My basic criteria for my children is that any book or movie must have clear characteristics in the characters. By that I mean, at whatever age my child was, the books and movies that I allowed them to read/see were ones that they could ‘tell’ who the Good was and who the Evil was. They saw all the Star Wars movies. They were not allowed to watch The Simpsons and Rosie. While there was violence in Star Wars and, yes, the ‘darkness’ of Vadar, the characters chose which side of the line between Good and Evil to stand. They didn’t straddle the line and say it was “ok”. The Simpsons and Rosie produced themes of dumb parents and smart-mouthed kids and sent the message that there are no absolutes except that all ‘traditions’ are passé and we are smarter now than we were ‘then’.
If you asked my children, I suspect they would tell you that they did not always appreciate their “old-fashioned” mother who wouldn’t let me listen to some of the music that their friends had or allow them to go to the movies that their all their friends went to see without them! However, now that they are in their 20’s it is interesting to me that they don’t go to the ‘high gore’ and ‘high profanity’ movies now that they are able to make their own decisions. The peer pressure to do what all their friends were doing was difficult. I do not want to minimize that. I’m a grandparent now so I would say to all parents out there who are wresting with their children about books/music/movies – “Suck it up!” It is not the worse thing in the world to have your children point to you as the “bad guy” who wouldn’t let them do everything their friends are doing!!! I would also caution you to make sure that your choices will stand up to their scrutiny. By the time your children are in school, there are no excuses that cover watching movies that are “inappropriate” for your children.