Bravo to “The Boxtrolls”

"Sometimes there's a mother. Sometimes there's a father. Sometimes there's a father and a father. Sometimes both fathers are mothers."

“Sometimes there’s a mother. Sometimes there’s a father. Sometimes there’s a father and a father. Sometimes both fathers are mothers.”

One of the bigger challenges of being in a two-dad family is finding representations of families like yours in popular culture. When you have no mom in your home, it can sometimes seem like 90% of kids’ books don’t apply to you. (And when you have no dad, you’re just as likely to feel excluded from Disney princess movies, where moms are virtually nonexistent.)

Yesterday, I took my kids to see Despicable Me 2. There’s a subplot in the movie about the main character’s daughters wishing they had a mom. It was perfectly sweet and inoffensive, and I’m sure it’s a subject that really does pop up in a lot of families headed by straight single dads. I don’t mind my kids seeing cartoon children who wish they had a mom, but it’s nice when that can be balanced out by fictional characters who are perfectly happy with the number and gender of parents they already have.

The amazing thing was, they actually got that. Not from the movie, but from one of the trailers that came before it. I’d never heard of The Boxtrolls before, but I let out a little squeal of joy when, out of nowhere, I heard them acknowledge the existence of families like mine. “That’s like us!” I cheered to my kids.

You can watch the trailer here:

I’m sure the filmmakers will get some flack over what will seem to many people like a totally unnecessary nod to LGBT parents — and maybe publicity was part of their motivation. The trailer comes right on the heels of the Supreme Court DOMA/Prop 8 decisions, yet the movie doesn’t come out until September 2014. (Hey, Focus Features, just how long do you think my kids’ memory is? They didn’t remember the movie about the racing snail and we only saw that trailer a week ago.)

Still, it’s my opinion that it’s never too early to talk to your kids about homosexuality — in fact, the sooner, the better. So I’m grateful this trailer will help nudge the conversation forward. More importantly, though, I’m happy for all the kids like mine who are going to see it.

You may not see families like mine every day — or single-parent families, adoptive families or families that cross any number of racial lines — but it’s very nice for us when we get a chance to see ourselves… so to the filmmakers, I want to say thanks.

I also want to let them know that my son was kind of freaked out by the Boxtrolls themselves and has sworn he’ll never see the movie. Good thing he has plenty of time to change his mind before it’s actually released.

20 comments on “Bravo to “The Boxtrolls”

  1. I liked this blog post! You are quite right, it’s nice to see representation of your family out there. As a single mom of twin 3 month old boys, I’m already starting to feel like the ‘odd one out’ and I worry about how my boys will feel as they get older. I think it’s important to talk about and ‘see’ all the different types of families that can exist happily.

  2. I think it’s great that it can can be explained to children in a way that they can relate to. I remember my niece HATING having to do the dishes, but after she saw Beauty and the Beast all I had to say was “wanna help wash all the chips?” and she was sold. Obviously this is different to doing the dishes, but kids relate to and understand children’s films. Hopefully it will mean that future generations will be more informed and less judgemental.

  3. I love that trailer! Fun fact: the studio that made the Boxtrolls, Laika, is the same studio that made Paranorman – which if you know an important minor spoiler for that movie, makes this even more awesome.

  4. I have known couples of one gender that adopted children years ago and have had happy and well-adjusted sons and daughters. It is not easy for us culturally to adept to a new concept of “family” after thousands of years. Same sex mother and father will be integrated into our society as did other not readily acceptable concepts in the past.

  5. Woohoo! Can’t wait to go and see that. I talk to my daughter all the time about how families can be different, and she has mentioned already that she wants to date girls when she is older (cause boys are icky and smelly) and she wants to marry me, haha! I don’t know if that is any indication of her sexual orientation at this point or if she simply really thinks that boys are icky, but I am okay with it either way and glad that she can grow up in a home where we are so open about things.

    Side note- my mom HATES Disney movies for the lack of moms. I have to make her watch Brave!

  6. I think it’s great, no matter what their motivation behind making the movie, it’s nice that children from “different types of families” are finally being represented in pop culture, and hopefully that will give way to more acceptance from their peers or their peers’ bigoted parents.

  7. Pingback: Just who or what are The Boxtrolls? #THEBOXTROLLS

  8. It’s never too early to talk to your kids about *anything.* When they ask, they’re old enough (or they may not overtly ask but when you see consternation as they try to riddle out the world around them). Use age-appropriate language and you’ve got a healthy kid.

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