Movie Night and Media Standards

My children are movie buffs.  We try to work it into our homeschool as often as possible. We read books and then we have a movie night.  I find movies and documentaries that go along with our studies, and show them as we complete units.

We don’t just restrict our movie viewing our our schooling either.  Emalee works very hard to make sure that we have a multitude of movies to choose from for our viewing pleasure.

In fact, sometimes she works so hard at it that it bothers me.  For example, one day she said, “I can’t wait until I’m sixteen so that I can quit doing schoolwork and sit on the couch and watch Netflix all day.”  I had to very quickly tell her that it wouldn’t be my couch.

Movie night

I also sometimes worry that the movies that we watch introduce problematic ideas into our house.  Case in point.  She has this deep love of romantic movies, such as the ones she sees on Hallmark.  Thinking about that, I might try to show her something like 10 Things I Hate About You. Of course, as I saw all the suggestiveness and crudity on that movie that I forgot about, I found myself regretting the decision to show her that movie.

Yet, many times we love the stories we watch and we enjoy the time spent together.  However, as with all good things, there seems to be an amount of bad things that tries to travel with it.  Guess that’s just part of living in a fallen world and dealing with the sin within us.

Like all good parents, I find myself constantly in a position of censoring and trying to protect, but to prepare as well.  It’s a difficult balance.  I was recently reading Meg Cabot’s Royal Wedding, and I found a quote in it that made me think.  This quote was:

But kids whose parents shield them from the truth–censoring their reading material, lying to them about who their parents really are, cushioning them from every possible blow–are the ones who tend to get hurt the worst once they get out into the real world. . . not because the truth is so awful, but because they haven’t been taught the skills they need to handle it.

I found this quote problematic on a couple of levels.

The first thing is that every parent shelters their child from some part of the world. I didn’t believe that was true until I had children, and I realized that, even if I tell them and expose them to so many things, that there are things that they are not emotionally ready for until they reach a certain age.

The second thing is that sheltering is not the same as not teaching your child about the world and how it works.  No matter how you shelter them, they are a sinner on the inside and you are too.  They will never be able to completely be sheltered from the world unless you move to a commune somewhere far, far away from civilization.  Even then, they will have to learn about their own indwelling sin and yours too!

Ironically, this book comes from the eleventh Princess Diary book.  It’s an adult book written for those teens who grew up reading the young adult Princess Diary series.  Ironically, I began reading The Princess Diaries   to see if was appropriate for my ten year old to read, and ended up being charmed enough by the series to read all eleven books.

On the other hand, I decided that Emalee could read some of the books in middle school and that other books would have to wait until high school.  After the first four or five books, there’s just too much discussion of sex and whether or not Princess Mia should have it with her boyfriend to recommend the later books for middle school children.

After I finished reading Royal Wedding, I put a post-it note on it with 16. That is Emalee’s signal that she won’t be reading the book until she is at least 16.  Protecting my daughter from material that she isn’t emotionally ready for yet is not irresponsible, as the author suggests, but is instead just good parenting.


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