One of the earliest experiences I remember that made a significant, lasting impression on me was when my parents took me to see Jurassic Park at a drive-in in 1993. Being ten at the time, I was absolutely blown away, not just because I got to see dinosaurs, which I love, but that I could experience it with my parents, balancing out the usual work-overload which created a small divide, and the non-stop discussions about the movie afterward.
The cinema is a great bonding experience for any parent; it provides an environment that is not only fun but can bring about new ideas. Consider taking your child to see one of the many Marvel movies; you’ll have a great time but it creates a platform to discuss ethics and morals which may not be clear to the children. In a way – it acts as a teaching tool even if it’s something as silly as a caped crusader running around the city, defending the citizens.
Personally – some of the best discussions I’ve had with my parents have stemmed from casual conversations about film – as time goes on and I could understand the meta-narrative, I was also able to bring up these ideas in discussions which lead to me further bonding and understanding my parents.
I know this all sounds somewhat silly that I place such a high praise toward cinema and how I bonded with my parents but I see this in my friends’ relationships and the same when I connect with people. Simply put, it’s this: cinema is a fantastic icebreaker for anyone and it would be a disservice to simply dismiss it as trivial when you consider all the great moments it can create during and after its viewing.
I recommend this:
- Find a service that provides a great selection of movies and shows that fit the bill and can be viewed by the child’s appropriate age. My bet is on Direct TV because you can DVR plenty of shows/movies, have access to pay-per-view, and it has (all around) excellent customer service.
- Pick a day-of-the-week where the family can get together, order pizza or gather up the snacks, pick a movie (or even do this by a roulette type game), watch, and then spend a bit of time, afterward, to discuss what they think about the film.
A family movie night is thrilling especially when others can take turns. You have the potential, as a parent, to present movies you feel would challenge the ideas of your child – the same can come your way if they have a movie they would want you to watch.
For example – a few of the movies that helped bond with my parents included:
- Gladiator – I saw this with my father and had me asking plenty of questions (further leading to research) about the Roman empire
- The Nutty Professor – I saw this with my entire family and it made me realize how quirky we were and started a lot of discussion about the funny things we did around the house
- Saving Private Ryan – A movie I watched at home with my parents that helped me gain a perspective of my dad’s activity during his tour of duty
The movies don’t always have to be serious, comedies, animation, and the like. Sometimes a great documentary can draw you and your child in – educating them about a subject but also allowing you to share your opinion and hear theirs, which may be vastly different than you would have initially imagined. In a way, it’s like using cinema for good.
The environment in which you watch the films can make all the difference, too. Consider purchasing a projector and sound system so you can host your movies on the lawn. In this scenario, you could even invite neighbors (with their kids) over which will be a fun experience but also gets you (and the kids) very social with another. The bonding around the movie could certainly lead to new and exciting changes for your family and its relationship with the neighborhood.
All-in-all, what I’m saying is that film has a special place especially when it’s spent with your loved ones. You may not completely remember the story of the film but the experience of being able to laugh, cry, get spooked, or feel compassion becomes correlated with the people you spend it with; in the end, it’s good, clean fun that you and a child of any age can enjoy and find ways to start interesting discussions that can leave lasting impressions for later in life.