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10 Worst Movie Moms

CBR logo CBR 8/9/2022 Micaela Kreuzwieser

Many on-screen mothers are great characters who love their children and do everything they can to support, encourage, and raise them. However, there are also many mothers in film who are not great examples of caregivers.

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Instead of prioritizing their children's well-being, certain movie moms are only mothers in name. They care more about themselves and their interests. At best, they view their kids solely as extensions of themselves. At worst, they inflict neglect, emotional abuse, and attempted murder on their undeserving offspring. There are plenty of movie moms who stand out for being the worst parents.

Margaret White Controls Her Daughter (Carrie)

The titular character of Carrie already has a rough time at school due to her outsider status and being bullied. However, Carrie's return home after the bathroom incident shows that she gets no reprieve or comfort from Margaret. Not only did Margaret not inform her daughter of menstruation, but she also shames her daughter for experiencing it and locks her in the closet as punishment.

Despite claiming to be religious, Margaret skews religious passages for her own agenda and to keep Carrie under control. When her daughter breaks free by exposing her own telekinetic abilities and going to the prom, Margaret waits for her to return and plans to kill her.

Mother Gothel Sequesters Rapunzel Away From The World For Her Hair (Tangled)

Mother Gothel of Disney's Tangled already makes a bad mother since she abducted Rapunzel from her biological parents for her healing hair. To prevent Rapunzel from leaving, Gothel isolates her in a woodland tower and uses scare tactics and emotional manipulation to make Rapunzel fear the outside world.

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Although there are moments that hint Gothel may care for Rapunzel more than she lets on, her true priorities come to the forefront after Rapunzel leaves with Flynn. By the climax, the flower's healing magic takes precedence over any kind of bond as Gothel schemes to force Rapunzel home. Gothel even goes so far as to nearly kill the man Rapunzel loves.

Ruth Burdens Rose With An Unwanted Marriage For Money And Status (Titanic)

Ruth DeWitt Bukater of Titanic is something of a sympathetic character, as her husband's death left her with a difficult situation. Nevertheless, the way she handles her circumstances removes any sympathy as she foists an arranged marriage on her daughter Rose for her own benefit. Along with arranging for Rose to marry an entitled and abusive man, Ruth restricts her daughter.

Ruth forces Rose into the life she believes is best. The scene where Ruth tightens Rose's corset parallels her attempts to control her daughter. She even forbids Rose from seeing Jack again, reminds her of their debt, and guilt-trips Rose to ensure she stays on task.

Erica Sayers Infantilizes Her Adult Daughter (Black Swan)

In the psychological thriller Black Swan, Erica Sayers has an unhealthy relationship with her daughter Nina, who's struggling with the pressures of being a ballerina for the New York City Ballet company. While Nina is preparing for her role in Swan Lake, Erica treats her like a child.

Erica seems to foster a toxic emotional dependency where Nina has no privacy and is afraid to upset her mom by making the "wrong" decision. Overall, Erica's toxic tendencies raise some very uncomfortable implications, though they are never shown on screen. All of this makes Nina's resounding declaration that she is moving out of their shared living space empowering and liberating.

Scarlett Beauregarde Unhealthily Encourages Violet's Competitiveness (Charlie And The Chocolate Factory)

While it is good to encourage a child's talents, Scarlett Beauregarde from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory does it to the extreme by pushing Violet to view life as a competition. Violet spends all her time trying to be the best and doesn't have any time for other important things such as friendship, relationships, or creativity.

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Along with building Violet's identity around being a "winner," Scarlett demonstrates a shallow, materialistic mindset. When Violet becomes a giant blueberry at Willy Wonka's factory, Scarlett's immediate concern is that she can't compete. Then, when Violet is saved and uses her new flexibility, all Scarlett cares about is that her daughter is blue, not that she's alive.

Mama Fratelli Is Horrible To Her Sons (The Goonies)

Mama Fratelli of The Goonies has a skewed moral compass as the leader of the Fratelli crime family. While she hurts many people in her criminal activities, her three sons also experience mistreatment from her. She thinks nothing of sending them into danger ahead of herself and berates them constantly for not acting to her expectations.

However, her third son, Sloth, receives the worst neglect. Sloth is kept chained in a basement and his food is kept slightly out of reach, ensuring that he couldn't eat. Therefore, it's unsurprising when Sloth turns against his family once he's freed and aids Chunk and his friends.

Corinne Poisons Her Children To Get Her Inheritance (Flowers In The Attic)

Corrine Dollenganger begins Flowers in the Attic as a sympathetic character who's left in debt after her husband passes away, so she returns to her family home to win over her father and be put back in his will. She keeps her kids in the attic and away from her father for over a year, and slowly becomes obsessed with her family's lifestyle. When she visits her children in the attic, she is oblivious to their suffering and appears unbothered by her son's death.

Shockingly, the end of Flowers in the Attic shows that Corrine was the person who poisoned the children's food, which killed Corey. Ultimately, Corinne only cares about herself and sees her children as obstacles to getting her inheritance.

Zinnia Wormwood Ignores And Neglects Her Intelligent Child (Matilda)

The main character of Matilda is kind, plucky, and a genius to boot. This makes it more disheartening when her awful family constantly ignores her in favor of their self-absorbed tendencies. While Matilda's father Harry gets more focus, her mother Zinnia is no better.

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Zinnia prefers bingo and game shows to caring for her children, leaves her newborn baby in the car after returning from the hospital, and shows no recognition of or interest in Matilda's intellect. Zinnia's final scene sees her confess that she never understood Matilda. She then signs away her parental rights to Miss Honey, which is arguably the only moment in the movie where Zinnia does anything for Matilda's benefit.

The Other Mother Lures Coraline In With An Ideal Family But Has Dark Motives (Coraline)

Irritated at her parents' distance after their troublesome move, the protagonist of Coraline explores and falls into another dimension. Here, she meets copies of her parents who cater to her desires and act like the loving family she craves.

The Other Mother is eerie, despite being on her best behavior at first. The Other Mother's stereotypical motherly actions toward Coraline are designed to draw the child in until she wants to stay. When this happens, the Other Mother intends to sew button eyes on Coraline and devour her soul as the Belden, a fate inflicted upon many unfortunate children before Coraline.

Rodmilla Mistreats Danielle And Admits She Never Loved Her (Ever After)

As the stepmother figure in a Cinderella retelling, Rodmilla from Ever After is rather nasty. Officially titled Baroness Rodmilla de Ghent, she marries Danielle's father and shows disdain toward the child she was supposed to be a good mother to. Rodmilla blatantly favors her daughter Marguerite over Danielle and Jacqueline, and turns her stepdaughter into a servant.

Rodmilla's deplorable actions include forcing Danielle to give her mother's shoes to Marguerite, humiliating Danielle in court, and selling her stepdaughter in servitude. To really hammer in her coldness, after Danielle questions whether Rodmilla ever loved her, she responds with, "How could anyone love a pebble in their shoe?"

NEXT: 10 Best Disney Movie Parents

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