Created By: ParadiscaCorbasi on August 29, 2011 Last Edited By: ParadiscaCorbasi on March 7, 2012

Persistence of Parental Attachment

(was Parental Anxiety & Parental Attachment Hallucination)

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Do We Have This One??

"They Grow Up So Fast", that's always what you hear a parent saying with pride and wistfulness as their toddler begins to walk, or their kid goes out for a sport, or wins an award, or is about to graduate at school.

Parental anxiety is always there at some level or another, but the trope version in particular is when a parent's attachment is so severe that when they look at their teen or adult offpsring, they can still see them only as a baby or small child. The establishing shot shows, for the sake of the audience, the parent is talking to a teen or young adult capable of being in the situation they're in, but then the shot goes to the anxious parent. When it returns to the offspring, they are now being seen through their parent's eyes, as a small child. The pov showing them as a baby or small child is not always necessary; sometimes the parent surrounds their grown offspring with the trappings of a small child.

See also Overprotective Dad My Beloved Smother, and Big Brother Instinct. Also, if the daughter/son was really not prepared and ends up needing parental support, this will invariably lead to a Mama Bear Papa Wolf moment.


  • There's an insurance commercial where a man is telling his daughter to be careful driving (apparentlly by herself) for the first time, to stay off the freeways because he doesn't want her on them yet. The whole commercial is mostly the dad talking. When we get to a shot of who he's talking to, it's a POV shot from the Dad's eyes of his little girl behind the wheel, and she can't be more than six or seven. There's another transition and the next time we see the driver she's a teenager, affectionately but exasperatedly saying, "Okay, Daddy!"

  • The 1991 version of Father of the Bride. George sees his daughter as still eight years old, up until she says she's getting married.
  • Mr. Ping still sees Po in the Kung Fu Panda movies as the roly poly baby he found.

Live-Action TV
  • Zeke and Luther: Luther's grandmother is unable to accept that Luther is growing up, so she hires his best friend to be his babysitter, complete with a list of things, his favorite storybook, and his red footie pajamas.

Western Animation
  • Phineas and Ferb: "Skiddley Whiffers!" Doofenschmirtz and Vanessa argue about her going on a camping trip with other kids her age, without adult supervision. The shot goes from Vanessa as we see her to Doof's POV, in which we see Vanessa, age six or thereabouts.
  • As Told by Ginger: While it lacks the shot implying the parents see her this way, Macie's parents throw her a birthday party better suited to a five year old when she turns thirteen. Ginger tries to intervene, but upsets Macie. Macie finally does tell her parents she's not a baby anymore. The irony here is that both parents are therapists.
  • Played with in Avatar: The Last Airbender: Toph is 12 years old, but her parents can't see her as anything other than "tiny, helpless blind girl" and have overprotected her. They cling to this delusion so strongly that when Toph displays her Earthbending prowess, they respond by tightening their restraints on her. When that drives Toph to run away, they choose to believe the Avatar has kidnapped her.

  • Finding Nemo: Marlon, even after seeing how much his son has grown in confidence and ability while they were apart, still sees him as the one egg that survived the barracuda attack.

Community Feedback Replies: 11
  • August 29, 2011
    It's not a parental thing for me, but even though I've been working in a specific line of work for over two years now, I've got a co-worker who still treats me (and others) as though we only recently started up. Apparently, he won't trust anybody unless they donate a kidney and save a burning schoolbus on the same day.
  • September 9, 2011
    Hmm. That's rather an expansion on the trope as intended. Someone is incapable of seeing someone as grown up and competent, then? We'd need to rename it. Any suggestions?
  • September 10, 2011
    This YKTTW is either this or closely related.
  • September 10, 2011
    i think it would be the other side of the trope, this beeing about the paretns, that about the son/daugther

    see also Overprotective Dad My beloved smother, Big Brother Instinct, also if the daughter/son was really not prepared and needs help, this will invariably lead to a Mama Bear Papa Wolf Moment
  • December 11, 2011
    I don't think "hallucination" is the right word here. Not sure what to suggest for an alternative, though.
  • December 11, 2011
    The 1991 version of Father Of The Bride. George sees his daughter as still eight years old, up until she says she's getting married.
  • December 11, 2011
    Inverted in an episode of Cheers where, while Sam & Rebecca are trying to make a baby, Sam has an Imagine Spot about his son (who hasn't even been conceived yet) as a teenager, telling him what a great dad he is.
  • December 17, 2011
    Will Always Be Her Baby?
  • March 5, 2012
    Still Her Little Baby?
  • March 6, 2012
    Too specific. It's just as often dads as it is moms who see their children still as babies.
  • March 7, 2012
    ^-^^^Either way it's bad because it'll sound "like dialog" to the powers that be, which is no longer allowed as trope names.