How Do I Explain This One To My Kids?

Recently, I’ve been reading a lot of posts from friends who have watched interesting movies with their young children. One had watched Star Wars. Another had watched Indiana Jones. All of these movies were watched by children under the age of five….

I read on Facebook that a friend’s son “shared his love of adventure” as they watched Indiana Jones together.  I forget which one, but his son is 4 or 5 years old.  This caught my eye as I had just asked my 5-year-old AJ, if he knew who Indiana Jones was.  AJ answered no, I replied “you will.”  Indiana Jones, Star Wars, Harry Potter, Transformers, the Saw movies; I want to share all of these movies I love with my kids.  But not at 5 years old as I don’t know how to explain these things to him yet.

As parents we want to control what our kids view. They are already exposed to more violence just in some of the TV they watch and definitely in the video games they play and any exposure to the internet.

  • At what age are they mentally equipped to grasp death and consequences of violence?
  • If they are, should we allow them to view movies like this?
  • If we do, what are we doing to make sure they understand what they’re watching?

Each of the movies in the Indiana Jones trilogy (yes it’s a trilogy) are all rated PG or PG-13.  Parental Guidance needs to go so much further than just saying to one’s self “yea, he’s old enough.”   I know that when I was 8 years old I saw “The Exorcist” and in no way was I prepared for what I saw then and I don’t think that my parents would have known what to say about it had they known I watched it.

I promise that I’m not preaching that it’s the fault of Hollywood or MTV to restructure how they make movies because of our impressionable children.  This isn’t the 80’s.  Rather, I’m more concerned as we all are, about the random violence that is increasingly present in our society.

Last night I sat down to watch a movie, The Dark Knight Rises.  I got about an hour in and when I saw I had another hour and 50 minutes to go, I turned it off.  I was kind of into it but was rather turned off as I couldn’t help but think about what happened in Aurora, CO last year on the release of this movie.  This was a horrifying ordeal for people who just went to the premiere of a greatly anticipated movie.   When I first heard about what happened, I thought of how this will cause the city to become tainted just as Columbine did in 1999.  Shortly after, there was another great loss of life involving children being killed in Newtown, CT.  Newtown now falls into that category.

These incidents are becoming more and more frequent and as you know people have written about each incident many, many times over.

I have chosen to write about this as there was another incident on a smaller scale where I live in Greenville, NC one week ago today.  This was less than 6 blocks from my house.  There are a lot of details coming out about this shooting but the gunman was wielding a rifle, shot an insurance adjuster who was just sitting in his car, walked across the street to where there was a Toys R Us, tried to go in, but found that the doors were locked as the nearby Applebee’s employee had called over there to warn them.  Thank goodness this man was not able to enter the toy store where I have taken my kids numerous times.  He continued through the parking lot shared with Wal-Mart and shot a total of 4 people and a few cars.  Fortunately everyone is in stable condition.  He had a shoot-out with Greenville police who took him down, alive.

For the real story:  http://www.reflector.com/crimerescue/work-program-describes-suspect-2089711

I’m following closely on this one as he lived in the apartment complex near my neighborhood and it terrifies me that it was a random incident about a kid who couldn’t take it anymore.  If he was not subdued any sooner, he had over 100 shells in his bag and had planned to do so much more damage and cause much more harm than what he did.  Not to be taken lightly, some of the injuries were very serious but he is in police custody where he belongs.

This is so upsetting.  Luckily at the time I was with my entire family at the boys’ school/church when it happened.  But innocent people are afraid.  They’re hoarding guns and breaking out their bad ass attitudes to psyche themselves up for this situation.  But they’re random acts, and innocent people are getting shot.  When compared to the plot of a movie, these incidents have no joy for anyone involved.  Someone acts out, shoots people, ends lives and tears lives apart, including their own.  The end.  No special effects, the heroes are the victims and the police and those that take part in helping these ordeals come to a halt, but there is no happy ending for any of them. Random casualties are not something we’re used to as a society.  People come together and have candle light vigils for those that we’ve lost, investigations and grief counseling become never-ending for places like Aurora and New Town.

Our nation is faced with this all too often.  The Boston Marathon bombing is right up there too.  A young boy saw his father killed in the blast and all this was people just being part of something greater and it is sad that the brothers that orchestrated this felt that they were also accomplishing something greater.

So all of these are acts of terrorism from outside sources that hate the U.S. and what we stand for or from a random lunatic who just got to their breaking point in a society that does not treat mental health as important as we clearly need to.

Back to the movies

What I gathered from watching The Dark Knight Rises was that the character Bane was a super-villain who was back to disrupt peace with extreme prejudice.  There are brilliantly choreographed scenes and chases which kill multiple people and I know people love these movies and under different circumstances, I might have enjoyed it too, but again, I couldn’t stop thinking about how this affects our society and my family.

Parents

The reason I bring up the age-old question, again is not to blame Hollywood, but that there is a serious lack of mental preparedness of our kids coming into this world.  This is a responsibility that falls on our shoulders as parents.  The variable that we cannot figure out is the parents that do not prepare their kids for what they watch or how to interact and socialize in a positive manner.

My kids were at a function recently where an 8-year-old boy was taken by his father to see Hangover 2.  This is an extremely graphic movie with extreme scenes and concepts that this boy for sure was not able to grasp or understand, but he’s telling everyone about what he saw.  Describing every disgusting scene he remembered to kids around his age, younger and older.  I’ve seen this movie and while it had its funny parts, there are mostly extreme adult issues.  So this kid is a cancer for lack of a better term as he’s telling other kids who are not prepared to hear or understand what he’s talking about and there’s a real problem with this father that took his 8-year-old to that movie.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=31pQOiclaTo

Some kids at 18 may not be prepared for that, but they’ve already seen every doomsday movie that comes out.  I just saw a movie called This Is the End.  I loved the concept, loved the actors, but I know that needs to be taken with several grains of salt.  It has quite a bit of biblical references with comedic overtone.

