Mrs. Doubtfire is a movie about something that almost every American family faces, divorce. The film stars Sally Field and Robin Williams as parents with conflicting parenting styles and beliefs, who end up divorcing with a bloody battle for the children’s custody. The children are thrown into this mess and the movie showcases how each of them deal with the divorce. Lydia is the rebellious preteen who doesn’t understand why the family dynamic has to change. Chris, the younger brother is the athletic member of the family. Natalie is the small wide eyed child who is still trying to comprehend why daddy doesn’t live at home anymore. The theme of the movie centers around many parenting and family questions such as: How does one properly raise children? Is there really one single parenting style that works? Is it really possible for divorcing parents to set aside their differences for the sake of the children? It is a glimpse into how differently a father would raise his children if given a chance to do so without interference or boundaries.
It reminds us that once parents learn to listen to each other instead of fighting with each other during divorce proceedings they will finally come around to doing what is best for their children. The movie introduces the viewers to the changing dynamic of the American family. Mothers are no longer stay at home moms who simply tend to children and cook meals. These days women like Miranda Hillard (Sally Field) are career driven heads of industries. It is also not uncommon these days to find a stay at home dad like Daniel Hillard (Robin Williams). The problem with this situation is that even though mothers bring home the bacon, they are still expected to come home and perform their wifely and motherly duties. Something that society has not once, throughout the history or marriages expected from the husband and father. Such a situation indeed takes its toll on any marriage and weakens the foundation of the family For fathers who are forced to stay home to care for the children, such a move is taken as an insult to their manhood and makes him feel dominated in the process. Let’s face it, men still find it insulting to take orders from a woman, even if that woman happens to be his wife or the mother of his children. In such a situation, the man will rebel the only way he knows how.
By playing the good cop, bad cop game with the children. As you watch the movie you are exposed to two highly different parenting styles. The mother’s rigid parenting style that is meant to instill discipline in the children and the laid back relationship between the father and the three children. Not to say that one style is better than the other but the truth is that, when children are in the middle of their parent’s divorce, they definitely need structure and balance to keep them focused and centered on their own lives and their attention deviated from the chaos brought on by divorce. In such situations, it would help if the parents could agree on how the children will be cared for and what their day to day routine will consist of. Once Mrs. Doubtfire is introduced to the family unit everyone seems to take something away from the experience. The children especially, they are able to convey their feelings and emotions to her as well as the father who is hiding in the old woman’s costume. The mother, Hillary, also confides in Mrs. Doubtfire about her divorce and how she felt about her ex-husband. This type of communication was healthy for all members of the family including the father even though he was not really being himself. Once the movie hits the turning point and the cat is out of the bag sort of speaks, the children as well as Hillary are very sad to have lost their nanny. As she has become part of the family in just a short amount of time.
They mourn the loss of here as if she actually died. But when they find out that Mrs. Doubtfire was there father the children become ecstatic and are overjoyed to see him. The mother is reluctant to communicate with the father after the great lengths he went through to see his children and also after what she had confided in Mrs. Doubtfire who she just found out was her ex-husband. But in the end the divorce worked out for the best and everybody grew as a result of the ensuing changes that they faced. The father was able to get a job and also was able to set up visitation services to see his children and the mother was able to find new love in a new man. This movie is just one of the pioneers in witnessing divorce and the many tolls it can take not only on the couple but the children and also their friends and family. With a little bit of comedy they were able to keep the audience entertained but also tell their story of divorce and how each person was able to deal with the issue.