The Mom’s Beat: Robin William’s portrayal of divorce struck a chord among the many laughs

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As we all reflect on the enormous body of work that actor and comedian Robin Williams leaves behind after his death this week, it’s hard to choose a favorite performance. However, the movie that stayed with me long after the expected laughter subsided was “Mrs. Doubtfire.”

Williams’ character Daniel, a father of three, tries to find a way to stay connected with his kids as he goes through divorce proceedings with his wife, played by Sally Field. Undoubtedly funny throughout, of course, the story more significantly resonated with me as an honest account of the emotions children and parents experience as they navigate the rollercoaster of divorce.

Released in 1993 as my parents were heading to their eventual divorce a few years later, I found solace in the realities presented in the movie. Not everything is a fairytale. Couples don’t always reconcile as other movies show. But it’s alright. I appreciated the film’s honesty, which is always what Williams was able to deliver in any of his performances, both dramatic and comedic.

When the parents in the film ended up going their own ways, it personified what was ahead for my own family.  This is the magic of movies: to find a piece of yourself in the story.

My parents divorced as amicably as I believe possible after 20-plus years of marriage. Their soul-searching decision to not stay in a broken relationship taught me many things, but mostly I learned that their love for me and my brother endures, regardless of whether we were still able to have holidays together or whether or not we lived in the same home.

 Williams’ and Field’s tender representation of these characters laid out this message clearly, and I am truly grateful for it.

In one of the most poignant scenes toward the end of the movie, Mrs. Doubtfire reads a letter from a viewer explaining how her parents are divorcing. The girl asks Mrs. Doubtfire how she can get them back together, to which Williams’ character responds:

 “Oh, my dear Katie. You know, some parents, when they're angry, they get along much better when they don't live together. They don't fight all the time, and they can become better people, and much better mummies and daddies for you. And sometimes they get back together. And sometimes they don't, dear. And if they don't, don't blame yourself. Just because they don't love each other anymore, doesn't mean that they don't love you. There are all sorts of different families, Katie. Some families have one mommy, some families have one daddy, or two families. And some children live with their uncle or aunt. Some live with their grandparents, and some children live with foster parents. And some live in separate homes, in separate neighborhoods, in different areas of the country – and they may not see each other for days, or weeks, months... even years at a time. But if there's love, dear... those are the ties that bind, and you'll have a family in your heart, forever. All my love to you, poppet, you're going to be all right.”

by Laura Stetser by Laura Stetser Laura Stetser is a full-time reporter and mother of two school-age children. Get more parenting news by connecting with her on Facebook and Twitter @TheMomsBeat. You can contact her directly at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Read more of The Mom’s Beat HERE.


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