Seeing Movies About Tough Topics with Your Kids

I am a Family Room Parent Blogger for Fandango, for which I have been compensated, however my opinions are completely my own.  This post was originally published over on Fandango’s Family Room as part of their Ambassador campaign.  Affiliate links are used in this post.

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A typical trip to the movie theater as a family is usually done for pure entertainment value. The kids want to see the latest animated feature, comic book blockbuster or teen-heartthrob movie. But every once in a while, the producers and writers of movies throw us a curveball as parents and a tough topic comes up in a movie.  

Sometimes we’re ready for it. When our daughter was younger, we took her to see Bridge to Terabithia, and we knew she’d have a difficult time with Leslie’s death in the movie, but because I had read the book, I prepared her in advance. Even with that warning, we still saw her silently sobbing when the scene came around, and I knew that it was actually good for her to let her emotions out and process the storyline in this way.

Other times we’re not prepared at all, and if you’re like me, you spend the rest of the movie after the tough topic arises thinking about how you can discuss it once the movie is over. This happened to me when I took our daughter to see The Secret Life of Bees. I was completely caught off guard on some of the content, and I wasn’t sure that I could adequately convince her that there’s a place for movies with storylines that are deeper than fairy tales.

It’s a blessing when young lives haven’t been exposed to grief. Since you and the culture mold your children’s perceptions, watching movies as a family that deal with tough topics can shape the way your kids deal with them. In real life, there isn’t a superhero to save the day or a wake-up kiss from a prince. Being available to discuss their emotions and feelings surrounding difficult themes can bring kids a sense of comfort and peace, rather than having them feel scared, anxious or constantly worried that something awful will happen to them.

This summer you could take advantage of opening up that dialogue by going to see the movie Ways to Live Forever. The movie is about a 12-year-old boy with leukemia and a list of goals that he, and his best friend attempt to complete before he dies. It’s certainly a tough topic to imagine in any young person’s life.

The reality is that fear, trauma, sickness and death are a part of our lives, and movies can and will always play a role in letting people escape from that. But in the essence that movies are outside our bounds of reality, they also allow us to bridge conversations, with our tweens and teens, about those same tough topics. 

The Family Room on serves the needs of the parent moviegoer who is looking to purchase tickets for and with their children, so be sure to check out more family oriented movie articles over on Fandango’s Family Room.  And remember you can skip the box office with Fandango’s online service and mobile apps.  They make it easy to select and purchase movie tickets in advance, so you and your family can just go and enjoy the show!

33 thoughts on “Seeing Movies About Tough Topics with Your Kids

  1. We'll be dealing with some of these issues before we know it. I have no idea how to explain some of these things to my kids.Hopefully by creating trust and openness between us that they will feel free to ask me anything anytime.

  2. That kind of movie would be hard for me to watch…it's hard enough for ME (I'd bawl the whole time) so not sure how I'd watch it with my son. I hate that any child gets sick.

  3. My kids are still very young, and their first experience with death was their grandma's cat dying just a few weeks ago. I told the girls that the cat was very sick and she went to go live in heaven with God. My 4yo now tells me all the time that she doesn't want to get older and live in heaven because she would miss us too much. 🙁

  4. some really good points,I worry about when is too young,you don't want them to be so confused they worry a lot about things they have no control over,,

  5. Unfortunately, exposing our kids to tough topics is part of our job as parents. My boys sadly have had to deal with a lot of death early on in their lives, including my oldest three's father. Ironically, the one movie that made my 7 year bust into tears right in the theater was the Odd Life of Timothy Green. I think it is good for children to experience and learn to process different emotions.

  6. Sadness is a part of life. I hope I am around when my children have to experience it so that I can help ease the pain.

  7. This is so important. I remember when a classmate was dying of cancer our teacher read us My Girl to help us prepare and understand.

  8. My son's a bit too young to get into anything too deep, but I definitely think watching the right movies will help expose him to things like death & grief when the time comes.

  9. I love this post for so many reasons!!! I think there needs to be more movies like this because I think it would help not only the kids but definitely parents as well.

  10. Death is such a hard topic to discuss with children. My 6 year old had a classmate die in an accident this year and trying to explain it to her was the most challenging parenting task. I do feel it is very important for children to learn about such topics so they can try to understand what others go through.

  11. These are very difficult topics for all ages. Article shared some excellent coping and explanation strategies.

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