I Have Something to Say About That…

Thoughts from Author Jenny Proctor

A 5 year old watching Breaking Dawn?

16 Comments

My husband and I went to see Breaking Dawn, the most recent installment in the Twilight saga on Saturday evening. It wasn’t planned. We had dinner, then decided we’d like to see a movie. It was Breaking Dawn, or Happy Feet 2. So the vampires beat out the penguins and we squeezed ourselves into an overcrowded theater full of teenagers and grown women wearing werewolf t-shirts.

I’ll state for the record that I read the Twilight books. I read them, and enjoyed them. I’ve since seen each of the movies, and while moments of overly dramatic teen angst left me a little nauseous at times, in general, I enjoyed them as well. I’m not a crazy fan. I don’t have a Team Edward shirt. I didn’t go to a midnight showing and I probably won’t ever read the books or see the movies for a second time.

But this post isn’t really about Twilight. Why even mention it? Because I’d like to talk about parenting.

I thought a lot about parenting on Saturday night when, while waiting for the movie to start, I saw parent after parent filing into the movie theater holding hands with their children. Not teenagers. Not even preteens. 8 years old. 10 years old. Children that couldn’t have been much older than 5, maybe 6. Having read the book, I grew more and more uncomfortable with the idea of these children being exposed to what was surely going to be graphically inappropriate. Of course, my mind went first to the sexual relationship that exists between the two main characters of the film. But what of the violence? The death and the anger and the aggression that in every possible way is too much for the eyes and the heart and the mind of a child?

I realize every parent has the right to make a choice about what age their children can watch certain movies. At age 10, our oldest son has watched a handful of carefully screened and considered PG-13 movies that other parents might not be comfortable with. They were decisions we made based on what we know of our son. We watched them together, and discussed them together. I wouldn’t like to feel judged by others if they didn’t necessarily agree with our choice.

But I’m pretty certain there isn’t any way possible to justify a 5 year old watching a movie, that I’ll be perfectly honest, had ME feeling uncomfortable at times. I left the theater shaking my head, wondering how desensitized those five year old girls will be by the time they are teenagers. It hardly seems ridiculous to imagine 12 year olds having sex if they are watching sex at age 5. It isn’t difficult to understand teen violence if you know that children are watching violence when there minds are so very young, so completely impressionable.

Parents, we need to wake up. We cannot stand idly by, justifying, excusing, pretending that it doesn’t really matter and then look back and wonder what ever happened to our kids. Media of today, whether it be music or movies or television can and will ruin our children. It will teach sex. It will teach violence. It will teach self righteous disrespect. And it will happen so fast, parents will be left wondering what ever hit them.

I’m not saying our kids should only ever watch singing dinosaurs and dancing butterflies. While some movies are all together trash no matter the viewing age, there are others that are rich and wonderful and worthy of viewing, when kids are old enough and mature enough to handle them. All I’m saying is we have to be discerning. We have to think and research and ponder things out before we make decisions about what we feed our children’s minds and hearts. Because it matters. So very much, it matters.

And good grief, if you want to go see Breaking Dawn, get a flippin’ babysitter.

*********
Josh and I love to use Common Sense Media and Kids in Mind to screen movies, both for our kids, and our own viewing as well. Common Sense Media gives general age suggestions, with a rough outline of what content you need to be aware of, while Kids in Mind does a play by play breakdown of every word/scene/topic of discussion that could potentially be offensive. Ratings aren’t always reliable. Using these websites, we’ve watched rated R movies that we’ve loved, avoided PG-13 movies that are full of trash, and found PG movies that we are comfortable with for the entire family, 4 year olds included. 

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16 thoughts on “A 5 year old watching Breaking Dawn?

  1. Amen, sister! I went to see it with some friends last night, and while we didn't see any kids quite that young, there were some young teens/possibly pre-teen girls there. And we were a little shocked about that!

  2. I went last week before this movie opening night. I got invited by a friend whose company was throwing a big party. In other words I went for the social aspect of it. I think I was probably the most clueless of everyone in that whole theater. I haven't read the books, nor ever will since it's not the genre of book that I read. I only saw Twilight and that was it. But one thing I know for sure, simply WRONG that those children were there. Give the parents the benefit of the doubt that they showed up there without reading the reviews first, but then they should have WALKED OUT! Walk out and save your children some unnecessary stress from their already media-invaded life.

  3. AMEN! I was one of those silly women who did the midnight showing–but it was honestly just for the "group of girlfriends" fun of it. I was SO appalled at the age of the kids in the theater. I don't understand it–so inappropriate.

  4. I also read the Twilight series–only because my oldest daughters (15, 19 and 23 at the time) were also reading them…I wanted to know what the big deal was! The first couple were intriguing, but the series lost my interest after that, so it was hard to get to the end. I watched the first couple of movies on dvd, after my girls told me the movies weren't that good–and they were right. This last movie will not be seen in our house. We made that decision after reading the reviews that said it was so graphic that it had to be edited to make it a PG-13. That just made me uncomfortable. I don't want to watch a movie with my hands over my eyes. At 50 years old, I'm just too young for that stuff.

