Have you ever started watching a movie with your family, and thought to yourself, “This is not at all what I expected” or “maybe this wasn’t such a good choice after all”?
I think we’ve all been there, slightly embarrassed that we didn’t do a little more research, or unsure if we should – A) bear the discomfort of turning a movie off completely, or B) endure the discomfort of sitting through the rest of it on eggshells about what might happen next.
After this scenario happening in our family too many times, we developed some ground rules that have helped us avoid those awkward situations and decisions. We’ve found that by following these few basic guidelines, it’s easy to make the decision in advance about which movies are right for our family, rather than having to regret it after the fact.
I’m guessing they might be helpful for you as well. So here are 5 easy guidelines for helping your family choose the best movies:
1. Watch the trailer. This seems so simple. But do we do it prior to every movie we watch? We should. It’s amazing how much you can learn about a movie (it’s theme, it’s overall tone, and it’s purpose), just by viewing the trailer. Sometimes you may think you know about a movie, but after watching the trailer, you find that it really isn’t what you expected. Following this simple rule is often the simplest and first step to being informed.
2. Read the reviews. Reviews abound for movies nowadays. Find out what other families are saying about specific movies, and whether or not they are glad they watched it and would recommend it to others. Reviews are a great way be informed from the voices of experience.
3. Use a movie review source. A couple of review sources we use from a Christian perspective are Family Life’s Plugged In App (also PluggedIn.com), and Crosswalk.com. These sources will give you a complete rundown of the overall theme of the movie, the positive and negative elements, spiritual content, drug content, language content, and an overall family friendly rating.
4. Align it with your values (moral and biblical). Let’s face it, most of Holywood is not promoting our Christian values, but rather challenging them more and more each year. Much of it’s very blatant, while some of it is very subtle and implied. So don’t assume anyone else has your child’s best interests in mind, but rather, do your research. And after doing it, you should be able to better discern whether or not a movie is going to be a positive or a negative experience for your family, and whether or not it will help you or hurt you as a parent. Every person is influenced by the entertainment they consume, and especially our impressionable children. So make sure it is working in your favor.
5. Ask yourself the honest questions. Is this a wise use of our family’s time? Will this work against or reinforce what I am trying to teach my children (language, violence, sexual content, etc.)? Is there a life lesson to be taught or gained? Does this movie elevate what is good, or glorify what is evil? Could this movie potentially undercut what I am trying to instill within my kids? Is the theme of this movie something that is in line with, or contrary to, Biblical principles or practices?
If you follow these five simple rules, they won’t take more than a few minutes of your time, but they definitely can save you a few hours of regret.
As Christian parents, it is our responsibility to protect the hearts and minds of our children, as well as the appetites we create in them. (Psalm 101:2-3, Prov. 22:6, 23:26) And what we allow them to watch can play a huge part in that.
- At our house, we have family movie night once a week, and our kids love it! You can get a free copy of our Intentional Family Game Plan – a proven strategy for maximizing family time, by clicking here. It includes our family’s nightly themes for the entire week.