In many Christian circles there is something known as the age of accountability. To put it simply, this is basically the age at which a person reaches when they are fully aware of the difference between right and wrong and the consequences of choosing one or the other. This is the age when doing wrong, choosing against God, parents, etc. is a deliberate and purposeful choice and they are now held accountable for that choice, good or bad. There is no set-in-stone age and it is not necessarily a flip of the switch kind of thing, but that’s what it is, in a nutshell. I liken this post to something like that. Many often wonder when that age of accountability occurs. Today I’m wondering what age is the right age to bring your kids to the theater?
A while back I went with Tres to see Ghost Rider 2. I rarely pony up the money for 3D but Tres is a fan of it so I decided to give it a whirl. Not impressed, at least not on that movie. Anyway, while we were sitting there waiting through the ads, anticipating what trailers there might be, a young couple (late 20’s to mid 30’s) came in with what I would guess was their 2 year old child. Yes, a 2 year old… at Ghost Rider 2. I turned to Tres and we both had pretty puzzled looks on our faces.
Now, I’ll give some credit. The kid was quiet, no outbursts of crying or anything that I can recall. He may have fallen asleep for all I know. But if he didn’t, I would be shocked if that kid didn’t have nightmares the rest of the month. C’mon, you have a flaming skull head exacting fiery retribution on the scum of the earth, and you bring your two year old?!? Ever heard of a babysitter??? You can’t tell me there wasn’t a grandparent, sibling, aunt/uncle, best friend or regular babysitter to watch the kid for the couple hours you just had to see this movie. In fact, go all out! Take your lady out to dinner and give yourselves a full date night. If not, here’s a wild idea: skip the movie!
This all got me thinking, what age is the right age to bring your children to certain movies? I would hope there is near universal agreement that 2 years old is too young for Ghost Rider. But, when I take my kids to Despicable Me 2 in about a month it won’t surprise me at all to see a 2 year old there. As much as I can’t wait until my son is old enough to join me in the theaters for most of the movies I like, I’ll guarantee you he’ll be about 6 or 7 times older than that before I bring him with me to something like Ghost Rider. There has to be some kind of filter you apply there as a parent. If there is any question at all, don’t you at least see the movie yourself first, then decide if it is appropriate for your child?
My son is five, he’s big into superheroes right now. When Avengers came out I knew right away he’d want to see it. So I made the adult decision to check it out on the big screen… 12 times… before letting him see it. I suspected it may be the type of movie that younger kids could still enjoy. Even then I had reservations about the violence in some parts and some of the language. With caution I let him watch it at home, during the day with plenty of lighting, and he loved it. However, he’s going to have to wait a while before I let him see The Dark Knight, even if it is at home. Both are superhero movies (even if Batman isn’t actually a SUPERhero), but both very different in severity, realism, etc.
So I guess my point is this: use a little discretion when deciding what movies to allow your kids to watch. In fact, use a lot of discretion! Kids aren’t kids forever. Kids are still naïve about a lot of things, they have some innocence left in them and they have a drastically different view of the world than an adult does. There is no need to rush them out of those stages of life. I think exposing them to certain forms of entertainment can do just that, despite their incessant pleading! So, parents, when you line up to see World War Z this summer, leave the toddlers at home 😉