Lights, Camera, Relax
There are many ways to relax and wind down with your kids after the end of a long week – whether that’s sports activities, cooking together, or going out for some fun activities to do around town.
But sometimes, spending quality time right at home and watching a movie that pulls at your heartstrings is just what you need to relax. Especially if you watch something that allows you to see your family life on screen, but in a different light. An empowering light.
TV and movies paint a narrative in our minds. The more single-parent households get a positive representation on screen, the more perceptions change. Society is so quick to label single-parent families – labels associated with pity, shame, or failure. It’s tough to live with that judgment. So sometimes, it’s nice to see a different perspective on the screen that shows how a single-parent family is still a family, a family that is empowering, powerful, and resilient.
And let’s face it, sometimes you as a single-parent warrior need to see some inspiration on screen. So, here are our top favorites:
- I Am Sam
This movie is about the resilience and unconditional love of a single father who will do anything to fight for his daughter. Sam Dawson (Sean Penn) is a mentally-impaired father whose whole world is his daughter, Lucy (Dakota Fanning). Lucy is an extraordinarily gifted child, with an intellect beyond her years. When the welfare organization found out that Lucy surpassed her father’s intellect and places her in a foster home, Sam decides to use the legal system to fight to get his daughter back. This movie will make you weep – so don’t sit to watch this one without a box of tissues!
- Erin Brockovich
Hard work, resilience. Courage. This movie, based on a true story, shows what a strong and independent force single mothers are and to what lengths they would go to balance their home and work. Erin Brockovich (Julia Roberts) is a single mother of three and asks her lawyer (Albert Finney) for an opportunity to work at his firm. She becomes a file clerk, and uses her skills to climb up the ladder and become an essential asset to the firm, even becoming a crucial pair of eyes in a case that involves scandal and deviousness. A must-watch for an exciting ride, and to see an empowering single mama in action.
A single mother (Juliette Binoche) and her six-year-old daughter move to a small, remote village in France to open up a chocolate shop. Through their adventure, they teach the rigid community about living life a new and sweeter way. A delightful movie about following your passions, and not allowing others’ judgements or criticism skew you from your dreams.
- My Girl
Harry Dultenfuss (Dan Aykroyd) is a single father who runs a funeral home. His daughter Vada (Anna Chlumsky) is a hypochondriac who constantly blames herself for the death of her mother, who died giving birth to her. The father-daughter duo live a secluded life until Harry meets a make-up expert, Shelly (Jamie Lee Curtis). Vada finds it difficult to cope with a new woman in her father’s life and spends most of her time with her best friend Thomas (Macaulay Culkin) but after time, Shelly becomes just what Vada needs to overcome grief and rediscoer herself.
- Sleepless in Seattle
This one allows us to peek into the mind of a child with a single parent. Jonah (Ross Mallinger) tunes into a radio talk show to declare his Christmas wish of finding a new wife for his grieving father, Sam Baldwin (Tom Hanks). A woman named Annie (Meg Ryan), who’s listening to the radio show miles and miles away is intrigued by Jonah’s innocent wish and decides to meet Sam, even though she is already engaged. A must-see for an emotional roller coaster and a heartfelt tribute to the sensitivity and thoughtfulness of children for their single parents.
- The Babadook
Be warned, this one is a horror movie, but it is still quite powerful in its message. This movie is about a grieving mother (Essie Davis) who is finding it difficult to raise her son, who is extremely energetic and full of big emotions. This movie depicts the darkness that often overcomes single parents in their plight to be both father and mother. It shows how to overcome that darkness to find your groundings and the inner strength to protect, provide, and love.
- Little Man Tate
Jodie Foster stars as a single mother raising her son Tate (Adam Hann-Byrd) who is gifted beyond his years. His intelligence often ostracizes him socially. Though the story focuses more on Tate navigating his way through childhood and balancing his intelligence with the real world, it also shows how being a single mother to a gifted child can be challenging. A sweet film, and a must-see.
This is a suspenseful film about a single mother (Angelina Jolie) whose son mysteriously goes missing. When the cops “find” her son, she claims the child returned to her is not her son, and vocalizes the criminal act of the police to close a case that was never truly solved. Based on a true story, this movie will leave you restless and also show the extent a mother will go to find her son.
- Jerry Maguire
Jerry Maguire (Tom Cruise) is a sports agent who suddenly has a moral awakening and crisis of conscience which he sends out as a company-wide memo, ending up getting him fired. He starts his own firm with single mother Dorothy Boyd (Renee Zellweger), and they both work to make dreams a reality. A heartfelt romantic comedy that is a gem of a movie.
This one is a bit disturbing, be warned. But this movie depicts the lengths a mother will go to protect and love her child unconditionally, no matter the circumstances. Joy (Brie Larson) is kidnapped and raped at the age of 19 by a stranger (Sean Bridgers) and is held against her will at the kidnapper’s residence. She gave birth to a son (Jacob Tremblay) who she has vowed to protect. Despite the disturbing atmosphere nd ongoing trauma, Joy makes it her living purpose to teach her son about the world, even in the small confines of a room. And gives her boy her everything, no matter the odds.
These are a few of our favourites, stories that are meant to make us laugh, shed a tear, and be inspired to fight for what matters the most – our children. So go ahead, grab some popcorn and a blanket, and relax with a movie.
What are some of your favourites?