TV Tuesdays: Tangled Gives Moms a Bad Rep

Every time Lily watches “Tangled”, I cringe during the “mother” scenes. Rapunzel’s fake mother, aka the woman who abducts her to abuse the power of her magical healing hair, has to be one of the most evil and manipulative mother figures in Disney history.

Mother Gothel pretends to be a caring and loving and have Rapunzel’s best interests at heart, but we all know she’s only using Rapunzel to get to her hair. The manipulation is obvious to adults who can follow the plot line and understand the verbal introduction, but then there’s my 3 year old. I’m pretty sure she doesn’t understand this seemingly kind mother who later tries to kill Rapunzel’s love interest Eugene isn’t REALLY Rapunzel’s mom.

I worry that when she hears the song “Mother Knows Best” and sees the evil things Rapunzel’s mother is doing, she is questioning me and thinking that maybe I am also an evil mother. I tell her the things I do for her are in her best interest, but what if I’m secretly using her for her magical… something. And there are times that I might appear mean, maybe even evil for someone so small. And, like Mother Gothel, I slip in a lot of “I love yous” and hugs. It has to be confusing.

Mother Gothel’s deceit and manipulation makes for a great movie. My daughter and I both love it, but sometimes I question whether I should keep letting her watch it over and over again or if my authority and intentions will come into question. I’ve been explaining that Mother Gothel is not really Rapunzel’s mother and the kind queen at the end of the movie is REALLY the mom, but who knows how much Lily believes me.

Next Week’s TV Tuesday: My thoughts on “Tangled’s” treatment of hair color.

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5 Responses to TV Tuesdays: Tangled Gives Moms a Bad Rep

  1. I wonder about that message that Tangled offers kids. While I really enjoyed the movie and found it very funny, I think it would be better served for slightly older kids (age 8 and up) Additionally, I caution any parents who have children with attachment disorders as this movie can be triggering for alot of families.

  2. Thank you! I had a lot of trouble explaining this exact same thing… because I do want my kids to believe that mother knows best (well, to some extent), but then here’s the mother saying that and stealing babies and telling a pack of lies, and then she DIES and we get the real mom. I don’t want my kids to think Mommy can’t be trusted, especially if she’s ever a little harsh and disciplinarian, and there’s a real mommy out there who’s a queen who will UNDERSTAND them.

    And I’m not just being funny. I really was bothered by explaining this, though now (fifteenth or so viewing) we’ve got it down to “She’s NOT HER REAL MOMMY, she stole her as a baby, and only BAD BAD people do that.”

    I think the whole thing would have been much easier if she went by Auntie Gothel, or something like that. Just to avoid the mother mixup.

    • The Auntie Gothel thing would have really helped. We haven’t discussed how she’s not the real mommy because Lily hasn’t asked. I should point this out next time. I have said “That’s not a nice mommy. I’m a nice mommy”… but that gets discredited by Mother Gothel’s lies! Hmmmm… troublesome.

  3. IvyM

    I am so happy I found this to know I am not alone; I Googled “Tangled makes moms look bad” and your entry came up.
    I have 3 girls, ages 5, 3 and 5mo. We decided to watch this with our two older girls recently and I was pretty upset by the potential for mixed messages, especially the whole scene with the song Mother Knows Best.
    The way Gothel is clearly evil but then turns around and says how much she loves Rapunzel and Rapunzel ends up lying to keep her mother from getting mad… it doesn’t sit well. By pairing phrases mothers may use in times of discipline or to keep our girls safe with her evilness and Rapunzel’s fear and feelings of being misunderstood, I feel it discredits real life situations and could cause some children to look at their mothers and think “that sounds like MY Mom sometimes!” Everything people wrote before me I am in complete agreement with.
    Ugh.

    • I’m so glad to hear this post is still getting hits! There are so many mixed messages in this movie. Luckily my girls now understand that Mother Gothel isn’t really her mother and did a bad thing by kidnapping her, but still. So much potential for trouble here.

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