Parents and Adult Children

When children grow up, relationships with parents change. However, the changes are not always easy for the adult children or for their parents. Some parents have a hard time seeing their grown sons and daughters as independent, responsible adults. Other parents don’t want to loosen the binds that kept their children close when they were younger. Still others have a difficult time accepting the choices that their grown children make for themselves. Adult children can also have difficulties. Many young adults struggle with their new independence and are unsure of themselves and sometimes are afraid to move on. Others carry hard feelings or resentments about things that happened as they grew up.

The following films address a number of issues concerning the relationship between parents and their adult children. Each offers different experiences and different solutions to the problems that exist in these relationships.

The Films


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Hollywood Pictures.  All Rights Reserved.

JOY LUCK CLUB
Children grow up in a world different from the one their parents grew up in. Sometimes they are whole different cultures with different values and pressures. Sometimes the parents have struggled with trauma’s their children never were aware of or can never fully appreicate or understood. In this film we watch four young women and their mothers deal with their personal crosses to bear and attempt to relate as mother and daughter despite the tensions and hurt in the relationships.
Buena Vista Home Video.
Rated PG-13 by M.P.A.A.

BREAKING AWAY
When people graduate from high school, there is an assumption that they should have a sense of what they will do with their lives. This is not always the case. Sometimes there is confusion and fear. Breaking Away is a film that presents the attempts of both young adults and parents to come to terms with these issues. In the course of this film Dave and his parents struggle and each learns something that not only allows their relationship to mature but allows them each to grow.
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
Rated PG by M.P.A.A.

MR. SATURDAY NIGHT
  Sometimes parents can be so absorbed with their own lives that they do not make room for the emotional needs of their offspring, be they children or adults. In this film the focus is on the father, Buddy Young, and his tendency to undermine his own success and to hurt those he loves including his daughter, Annie. The neglect and Young’s insensitivity to Annie as a child leaves a deep mark. As an adult she acts out her insecurity and continues to disappoint her father who cannot see how he contributes to the strain in their relationship by his sarcasm and resentful and reluctant efforts to rescue her. For a parent or an adult child who has been in a similar relationship there is something that can be learned both about what is happening and what must occur for there to be healing.  
Columbia TriStar Studios
Rated R by M.P.A.A.

IN THE NAME OF THE FATHER
Many times parents have good reason for being disappointed and even disapproving of the choices and life styles of their adult children. Often an adult child’s behaviors are a rebellion against a way of life that is important to the parent. In this movie, a rather irresponsible son and his critical, religious father are accused and convicted of a crime they did not commit and are put in prison together. The resulting years of incarceration allows the two to finally come to terms with their mutual dislike and to grow close. While the circumstances in which this occurs is unusual, their struggle is common and process not unfamiliar to parents and children who, because of work and other ties, are forced to deal with each other. There is much that can be realized by watching this film.
MCA Universal Home Video
Rated R by M.P.A.A.


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Miramax.  All Rights Reserved.

THE SNAPPER How does a father deal with the reality that his daughter, who he loves very much, is pregnant and not married? This film follows the reaction of this working class Irishman to the news that his daughter is going to have a baby and how he comes to acceptance and continuation of his love for his daughter. It's not easy for any parent to deal with something that one's adult child does that goes against one's beliefs.
Buena Vista Home Video.
Rated R by M.P.A.A.

ON GOLDEN POND  Even middle aged adults can harbor strong insecurities around their parents. Ironically, the grand- children often times seem to have a better time with the old folks. That’s because the relationship between the parents and grandparents is anchored in earlier years when they lived together as children and parents. These growing up years leave both generations with good and bad feelings along with the accompanying memories. On Golden Pond says much about these relationships and that strain the can still exist between an elderly parent and a very grown child. This is most evident between Chelsea and her father, a retired college professor who has tended to be critical of his daughter. While the movie says a lot about old age and the troubles of a young boy who is passed off onto his grandparents so his mother can have time with her new boyfriend, the resolution of the relationship between the grumpy father and uncertain daughter is very much the center of this film. In watching this film try to understand what really changes for Chelsea.
Artisan Entertainment
Rated PG by M.P.A.A.


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Touchstone Pictures.  All Rights Reserved.

FATHER OF THE BRIDE 
Watching this comedy, viewers can become so focused on the lunacy of the wedding preparation that they miss what is really the heart of this film. Father Of The Bride is about George Banks’ attempt to emotionally adjust to the fact that the daughter he loves so much has not only grown up but is starting a life in which he will have a much smaller role. This is often a difficult adjustment even for parents who are exceptionally honest, unselfish, and respectful of the independence of their offspring, as is the case with George. As you watch George think about what your own reactions have been (or, in the future, are likely to be) to your son or daughter marrying and moving on. Like George, there may be moments when you suddenly see your adult child, not as the grownup that he or she has become, but as the child he or she once was.
Buena Vista Home Video. Rated PG by MPAA.

ONLY THE LONELY Few movies have presented as effectively the ways in which people struggle not only with a parents in their real life but the parents they carry in their heads. Danny is a 33 year old man who still lives with his mother and has become so committed to her that he cannot go out without worrying about her well being and safety. Elderly parents certainly need the support of their grown children but sometimes the parents’ expectations or the adult child’s worry greatly exaggerate that need and keep parent and adult child in a unhealthy interdependence. As we see with Danny, his beliefs about his mother (and her manipulations of those beliefs) have painful consequences that he can only get beyond as he deals with his own unrealistic thinking. 1991.
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
Rated PG-13 by M.P.A.A.

POSTCARDS FROM THE EDGE Alcoholism and chemical dependency often affect parents and their offsprings. Furthermore people who have a problem with drinking or drugs can see another family member’s substance abuse but not their own. Postcards From The Edge is a story of a daughter and her mother who not only have addictions but a lot of hurts and mistrusts of each other. Circumstances occur that necessitate the thirty-something year old daughter to live with her mother. This not only increases the tension but presents a situation in which the two can finally face up to the real sources of their strained relationship and finally let down their walls.
RCA Columbia Pictures Home Video
Rated R by M.P.A.A.

See Also:

Little Voice

Please note: More movies are being added to this page.  Check back soon.

The booklet Boundaries And Limits can be an aid for those who have a difficult time accepting that they need to let go of others or who feel manipulated and controlled by others. You might also find the booklet helpful to read before seeing these films. For only $2.50 plus shipping and handling you can have this booklet mailed to you within two days! Check out this booklet NOW!
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Last modified: 18 March, 2009