Kids can watch some movies, but they shouldn't watch others . . . which makes watching movies an ongoing balance between what children think is good for them and what you know is good for them. But even when children don't want to watch certain movies, they still need to lean on your decision-making ability. Here is how some parents have navigated this complex arena:
We came up with a code word for movies that our young kids might find scary, such as the scene with flying monkeys in The Wizard of Oz. When our kids were with friends, they could use the code word to let us know they were feeling a little nervous about watching a movie, without being embarrassed or teased. The code word also allowed us to covertly tell them that a particular movie will probably be too frightening for them and that they'll have to choose a different one.
Evolution and Children’s Programming
My kids love the T rex exhibit at our local museum. They're awed by the enormous height and tiny arms of these creatures. It comes as no surprise to me, then, that television shows such as PBS Kids' "Dinosaur Train" and Nick Jr.'s "Dino Dan" appeal to them.
As a parent who holds a biblical view of Creation, I've often wondered if we should avoid these shows and wait until my kids are old enough to understand the basics of the debate between evolution and intelligent design. Should I expose my young kids to a worldview that teaches chaos and chance rather than plan and purpose? Would the messages of these programs undermine what I'm seeking to teach them?
My husband and I realized that we could use these programs as opportunities to reinforce God as Creator. First, we watch the programs with our children. This allows us to counter dialogue on the show in an age-appropriate manner. For example, we might ask, "Who made the dinosaurs?" To which our kids answer, "God!"
Second, we make sure these television shows aren't our kids' only source of information about dinosaurs. We buy books that explicitly point to God as the Creator of all — including these massive marvels.
Whether our kids are looking at bones or cartoons, we enjoy making the most of teachable moments, pointing our kids to the creative genius behind creatures of enormous height and tiny arms.
Media Messages and Siblings
My family and I love Olivia the Pig's can-do attitude and boundless imagination. Yet I do have a bone to pick with this 6-year-old literary pig turned TV star. The television version of Olivia — unlike her picture-book persona — regularly refers to her brother, Ian, as a “little bother.”
Each time I hear this and other incidents of cartoon sibling friction, I cringe and glance at my daughters, hoping they won't come to view one another as nuisances. Life already presents enough opportunities for sibling conflict, and I'd rather have my kids love and respect each other, not demean and devalue one another. So if I find that a particular episode is encouraging my kids to be at odds even more, we take a hiatus from that show.
I'm also intentional about guiding my kids' relationships during play with each other and with friends. They all interact; there’s no segregation by age. This helps them work through developmental differences and abilities so they can see each other not only as siblings, but also as friends.
As much as I may enjoy Olivia, it's more important for me to teach my kids that having a sibling is not a bother, but a blessing.