and they are from Grosse Pointe.  

Divorce is hard for children, and they need time to heal and adjust.

Children whose parents get divorced, struggle terribly with the fact that their family is breaking up. They usually have a lot of anger, self-blame, fear and anxiety to work through (which is completely normal!). And if you were to ask practically any Oakland County kid with divorced parents what they want most, they’ll tell you they want their mommy and daddy to get back together and be happy. Need visuals aids for that? Just watch All I Want For Christmas.

Think about it. Mr. Popper’s Penguins, One Fine Day, Mrs Doubtfire, the Parent Trap,… the list goes on. Movies about parents whose marriages fell apart because of careers, selfishness, affairs, you name it. In the end, they rediscover the love they have for their former spouse, and their family is beautifully healed in the process. A sweet fantasy to be sure, but not a likely reality. And one that can be very damaging to a child if they’re still processing their parent’s divorce.

Help your kids by being selective about what you watch.

If you’re planning a movie night with your kids in the wake of your divorce, we recommend that you choose your movies carefully. Pick films that don’t feature improbable reunited couples. While you may understand that it’s just a movie, kids haven’t yet figured out that Hollywood and Real Life are at best, distant cousins. Watching movies about divorced parents getting back together with your children after a divorce (especially if it was recent) may make the divorce harder for them. It may also plant hope in their minds where there is none, which can lead to more pain and resentment down the road. A good source of information is likely to be a child counselor or psychologist that can recommend movies, books and groups for your children to help them deal with a broken family.

So until you’ve all had time to heal and moved on, which may take a while, we recommend sticking to the movies that celebrate kids with single parents. The Karate Kid (the remake), Three Fugitives, The Pursuit of Happyness, About a Boy, Fly Away Home, Finding Nemo, and practically all of the early Disney films.  There are tons of options available out there that portray wonderful uplifting stories of single, and in some cases remarried parents, whose children grow up loved and celebrated. Do yourself and your kids a favor – Teach them to thrive despite setbacks, and love the life you share now! If you are thinking about a legal separation, divorce or custody issue and you live in Oakland, Livingston or Macomb county, feel free to call our Farmington Hills office to schedule a confidential meeting to talk about a good strategy to move ahead. You can reach us at 248  479-6200.


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