The pitfalls of sharing a favourite movie with your children…

Not so long ago, my girls (aged 15 and 13) and I got to have a girls’ night at home. I thought it would be great to share a movie that I had really enjoyed with them.  We browsed through the movies we had at home, and couldn’t find anything that we all wanted to see. Aha! I thought in a moment of inspiration, Bridget Jones’ Diary. What a lovely movie that is – a nice rom com with some very funny bits. And of course Colin Firth and Hugh Grant.And it had been years since I’d seen it.

We duly went out and bought the movie. Tucked up on the couch with chocolate, popcorn and fizzy drink (wine for me), we settled in. And it turns out there were some things I’d forgotten about good old Bridget Jones. First there was the language. Nothing the girls hadn’t heard at school of course, but I’d forgotten quite how bad the language is – particularly from that quintessential English cad, Hugh Grant.

Then there was the sexual content and innuendo. There is almost no actual sex, and it’s certainly not graphic, but there is a lot of sexual allusion, double entendre and sexual references that I somehow thought my daughters shouldn’t be able to understand. There was very little that went over their heads I have to say, begging the question “what are they learning at school?”

Along with that of course, is the lovely romance I remembered, the screamingly funny moments and the hilarious fight between two Englishmen who fight like girls. We thoroughly enjoyed the movie, but I was a bit concerned that I’d scarred the girls for life. A foolish concern of course, but I thought then I should make sure I watched any movies I decided to share with the kids.

We have had long discussions over the years about what to let the children watch and read. Our three oldest children are all readers and of course were reading far beyond their comprehension at a young age. The challenge of finding books that were age appropriate but suitably difficult was a huge one.  Now that they’re older, they’re reading very widely indeed. We let them read what they want for the most part, although we make sure that at least one parent has had a look at what they’re reading. That’s a whole other post!

You would think I had learnt my lesson. But no. This time, it was our own little tribute to Whitney Houston. The day of her funeral, my husband and I decided that we would watch the movie, The Bodyguard, with the four older children. A good story we thought, dramatic, amazing music, a fitting thing to watch.  Of course, it had probably been 15 years since we last saw it, but we remembered the plot pretty well. So we sat down with the boys (11 and 13) and the girls (13 and 15). Did you know how much swearing there is in The Bodyguard? Primarily from Ms Houston’s character I have to say! The story is good and so are the performances, the music IS amazing, but the language is pretty out there. Again, nothing the kids don’t hear at school, but the vernacular for making love is used in all its variety and flavour. Extremely dubious for an 11-year-old and possibly not the right movie for the 13 year olds.

The verdict from the four young people was that they loved it. They got very anxious at the end, and the girls especially loved it, and there was quite some discussion about whether it had a happy ending or not (opinion was divided! Miss 15, our hopeless romantic, thought that they did. The 13-year olds were pretty sure that they didn’t). The children retired to their bedrooms, singing variants of “I Will Always Love You”.

Will I continue to show them inappropriate movies and let them read adult books? Almost certainly. And will I occasionally regret it and think that I should perhaps be censoring a little more? Probably. But you know what? It gives us great things to talk about in the car! Tell me what you think – or tell me about movies you’ve shared with your children that you possibly shouldn’t have!

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2 thoughts on “The pitfalls of sharing a favourite movie with your children…

  1. I always find it sad when I hear about people being concerned that their kids might be exposed to sex, when they have no compunction about showing them violence in movies of computer games. I’m not implying this in your case, but wonder about how society ended up like this. Sex is a natural part of life, and as parents its our role to educate them. We try to be open about talking about sex, so our children don’t end up with hang-ups about it.
    But on topic – “Good Bye Pork Pie” the kids loved as pre-teen kids, and I think much of the sexual references went over their head. Like you, we were surprised by the sex in the back of the car scene, but didn’t react, and so it didn’t become a big deal.
    We watched TV series “Dharma and Greg” with them a few years back too, which I think would surprise many other parents.
    Last year I got the CD by Tim Minchin, which the kids absolutely love. Yes it has swear words in the songs, and I did have to explain about the line in “Storm” – “What really gives me a hard-on.”
    But then, if they didn’t learn it from me, what garbled version would they learn in the playground?

    • Hannah, I can’t agree enough about learning it from us rather than the playground. We’ve always been very open and honest about sex, have always used the correct names for body parts, answered questions frankly and without embarrassment. As an adult, we watch films and don’t even blink at the language used, and of course, many of us use it ourselves! But applying the filter of my children watching it does change it somewhat.

      And your point about the computer games is very valid – not just those, but shows like Ben 10, which the 5-year olds LOVE – are chock full of violence. They do also love Wonder Pets which promotes very positive messages, but the rest of us struggle with sitting and watching the actual show with them. We find ourselves singing “What’s gonna work? Teamwork” and saying “this is seweious” (one of the characters can’t say its ‘r’s). We do tend to apply a violence and horror filter to things we let them watch, but then there are movies like Lord of the Rings – at 2 and a half, Conal’s favourite thing to watch was Return of the King. It had sword fights, a giant spider, singing and horses, and really, what more could a 2 year old want? Of course I wouldn’t have let the older children watch it at that age, but the older boys (who were 8 and 10) were watching it and Conal did too. We had a conversation at the time about the plot, and his main takeaway was that Sam and Frodo were friends and Sam was a very good helper, so I wasn’t too concerned!

      Thanks for the response!

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