Please make this pregnant lady cry
October 14, 2013 11:01 AM   Subscribe

Can you recommend me some fiction, comics, and movies that are parenting positive--especially mom-positive?

I mostly read young adult fiction, but since my pregnancy, I've been craving media that depicts parents--especially moms--in a positive light. My tastes run genre/geeky/commercial (not always the best for showing happy parent/child relationships!), and so far Saga, Kill Bill, and the movie Waitress have made me cry happy, sloppy, pregnant lady tears. Any other suggestions that might scratch this itch?
posted by PhoBWanKenobi to Media & Arts (38 answers total) 23 users marked this as a favorite
posted by royalsong at 11:03 AM on October 14, 2013 [8 favorites]

Wreck-It Ralph, surprisingly. It's more Dad-centric, as the parental figure is male, but it had me tearing up the first time I saw it.
posted by Rock Steady at 11:03 AM on October 14, 2013 [5 favorites]

Not exactly what you're asking for but, PFLAG.
posted by latkes at 11:19 AM on October 14, 2013

Friday Night Lights, which is not so much about football at all but rather about how Coach and Mizz Taylor are are the Parents America Needs Now
posted by sestaaak at 11:23 AM on October 14, 2013 [2 favorites]

Oddly, Stepmom.
posted by DarlingBri at 11:31 AM on October 14, 2013 [2 favorites]

Joe Hill's excellent horror novel NOS4A2 has a kickass little girl in it who becomes a kickass (but troubled) Mom.
posted by Rock Steady at 11:32 AM on October 14, 2013

The Good Wife. Not super genre, but fantastic in how it handles family and motherhood.
posted by Narrative Priorities at 11:38 AM on October 14, 2013

Have you read Where'd You Go, Bernadette yet?

It's older, and there are certainly more mixed portrayals of motherhood in it, but Amy Tan's Joy Luck Club (movie or book) would make you cry.

A few young adult books with good motherhood/parenting angles, harder to find though:

The Changeover
Things Invisible to See
Sister Water
posted by gladly at 11:48 AM on October 14, 2013 [1 favorite]

I watched The Croods with my five-year-old niece last weekend and found it surprisingly touching and entertaining*. Like Wreck-It Ralph, it's a little more dad-centric.

*and it made me cry sloppy pregnant lady tears.
posted by trunk muffins at 11:54 AM on October 14, 2013

I Remember Mama, both book and movie.
posted by Ideefixe at 12:25 PM on October 14, 2013

Oh, I just remembered Room. I've gotta say, though, if you haven't read it yet I might wait until you are more emotionally stable. It's a rough ride even without being under the influence of a teeny bebeh.
posted by Rock Steady at 12:34 PM on October 14, 2013

The parents in Easy A are my favorite on-screen parents ever.
posted by Meg_Murry at 12:54 PM on October 14, 2013 [11 favorites]

The Harry Potter books stand out to me among genre fiction as YA/children's fiction with really great adult role models in them. Harry's a traditional Orphan Making His Way Alone, but the adults in the Potterverse are interesting, complex, caring people who have a three-dimensionality to their personalities that's unusual in YA fiction. Remus Lupin and the Weasleys (of course) stand out to me as excellent parents or parent-surrogates. (Molly Weasley in book 7 at the end there makes me cry SO HARD I always have to stop reading to get myself together.)

"Parenthood" is my husband and my favorite parenting show, and it's always starting discussions with us about how we would have handled X, Y, or Z. But I think it's a really sympathetic portrayal of the complexity of parenting and how imperfect people struggle to be good parents and good spouses and good people.

My Neighbor Totoro has good parents and good parenting, and extra bonus points for having a gentle, involved, loving dad!
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 1:15 PM on October 14, 2013 [3 favorites]

Of course the classics of female coming-of-age literature, Little Women (book and 1994 Susan Sarandon feminist Marmee kick-ass movie version) and Anne of Green Gables, which has lots of different types and sorts of mothers and an infinite quantity of female relationships and mother/daughter relationships. Books 5 & 6 focus on Anne becoming a mother and mothering her children; books 7 & 8 focus on the children and you see Anne through their eyes. (Book 1, in particular, focuses on Anne finding a mother in Marilla; Book 2, Davy and Dora arrive and Anne does some proto-mothering).

It does always stand out when someone writes a happy family well, doesn't it? (I guess happy families are all alike, Tolstoy, so people don't write about them.) Tamora Pierce's "Protector of the Small" series has good parenting in Kelandry's parents, although we don't see a whole lot of them.

I read a novel called "The English American," which is about a British girl who is adopted who goes and finds her American birth mom. Her birth mom is a difficult person, but the British girl's easy and loving relationship with her adoptive mom really stood out for me in the story, and has stuck in my mind, even though it was a pretty light novel overall.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 1:29 PM on October 14, 2013

How about old TV? One of the things I really loved about the tv show MEDIUM was the portrayal of the parents' relationship. They're not perfect, they misstep, they have hot buttons, differing priorities, etc. But they consistently resolve their problems with love and work and I can't recall a single time where a plot point turned on needing one of the characters to fail to ask the question any sensible person in a real relationship would... often every week.

(We need a proper term for this 'art' which is the relationship version of Ebert's "idiot plot." It's something that Parenthood does that I find maddening; sorry Eyebrows!)

Parenting plays a big part in the "I Am Not A Serial Killer" trilogy by Dan Wells. And it's YA targeted, so double bonus points for you. Mom's not the primary character but she's a big factor and again, makes mistakes in ways that don't seem to exist just because they need to be there. The last "main" entry in Scalzi's Old Man's War trilogy - Last Colony - focuses on parents.
posted by phearlez at 1:34 PM on October 14, 2013

Raising Arizona
posted by phunniemee at 1:53 PM on October 14, 2013 [2 favorites]

The season of Parenthood is doing good things with: a mom struggling with her newborn, a mom struggling with her young daughter's engagement and a mom struggling with her adopted son's integration into his family/school.

