One of my favorite things to do is to show my kids movies and then pose thought provoking questions afterward. What's especially awesome is when one of my kids makes an observation about something I didn't even catch! I find that discussing movies allows me to see how well their biblical worldview is developing. Sometimes I get suspicious of "Sunday School" answers. This oft quoted joke sums it up well:
A Sunday-school teacher asks the class of young children, "What is little and gray, eats nuts, and has a big bushy tail?" After a moment one child replies, "I know the answer is Jesus, but it sure sounds like a squirrel to me."
See a kid knows that in Church, the answer is always Jesus. Everyone wants that gold star. But take them out of church, and put them in a frozen yogurt shop across from the Cineplex and ask them why the main character of a movie was so hell bent on riches... or revenge.... or love... or justice... and now if the answer is something Jesus - centric you know you are laying a good foundation that will hold up against the storms of life's realities.
So, if you're not doing it already, here are some suggested questions to pose to your kids the next time you watch any movie to engage them in a critical discussion. You'll get to know your kids better and get a lot more value for the $10-$15 bucks you shelled out for it!
STEP 1: CHOOSE A UNIT OF MEASUREMENT
We use pineapples. No reason, it's just what we landed on. 5 pineapples to be exact. So the first thing we share is how each of us would rate the film in pineapples. If the score is low, usually it comes with some related critique. If it's high that usually gets explained as well. Sometimes this is enough to start the conversation.
STEP 2: BREAK IT DOWN
Ask these questions
1. Who was the protagonist of this movie and what was his or her goal?
2. How did you feel as the protagonist pursued this goal?
4. Can you think of any biblical truths or principles that address this person's situation?
5. What do you think the filmmaker was trying to say with this story?
6. What can we learn from the story?
STEP 3: BE PREPARED TO GO GRAY
Nobody likes black and white movies anymore. But as parents, we all want black and white answers when it comes to our kids. We want to know they have a clear sense of right and wrong. But the world we live in is constantly trying to blur those lines and our kids get influenced by that. So sometimes these discussions will reveal some of this "gray" thinking in our kids. The key here is to not over react. Don't freak out and get all flustered because the little Sunday School kid you raised is sounding like a heretic. Swallow your frustration and calmly encourage them to keep thinking and praying about it and maybe plan to discuss it again sometime. Tell them you appreciate their thoughts and you'll continue to give it some consideration. This way you're keeping the lines of communication open rather than severing them with a big over reaction that convinces them that you're not a safe sounding board. At this point you'll feel worried and shaken but now you know. It's like getting that MRI when you have some head pain. You avoid it for a long time because you are afraid to know. But the only way to healing is to know what exactly you're dealing with, and these movie discussions can do exactly that.
Obviously our goal as parents is to gradually transition from protecting them to equipping them to protect themselves. We can't be there always at all times to intercept false and dangerous ideas. But if we can model for them the process of "taking every thought captive to Christ," we will have served them well.
That's my approach, anyway.