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!