Have you ever seen that cartoon of a woman with a balloon over her head saying “Oh no, I forgot to have kids!”?
Well, I remembered the kids, but they bring other “oh no” moments with them now. Like with teaching them things. Every so often your offspring will do something that’s wrong in a really basic way, like wiping their mouths on the tablecloth, and you wonder how they can even think of doing that. And yet, did you ever tell them not to wipe their mouths on the tablecloth? No, you didn’t. Remember, they come into this world as ignorant lambs. How were they supposed to know not to use the tablecloth as a napkin? (Yeah, I think they could have worked it out on their own too, but we’ll let it slide this time.)
The lessons that really seem to slip through the cracks are those about “teaching values,” you’ll excuse the expression. I suppose a good parent would have regular character-building discussions about right and wrong, how to treat other people, what qualities are important to be a good, happy adult, etc., etc. But around here it’s more like, “Oh no, I forgot to tell the kids not to lie, cheat and steal.” I mean, by the time we’re done talking about the tablecloth, finding more napkins, clearing the table, getting ready for bed, etc., etc., moral uprightness just has to wait for another day. Ideally, they could pick up the proper values from my noble example, but quite frankly, even on my best days I’m usually striking out on two out of three, and sometimes the third, depending on how you define stealing.
But you know, I’m completely in favor of teaching my kids not to be rotten. At the same time, it’s summer for lots of us – not my favorite season for heavy duty teaching. So I was quite happy to see this list of ten movies for kids, just right to plug your children into while you take a bath, I mean, for family viewing.
They’re “Family Movies that Teach Values” from the “Movie Mom,” Nell Minow, at Beliefnet, the multidenominational site. Despite the headline, there’s nothing at all medicinal about them – they’re good movies, at least the ones I know, that, oh yeah, do seem to have good points to make. Make some popcorn, turn on a DVD, seems like a fine low-effort way to get credit for Teaching Your Children Values. I suppose you’d get extra points for actually discussing the movies. And here’s the key – they also seem like “family movies” that the grownups in the family can actually watch too, as opposed to, say, nodding off in the middle.
If you’re looking for other suggestions (yes, summer is a long, long season), around here I’m embarrassed to admit that we do tend to watch too much of the completely valueless Scooby Doo, but when we can enforce a grownup choice, a classic musical like Singin’ in the Rain has made everyone happy. After all, an appreciation of a funny song and dance routine is pretty valuable for any family too.