I know that this post is sure to stir up controversy. Feelings will get hurt and some of my friends will feel alienated because of my positions and the hard lined stance I’ll take in defending it. I’m talking, of course, about the appropriate age to introduce my children to Star Wars.
My daughter is six and my son will be 4 this month and the most violent thing they have ever seen on TV is the battle scene at the end of The Little Mermaid. The only reason they even witnessed that is because I was too slow on the skip button. Usually my wife and I will just fast forward through the “scary” parts of most Disney movies. I suspect that when they watch some of their favorites as teenagers, they’re going to be experiencing new films altogether. “The Lion King’s father was killed??!! My dad told me he moved to his villa in Morocco when Simba went to jungle summer camp!!”.
Now, I love Star Wars. I wouldn’t say that I’ve attained superfan status, but I have referred to my son’s prolific eating habits as “throwing food into the Sarlacc Pit” and know it would be best to bring insect repellant to Dagobah (simmer down ladies, I’m taken). So I am excited for the time when I’m able to sit down with them and watch the movies…. a few years from now. But for the moment, I think they are too young to be sitting through anything more than the terrible Ewok celebration. My son once saw Chewbacca on a commercial and cried just from the sight. He’d soil himself should he see Admiral Ackbar. And that’s a good guy!! (man, maybe I have attained superfan nerd-dom)
It seems like a lot of people are jumping the gun on sharing media that excites them rather than taking the time to wait until the kids are ready for it. I’m trying my hand at self-restraint and giving them more time to be kids. If they are totally content choosing Angelina Ballerina and Fireman Sam, why would I devise to change that?
I know that all kids are different and some of them out there are able to handle those things better than others. When it comes to my two though, they have a number of years before experiencing Star Wars, Lord Of The Rings or any of the super hero movies. I honestly don’t think I’m depriving them either. My son loves Spider Man despite never having seen anything Spider Man related beyond action figures and pictures. If he’s happy imagining Spider Man without actually seeing him battle Carnage, I’m more than happy to let him.
Some of the criticism I’m sure to get will be along the lines of “But you’re sheltering them” or “They’re going to need to face the realities sometime, so teach them early”. I, however, am not anxious to let my kids know that the world can be a terrible place or that violence exists, even if it is just in movies. Why should I scare them now? To date my daughter’s worst nightmare has been that a book was trying to get her. I’m succeeding as a parent if the worst monster she can dream up is simultaneously an object of her adoration. The way I see it, the longer I’m able to shield them from the harsh realities of existence, the better. Once they learn something, they can’t unlearn it. They’ll only have this innocence for a short amount of time and I want to do my best to maintain that. I’ll gladly and openly accept any criticisms that say I’m sheltering them. That is exactly what I am doing and I will continue to do so for as long as I can. Once they’re in bed though, it’s James Bond, Hogwarts, LOTR, Kung Fu, Dark Knight, Horror, Hellboy and Jedi time for me and anyone who wants to join in.
Friends of mine brought this excellent piece to my attention “When To Expose Your Kids To Star Wars” where 19 father bloggers took the time to discuss their views on this very subject. Thank you Sam Christensen for showing it to me.