“The Lion King”: A Trigger Warning for Fatherless Kids

The Lion King – Featuring the voices of James Earl Jones as Mufasa, and JD McCrary as Young Simba © 2019 Disney Enterprises

I’ve never been a Disney-movie mom. My kids haven’t seen any of the Disney movies I grew up watching. So when the new “The Lion King” movie came out this week, I wanted to show my kids the original version first. I haven’t heard super great reviews of the new CGI version, so I wanted them to see the cartoon that started it all. Well, it’s been at least 20 years since I’ve watched “The Lion King,” so I forgot about the emotions that the movie stirs up, particularly when Mufasa dies and Simba loses his daddy. I’m working from home today, and my kids are here so I put on “The Lion King.” We reached the part where Simba’s daddy dies, and my kids are speechless. My son started sucking his thumb, which he does when he’s trying to comfort himself. My daughter said, “I don’t like this movie.” My son then turned to me and said, “Who’s going to raise him (Simba) now? His mom?” Oh no. I wasn’t ready.

My son watching Simba cope with his dad’s death.

It’s been six years since the death of my husband. He died before my daughter was born, and my son was two years old at the time. I’m engaged to be married again, so they’ve had a father figure in their lives for three years. My children probably talk about death more than other children because of what happened to their biological father, but I didn’t think they would immediately make the connection of Mufasa’s death to our situation. This is why I think “The Lion King” should have a trigger warning for fatherless children. If you’re a widow or widower and you have young children and plan on seeing the new “The Lion King,” be prepared for the deep conversations during the movie after Simba loses his daddy. Be prepared for tears. If your children aren’t ready to watch it, don’t make them. I don’t know how emotional the new movie is, but Mufasa’s death in the first one is very emotional.

I remember the fall of 2013, a few months after my husband died, I went to the movies to see “The Best Man Holiday.” I didn’t know one of the main characters would lose his wife to cancer leaving her children behind. I cried for 30 minutes after that movie. My mom had to comfort me in the car. Our fatherless little ones may experience something similar if you don’t prepare them to watch “The Lion King.” Just a heads up from one widowed parent to another.

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