First of all, before you get all worked up, let me preface this by saying that I do NOT watch horror movies or gore movies with my kids. I may be a little weird in my cinematographic choices but I am not completely out of my mind!
We do however watch movies that aren’t typically recommended for preschoolers and kindergarten-aged children such as Harry Potter, Jurassic World, Coraline, Alice Through The Looking Glass, Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them, Lord of the Rings, etc.
And yes, my kids sleep well at night.
Let me tell you my reasoning and feel free to share your opinions in the comment section below.
First and foremost, I want my kids to learn about fear, but in a safe and secure environment. Just like joy, sadness, and anger, fear is a basic emotion that we all feel. There’s nothing wrong about it and we shouldn’t pretend it doesn’t exist. In fact, we, as humans, survived as long as we did because we didn’t blindly walk into a pack of saber tooth tigers, nor crossed that dangerous river, nor ate that brightly-colored frog. Fear is to tell us something could be dangerous. Just like when you see a scary dinosaur on screen, you’re supposed to feel some level of fear. But we also have to learn how to deal with it, how to talk about it, and how to push through it sometimes. I want to be there to help my children learn to do that. They trust me to guide them and reassure them, and slowly, they’ll learn to do that on their own. I’d much rather have them experience fear in our living room and know it’s okay, than freak out when it happens down the road and they don’t know how to react.
Second of all, not all movies are peachy and cute and everyone is happy all the time. Just like in life. I think showing them only the good parts make them forget that there are bad things in life. Of course I don’t want anything bad to happen to them but no matter how much I would want to shelter them, it’s going to happen. Seeing how heros, like Harry Potter and Alice, fight through all their obstacles can send a positive message that you can be resilient and grow through your life’s challenges. Also, I make a point to explain to them the intentions of the bad guys. People do things for a reason. Sometimes even the bad guys are driven by good intentions, from their perspective anyways. Maybe the bad guy has to do terrible things to protect his family. Maybe he is still very mad about something that happened to him a long time ago. I teach my children to look past their actions without excusing them, because that’s something we, as adults, have to try and do in our daily life to empathize with people around us.
Thirdly, I am a big movie fan and although I don’t have as much time as I did before to watch movies, I still try to make movies part of our family life. Nothing beats a Friday night with a good movie and good company! It’s nice to share my interest with my children and see their own interests develop. Sometimes, they like the movie more than I do, other times, it’s a hit with me while they don’t care much for it. We don’t go to the theater very often but nowadays, movies are readily accessible at home and they make for a cheap yet entertaining activity.
Lastly, people forget how much there is to learn from movies. Seriously! We talk a lot about what’s real, what isn’t. Can this mean guy show up at our door? Are dinosaurs real? Can we do magic too? Is there an army of mean orcs nearby? What would you do if you were stuck in this character’s position? Movies often become a stepping stone to find out more about a topic that the kids become interested in. After watching Jurassic World, we were busy for a few weeks learning about dinosaurs. How big they were, what they looked like, how they supposedly created them in the movie, how are fossils created, etc. It was a lot of fun and I know the kids learned a whole lot because there were relating everything to the movie we saw which made everything more concrete and tangible.
So, yes, I do watch movies that are considered scary for kids with my children. What about you? Are you more cautious about what you expose your children to? What movies did you enjoy watching as a family? Why?
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