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12 Children's Movies Where Parents Lived Through A Nightmare While Their Kids Had An Adventure

Updated March 5, 2020 566 votes 84 voters 2.3k views12 items

List RulesVote up the movies where the parents must be worried sick.

Watching movies as a kid, it seems natural for children to be the stars of the show. However, rewatching these films as an adult begs the question of why the parents in these movies weren't present or why they would approve of their children setting out on dangerous missions. In real life, your parents never would've let you get away with these wild adventures!

Some movie parents are irresponsible, while others are completely oblivious to the situation. In some cases, the parents aren't even shown in the film! In a kid's eyes, children really do rule the world and can make their own decisions, which is a bit risky to endorse considering how frantic their parents must be. For many adventurous children's films, the kids get to run off and have an exciting adventure while the parents are left behind with the nightmare of losing their kids. 

  • This film starts off as a nightmare for any parent: 12-year-old David falls down and knocks himself out in the woods. When he wakes up, he learns that 8 years have passed, and all the while, his parents had thought their son was deceased, so they are overjoyed to see him alive.

    However, David slips away from them yet again when he learns that his brain contains the star charts to complete the mission for a special ship. Once again, he goes off on a wild adventure, leaving his parents to worry even more.

    • Actors: Sarah Jessica Parker, Paul Reubens, Veronica Cartwright, Howard Hesseman, Cliff DeYoung
    • Released: 1986
    • Directed by: Randal Kleiser
    Parental nightmare?

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  • Parents always warn their kids to never talk to strangers, but they never say anything about befriending an alien. Elliott quickly bonds with a gentle extra-terrestrial he finds at his house, and he goes to extreme lengths to protect him.

    At first, his mother is very oblivious to the situation, despite her kids' odd - and obvious - behaviors. Things don't get much better once she finds out what's going on either. Sure, she knows why Elliott is so attached to E.T., but that wouldn't make the situation any less nightmarish when her son takes E.T. and runs away. Now, she just has to wait for him to get back from wherever the alien being guides him. Not to mention, she's left to deal with a very angry government branch.

    • Actors: Drew Barrymore, Erika Eleniak, Debra Winger, Robert MacNaughton, C. Thomas Howell
    • Released: 1982
    • Directed by: Steven Spielberg
    Parental nightmare?

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  • Bastian lives alone with his father in this film due to his mother's recent passing. Between his family's loss and being picked on, it's natural for a kid like him to want to escape into a storybook world, especially when there's an adorable dragon like Falkor.

    Fantasia is like Bastian's way to escape from his reality, but at first, he doesn't seem to consider what he's left behind. By entering this story, Bastian's poor father is left alone with no wife and now no son by his side.

    • Actors: Gerald McRaney, Limahl, Moses Gunn, Deep Roy, Alan Oppenheimer
    • Released: 1984
    • Directed by: Wolfgang Petersen
    Parental nightmare?
  • While the parents are welcome on this colorful adventure, they don't exactly see it the same way the kids do. Sure, a magical candy factory is full of excitement for a child, but for the adults, it starts to seem like a living nightmare.

    Whether it's falling into a chocolate river or turning into a blueberry, the kids slowly meet their fate. A place like this is full of hazards in any parent's eyes, yet the parents who tag along have to watch these frightening things occur right in front of them. And remember, they all willingly took part.

    • Actors: Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, Christopher Lee, AnnaSophia Robb, Freddie Highmore
    • Released: 2005
    • Directed by: Tim Burton
    Parental nightmare?

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