  5. Thank you. I whole heartedly agree.I've also read the books (and loved them), and watched the first three movies (and laughed through them they were so over dramatic and poorly acted). I honestly have a problem with 15 year olds reading those books, let alone tweens or younger.If we don't parent our children, the world will. And we only have ourselves to blame for the consequences.

  6. Amen to all of it. All of my girls friends (11 years old and even YOUNGER) have seen ALL of the Twilight movies. My girls want to know wny I won't let them see them–and you described it perfectly. I also couldn't believe the number of parents who let their 11/12/13 year old daughters read all of the books. Ugh. Last spring I read an interesting book called Free Range Kids. Since then I've tried to give my 11 year olds more physical freedom. I let them go to our neighborhood tennis court together, with the cell phone. I let them go on bike rides alone, with the cell phone. Their best friend isn't even allowed to walk to the end of the driveway alone. (not kidding.) One of my girls noticed the differences and said "Olivia's parents protect her from going places, but you protect us from movies and stuff like that." Yep, I do. And I will. Because I don't need them to see any part of Kristin Stewart's breasts, even if we did just have the talk last month… 😉

  7. Amen! I totally agree. My husband has coworkers with young children and they all let them watch any movie they want, including R rated movies. Because they just don't see the harm in it. And neither my husband or I can understand it, becuase there are some PG movies that we won't let our 8 year old watch.

  8. I have friends whose 3-year-olds know Lady Gaga lyrics, and dance like her too. What lyrics and gyrations will these 3-year-olds be performing when they are teenagers?! The thought scares me! Parents these days need to be aware and grow a pair.

  9. Well said. And thanks for the links!

  10. I am in SHOCK that such little ones would be taken to the movie – what the crap?But then I had to remind myself that when Chloee came to live with us, I had to re-teach her about Lady Gaga. Replaced her with a disney soundtrack as her favorite music to listen to.Makes me sad. And on the other hand, glad that my boys are grown!

  11. Wow. I didn't see the movie (or read the book), but I know the content. Interesting choice for that mom.

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  13. Corey and Leisl, I appreciate you making a comment, even though it disagrees with the sentiments I expressed in my post. I spoke in my post about my desire to not be judgmental. As you indicated, we are all free to make choices for our children as we see fit. Generally, I agree with your praise of the Twilight series. I think there are wonderful things about the books/movies that embrace good values. My frustration is not with the series in general, and it wasn't meant to focus individually on the one mother of a five year old that I saw at the movies last Saturday night. Perhaps it is better expressed as a frustration with a world that has become increasingly tolerant, lazy even, when it comes to making choices about our children in general. Even the movie rating industry, not the strictest standard out there, deems Breaking Dawn worthy of a PG-13 rating. A PG-13 rating means Parents Strongly Cautioned, that content may not be appropriate for children under age 13. No matter how you shake it, I don't think there's any conversation you can have with a 5 year old to make this movie acceptable for children so young.

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  15. I hate it when the comments are about the comments, but I did want to mention – kindly, entirely without rancor – that it is naive to think that we don't have some vested interest in how others raise their children. Worrying about our own children almost always requires worrying about others', if for no other reason than that those children eventually make up our own kids' "village." There is only so much interference a parent can run for their kids before the only tool they have left is praying for good judgment in the parents of their kids' friends, neighbors, and classmates.Judge? Maybe not. But pay attention? Appropriately express concern? Act when necessary? You better believe it.

  16. I agree with you completely that no tween girls – and certainly no children of a younger age! – should be allowed to watch a movie with 'fountains' of blood, c-sections performed by teeth, wife-pimping and adolescent boys falling in love with newborn babies.But I disagree firmly with your statement that Twilight 'embraces good values'. Which values do you speak of? That moody, angry men who constantly threaten to kill you are sexy? That it is romantic, not creepy, if a strange, much older man breaks into your house to watch you sleep? That it is overprotective, not controlling and dangerous, for a young woman's boyfriend to forbid her from seeing her friends and then dismantle her car when she 'disobeys' him? That a perfectly acceptable reaction to a teenage breakup is suicidal behaviour? That a girl's life should revolve around attracting a hot rich man and having his baby, dismissing all other things in life such as family, friends, education and a career? That if a woman cannot/chooses not to have a child she is some kind of freak? That child grooming is ok? That it is within his rights for a husband to override his wife's choices about her own body and negotiate renting her out for sex with another man behind her back? Please, enlighten me as to which of these messages is a good thing for young women to be absorbing.All of this wouldn't be so bad if it was just fodder for young girls to squeal at, but then their mothers sat them down and explained that if a man did this to you in real life, you get the hell out of there and then get a restraining order. But that even middle-aged women are swooning over Edward terrifies me to my core. What kind of role model do their daughters have? Abuse, emotional manipulation and misogny are fine as subjects in books. But they should not EVER be romanticised or glorified.

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