A year or so ago my wife and I went out to see ‘How to Train your Dragon 2’ and something quite revealing about our culture happened in the theater. This is something that shows that we are way too overprotective of children – parents dragged out their own kids who wanted to finish the film. Let me explain… (spoiler alert)As the second act twist (so right before the climax) Hiccups dad dies at the hand of hypnotized Toothless. This happed after Hiccups father and mother are reunited after a long separation (he thought she had died). In the theater there were gasps as is wont to happen when something shocking happens but then something more shocking happened. Parents took their kids shouted under their breath ‘oh my God’ and dragged them out of the theater. This was not just an isolated family but about a fifth of the theater.
The issue is the kids were not crying or upset, they wanted to see how the bad guy would get defeated now that the hero was at the lowest point but their parents pushed them to leave. Many of the children cried to stay!
Why should we scare our kids in this way? When there is no resolution there will be nightmares and beyond that the children only learn to run from evil, not that it could be fought.
The way I would have resolved it would be to have my child finish watching the movie holding my hand and then when the movie is over lean over and say “I would protect you the same way Hiccup’s dad protected him because that is what Jesus would do. I would do that because I love you and would fight any bad guy for you”.
You see when I was a child our movies were dark but they resolved!
- An American Tale has a child mouse separated from his family through the whole film but then they are reunited.
- The Land Before Time has the mom dinosaur killed in the opening moments, but then at the end the main dinosaur child is reunited with grandparent dinosaurs.
- In the Lion King, Mufasa is killed! Scar wins until Simba takes his rightful throne.
We should not needlessly scare children, but should show them that the ‘dragons can be fought’, and ‘good can win but only through struggle’. Not everything is an amusement park show. Real life has death, evil, sin, and villains. By showing our kids that evil can be fought shows that even when it is darkest their light can shine.
For more and better information on this idea check out this link: http://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2016/04/why-i-write-scary-stories-for-children/478977/