For the past couple of years, my oldest daughter and I have had an almost-weekly monster movie night together. This usually occurs on nights her mother has to work and, since her younger sister is normally in bed by the time we start, it’s a good way to have some quality bonding time with her.
One thing I do need to be careful about, however, is the movies we actually watch. Standard movie ratings don’t always give an accurate assessment (I’ve watched some G-rated films that weren’t even close to being suitable) and I want to make sure I’m finding a movie that isn’t too intense for her while, at the same time, rule out movies that might have sexual references or excessive swearing. As a result of this, I have three main ways of picking out movies to watch with her.
The first is I focus on earlier films. Monster movies made before 1960 don’t always have the best special effects. But, many of the films do still manage to be entertaining and, for the most part at least, I don’t have to worry about excessive blood, bad language or anything more intense than a very subtle sexual reference. This is why, even though we do make exceptions (such as Godzilla movies), I usually try to find movies that were made in the earlier eras.
Another thing I do is read reviews. This is actually the only time I do this. Since opinions about movies do vary, I normally prefer to judge the film for myself. However, they are very helpful when picking a film to watch with my daughter because many will point out specific scenes that may make me think twice about letting her watch it.
The last thing I do is let her have the final say. I will usually put together a list of movies that passed the first two criteria but, ultimately, she is the one that makes the decision about which one to watch. The main reason I do this is so she can choose to avoid a movie she might find a little too scary (usually films with bugs) and, so far at least, this has been a great way to edit down the list further.
As I said before, our almost-weekly father/daughter monster movie nights have been a great way for us to bond. And, by taking these steps, I’m able to continue this tradition without watching a film that will scar her for life.