A few years ago I saw The Dark Knight in the theater. The title
was very appropriate, it was a very dark Batman movie, and
honestly, I was unsure whether or not I wanted to be there.
When Todd and I sat down, there was a little girl, somewhere
around 6 or 7, sitting on the floor with her hands over her ears.
The previews had started and they were loud, fast and violent. This
was very upsetting to me and I realized I couldn't sit there and
watch her struggle.
If the previews were causing her this much distress, I couldn't
imagine what the next two hours would be like for her - it was too
We moved seats, but my stomach churned throughout the movie - I
thought about her during every violent moment, every scary
appearance of The Joker and every car crash.
Not to mention that my new seat was two rows behind a crying
infant…..yes, there was an infant in this movie.
I am not bothered when a baby cries in a public place - I think
once you're a parent your first feeling is compassion and total
understanding when a baby is crying….all you want to do is help
because you have been in the same situation so many times.
But listening to the little baby cry in a movie like this gave
me a headache. It hurt even more because the parent was telling the
baby to calm down instead of leaving the theater.
How could this sensitive little being ever feel relaxed or
content in such a situation?
Many have suggested that children are too young to know what is
going on in a movie, but children are sensory beings - they feel
everything that is happening.
They may not have the words or experience to understand the plot
of a movie, but they know what fear feels like - they can feel
heaviness, they can feel negativity.
Children are actually at a greater disadvantage because they
can't discern what is real and what is not. They fully experience
what they are seeing/feeling and they don't have the maturity to
realize it is fictional.
So their little bodies take in the pain, the discomfort, the
killing, the adult language, the sexuality, and then they don't
know what to do with it. They don't know how to process through it;
they don't know what it all means.
Several years ago I took my then 3-year-old to see the first
Happy Feet movie. After 15 minutes she was sitting on my lap and
was complaining of a headache. A few minutes later she threw up all
Once I got her out of the theater, she was fine. She didn't have
the flu and she didn't have food poisoning - the sights and sounds
were just too much for her. And this was a kid's movie.
Fast forward to a few weekends ago when Todd took me to see
Breaking Dawn (yes, he is a great guy). I am sitting in a crowded
theater and I can't help but notice all the children sitting with
their parents; kids as young as 3 or 4 years old.
I know we all love Edward, but Edward is still a vampire. And
Jacob is a werewolf. And Bella has a pretty gruesome birth
I could hear children crying throughout the movie and I could
hear parents shushing them and getting frustrated, obviously not
understanding that the kids are just trying to convey their
discomfort, their fear, or maybe just sensory overload.
I love the movies and I love taking my children to movies, but
my hope is that they enjoy the experience. I hope they laugh or
feel inspired, or at the very least I hope they have fun.
Movies are powerful - they can create a view of the world and an
outlook on life. They tell the story of our society; they teach us
what is great (and not so great) about being a human being.
As parents it is our job to help our children integrate as much
"great" as possible before they are inevitably bombarded with the
"not so great" - the graphic material, violence, heavy subjects,
and negative energy.
Before they are subjected to what our society loves to call
Click here to hear Cathy and her husband Todd discuss this blog
and more on Zen
Cathy Adams is a certified parenting coach, yoga instructor and mother to three girls.
See more of Cathy's stories here.
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