Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Better Parenting Through Movies

Janet and Gavin

The UK paper The Telegraph published a piece about the top ten films children must see before they are 9-1/2. 

"The line-up, compiled by child psychologist Dr Kairen Cullen, was based not only on entertainment value, but also the films' moral themes in order to teach children “essential life-lessons”.
"The hardest lessons children have to learn are not the sort that fit neatly into the school curriculum or can be found in any parenting guides. These lessons relate to emotion and relationships; both of which lie at the heart of any good film," said Dr Cullen." 

I read the article with interest even though my kids passed the 9-1/2 mark some time ago wondering how my parenting through movies agenda stacked up alongside Dr. Cullen's list.

Sid and Buzz

1.  Toy Story
Check.  We took Janet to see Toy Story when it was released.  Of course, since we were all seeing it for the first time we didn't know what lessons might be gleaned from the movie.  She displayed sympathy for Buzz Lightyear when he came to the realization he was only a toy.  Gavin is still waiting for his Woody and Buzz toys to start walking around on their own. 

2.  The Lion King
Check.  Janet saw The Lion King at the theatre with friends.  She learned the words to The Lion Sleeps Tonight.  Gavin saw the movie (many times) on VHS/DVD.  At an early age he would look at bugs and say things like "Oh, the little cream-filled kind."  When you live with an echolalic autistic/developmentally delayed person it is really important that you know what they are watching.

3.  Home Alone
Check.  I wasn't thinking about the "importance of family" when I made the kids watch this one.  I wanted to share the hilarious slapstick mayhem of the booby-trapped house.  I fulfilled my parental duty by informing them that no actors were harmed in the making of the film. 

4.  Labyrinth
I haven't seen this one.  Sounds good.  Have to check it out sometime.
5.  The Jungle Book
Check.  One of my all-time favourites.  I had the only babies at the park who could scat.  So proud.

6.  Mary Poppins
Check.  The Daddy Man has a thing for Julie Andrews.  Like father, like son. 

7.  The Wizard of Oz
Check.  One of the great perks of being a parent is scaring the bejeezus out of kids by showing them the flying monkeys.

8.  The Neverending Story
I think my daughter saw this on a rental.  I couldn't get through it.

9.  Matilda
Another I think Janet saw without me.  I'm not a big Roald Dahl fan.

10. Up
A 19 year old Janet made me watch this.  We cried and laughed and laughed and cried.  I'm not certain it would have appealed to her in those pre-10 years.

Rita and Gene

During their formative years my kids were exposed to a lot of classic movies through Family Channel Canada regularly showing musicals, comedies and dramas from the Golden Era of Hollywood (a practice sadly long since abandoned) and mom and dad sharing personal favourites.

On their own Janet discovered Singin' in the Rain and an adoration for Gene Kelly while Gavin found Cover Girl and a passion for Rita Hayworth.

Dad Garry enjoys Lilies of the Field and before we knew it Gavin was singing Amen and borrowing the tape to spend time with his pal Homer Smith.

The stuff that dreams are made of

My attempt to share the many joys of The Thing from Another World with young Janet, along with imparting significant life lessons in dealing with hostile extraterrestrials, inexplicably caused nightmares.  She forgave me when I introduced her to The Court Jester.

Another normal day for Donald Duck

The top 3 rentals during Janet and Gavin's toddler-hood were 101 Dalmatians which taught them to beware of smokers, Winnie-the-Pooh and the Blustery Day which taught them to beware of heffalumps and woozles, and The Three Caballeros.  Donald's surreal adventures in Latin America did not mess with their minds in any way.  I'm pretty sure.  Anyway - too late now.



  1. Great article! My son is 2 1/2 - his attention is still not long for a movie, but he has seen three movies almost all the way through:

    Charlie And Chocolate Factory, Gnomeo And Juliet, and Toy Story 3.

  2. Love that your kids could scat. So very cool.

  3. DL, you're going to wish you could save time in a bottle. How I miss those years!

    "...almost all the way through" Hooray. Next step - the theatre.

