If we've learned anything from movies, it's that there's no right or wrong way to parent, and there are actually countless creative ways to scar your child for life. Here are five sets of movie parents who we're pretty sure the movie wants us to root for, but will one day be solely blamed for their child's many, many issues by a qualified medical professional.
1. Peter and Kate McCallister from Home Alone
Forget the fact that little Kevin was left alone and vulnerable not once, but twice - let's talk about the underlying issues that caused Kevin to turn from 'adorable and innocent eight-year-old' into 'runaway street kid and attempted murderer'.
The movie would have us believe that mom, Kate, and Kevin share a special bond - that she's the only one in the family who understands him, and that she truly loves and cares for him. That seems A LITTLE suspect...
Let's start with the fact that Kate does nothing at all to address Kevin's alarming outbursts, which go some way to explaining the franchise's final chapter: Home Alone 6: We Need To Talk About Kevin. Kevin jumps around yelling "I want to live alone!"; he violently attacks his brother and, after a particularly uncomfortable scene where his uncle humiliates him in front of the entire family by calling him a "little jerk" (in which Kate does not say a WORD to defend Kevin), all but tells his mother he'd be cool with it if his entire family just f*cking died.
This is where a half-decent parent would have sat down with Kevin and tried to understand why he felt that way. Perhaps a better parent might have taken proactive steps to deal with the fact that Kevin's thuggish older brother is bullying the crap out of him, maybe even reassured him that his family loves him very much, then discussed seeking out a professional for Kevin to talk to. I mean, they sure have the money, what with that enormous house and the budget to fly a whole family to France for a week.
But no, not mother of the year, Kate, who instead gets drawn into a childish back and forth with her eight-year-old, then locks him in the attic with the bedwetter cousin and then f*cks off to Paris without him.
Once she realizes her mistake, she makes a couple of casual attempts to get the authorities to check in on Kevin (failing to mention that Kevin is eight years old) and embarks on a wacky road trip home with John Candy, but - given that it only got her home two minutes before the rest of the family - it seems like a poor effort.
Don't worry - by next Christmas, Kevin has been provided with the care he needs to overcome his trauma and his family have learned to relate in a healthy and respectful... nahhhh just kidding. Kevin hasn't even told them about the burglars. It's his little secret with the creepy old loner next door.
To be fair, the local authorities share a huge portion of the blame, given their initial half-hearted attempts to check in on Kevin, their lack of concern for him in general and the fact that, after the 'wet bandits' were caught, instead of taking Kevin into care for the night, or flagging up the seriously sociopathic behaviour that led a child to (instead of calling the police) try to straight-up torture and murder two strangers, they left him at the house on his own again.
Let's ignore that Kevin should have been a key witness in the ensuing trial, and once more forgive the parents for their ignorance (after all, Kevin did a pretty good job of cleaning up the house post-burglary, even though it was technically a crime scene covered in blood and teeth). Burglars aside, the family have learned absolutely nothing. They goad and humiliate Kevin into running away again and even have a good old laugh about it when reporting him missing to the police.
Is it any wonder that, by the end of the second movie, Kevin has started hurling bricks at people's heads?
2. The King and Queen from Frozen
After a near miss with her icy superpowers, the only permanent consequence of which was leaving sister, Anna, with a bad hair dye job, Elsa is locked away for her own safety with nothing but the mantra "conceal, don't feel" for company, on the advice of creatures with literal rocks for brains (I assume).
Not only do they physically lock their daughter away for a solid decade, isolating her from her beloved sister, but they also metaphorically lock her up by teaching her to be ashamed of her body and its abilities, instead of - I don't know - teaching her to use them in a healthy and safe way.
Many column inches have been devoted to the theory that Frozen is a metaphor for coming out, and that the King and Queen were of the "pray the gay away" variety. At the very least, the movie is an allegory for the dangers of repressing who you truly are, which is not only incredibly emotionally damaging, but it simply doesn't work.
And, on a more selfish note, dudes - your kid can instantly create ice palaces with her bare hands. She can create sentient life (WTF??) - she can magic up ice skates! Don't lock that shit away - if you have to be crappy parents, do it by exploiting her gifts for your own material gain.
