Disney’s latest movie, Turning Red, shows how generational trauma can pass down to kids and it’s up to both us and our kids to break it together.
“I’m so sick of being perfect, I’ll never be good enough for her, or anyone,” cries a young Ming when Mei meets her in the astral plane. These words really hit home, especially for some of us who have felt this once in our lives as kids. When expectations are not managed properly, it can hurt kids in so many ways that not many notice. From people-pleasing to fear of the parent, Disney seems to be calling to a lot of parents to be more mindful of dropping expectations on their kids, especially with the Turning Red movie.
Turning Red can hit home
Especially in a culture where the family holds priority over all things, the expectations can be suffocating. Turning Red portrays this through the eyes of 13-year-old Mei who assists in the family business of managing the temple. After realizing she inherited the family’s ability to turn into a Red Panda, she needs to seal away her abilities because of the danger it implies. However, she starts to enjoy her powers and even tries to control them. This doesn’t bode well for Ming, her mother, since her abilities were sealed.
Unfortunately, we parents might rip open a few old wounds.
Our kids will most likely appreciate the movie for all the action. But for parents who have strained relationships with other family members, it might rip open some old wounds. Turning Red not only portrays how trauma damages kids but parents as well. Although many of us may not be able to revisit our past, the movie shows that some of us might have to. In order to become better parents, it’ll require us to face the unprocessed pain our own parents caused us. Confronting our parents about the pain they’ve caused us will not only grant some inner peace but help us move on as parents.
It tackles the dark side of Asian family dynamics.
Asian families are known to raise achievers. But what many don’t see is the cost to become achievers. The demand for perfectionism becomes so extreme that there’s no middle ground. Perfection becomes their “good enough” which leads to low self-esteem and the extreme desire to make everyone happy even at the cost of their own personal desires. Turning Red shows that family can not only be a driving force but a destructive one as well.
Mei shares, “Sometimes, I miss how things were. But nothing stays the same forever.”
While we’re looking for the same charm Disney always had in movies, we know that trends do change. Turning Red is proof that family dynamics have been changing over the years. To abandon the bad and take on the good, there are some things that need to be examined. Sandra Oh‘s and Rosalie Chiang‘s roles of the mother-daughter duo show us and our kids that things need to be worked out together. It’s a good movie to watch especially when both we and our kids have wounds to heal as a family.
Lucky for us, Turning Red is now available in movie cinemas. You can check where it’s available here.