Why Disney's Beautiful New Short Far From The Tree Will Hit Home With Every Parent

Who knew a family of raccoons could teach us so much?

If you have seven minutes to spare and are looking for some deeply meaningful insight into parenting, do yourself a favor and watch Disney’s new short Far From The Tree. The seven-minute short was featured before the Disney feature film Encanto, and much like Encanto itself, Far From The Tree manages to dig deep into some difficult family dynamics. Without saying a single word.

Far From The Tree Delves Into Parents’ Fears & Protectiveness

Far From The Tree creator Natalie Nourigat delved into different styles of parenting and what it looks like to break harmful cycles. Set in the Pacific Northwest, the animated short sees a young raccoon following an adult raccoon who is presumably their parent onto a stretch of beach just beyond the forest. The curious little raccoon wants to explore the beach but the adult, who is missing an eye and always frowning, won’t allow it. Clearly frightened about what could happen to the small raccoon but that protectiveness comes across as anger. As the little raccoon tries to play with puffins, dig for clams, and listen to the waves inside a seashell, they are pushed back into a cave over and over. The viewer sees why when the little raccoon comes across a coyote and gets injured before being rescued.

And What It Looks Like To Break Harmful Cycles...

That raccoon becomes an adult with its own baby, and we see the cycle of protectiveness continue. Until they realize they are scaring the little raccoon, and eventually learn to keep it safe by showing them the coyote and allowing them to help under their watchful eye. Far From The Tree is a moving depiction of how a parent’s fear can affect their child, and what it looks like when that child learns to break the cycle by living with fear instead of allowing it to overcome them.

The short is based on Nourigat thinking about parenting and her own observations. “It was based on something really personal — growing up in Oregon, going to the beach with my family and how special it was just to all be together. I'm reaching my mid-30s and wondering if I'm ever going to bring a little person to the beach ... just thinking about parenting and how complicated it is,” Nourigat told NPR. “Seeing some of my friends go through that and their struggles with what do they want to repeat? What do they not want to repeat? And realizing, when they actually get there, how difficult it is and understanding a bit more what their parents might have been going through with them.”

How To Watch Far From The Tree

‘Far From The Tree’ is a lovely Disney short.

Far From The Tree is available as a stand-alone short for streaming on Disney+, or it can be seen in theaters at the beginning of Encanto.

Both Encanto and Far From The Tree look at family dynamics from a new lens. The Disney short is all about trying to relearn old patterns, accepting danger as part of your life as a parent, and finding a better path if the one you experienced as a child left you scarred. Raccoons. Apparently they’ve learned the secret.