BRAVE: Tackling the Complex Mother / Daughter Relationship

I took my daughter to see the movie Brave yesterday.  I didn’t get what I expected.  I got so much more.  On the way home we joked that we kept waiting for the Princess to find her Prince.  Disney billed this in the countless commercials we’ve seen for the month leading up to the opening as Merida hopes to escape an arranged marriage.  Pixar, however, had other plans.  As a romance writer, I will never discount the importance of the Prince, but this movie focused on a much more complex relationship than love at first site, or the hero to the rescue, or even the fight for true love.  With the Hollywood landscape so focused on the male hero, something Meryl Streep eloquently discussed at the recent 2012 Women In Film Crystal + Lucy Awards, Brave bravely turns a focused attention to the complexities within the mother / daughter relationship. 


In Brave, Princess Merida and her mother Elinor struggle with communication.  They are unable to listen to and respect the desires and motivations of the other.  Merida would like to live free from her mother’s expectations.  Quite possibly, she feels the enormity of one day stepping into her mother’s shoes.  I found this same idea overwhelming when I was younger.  The transformation in their relationship grows organically when the two face the possibility of losing one another forever.  The film uses a unique plot device in which two-way verbal communication is inhibited, visually embodying the previous disconnect.  This impairment forces the two to listen with their hearts.  I don’t want to give away the plot as this is not a review of the film (I’ll just say, go see it, you won’t be disappointed), but what invested me so fully in this story was the resolution.  Only when each set aside their pride could the rift between them mend.  What a beautiful sentiment…to listen without pride.

Over the past year I have dedicated my efforts in developing a Young Adult Fantasy that will span three novels.  Within the story, my main character, Terra, (whom I plan to introduce in future blog posts) struggles in her relationships with her mothers.  Yes, she has two…one here on earth in the town where she was raised, and her birth mother whom she discovers following her sixteenth birthday in the world where she was born to live and one day rule.  Brave turned my thoughts to Terra and her need to circumnavigate unfamiliar terrain with two very different mothers.  As the story arc unfolds, the relationships with her mothers, how she is able to communicate, or not, with each, will play a paramount role in shaping her future.  My thoughts also turned to two very important relationships in my life…that with my mother and my daughter.  Each relationship requires its own finesse in the art of communication, listening, and compromise.  At times we all slip and pride gets in the way.  However, when there is a strong enough desire to set things right, love will always trump pride.

About RoseAnn DeFranco

Author - Humorous Contemporary Romance & Young Adult Romance
This entry was posted in Family, Forbidden Signs, Uncategorized, Writing, Young Adult. Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to BRAVE: Tackling the Complex Mother / Daughter Relationship

  1. Beautiful post, RoseAnn. I totally agree with you on the struggle to communicate with my daughter, but will say that it also applies to my son. My kids are two very different people, each with different needs with respect to their relationship with me. The hardest struggle I face, I think, is not projecting my expectations onto them, as theirs. It is the one of the toughest things in the world to let your children move forward independently, hoping only that you gave them enough of a foundation in their early years to make smart decisions. I want my kids to live fully, joyfully, and without reservation, to explore new things, without putting my two cents in or holding them back. Yet still, I need to be there for guidance, enccouragement, or just to lend an ear without offering advice sometimes…hard for a Capricorn!

    I’m planning to take my daughter to see Brave tomorrow. Can’t wait!

    • RoseAnn DeFranco says:

      Hi Jaye,

      Thank you for your beautiful and insightful comment. I hear you about struggling to find the right balance. My daughter is a bit younger than your children, and I can see that it will only get harder going forward. Recently she enthusiastically expressed her love of music and math with me. When I told her that I listened to classical music when I was expecting her because studies showed that it increased an aptitude for math, among other things, she got real quiet. When I asked her what was wrong she said that she wished these things developed from her naturally as opposed to it being something I wanted for her. Hello, early wakeup call!!! Step back, mama!

      Enjoy the movie!

  2. Very interesting! I too have struggled with getting along with a perfectionist and demanding mother. Finally, we have learned to respect each other, and I try not to dwell on the early years when I neevr lived up to her expectations. She has in turn been more supportive now than she ever was in the past. So I understand what your charactre is facing!

    • RoseAnn DeFranco says:

      You’re a survivor. So good that you were able to move on to a more satisfying relationship. Fortunately I didn’t face that in my relationship with my mother. I just had (and still) have really big shoes to fill. Then I realized that I was better off in my own shoes.

  3. Hey, RoseAnn as the mother of three teenage daughters I’m intimately acquainted with the complexity of mother-daughter relationships (the good, the bad, and the ugly!) I’m looking forward to your YA series, which I may just have to share with them. 😉 Good luck!

  4. RoseAnn DeFranco says:

    Hi Lisa –

    I enjoy your “Life with three teenage Daughters” posts on FB. We’re not quite there yet. I know that there is much more fun on the horizon with my girl! Thanks for the well wishes. I can’t wait to read One Good Friend Deserves Another!


  5. Love your comments about mother/daughter relationships. It’s all true. Love your book and can’t wait to see it in print. Love you

  6. Nice post, RoseAnn. I haven’t seen Brave yet, but after reading your post will have to get there. I also have a pre-teen daughter and know I’m approaching the challenging years. I hope that we’ll find a way to keep communication lines open and always be close. But, being a realist, I know we’ll bump heads. But I also know that love runs deep and we’ll always be close. I’ve always been close to my mom and don’t know what I’d do without her.

  7. RoseAnn DeFranco says:

    Hi Maria – Hopefully getting through the bumps with them will make our relationships with our girls that much stronger in the end. My mother is my closest friend. I don’t know what I would do without her either!

  8. RoseAnn, my Darling Daughter had exactly the same response you did: How refreshing for the movie NOT to have a handsome prince! As a romance writer, I like princes, but as a mother, I appreciated exploring a different relationship. Good luck with your YA! It sounds fascinating!

  9. Pingback: Lesson Learned From Frozen: Write To Your Own Trend | The Violet Femmes

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