Helping kids grow up – how much is too much?

When my sons were closer to the age my daughter is now, life was simpler. It wasn’t perfect of course, but we generally got on with each new stage with minimal fretting. It was easy working out the right answer to each new parenting challenge. The latest one we’ve found ourselves facing, though, has us in two minds.

We find ourselves questioning whether we have wrapped the boys in cotton wool. At almost seven and five respectively, they are so much more aware of the world now, but not nearly as much as some of their friends seem to be. As a result, we have recently tried to help broaden their horizons.

This, in turn, has raised an important question. How much is too much?

As I alluded to recently, we’ve tried to enjoy family films while my daughter has her nap. Choosing what to watch has proved tricky. The boys want to watch things other than animated features, but we remain reluctant.

As so many classics feature in LEGO Dimensions, they naturally want to see them. We started Back to the Future, only to stop when some of the language was stronger than we remembered. We’re no prudes, but don’t want them swearing either. Lord of the Rings is both too long and too scary, while we don’t think they would cope too well with certain scenes in Gremlins.

Three LEGO Dimensions figures based on film characters. How much is too much when it comes to letting younger children watch films?

They also want to see every superhero film going, but we’re not sure they should due to the violence in some of them. We’re taking them to see the LEGO Batman Movie at half term, but I know it will whet the appetite for live action films.

Some of their peers have seen things like Batman V Superman, for example. There’s no judgement for that on my part, by the way – I’m just bewildered as to what to do. Do we let them watch more mature content to toughen them up, or steer them clear for now?

Then there’s the issue of the news. The world is a thoroughly depressing place at the moment. I try not to discuss political matters on here, but it has to be said that hate seems to be winning. Should we be telling them about it though?

On the one hand, I think it’s something they should be aware of. As I mentioned earlier, kids are much more knowing these days. It’s also significantly harder to avoid information than when we were young. It’s inevitable that they will hear some things, so perhaps we should give them the full story?

A close-up of a remote control pointing at a TV broadcasting the news.

On the other hand, however, part of me feels that we should let kids be kids and enjoy childhood unburdened by such things. Personally, I don’t think things are going to change for the better for a long, long time. From that point of view, it makes sense to let them have this time untroubled.

The boys seem fascinated by Donald Trump’s rise, in particular. As they are both still very young, they haven’t really grasped the concept as they both talk of his powers as being like those of a comic book villain. Or maybe I’m doing them a disservice there – if they do understand power in a way I haven’t given them credit for, it’s an astute observation.

One of the difficulties I have is fully comprehending the bigger picture myself. While I’m all too aware of what is happening, I don’t understand how so many people have allowed it to. A dark chapter of history seems to be repeating itself, yet it appears that little has been learned from it. How can I properly explain things to them, therefore?

Where do you stand on this? How much is too much? Should kids be kids for as long as possible or do we have a duty to encourage them to grow up faster in this changing world? Do you let your kids watch more grown-up films? Do you discuss the news with them?

I’d love to know what you think.

2 Comments
  • Simon
    February 3, 2017

    You probably know how we push things with movies – to reference your examples, our 5yo has seen Back to the Future and Lord of the Rings and liked them both. She hasn’t picked up on any swearing yet. And watching some older rated films is a good way to introduce real world situations and dilemmas in a fantastical way – but still as stories. She has an understanding of the concepts of political prisoners, rendition, torture, fascism, and many other aspects of life because of various 12+ fantasy/adventure movies – but not in a way that has taken away her childhood.

  • Clare
    February 5, 2017

    Great food for thought. I often find myself thinking the same. My kids are molly cuddled too. However, I realised that if you want kids to develop in life they need to engage and no matter how much we protect them at home.. they will encounter things outside that we shelter them from. Friends, social media, videos etc school.lessons. Sadly we all want our kids to be kids.. the world wants them to grow up far too fast!

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