Ah well, at least they had the decency to perish at sea five minutes into the movie.
3. All the muggle parents in Harry Potter
Dear Mr and Mrs Granger,
We are thrilled to inform you that your daughter, Hermione, is magical. WAIT, don't lock her away for her own good (we've had some issues with that in the past).
Instead, would it be cool if you forever relinquish all of your parenting rights and send her away to live with us in an enchanted castle full of monsters and child murderers?
We'll also give her the tools to instantly torture or murder anyone she wants with the wave of a stick, but don't worry, we'll make it clear that she's TOTALLY not allowed to do it WITHOUT PERMISSION.
If you require any further evidence of the existence of magic, please note this letter was delivered to you by a highly trained owl. We hope that's enough.
This is in no way a front for a child trafficking ring. No, that's not a weird thing to say.
Kind regards and we wish you well with your new, child-free life,
Professor McGonagall (nobody with the title 'Professor' could be a danger to children)
4. George and Lorraine McFly from Back to the Future
The same can't be said for people with the title "Dr." - especially weird loner scientists like Doc Brown who Marty McFly's parents allow their school-age son to hang out with unsupervised, despite the fact he's about 60 years older, a total recluse, and is in the habit of getting on the bad side of Libyan terrorists.
This is unsurprising, given that Marty's parents have no idea where he is or what he gets up to half the time.
It's no wonder Marty is running around town at all hours of the night with questionable elderly men, given his role models at home. His dad is a snivelling pushover who, for some reason, still hangs out with his high school bully, while his mom is pious, judgmental and believes "any girl who calls up a boy is just asking for trouble".
Let's forgive the fact that, when Marty goes back in time, his mom is visibly and breathlessly thirsty for him, because come on, she didn't know. However, we can't ignore that the entire foundation of his parents' marriage is based on the fact that George won Lorraine from someone else by punching the shit out of him.
I mean, fair enough, that someone was Biff, and he tried to rape Lorraine (which was, disturbingly, Marty's original plan to get his parents together - except he was going to assault her himself - that kid needs help), but any redemption of George's character goes out the window when, back in the future, he hires his wife's attempted rapist and allows him to hang around his house and kids.
5. Nicholas Parker and Elizabeth James from The Parent Trap
We all know how the story goes: girl meets girl; girl looks exactly like other girl; girls realize they're identical twins separated at birth.
You may be wondering which adoption agency was responsible for this colossal f*ck up. As it turns out, there's been no f*ck up at all, apart from the two f*ck ups who brought the twins into the world and then *legit decided to take one each and permanently part ways*.
Holy shit! Well, surely there were some extreme extenuating circumstances? I mean, to decide you're cool with tearing apart identical twins and never seeing one of your children again it must have been pretty... oh... they *don't remember what the argument that caused the split was about*??
I don't know about you guys, but if I had completely blown off one child because the other one happened to be the first one I grabbed while splitting up with my spouse, it would be a terrible secret that ate me up inside for years. But at no point during the movie do any of the adults give any indication of guilt. When Hallie, posing as Annie, asks her mom about her dad, does Liz look even fleetingly haunted by the memory of the child she left? Does she f*cking care AT ALL? And when it's revealed that the kids have met and switched places does either parent sob, apologize, and beg for forgiveness? These two have either mastered repression in a way that would make the parents from Frozen proud, or they're Kevin McCallister levels of sociopaths.
The only comfort is that this movie is technically about the parents getting their comeuppance. I mean, sure, their kids instantly forgive them (at this point, they've internalized the abandonment - no wonder Lindsay Lohan went off the rails), but they do get back together with the person they ditched an entire child, never checking in on their wellbeing or progress, to avoid. So, in a way, their punishment is a lifetime of misery together.
Honorable mentions for the other adults complicit in this lifetime of deception: secretly hip British butler, laid-back Californian nanny and quirky, adorable Grandfather, who may be a negligent monster, but it's fine because he's cute and the twins think he smells nice.