cartoon cow writing at a desk

Lost Innocence (10.6.15)

Before I had children, I heard many adults—both males and females—throughout the years claim that a certain scene in a movie freaked them out and that they “never got over it.” Sometimes it was Bambi’s mother dying or perhaps the flying monkeys or the witch in The Wizard of Oz. I took that information and tucked it into my memory banks for when I became a mother.

My goal as a parent is to guide and protect my children and to discern what TV shows, movies, stories, video games, etc. are both age-appropriate and appropriate based on our family’s value system.

To me, the purpose of being a child is to feel safe and protected while exploring your imagination and the world. There is no value in introducing young children to information and images that may not make sense to them since their brains are not fully developed. I don’t need to back this statement up with scientific facts—it’s called common sense.

I realize that I am at the other end of the spectrum concerning age-appropriate material and what is considered appropriate in general to some people. When I was growing up, there were only four television stations to choose from, and Disney was only available for one hour per week on Sunday night. As a result of this limited access to television shows, we weren’t exposed to a lot of scary shows. The most frightening show on TV at that time was The Twilight Zone, and that came on in the middle of the night and was only accessible to me at an infamous slumber party—which is another story.

We also only had one television when I was younger (egad!) which meant we had to agree on which shows to watch. My brother Doug, who is a year older than me, always wanted to watch Lassie, which killed me to watch, because I couldn’t handle the emotional drama of the dog or the boy getting hurt or separated.

I remember seeing Roddy McDowall in the Planet of the Apes with my parents at the drive-in theatre. I was so young, I was wearing my footed pajamas. It was horrifying to me. We saw A Christmas Carol at a fancy, new indoor theatre when I was very young, and the scene with the grim reaper ghost petrified me. Maybe I’m super sensitive.

Today children can watch TV or a movie over and over as long as their parents let them. They can glean every little detail out of a movie, recite the lines, and re-create the scenes at home. Media access is totally different today.

I feel very annoyed and angry when I see parents bringing very young children (18 months old – 3 years old) into movie theatres. I understand that some people can’t get a babysitter and they are taking the older kid(s) (age 4+) to see a movie. The subject matter in most children’s movies that are released in movie theatres are really created for children aged 8+. Think about the leap from preschool television shows to what is being shown in the movie theaters. There is a huge difference. Most very young children don’t have the attention span needed for a 90-minute movie. They also don’t need to be exposed to violence at such a young age. But I’ve also seen young children (age 8-9) in movies that my husband and I go to on our date nights! These are adult movies! I want to slap the adults (yes, now I’m getting violent) and say “Wake up and think about what’s best for this child!”

Do we need a refresher on what a child is? By my definition, children are anywhere from ages 0 – 12. Even teenagers and college kids are still “kids,” because they don’t have enough life experience with real life responsibilities—unless they are raising themselves or their younger siblings due to unusual family circumstances. God help us when today’s children come of age considering all the horror and violence they are being exposed to through various media sources 24/7.

The age of innocence is childhood. We should cherish being a child. Children will have the rest of their lives to be adults and then have the option to choose whether or not they want to be scared out of their minds and “get over it.”