I’ve been thinking a little about the movie, Frozen. Ok, I’m lying, I’ve been thinking about it a LOT.
The first time I saw it, I was bawling my eyes out the minute Anna started singing, “Do you wanna build a snowman?” And, in our family, I loved Frozen more than anyone, followed closely by the four-year-old, whose only two critiques would be: There were no Muppets in it, and Ariel wasn’t in it.
But, there has been a lot of debate about this movie. Let’s be honest, Mr. Disney has gotten a lot of flack over the years. I’m definitely not here to talk about the debate . . . but, the debates do beg the question: What should our kids be watching?
1. Preview your kids watch. Only you can know your kids and what scares them. I saw a scene from Fiddler on the Roof (NOT a scary movie) when I was four, and it haunted me for weeks. Similarly, my daughter had been BEGGING to watch The Little Mermaid, but just as my gut told me, “that mean lady” has deterred her from wanting to see it a second time. Oftentimes we grown-ups spend too much time picking apart plot lines and criticizing the wardrobes of characters, but not enough time just looking for scary scenes. I guarantee you, Ursula is a nightmare-inducing character much more than Ariel is a disobedience-inducing character. In our family, we don’t do movies that are scary, explicit, or have tons bad language (parents included). We can’t un-see stuff, it’s our job to protect.
2. Keep the dialogue flowing. I was a little worried about letting my daughter watch Beauty and the Beast, mainly because the Beast has a temper issue. However, my daughter also has a bit of a temper issue. We cuddled together, and as he freaked out, we chatted like this, “The Beast is really angry. Do you get angry? Do you think he’s nice on the inside like you?” I realize this sound very Mr. Roger’s-esque, but listen, there’s a reason kids love that guy. He gets it, and you can, too. Talk to your children about the character flaws in movies, because those are opportunities for them to LEARN something about themselves. Frozen, in particular is RIPE with wonderful lessons about family, reconciliation, and redemption. Honestly, if you watch most movies, you will see these story lines. Use them to dialogue.
3. Choose quality stuff for your kids to watch. I want them to watch media that is high quality: Thoughtfully written and produced. I was talking with a friend this weekend about when Mr. Hooper died on Sesame Street. It was my first brush with death, and I remember it clearly. The writers at the time carefully crafted our TV goodbye to him. It didn’t involve a hospital, because they didn’t want kids to equate hospitals with death. And, he never showed back up in re-runs, presumably so as not to confuse us kids! We can’t ever know truly what’s going on behind the scenes, but you can make educated guesses about high quality media vs. low quality. Hint: Bratz < Mr. Rogers.
Here’s the deal. Hopefully, when my girls are teenagers and I’m not with them 24/7, they will be armed with tools to make the right decisions about what they watch. I want them to think critically about stories. I want them to know that sometimes we, even as parents, choose not to watch things that do not edify our minds. Most important, I want them to feel free to talk to me about what they’ve watched.
But, yes. We Disney.
Do you Disney? What types of guidelines do you use for your family’s entertainment?