Thursday, February 12, 2009

kids and books, and movies too

Look at me, posting *daily*...
I am furiously trying to catch up on your blogs as well!

As Maria gets older, I realize that there is a need to rethink/reread/rewatch things with my "mom hat" on. This need first surfaced a year or so ago when I mentioned to John that Maria would love to watch "Grease". She loves musicals. He reminded me of some of the more inappropriate things in the movie, and so "Grease" was shelved. Then Maria watched "Back to the Future" at my mom's. Cute movie, right? I was probably close to her age when I saw it for the first time. Are you aware that one of the characters is almost raped? Because I sure don't remember it being that big of a deal when *I* saw it as a kid, but it is certainly a bigger deal now that I watch it as a mom.

This issue surfaces with books too. I mentioned on a homeschool group list how much I loved "A Wrinkle in Time" as a teenager, and a couple of people told me that the books have been given negative reviews on some booklists for questionable content. I have never read these with my 12yo in mind, really, but my goodness! I loved these books! I don't remember anything questionable in them. I do remember the family in the books, how close the siblings are, how great a relationship they have with their parents, how they look out for their odd and bullied youngest brother, how the kids risk their lives for their parents and for each other...I will reread these books with my "mom hat" on, but I'll admit I really don't think I will find anything objectionable in them. Granted, all the books in the series are not appropriate for a 12yo, but I think "A Wrinkle in Time" will pass muster, at least in this house.

And then the other day I came across a box of free books at our homeschool co-op and pulled out a copy of "Superfudge". Score! Loved Superfudge! Who doesn't? Funny stuff! I started reading through it at home, and thought "Holy Cow, these kids are monsters!" The oldest brother is Maria's age, and I thought, "Do I really want Maria reading books where the 12yo screams ugly things at his parents and lives to see the light of another day?" It never would have occurred to me to have an issue with Superfudge. But it's going to go live somewhere else now. If she had some burning desire to read Superfudge, since there's not anything really morally offensive in it, I would likely let her and then talk with her about some of the situations in it that bother me, but I don't feel the need to have a copy in my house. And it's not as funny as I remembered anyway.

It's not that I intend to control everything my kids are exposed to forever and ever. It's just that they are still quite young, impressionable, and still being formed. What is appropriate at 16 or 17 is not appropriate at 12. If Maria were 16 and well-formed in her habits and in her relationship with her parents, I would not be concerned about a book in which a child behaves like a mouthy brat. But at 12...goodness, isn't 12 a difficult age already? I'd much rather have her read about noble characters and close-knit families. You the one in "A Wrinkle in Time". :) I think. Let me reread that again first.


Angela M. said...

I would hate it if "WiT" is not considered a proper book - I LOVED that book!

As for Judy Blume books - I read them all between 10 - 12 years of age and now I am horrifed - they talk about impurity, teen sex, etc. I would NEVER give them to my nieces or grand-daughters (or nephews or grandsons if I had them.)

As for Grease - watched it when it came out when I was 14 and loved it. All the innuedos went straight over my head.

Off topic but - Vagina Monologues - saw it before my conversion and like it and saw it again after and DESPISED it.What a filthy piece of garbage!!!!

Kelly said...

Ah - yeah, I totally hear you! We did the same thing with "Back to the Future" - allowed our 10 yo to watch it at her grandparents' house and then were totally dismayed when she spoke about the near-rape scene. Funny how I didn't remember that...

Ugh. Juvenile fiction is another genre that drives me batty - it *should* be safe for kids, but so often isn't. I've taken to reading all the books my daughter wants to read beforehand. I've found some that aren't appropriate at all, but at the same time, I've also found some that just ROCK and I've thoroughly I guess this gives me an excuse to sit around reading good fiction on occasion too, so I'll stop complaining! ;)

J.C. said...

Oh, I can totally identify with this dilemma. Many years ago, my husband and I were about to let our daughter watch West-Side story! It quickly became obvious that we didn't remember it correctly, thank God. But I watched it again recently, and I was really shocked! You can clearly see the ugliness of the 70's values in the clean-cut 50's/60's appearing film. I see this in many classic movies, too. I, too, am of the Beverly Cleary/Judy Blume generation, and looked forward to sharing favorite books with my daughter--not Judy Blume, those were censored from my library book stacks, even in my day!--but innocuous ones like the Ramona series. But as with Superfudge (I loved it, too!), you think, do you really want your kids modeling this behavior? Ramona's OK now that the girls are a little older, but I still discuss anything problematic.
I have come to the same conclusion you have regarding some movies and books. The ones I have in the house should be edifying and have some redeeming qualities, preferably classics; fluffy ones or ones with any objectionable (fast-forwardable) content can be watched on a one-time basis from the library or elsewhere. Great post, Mel!