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Parental Guidance: Talking to Your Kids About Your Favorite Childhood Movies

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Parenting is tough:  there’s no doubt about it.  No matter how hard you try to avoid it, eventually every parent will need to have “the talk” with their kids.  Depending on your child’s stage of emotional and mental development, this discussion typically takes place around the prepubescent years (10-13 years old), but it could come earlier.  Regardless, it comes suddenly and unexpectedly and it’s always the same:

Child:     Dad, can I talk to you?
Parent:   Sure honey.
Child:     Well, there’s something I need to ask you about?
Parent:   Ok.
Child:     Can I watch Jaws?  All my friends are doing it.  And you saw it at my age!

While it’s only natural to want to protect the innocence of your child’s psyche from the brutal realities in the world–like what happens when you drink too much and go skinny-dipping in the pre-dawn hours off the shores of Amity Island–you ultimately shouldn’t ever decline the opportunity to bond with your progeny, by watching the same great 80’s kid-flicks which shaped you during your own childhood.  You turned out just fine didn’t you?  Although these movies have stood the test of time, don’t let that nostalgic feeling blindside you.  Honestly, if you haven’t watched the following beloved films in a while, do yourself a favor and read this–because it might just help you avoid some of the more awkward, cringe-worthy, white-knuckled moments you might experience in the company of your little ones.

The Dark Crystal (1982) Rated PG

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Every kid loves puppets right?  What about life-size, disgusting, rag-wearing, roadkill looking bird puppets who eat, torture and even kill other puppets?  If watching a haggish, bearded, grey-haired, nipplish old muppet woman get attacked by a giant crab doesn’t give them nightmares, then the scenes in which the Skeksis suck the very life essence from the Podlings surely will.  Are you ready for that?  If not, it’s gonna be a long night.

Gremlins (1984) Rated PG

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An imaginative and funny movie which is best watched around the holidays, when your kids are badgering you about getting them a new pet for Christmas.  Gremlins can teach kids great lessons on the responsibilities and dangers that come with pet ownership.  But it’s not the trench-coated, flashing Gremlin that will scar them forever.  It’s the nearly one-minute long story about Kate’s dad, who intended to surprise the family by dressing up as Santa and climbing down the chimney, only to get stuck and die on Christmas, that will put you in a tight spot too.  Is this really how you want your kids to find out that Santa’s not real?

The Neverending Story (1984) Rated PG

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You probably watched this movie as a kid, and loved it right?  Not me. I hated it.  The film is overwhelmingly depressing, in every respect.  From learning about Bastian’s mom to Artax, the horse, the movie makes it clear that everyone and everything you care about is going to die.  Yup, you too junior.  In addition to that sad fact of life, the cast consists of a hodgepodge of odd, capitulating characters including:  a dejected rock guy, a crying princess, a young hero who essentially yells his lines during the entire movie, a phallic-shaped, mustached dragon dog-like thing, and a villain which amounts to nothing.  If you choose to watch it with your family, it’s best to have the names of a few professional child counselors in mind afterwards.

Back To The Future (1985) Rated PG

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No film is filled with more nostalgia than Back to The Future.  In just two hours, your kids will get a back-in-my-day, time-traveling history lesson of life during the late 1950’s and early 1980’s.  The iconic film can open up some great, post-viewing, parent and child dialogue centered around:  your own family lineage, inventions, life choices, bullying, terrorism, and the space time continuum.  However, have the earmuffs ready, because there’s a hell of a lot of cursing in the movie.  While your kids have probably heard you utter the same words, the excessive foul language isn’t the worst part.  You better be prepared to look your kid in the eye and answer some tough questions surrounding some lascivious sequences in the movie including:  voyeurism, borderline incest, and also a scene depicting sexual assault, because there’s absolutely nothing funny about that.

Labyrinth (1986) Rated PG

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While there’s no doubt the fantastical tale about a 16-year old girl’s journey to save her kidnapped baby brother from the mysterious Goblin King and his muppet minions will delight and entertain your kids, you’ll need to remember things in The Labyrinth are not always what they seem.  Sarah’s odyssey isn’t to find her lost sibling, because it’s clearly evident during the entire film, she doesn’t give two ****s about him.  Rather, it’s a coming-of-age quest plain and simple.  She’s clearly experiencing a sexual awakening, no doubt triggered by the sight of David Bowie’s magical bulge.  You might want to wait a little longer to watch it with your kids, or else you’re going to have to explain what the “Magic Dance” is really all about.

Well, our time is up today and we’ve only begun to scratch the surface.  I think we’re off to a good start though, so it’ll be interesting to see where we go from here.  See you at our next appointment.

Article written by Matthew Mahone

Follow me on Twitter @M_E_Mahone