Healing the Generational Trauma

How Children’s Films are being more Open to Sensitive Topics


Picture provided on the website “MindSite News” in the article “Intergenerational Trauma and Healing: Why Disney’s Encanto Resonates with Latinx First-Gens”

Over the past few years, there has been a greater normalization of coping and/or healing with mental health. 

With this, generational trauma (trauma that has had psychological effects through generations in a certain group) has become a more normalized topic amongst people, and therefore has been made more mainstream. 

Examples of this are shown through newer children’s films being more open to show more “relatable” and/or “difficult” topics that can furthermore destigmatize this topic.

Films such as Disney’s Encanto and Disney Pixar’s Turning Red show how a harm done to the authority/head figure in a family still affected younger characters.

In Encanto the figure that commences the line of generational trauma is the grandmother of the family, Abuela, after having lost not only her home, but also her husband to conquistadors. After a miracle saved Abuela and her children, and gifted the children magical powers, Abuela pushed her children to be the saviors of their new home. This weight of trying to be enough for Abuela and the town is not only held by Abuela’s children, but also her grandchildren. Finally, after Mirabel, born without powers, confronts Abuela for being hard on the family, she learns about the true story of her grandfather’s passing. After this, the resolution of the film is being able to heal from the tragic event that happened to Abuela, and forgiving the traumatic treatment of being pressured to be “enough.” 

Likewise, the movie Turning Red explores generational trauma through the main character of the film, Mei, being placed in a position to try and reach the expectations of her mother. After confronting her mother for putting too much pressure on her, Mei realizes that the reason her mother is the way she is, is because of her own mother, Mei’s grandmother. 

These films are just two out of a progression of recent children’s films that are not afraid of speaking on what may be seen as a difficult subject. Though receiving some backlash from critics, as well as some other viewers, Disney has been praised for being able to speak on the topic. Through the deeper message, both adults and kids have been able to not only enjoy the films, but are also able to find comfort in them when relating to the topics discussed. 

“The message of familial generational trauma is striking a major chord for people across all demographics,” according to Disney’s ‘Encanto’ and the Exploration of Generational Trauma by Britt Cannon.