Today sees the release of the eagerly awaited film `Finding Dory`, the sequel to a family favourite film of ours `finding Nemo`. I can fondly remember sitting with my eldest child back in 2003 to watch the adventures of this stripy cartoon clown fish and the characters he met. My eldest is now 18 and I know she intends to take her adopted brother to see the film this weekend.
All very normal and creates a picture of idyllic family life but then I came across a post on social media originating from America which started me thinking of the subliminal messages in films. Watching movies has always been associated with having both positive and negative impacts on not only children but adults alike; hence our certification ratings and we would expect these to protect our children from certain subjects and images.
Movies can have and do have fantastic positive effects on the development of children, Disney and Pixar being at the forefront of creating highly entertaining child friendly films such as Sword in the Stone, Lion King, Ice Age, Despicable me, Bambi, Tarzan, Jungle book, Up, Kung Fu Panda, and Meet the Robinsons, to name a few but all have a link to adoption or fostering. All these films have positive outcomes and are highly entertaining but you may find yourself having to answer questions or support your child who may have a different aspect raised by the subliminal messages contained within.
The post that I read on social media pointed out that Dory has childhood flashbacks throughout the movie as she seeks to find her birth parents. The movie deals with multiple levels of abandonment and loss. Spoiler alert do not read further if you wish the ending to remain a surprise!
While the ending is typically Disney/Pixar as she is reunited with her birth parents and the audience realise her birth parents were looking for her too, there are elements of the ending that can have detrimental results for adopted kids.
The person posted that their child experienced the following;
- It was Dory’s forgetfulness that caused her to be separated from her parents…. basically, her separation was her fault.
- Her birth parents were physically and emotionally stable and actively seeking for her. This is not the case for the majority of children in care. This birth parent ideal can create or reinforce a false image in children in care.
- At the end of the movie, once Dory, Marlin & Nemo find Dory’s birth parents, they all (including the birth parents) travel back together to Dory & Nemo’s home and all live together Happily Ever After. Some young foster/adopted children could see this as their end goal.
So what am I actually trying to say? I’m certainly not saying don’t see this movie or any other movie but just be aware that you may need to deal with some difficult or awkward questions and behaviours. I guess where possible it would be best to preview movies and realise that for every child a movie will be interpreted differently. Ultimately enjoy your cinema and movie experience I certainly will and knowing my adopted son as I do I’m sure I will be able to deal with and help him with any questions he may have following the film. These questions will come up one day and I hope my wife and I will be prepared for them but this made me think they may be coming sooner than expected.
By Steve, Fosterline Manager
If this does raise any issues please talk to one of our advisors on Fosterline about this or any other fostering related matter on 0800 040 7675 or book a call back on our website.