  4. JTL, it takes cool to appreciate cool.

  5. Yeah, these are definitely movies I'd share with my kids if I had any. 'Matilda' is awesome! Definitely worth seeing even if you're not a kid. It's all about self-empowerment and how kids can sometimes be smarter and braver than adults. And it's a lot of fun too.

  6. I'm always up for fun. I must get over my Dahl-itis and give "Matilda" a look.

  7. Labyrinth and The Neverending Story are more tiresome than timeless. Have not seen Matilda but enjoyed the book.
    Janet and Gavin's grandmother was thrilled to see their pic, made her day!

  8. Caftan Woman, I loved your post! It particularly resonated for me because of our daughter Siobhan, who was diagnosed years ago as having ADHD and being a thankfully high-functioning Aspie. She can effortlessly imitate the voices and dialogue from her favorite films and TV shows, and has in the past few years been able to smoothly turn what used to be echolalia into relevant pop culture references! One of our favorites when Siobhan was little was the way she danced with a light baby blanket around her, twirling like Ginger Rogers with Fred Astaire. My mom was there at the time, and she was as thrilled as we were, if not more so! :-)

  9. wimseybynature, I trust your instincts on such things.

    Glad to have made Ma's day.

  10. Thanks, Dorian.

    The movies inspired Siobhan and now Siobhan inspires. How very cool.

    Wonderful story about the dancing and that your Mom was able to share it.

  11. Winnie-the-Pooh and the Blustery Day was one of the top videocassettes played when I was a toddler too. I can still recite most of the dialogue by heart, especially Owl's soliloquy as his house is getting blown over! That pretty much goes for The Honey Tree, Tigger Too and A Day For Eeyore too. The "dynamite" conversation between Owl and Gopher is an all-time favorite.

  12. "What's the charge?"

    Honestly, Elisabeth, could anything be more droll than Owl and Gopher blithely talking away about dynamite with Pooh stuck there listening to the whole thing?

    When he was small my son would gather jars and cups and things and build a pile in the corner and walk in front of it. Took us thick-headed parents ages to figure out that he was guarding honey pots. Parents are so slow sometimes.

  13. Very nice write-up Love that you are introducing your kids to classics (and they are discovering some for themselves). As a parent of four, I can totally appreciate the challenge it can be to get them interested in the oldies.

    Oh, and welcome to the LAMB. Hope to see you on the forums over there!

  14. Thank you for the compliment. I've an on again off again deal with my daughter where she introduces me to a movie and then it's my turn. Last night she "made me" watch "Spirited Away". Next week I'll "make her" watch "Stalag 17".

    Thanks. I hadn't realized I was welcomed to LAMB. Quite a kick! More time on the computer, less time washing dishes. My evil plan has worked.

  15. Welcome to the LAMB...we need more classic film bloggers there!

    You must see "Labyrinth," of course, my opinion of it is biased since I am a puppeteer and love anything from Henson.

    I have also set out to watch classic movies with my kids. They love it! Among the ones we have watched recently are:
    - Singin' in the Rain
    - The Gold Rush
    - Duck Soup
    - West Side Story
    - The Adventures of Robin Hood
    - Planet of the Apes
    And a bunch more!

  16. Thanks so much.

    One of the fun things, I'm sure you know, about sharing classic movies with your kids is that it is like seeing them again for the first time. What a thrill!

  17. CW, I much prefer your additions over the ones in the article (too many recent choices that haven't yet stood the test of time). My faves as a kid THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD and THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL. I watched the "kid movies" but typically found little of interest. An exception was Dr. Seuss's bizarre 5000 FINGERS OF DR. T.

  18. Thanks a lot, Rick.

    "The Adventures of Robin Hood" is a perfect movie for any age. I don't think I truly got "The Day the Earth Stood Still" when I was young, but I felt it.

    Ah yes, the movie my husband refers to as "The 5000 Necklaces of Mr. T." Totally bizarre and totally true to the world inside a little kid's head. Love it.



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