Fandango Family: Our Family Movie Rules

As my husband and I go through the motions of becoming parents of a tween and pre-tween, we are starting to navigate the world of buying electronics, going online, dropping off at parties, navigating sleepovers and watching movies.

Watching movies? Why is that an “issue”? Well, it’s not really an issue. We just have placed some rules governing how and when to watch certain movies. Believe me, when it’s a holiday and the kids are home from school, going to see a movie is a must-have. With all of the holiday breaks coming up, I’m always looking at the Fandango Family website to see which movies are coming up so we can schedule it in. Thank you to Fandango Family for sponsoring this post!

So back to our movie rules. We have two rules in our family when we watch certain movies: 

  1. You must read the book before you watch the movie. And if it takes you too long to read the book, and the movie is not in the theaters anymore, you can always watch it on-demand.
  2. You must know historical context of movies and their characters.

Case in point: For our 6th-grader,

  • Harry Potter Series: Our 6th-grader has watched all Harry Potter movies, up to Book 5, because that’s as far as she read.
  • Fault in Our Stars: This book was all over the tween set last year and then we heard that it was coming out as a movie, so our 6th grader had to read it. After she read it, I read it, too. Movie? Absolute tear-jerker and a bonding moment for me and my daughter.
  • The Maze Runner. When we were watching Fault in Our Stars, we sat through seven previews, one of which was The Maze Runner. It absolutely captured our attention, especially the fact that at the end of the preview, it said that it’s a book. We immediately said to each other, “We need to read that!”, and that night, we downloaded The Maze Runner on our iPads and iPhones and got to reading before the September 19th release date. We got through 2 out of the 3 books in the series (the last book was not doing it for us). But we got to see the movie!
  • Divergent. Going along with the post-apocalyptic world theme, she read Divergent, but only after the movie came and went in the theaters. She did however, get to watch it at home.

For our younger daughter, we like to make sure she gets the context right:

  • Wall-E and Echo:  Before either of our daughters got interested in any extra-terrestrial movies, we made the girls watch E.T. which sets the context for any alien-life-form movie.
  • Princess Padme from the Star Wars Prequels: We went as far as making our then 6-year old watch the The Star Wars prequels. She had seen Star Wars, Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi which made her want to be Princess Leia for Halloween (of course). When we went through the Halloween costumes online, she liked the Princess Padme costume better than the Princess Leia costume (the former was MUCH cooler). Because we wanted her to know who Princess Padme was before she can be her for Halloween, we made her watch the Star Wars Episodes I, II, III. Yup. The whole series. (I did cover her eyes when Anakin was falling into the lava and thus became Darth Vadar, though.)

What rules do you have (if any) for when your kids watch movies? Do you read the books before you watch a movie? After? Does it matter to you?

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