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I have wanted to make this comparison since I saw Finding Dory the other day, because its so interesting to see how different parents treat a child who was born with a disability, and I think Disney captured the two different kids of parents. Thus, I created this sort of mini “do’s/don’ts” guide, using these two movies! Note: spoilers for Finding Dory!
Treat them as you would any other child
Change your life to accommodate for them
Create strategies to help them cope
Never isolate them or make them feel as if they are different
Encourage them to accept themselves for who they are
Trust your child, and know they will be okay
How did Dory’s parents do this? Dory’s parents created a bunch of strategies in order for Dory to cope with her short-term memory loss. They used role-play in order for Dory to practice for the real thing, so she knew how to act, and to address her disability, rather than conceal it. They created easy to remember songs to protect her. They always ensured she knew they loved her. They trusted her to come back, and knew she would remember the shells, and that that would lead her to them. Then, they let her socialise with the other children because they trusted her.
Make the child feel different
Isolate the child
Make the child feel scared of themselves
Tell them to conceal, rather than embrace themselves
Poor coping strategies
What did Elsa’s parents do wrong? Elsa’s parents made quite a few mistakes. While ice magic is a complete contrast to memory loss, think about this metaphorically. If similar strategies were adopted for Elsa as they were for Dory, Elsa would have been much happier within herself, and if Dory was given these strategies, she would have also lived her life in fear. Elsa’s parents allowed her “difference” (even though I hate that word) to control her life, and constantly told her it was something to be afraid of, and to hide it away from the rest of the world. There was little trust towards Elsa (note: “Elsa what have you done?”), and she felt isolated, different, and you should never do that with a child, as it carried on for the rest of her life. Even with their coping strategies (the gloves, “conceal, don’t feel”), it was all about hiding rather than embracing. Elsa’s parents were not abusive. They just made bad choices.