I watched the first few seasons at all hours while nursing my newborn last year, and I found it well worth my time.
posted by smalls at 1:56 PM on October 14, 2013

Antonia's Line
posted by Sublimity at 2:06 PM on October 14, 2013 [1 favorite]

Movies: Raising Arizona, The Iron Giant, Chocolat, Coraline, Moonrise Kingdom (mom didn't make all the best decisions, but that made her more realistic), Finding Neverland (warning, this might cause a flood).
Books: My Latest Grievance by Elinor Lipman. It's more about the teenage daughter, but I liked the parents. Similarly, I recommend other books in which the parents aren't the focus of the story but are funny/quirky supporting characters who love their children, such as The Spellman Files and the Walsh family books by Marian Keyes (start with Watermelon).
TV: I completely agree with recommendations for Parenthood and Gilmore Girls.
posted by kbar1 at 2:18 PM on October 14, 2013

Also as a deeply pregnant lady, I recently rewatched the documentary "Babies" and found myself bawling most of the way through it. i think as a non-parent I watched it marvelling at the babies themselves - as an impending parent, all I see is the love of the parents cocooning each baby even when they're not in the frame.
posted by sestaaak at 3:01 PM on October 14, 2013 [2 favorites]

The Blind Side
posted by forforf at 3:48 PM on October 14, 2013 [2 favorites]

Girl in Translation is another positive mom book.
posted by kbar1 at 4:12 PM on October 14, 2013

I just watched Butter and really liked the foster parent characters (it starts with bad ones but it's a brief wacky montage sequence.)

I find My Neighbor Totoro much more disturbing as a parent, since a major plot line involves the mom's recovery from tuberculosis and the kids' emotional fallout. But it's a "every character is a beautiful human" sort of movie. And I cry at it even non-pregnant.
posted by tchemgrrl at 4:40 PM on October 14, 2013

I also came to recommend The Good Wife, which has one of the most subtle and complex portrayals of parenting that I've ever seen on TV.
posted by medusa at 5:26 PM on October 14, 2013

Oh my god, Edith Wharton's The Old Maid (public domain - link is to the story) still makes me cry every time.
posted by Mchelly at 6:35 PM on October 14, 2013

Are you okay with some tension as to how it all it works out (but it all works out)? If so, the kick-ass moms/"moms" of Aliens, Poltergeist and The Long Kiss Goodnight may do it for you.
posted by Morrigan at 6:36 PM on October 14, 2013

Dan in Real Life is pretty damn awesome in depicting a quietly average life in many ways. Love Dan's parents in particular.
posted by zizzle at 6:50 PM on October 14, 2013

Mary McDonnell in Donnie Darko makes me cry basically every time. "How does it feel to have a wacko for a son?" "It feels wonderful."
posted by Errant at 7:04 PM on October 14, 2013 [3 favorites]

I loved Babies, the documentary. It doesn't have a plot per se, but you see lots of parental interaction, and it's beautifully shot. These are all real parents etc and it shows some cool cultural differences. Fun movie.
posted by smoke at 8:34 PM on October 14, 2013

Wolf Children
posted by frizz at 10:25 PM on October 14, 2013

Dumbo. I mean, I probably wouldn't watch the whole thing, but who doesn't cry at this scene?
posted by daisystomper at 12:08 AM on October 15, 2013

Brave is a wonderfully Mom-affirming film from Pixar, making a refreshing change (hooray!) over the usual no-Mom-at-all fairy tale stuff. Starts out with a rebellious daughter and a weary Mom clashing over proprieties and develops to shared empathy.
posted by misha at 11:43 AM on October 15, 2013

(Oops! Seconding royal song!)
posted by misha at 11:44 AM on October 15, 2013

Oh, wait, you MUST see Ponyo! It's so sweet! And the Mom, voiced by Tina Fey, is great.

Also some classic great-Mom movies: Steel Magnolias, the movie Parenthood (Dianne Wiest!), ET, The Iron Giant.

Classic great-Moms on TV: The Gilmore Girls, Claire Huxtable from the Cosby Show, Shirley Partridge from The Partridge Family.

A very old classic with a lovely Mom, and lots of happy/sad tears: Mrs. Miniver.
posted by misha at 12:09 PM on October 15, 2013 [1 favorite]

Surprised no one has mentioned the Incredibles. The protagonist is ostensibly Mr. Incredible, but who could beat such a caring, smart, capable, kick-ass, wonderful mom as Elastigirl?
posted by robot-hugs at 8:11 PM on October 15, 2013 [1 favorite]

Might sound a bit odd, but for TV, Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles. Parenthood in its various aspects is a theme that runs throughout the show, sometimes in strange forms (not all the children are human, and not all the parents are either). This results in some peculiar and wonderful things, like the Terminators-in-family-therapy episode ("The Tower Is Tall, But The Fall Is Short").
posted by McCoy Pauley at 7:50 AM on October 16, 2013 [1 favorite]

The New Avengers issues by Bendis and others featuring Luke Cage, Jessica Jones and their baby Danielle. Big brawny Cage is apprehensive about screwing up the kid. Jessica is protective and learning how to be a working mom on a superhero team. I've only read a few issues of New Avengers, so I don't know if they end up with an enraged superchild later.
posted by dragonplayer at 7:57 AM on October 17, 2013

Cordelia's Honor by Lois McMaster Bujold is about falling in love (first half) and becoming a parent (second half). The becoming a parent part is really neat because it approaches it through several characters in different ways.
posted by Margalo Epps at 6:13 PM on December 29, 2013

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