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Parents Are Wrong

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A character is in conflict with one or both of their parents, where the parents represent Tradition and the kid represents Change. Eventually the plot proves that the kid was right and the parents were wrong. Usually the parents admit that they were wrong and they promise to be more flexible in the future. This supports An Aesop about how change is a good thing and tradition is flawed, or at least that some specific tradition is flawed and some specific reform is needed.

Very often comes up in the context of Arranged Marriage, where the parents want their kid (usually a daughter) to marry someone whom the kid does not love, and the kid rebels. Eventually the kid either finds a different partner or just chooses to be single, and the parents come to realize that the kid knows best. Likewise the trope is used for when parents presume to dictate where their kids will live, what jobs they're allowed to take, what hobbies they're allowed to have, etc..

Easily dovetails into Be Yourself.

See also Fantasy-Forbidding Father.


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    Films — Animation 
  • Disney Animated Canon:
    • In Aladdin, the sultan insists that Jasmine must marry a prince, in keeping with law and tradition. But Jasmine falls in love with Aladdin, and at the end of the movie, the sultan changes the law to allow Jasmine to marry whoever she wants.
    • In Moana, Moana wants to explore the ocean but her father is overprotective and forbids it. Eventually Moana proves herself as a capable explorer, and the entire tribe starts exploring the surrounding areas. (Moana is actually reviving an old forgotten tradition here, as the tribe used to explore all the time. But the trope still applies because she's in conflict with her father and eventually her father is proven wrong.)
    • In Mulan, Mulan's parents expect her to be traditionally feminine so she can be a good bride. Mulan eventually proves her mettle as a soldier (and finds a love interest along the way), and her family relents.
    • In The Little Mermaid (1989), Ariel wants to live on land and marry a human. King Triton vetoes this, but he relents in the ending when he sees how much she does love him.
      Sebastian: It's like I always say, your Majesty. Children have got to be free to lead their own lives.
      King Triton: You always say that?
      (Sebastian smiles and chuckles nervously)
  • Pixar:
    • In Brave, Merida is approached by three suitors and her mother says that she has to marry one of them. Merida turns them all down, insisting that marriage should be her own choice. Eventually, Merida's mother agrees to break tradition for Merida's sake.
    • In Ratatouille, Remy is a rat who wants to be a chef, but his dad wants him to eat garbage like all the other rats. Eventually Remy proves himself as a chef and his Dad learns to accept it.
    • In Finding Nemo, Nemo wants to be more adventurous but his dad Marlin is overprotective. Nemo does find himself in risky situations, but nevertheless the aesop of the climax is that Marlin needs to let go and allow Nemo to have more freedom.
    • In Turning Red, Mei wants to keep her giant red panda transformation ability but her mother and female relatives want her to seal it away. By the end, they all come to respect Mei's choice.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Dead Poets Society, Neil wants to be an actor, but his father forbids it. When he finds that Neil went behind his back to perform in a play, he withdraws Neil from Welton and enrolls him in a military school. Neil ends up committing suicide, but even then his father doesn't understand that he did anything wrong. Instead his asks Dean Nolan to find someone else to blame, which ends up costing Keating his job.
  • In October Sky, Homer yearns to make a career in rocketry, but his father insists that he take the "practical" route of staying in town and working in the coal mine. Eventually, Homer proves himself as a budding scientist and his father relents.
  • Now, Voyager revolves almost entirely around the fact that Charlotte's mother is wrong about everything and has inflicted some serious psychological damage as a result. Charlotte's character arc is all about finding herself and learning to stand up to her mother, including one case where she turns down a marriage proposal despite her mother's wishes.
  • In My Big Fat Greek Wedding, Tula's father wants her to be traditional and marry a "nice greek boy". He's also opposed to her getting any advanced education, because she's already "smart enough for a girl". He eventually relents on both fronts. This inspires Tula's brother to pursue a career in art, despite his father's dismissive attitude.

  • "Where the Lilies Bloom" by Bill and Vera Cleaver. After the death of his wife, a dying Roy Luther left daughter Mary Call with these requests: One, do whatever is necessary to hide the fact that he's dead. Otherwise, the government will come along and split the children apart. Two, prevent her older sister Devola from marrying that no-good Kiser Pease. Mary Call gradually comes to see that her father was wrong about both of those things, and even comes right out and says so as the narrator. The story closes with Kiser and Devola's wedding, where it's assumed that the older siblings will now help look out for the younger ones.

    Live-Action TV 
  • One episode of Touch (2012) involves a Saudi teenager who aspires to be a doctor, but whose parents have earmarked her for an Arranged Marriage. After she runs away from home with a friend and they end up delivering a woman's baby in the middle of the desert, her dad decides to let her go to medical school after all. It probably helps that in the same episode, her betrothed ends up marrying a woman overseas, making the arranged marriage moot anyway.


    Visual Novels 
  • The protagonist of Daughter for Dessert admits to Amanda that he should’ve told her more about her late mother.
  • In Melody, Arnold eventually admits that he wasn’t the most supportive stepfather to the title character, and says that although the two of them do need to live apart, she is always welcome to ask him for help if she needs it.

    Web Original 
  • In an article titled Junior Knows Best, Catholic film reviewer Steven Greydanus discusses this trope as it is depicted in various movies.