As an incentive for completing weekend jobs, we initiated Family Movie Night at our house. We’ve been hunkering down in our cozy basement every Saturday (or the occasional Friday) to enjoy movies and treats and time together. We love the snuggles and laughter and shared experience; it has become one of those family traditions that everyone looks forward to.
It’s not as easy as it sounds, though, to pull of a successful movie night. First, those kids have to get their jobs done! Often, upon inspection, there are some last-minute scrambles to complete the work. Second, we have five children, ages 3-11, so finding movies that appeal to everyone can be tricky.
We have held a pretty strict standard for our kids with regard to TV and movie watching. My 11yo son’s favorite show is still Max and Ruby, to give you an idea (it’s one of my favorites, too). The greatest compromise we make is during football season, when we allow the older boys to watch the games and be responsible for turning off the volume or switching the channel during commercials. The NFL programming is not as nearly as family friendly as the MLB programming, I’ll tell you that.
We haven’t had cable for years, and until two night’s ago, we didn’t have access to Netflix on our old blu-ray player for nearly a year. We have relied on our church and public libraries and the kids’ free section at the video store for shows to watch during that time. Needless to say, there’s not much TV watching going on, apart from our family movie night, maybe an hour, or two, at the most each week.
When I read the parent reviews and recommendations for some movies and hear what other parents are letting their children watch, I sometimes cringe. Children have impressionable minds, and everything we pour into them shapes who they will ultimately become. I know this personally.
As a young child, my single mom took me everywhere with her and allowed me to watch pretty much anything she was interested in watching. I remember being six years old and hiding behind the corner of the wall leading into the living room, watching-and hiding from- The Exorcist (to her credit, my mom did tell me to go to bed). I saw Raging Bull with Robert DeNiro when I was maybe seven years old, in the movie theater, and I recall asking my mom why he was sweating so much. Only, it wasn’t sweat flying from his face in the black and white boxing film; it was blood. I spent many of my young summers (under 12 years old, that is) addicted to soap operas like Days of Our Lives and Santa Barbara and One Life to Live. This is just a small sampling of the inappropriate material I was exposed to as a young child, and it has had a permanent effect on me, in the way I have understood relationships and perceived the world around me.
I lost my childhood, in some ways, due to what I watched. I grew to understand mature themes much earlier than I should have, I missed the joy of nature and playing outside, I fell prey to immoral thinking, and my values and morals were compromised before they had a chance to be formed.
Granted, there were several other factors at play during my childhood, which I may write about another time, but now that I am grown, I mourn the loss of those beautiful years of childhood innocence and wonder and creativity, and I am determined to protect my children’s young minds from the corruption that so easily infiltrates our homes through media, be it movies, music, video games, or TV shows.
Whew, where were we? Oh yeah, family movie night. For those who desire to protect the innocence of childhood, or at least desire to make reasonable choices for what to watch with your children, I will be sharing reviews of movies from our family movie nights. Stop by every Monday to find out what we watched the previous Saturday (or in weeks past), our special movie treat, and the family consensus regarding the movie. Hopefully, our insights will help inform your decisions in a positive way, making your family movie experiences richer and more enjoyable for all.