There are so many of these doomsday movies coming out.  I just saw also Man of Steel.  PG-13 rated and it was extremely violent.  While Superman is a super hero that is just there to right the wrongs of society, there are several violent scenes and multiple casualties.  I prefer Christopher Reeve’s Superman.

I may be proven wrong on this one, but when I watched The Dark Knight Rises, it became very violent immediately and when Bruce Wayne put on his pleather suit with ears, he drove his really cool motorcycle chasing the bad guys and was being shot at, so he in turn pulled out a comically large hand cannon and started shooting, raising the death toll to keep the peace.  So here it is and please tell me if I’m wrong but the original Batman character did not like nor use guns.  Just my observation, I know that doesn’t change what fills the seats in the theaters to meet their multi-million dollar objective.

Since I have seen a few movies lately, we’ve come to realize that what used to be 12 minutes of previews has now become 25 minutes before the movie starts.  The majority of the previews I saw were from doomsday movies.  I guess for it to be a blockbuster, the plot line must threaten our way of life.

  • White House Down
  • Pacific Rim
  • The Purge
  • World War Z

So again, I’m not trying to say that we need to change movies, there are companies that are going to profit off of them no matter what, they’re not going anywhere, and frankly, I love some of them.  I don’t think I’ll see The Purge, as it looks stupid, World War Z for the same reason, but White House Down and Pacific Rim maybe….when it comes on DVD or TNT.

The point of all this is my mantra for my blog, I want fathers to be more involved in their children’s lives.  All parents need to be more involved with their children.  It’s tough to do.  I’m fortunate as I am able to spend a great deal of time with my kids and I know but it’s even tough for me especially with 3 kids, 5 years and under.

I don’t have the answers, I want to make sure that we think hard before we expose our kids to these movies, when you think they’re ready, and they may or not be depending on their maturity level.   Even then, we need to make sure they have the capacity to learn about what movies teach us and we need to monitor how they reference those movies or news events.

We cannot wait for Congress to figure out their gun control laws and you may be for or against, whatever the case, if you have guns in the house, the children need to know and they need to know why.  For Heaven’s sake, make sure they are locked up somewhere the kids can’t access them under any circumstance.  If you have an arsenal of weaponry, please consider the purpose and capacity.

My generation seems to want to be buddy buddy with their kids.  Our kids will have plenty of friends—they only have one set of parents. Own that role. I’m included but I’m really cautious.  I don’t know when my kids will be ready for certain things.  I didn’t tell my kids about the Sandy Hook incident as I was devastated.  I had tears in my eyes when I saw that on the news and AJ approached and I had to suck it up and change the channel so he didn’t know what the problem was.  Then I bribed him with a cookie.  He wins.

Again, I can’t wait to share great movies with my kids and I know I’m going to have to share these tragedies with them again, it’s scary to think but I want them to know about the world but we have a foundation in our home to be good to others, Love and family is at the center of our lives.

There are a lot of children’s movies that have death undertones, mild violence and pretty much all the great ones, Toy Story 3, Finding Nemo etc. have death impending for these beloved characters.  While I think he’s a genius, John Lassiter is a little off but has a more subtle way of introducing death into his timeless movies.

Right now, the rest of the family is fast asleep and I have the movie Transformers on in the background.  I think this is a great movie and I really want my kids to see Optimus Prime and Bumble Bee drive down the street and get up and run.  Those special effects are awesome, but even with this movie, also rated PG-13, there is a great deal of violence that you don’t see.  Buildings being hit by missiles and cars being thrown, mass destruction that whether they show a bloody mess or not, it’s implying that there are numerous casualties.  I know this is just a movie but that doesn’t mean that something like that doesn’t register with our little ones and if I showed this to AJ, as inquisitive as he is, he would ask about all those innocent 9-5ers that likely would not survive giant robots tearing up their home, their workplace, their town.

Movies aside, how are we preparing our kids for social networks?  So many people are afraid of what their kids are exposed to on Facebook but Facebook is not the only thing to fear.  I don’t have any room in my life for a new social networks but there are new ones constantly popping up.  So if the older parents of today’s teens are concerned with Facebook, it’s probably safe to say that there are other places that their kids are chronicling their lives.  It’s like local government passing a law to ban texting and driving, that’s great but they’ve failed to look at the bigger picture.  Do these laws include Tweeting and driving, Pinterest and driving?  Googling and driving?  I’m not an expert on the law by any means but just like, movies, the internet and daily news, we just have to talk to our kids.  When my kids are teens, I will have a whole new set of worries but fun, happiness, love and respect will still be the core of our family.

I did a great deal of research on the subjects at hand and this goes so much further than just movies.  I always state how important our relationships with our children are and I whole-heartedly believe that if we equip our children with love and respect instead of anger and hatred, they will be able to make our world better.  Exit Soap Box.

This is my 100th post and I thank you for reading this.  My next post will not have such a serious undertone and I’m way behind on adding pictures of my kids, I did not feel that pictures of my kids were fitting for this post.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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One Response to How Do I Explain This One To My Kids?

  1. Diane Krisman says:

    This is a very astute analysis of how violence in movies and other media affects our children’s lives and needs to be monitored, since young children are so impressionable. I applaud your effort to influence other parents to be more aware of censoring what their children watch as every child is so unique and so impressionable. Thank You and bring on more Cars Films!!

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