“Dear Mrs. Doubtfire, two months ago, my mom and dad decided to separate. Now they live in different houses. My brother Andrew says that we aren’t to be a family anymore. Is this true? Did I lose my family? Is there anything I can do to get my parents back together? Sincerely, Katie McCormick.”
Oh, my dear Katie. You know, some parents, when they’re angry, they get along much better when they don’t live together. They don’t fight all the time, and they can become better people, and much better mummies and daddies for you. And sometimes they get back together. And sometimes they don’t, dear. And if they don’t, don’t blame yourself. Just because they don’t love each other anymore, doesn’t mean that they don’t love you. There are all sorts of different families, Katie. Some families have one mommy, some families have one daddy, or two families. And some children live with their uncle or aunt. Some live with their grandparents, and some children live with foster parents. And some live in separate homes, in separate neighborhoods, in different areas of the country – and they may not see each other for days, or weeks, months… even years at a time. But if there’s love, dear… those are the ties that bind, and you’ll have a family in your heart, forever. All my love to you, poppet, you’re going to be all right… bye-bye.
-Mrs. Doubtfire/Daniel Hillard (played by Robin Williams)
Mrs. Doubtfire (1993)
Image: The Huffington Post
I watched this movie many times with my family when my kids were growing up. As adults, my kids were surprised at how much of the “adult humor” went completely over their heads when they were little.
I like the movie. It’s very entertaining. Robin Williams was an incredible talent, which is what makes the film so watchable, even decades later. Also, the rest of the cast, particularly Sally Field and Pierce Brosnan, are first-rate. There’s really not much to dislike about “Mrs. Doubtfire.”
Admittedly, I was always a tad bothered by the sentiment I quoted above. It’s the final bit of dialog from the movie and, depending on how to read it or hear it. Williams could be saying that any possible family constellation is just as good as another.
That seems to devalue the traditional one Mom, one Dad, intact marriage family, and especially among religious people, that can chafe a bit.
I read something by celebrity Rabbi Shmuley Boteach where he said he felt divorce to be a bigger problem to families than same-sex marriage.
In Judaism, it is believed that the Torah, the set of laws given to the Israelites by God through Moses, is composed of 613 individual commandments. It has also been said that Judaism isn’t an “all or nothing” religion, in spite of how Christianity sees it.
In homosexual relationships, I think about two of the 613 commandments are involved. How many are involved when parents divorce and what is the impact on the children?
Rabbi Boteach is the product of a divorced family and he believes that divorce is always bad, though sometimes necessary:
Once a friend who was in a very unhappy marriage called me up and told me she was making a party to celebrate her divorce. I told her that I could not attend as I would never celebrate divorce. She got angry at me and told me that she expected me to be happy for her. I proceeded to tell her that there are three areas of life: the good, the bad, and the necessary. Divorce is never good, it is usually bad, but it is sometimes necessary. It’s like war. You sometimes have to fight a war but it’s not something you celebrate. I was happy that she was no longer in pain. The marriage had to end. But something sacred had still been lost.
-Rabbi Shmuley Boteach
“How Divorce Scars Children”
The Huffington Post
I chose to participate in a discussion on the Malcolm the Cynic blogspot called “One of the Older Ghosts”, which takes to task the central message of the aforementioned film “Mrs. Doubtfire”.
The conversation became heated very quickly.