Family Movies News

Seeing Movies About Tough Topics with Your Kids

A typical trip to the movie theater as a family is usually done for pure entertainment value. The kids want to see the latest animated feature, comic book blockbuster or teen-heartthrob movie. But every once in a while, the producers and writers of movies throw us a curveball as parents and a tough topic comes up in a movie.  
Sometimes we’re ready for it. When our daughter was younger, we took her to see Bridge to Terabithia, and we knew she’d have a difficult time with Leslie’s death in the movie, but because I had read the book, I prepared her in advance. Even with that warning, we still saw her silently sobbing when the scene came around, and I knew that it was actually good for her to let her emotions out and process the storyline in this way.
Other times we’re not prepared at all, and if you’re like me, you spend the rest of the movie after the tough topic arises thinking about how you can discuss it once the movie is over. This happened to me when I took our daughter to see The Secret Life of Bees. I was completely caught off guard on some of the content, and I wasn’t sure that I could adequately convince her that there’s a place for movies with storylines that are deeper than fairy tales.
It’s a blessing when young lives haven’t been exposed to grief. Since you and the culture mold your children’s perceptions, watching movies as a family that deal with tough topics can shape the way your kids deal with them. In real life, there isn’t a superhero to save the day or a wake-up kiss from a prince. Being available to discuss their emotions and feelings surrounding difficult themes can bring kids a sense of comfort and peace, rather than having them feel scared, anxious or constantly worried that something awful will happen to them. 
This summer you could take advantage of opening up that dialogue by going to see the movie Ways to Live Forever. The movie is about a 12-year-old boy with leukemia and a list of goals that he, and his best friend attempt to complete before he dies. It’s certainly a tough topic to imagine in any young person’s life.  
The reality is that fear, trauma, sickness and death are a part of our lives, and movies can and will always play a role in letting people escape from that. But in the essence that movies are outside our bounds of reality, they also allow us to bridge conversations, with our tweens and teens, about those same tough topics. 
Tammy has been blogging since 2008 about home, family, recipes, travel and more! To read more by Tammy, visit or follow her on Twitter @ThreeDifferent.
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