I don't know about your family, but our family loves to go to the movies. We don't go to the movie theater very often, so it's a big treat when we do go. On Sunday, all four of us went to see Toy Story 3 with some friends. My girls are at ages where it's tough to find a movie that everyone wants to go see. They're past the age where some of the movies aimed at kids interest them, yet they're not mature enough for some of the themes found in PG-rated movies. So, it was a relief to be able to go see a movie with characters that we have all grown to love over the years and we knew everyone would enjoy.
The movie is fantastic. If you haven't seen it, it's well worth the price of admission. While we enjoyed the movie, it was the conversation in the car on the way home that put the icing on the day. The evil villain in the movie is a pink bear called Lots-O-Huggin' Bear. My oldest daughter wanted to know why he was so mean to Woody and friends even though they had treated him well. "They shouldn't have helped him," she said. This opened up a perfect opportunity for us to talk about Matthew 7:12, "So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets." We talked about how we should treat others well because it's what God asks of us, and it has nothing to do with how they treat us.
This experience reminded me that teachable moments with our kids pop up in some unexpected places. I didn't go into the movie thinking, "We'll have a great conversation about how to treat others when we're done." However, because we were open to answering the girls' questions and ready to turn the conversation toward God, we had a quick, teachable moment after the movie.
However, we can be intentional in using movies to engage in conversation with our kids about important topics. Watching a movie together can be an easy to way to bring up some tough subjects with your kids. You can use them to open up an avenue to talk about bullying, death, friendship and even sex. Older kids will be more likely to discuss tough subjects with you around the context of a movie than in regular conversation.
So, here's some tips on being intentional in using movies to open the door of conversation.
- Decide what topic you'd llike to talk with your kids about. Choose a movie that deals with that theme that's age appropriate for your kids. For example, if you want to introduce the topic of death with younger kids, you might choose a movie like Bambi or Finding Nemo where death enters the picture but is not the focal point of the movie. For kids that are a bit older, you could choose a movie like My Dog Skip that deals with the death of a pet.
- Think about how you'd like to address the subject with your kids. Before the movie, look up some scriptures that back up the point you want to make. If you want to talk with your kids about how true friends act, you might use Proverbs 17:17, "A friend loves at all times." You don't need 15 scriptures. Just choose one or two that you can work into a regular conversation.
- Watch the movie together. You can go to the movie theater or just pop some popcorn and watch the movie at home. Enjoy your time together. Don't try to talk about the movie in the middle of it. Save your conversation for the end (especially if you're at the theater).
- After the movie, engage in normal post-movie conversation--How did you like the movie? What was your favorite part? Your child may bring up the topic you want to address or you may need to bring it up yourself. If they don't bring it up, work it into your end of the conversation. Begin with a question along the lines of "What did you think about how the characters treated each other in this movie?" Give your kids a chance to think about it and answer. From there, steer the conversation in the direction of the point you want to address. Use scripture to back up your point.
Your conversations may only take a few minutes, but you will have taken an everyday moment in your lives and filled it with everyday truth. So, let's go to the movies!