I’ve noticed that on a lot of princess merchandise, the words “Daddy’s Little Princess” are very common. Unless it is custom made, you will hardly ever find anything that says “Mommy’s Little Princess.” As a mother to two princesses, this irks me, but I do understand why it is this way. Let me explain.
The mothers of Snow White, Cinderella, Belle, Ariel, and Jasmine all died when they were very young, so they never got a chance to have a relationship with their mother. Elsa and Anna’s mother died when they were teenagers and from what we can tell from the film, they weren’t very close to either of their parents, especially Elsa since they pretty much isolated her in a room during her childhood. The parents of Aurora and Rapunzel were separated from them when they were babies, so they never got a chance to have a relationship with their parents either. Mother Gothel pretended to be Rapunzel’s real mother and we all know how that went.
The only parents that were both present in a Disney princess’s life were Merida’s. We see in the film that Merida identified more with her father than her mother, which is why she had a stronger relationship with him than she did with her mother. Later in the film, Merida and her mother end up having a better understanding of one another and a better relationship because of it, but that doesn’t change the fact that she was still “Daddy’s little princess” first and foremost.
Let’s focus on the remaining Disney father daughter relationships now. We all know that Snow White’s and Cinderella’s fathers both died and both of their stepmothers turned out to be wicked. Their fathers had the best intentions though. All they wanted for their little girls was to have a mother (and sisters too in Cinderella’s case), so they remarried, hoping to create a new happily ever after for their girls. Although Tiana’s father also died when she was young, the bond they had was a strong one and even continued after his death. We see in the film how tired Tiana’s father was after a hard day’s work, but he always made time for his little girl. I am not saying that Tiana didn’t have a good relationship with her mother. She did and Tiana’s mother was a great one, but the relationship she had with her father was still stronger.
Onto Belle and Ariel, both of their fathers offered to sacrifice themselves to save their daughter’s lives and they did this without any hesitation. When Beast (by the way, his real name is Adam) accepted Belle’s offer to keep her as his prisoner instead of Maurice, her father pleaded with Belle and Beast to let him remain his prisoner. “No, Belle! I won’t let you do this!” “No, Belle! Listen to me. I’m old. I’ve lived my life,” he shouted to her. Moving right along to King Triton, when he found out about the binding contract Ariel had signed with Ursula, he gave up his life, his kingdom, and his family to free his daughter of Ursula by sacrificing himself instead. After Ursula was defeated, King Triton was set free and reunited with his beloved daughter again, but instead of trying to keep Ariel under the sea where he felt she belonged all along, he gave her the greatest gift he could give Ariel and made her wish come true: The ability to become human and live happily ever after with her true love on land. The Sultan did something similar for his daughter, Jasmine, when he changed the law to allow his daughter to marry anyone she wanted, whether he was of noble blood or not. Of course she chose Aladdin and lived happily ever after with him.
As you can now see, most of the mothers of Disney princesses do not play a major role in their lives. They have either passed away or become separated from their children. When the mothers are replaced by a stepmother or an imposter (Tangled), the mother figure is always evil. Even when the actual mother is present (Brave), the daughter still has a better relationship with her father than her mother. It was always the fathers who sacrificed for them and who did everything in their power to protect them. For once, I would love to see a Disney princess and her mother have that kind of relationship and bond. Better yet, why not have both parents have that with their princess? Is that really too much to ask?
The next Disney princess movie will be released on November 23, 2016. It’s called Moana and it is about a 14 year old Hawaiian princess. I’m anxious to find out what kind of relationship Moana will have with her parents, but judging by the movie poster, I don’t have high hopes for the mother.
Portions of this article previously appeared on My Little Villagers