Christianity Today asked parents what scary movies have “worked” with their kids — scared them enough to be entertaining and instructive but not too much to be truly upsetting.
I found the comments very insightful. Here are some excerpts:
I recently heard Tony Campolo speak, and he was trying to communicate to parents that “safe” is not what we are raising kids to be. Safe kids will not change the world. Instead, we want them to be wise, powerful, courageous, tenacious, furious at injustice, unprotected from reality, totally dedicated to serving Christ and his beloved people.
Pinocchio, The Wizard of Oz, Spirited Away, Mirrormask, even The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe are all fine examples of scary movies for children. Because they are all steeped in the classic fairy tale tradition. These types of well-written, well-made films can provide integral lessons to youth as they journey on the scariest trip of all: the road to adulthood…”Family-friendly” need not mean “intellectually stunted.” These types of films, watched with a discerning eye, teach deep lessons.
Being scared in the moment can produce a teachable moment, but if the kid is prone to nightmares then nothing is being learned.
A little over a year ago, I wrote about why (and how) we like to be scared, and just this month we’ve had a spirited discussion about whether “Coraline” is too scary. I agree with this comment in the Christianity Today story:
Every single child is different, and the parents should know their child best. If your child is 12 and scared of things, I don’t care if a movie is rated G–if it’s going to scare your child, don’t take them. If you aren’t sure, read your child a thoughtful review of the movie and see if they even want to go. Some children of 6 aren’t scared by anything. Some children love the feeling of feeling scared; they’re aware that it’s “just” a movie.