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Film Mom: Should You Make Your Child See "Good for Them" Movies?

The Film Mom is a weekly column about family entertainment for parents with kids (and kids with parents) by Tara McNamara, the editor and founder of

If you haven’t taken your teen to see Lincoln or your tween to see Life of Pi, you should. Just expect some push-back. To a kid, these two brilliant films may be the cinematic equivalent of Brussels sprouts.

As an adult, we grow to like things that are nutritious. At a fancy restaurant, grown-ups salivate over roasted beets, marinated artichokes and bone marrow flan – menu items that send any self-respecting 9-year-old into dry heaves. Similarly, as we age we typically develop a more sophisticated film palate – which is why those over 35 are less likely to appreciate Adam Sandler or anything "by the makers of Scary Movie 3."

Here lies the dilemma: do you force your child to see a "good for you" movie, one that'll teach them something and that you believe they actually WILL enjoy? Lincoln is a fascinating film but, frankly, it feels like homework. But, lo and behold, the three teen critics who reviewed it for all loved it and enthusiastically recommended Lincoln to their peers. My 11-year-old daughter Riley dug in her heels when she found out we were on our way to see Life of Pi, a movie she previously declared “looks boring.” An Icee and a bag of candy later, she skeptically agreed to sit with me in the theater. As we exited the theater, I expected her to start in on the grumbling. Instead, Riley’s face glowed like the whale that upends Pi’s lifeboat and she raved about how much she loved the film.

It’s our job as parents to introduce our children to new flavors, new ideas, and new experiences. Though parents have so many battles to fight with children through the years, I do think it is worth it to introduce them to films that are “good for you.” In a perfect world, parents wouldn’t need to achieve this by bribing kids with tasty treats that are NOT good for them. However, to take a parenting tip from a well-respected governess, "a spoon full of sugar" is immensely helpful.

Here are three other films you may want to see this week with your family:

 Rise of the Guardians. It’s the only animated holiday film being released year, so you might as well see it sooner than later. Thankfully, it’s a winner.



 Wreck-It Ralph. It’s Toy Story with video games, and like Toy Story 3, it’s unpredictable and deeply moving.




 ParaNorman. Released this week on Blu-ray and DVD, ParaNorman is just as thought-provoking and sticky as Lincoln and Life of Pi. No matter what the Academy eventually determines, I contend ParaNorman is the best animated movie of the year.




To find out if kids like these films, go to, where all kids are movie critics. 

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