My 10-year-old daughter really wanted to go see Iron Man 3 this past weekend. I did a little research and told her no. This comes on the heels of her request to go see 42, to which I also said no.
The Iron Man 3 answer was easy. It’s rated PG-13 and the review in our newspaper said it had “Diehard-like body counts.” The 42 answer was not.
You see, I really wanted to let her see 42. For those of you who don’t know, 42 is the story of Jackie Robinson, the first black player in Major League Baseball. I felt like the lessons she could learn from that movie and the history she could absorb would be worth bending our no PG-13 movies until you’re older rule. Plus, I really wanted to go see the movie.
It boiled down to one scene in the movie. Everyone I talked to who had seen it mentioned the scene where Jackie Robinson gets dressed down by an opposing manager. To a person, they all said it was too much for a 10-year-old. So I said no.
I hated saying no. I really wanted to share a movie and my love of baseball with my daughter. I really wanted to have some good conversations about the history of segregation in our country. I really thought good could come of seeing that movie. But it will have to wait. We’ll have to get it on DVD or Netflix when she’s older.
My daughter and I both learned a couple of things through this process. She learned that even though a movie might be worth watching (and I believe that 42 is one of those movies), you sometimes have to wait until you’re old enough to handle it. I learned that sometimes no matter how much you want to fulfill your kids’ requests, sometimes it’s better to make them wait.
You see, I could have taken her to see 42, and we could have worked our way through that scene. I could have convinced myself that the rest of the movie had enough redeeming value that it was worth helping her understand what was going on in that one scene. Some parents may make that choice, and that’s OK. It just wasn’t the right choice for my daughter.
You see, society wants our kids to grow up really fast. It wants them to dress like mini adults. It wants them to be introduced to sex and violence at a young age. It wants them to understand adult things.
But I want the opposite. I want my girls to enjoy being kids. I want them to grow up at the pace that God created them to grow. I want them to mature without me pushing them to grow up in a hurry. I want to enjoy these last vestiges of little girlhood in my house — because we are on the cusp of having two young ladies in our house instead of two little girls.
And if those are our goals, then the choices we make about what we let our kids see and do are important. We have to weigh our movie choices, our TV choices and our music choices against those goals. I can’t shelter my kids forever. I can’t and don’t want to keep them from growing up, but for these last, glittering moments of childhood, I can and will make choices that keep them growing at God’s pace, not society’s.