Why do all kids' movies seem to have a parent dying as a major plotline?

[deleted account] ( 156 moms have responded )

OK, maybe it's not "all" movies, but it seems to me that a substantial percentage of kids' movies feature a parent dying -- e.g., Bambi, Land of the Lost, etc, or being absent (e.g., orphan movies). Why is this a necessary plot line for children's movies? It seems so bizarre to have the loss of a parent as a story line. Can't we just have stories about rainbows and bunnies?

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Sherri - posted on 09/23/2011

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That actually is not true Cindy there are quite a few Disney movies with a mom

Here is a list of just a few of them.

One Hundred and One Dalmatians
The Lion King
The Aristocats
Mulan
Toy Story
Treasure Planet
Peter Pan
Sleeping Beauty
Hercules
Mary Poppins

Carolee - posted on 09/16/2011

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Personally, I think that if you (general) introduce "fearful" subjects in a "non-fearful" way, it opens it up for conversation, should they have questions. Also, the kid(s) will not be blind-sided by life when it "suddenly" gets rough. I feel that, if there is a gradual introduction of life's day-to-day hardships (for others, if not for them), it will help them (kids) be able to deal with whatever hardships are thrown their way during their lifetime. I'm not going to just assume that I will live to get to see my kids graduate. I will be extremely greatful if I do, but I don't automatically assume it will happen. I want my kids to be prepared.

Carolee - posted on 09/15/2011

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I looked at that, and a lot of it (not all) is just people looking for things that aren't there and doing their best to "make it fit".

[deleted account]

I guess you can blame the Brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Anderson for those plotlines. It's not like Disney's had an original idea for years. - ok may be Wall-E and Up. However Lion King is so based on Hamlet. It sets up tension right off the bat. I think we should realize that Disney cleaned up the stories A LOT! Cinderella never shows the stepsisters cutting off pieces of their foot or their blinding by birds. The Little Mermaid doesn't describe how every step she took felt as though she were stepping on knives or her virtual death at the end.

As far as Bambi, well that reflected life for deer in the wild. The males do not associate generally with the offspring and adults die.

You know I think kids these days are put in a very weird position. They're surrounded by adult expectations yet we want to sheild them from death at all costs.

Jodi - posted on 09/23/2011

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And a LOT of the movies where the mother dies or the stepmother is wicked, etc, aren't original Disney stories anyway. They are simply animated by Disney, but the actual original story was never Disney's. And yet we all like to blame Disney for killing off the mothers :\

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Shona - posted on 09/04/2012

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Hi,I would just like to point out that if you research the plotline of ALOT of older disney princess films they come from the brothers grimm tales, which are most certainly NOT for children, also snow while mum died disney fails to mention it in great deal because its obvious. Alot of disney films fail to have two parents because it has become more and more common not to have two parents. These are FILMS, excellentally made films at that, it is a parents choice weather it is subtable for a child or not, but think of this, my mother died when I was young and my father. wasn't around, disney princesses made me fell normal. If there weren't films about orphans and single parents I'm sure people would complain about that to.

Merry - posted on 10/05/2011

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The incredibles has a nuclear family! Mom dad sister brother and a baby lol.
I think for kids who have broken families it's nice to have movies that 'fit' them but for kids to grow up thinking that broken families is normal or common might not be good. Yes I'm over thinking it but I admit it and don't care. I over think everything but IMO it's better then under thinking.

♥♪Megan♫♥ - posted on 10/05/2011

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Maggie, Mulan does have a mother. In many first nation cultures children are raised by their tribe so Pocohantas has a lot of mothers in a way. Sully in Monster's Inc had a mom, but she was never shown on camera. I forgot the kid's name in Up, but he had a mom as well. Sleeping Beauty had both parents, the girl in Bolt had her mom. Rapunzel in Tangled did have both of her parents too, she was taken from them as a baby by Gothel. Oh and Tiana's DAD died NOT her MOM in The Princess and the Frog and Naveen had both of his parents. Heck even in Meet the Robinsons even though the kid's mom gave him to the orphanage he ended up with parents.

Sherri - posted on 10/05/2011

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@Maggie you are mistaken Mulan's mother is alive through the whole movie.

Also remember plenty of Disney movies have a mom as well. I posted quite a few of them a page back.

Maggie - posted on 10/05/2011

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I avoid Disney movies because every one of them either has no mother or the mother is evil. I mean, Think about it - the only one I can think of where the mother was around was the Lion King. Cinderella had an evil stepmother, Bambi's mother died, Jasmine didn't have a mother and Aladdin was an orphan, Tiana's mother had died, Ariel didn't have a mother, Nemo's mother died, Aurora's mother gave her away to fairies, Snow White didn't have a mother, Pocahontas didn't have a mother, Mulan didn't have a mother, Belle didn't have a mother, Rapunzel had an evil mother. I understand that most of these are old stories but really?

♥♪Megan♫♥ - posted on 10/01/2011

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LMAO Sherri! Oh yeah I know! Well I did just do the grocery shopping and I'm doing my laundry today. My husband stayed home with the baby though and tried to get her to sleep last night too.

Sherri - posted on 10/01/2011

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Yup with Meggy I grew up on it Disney too and I am a strong independent woman who has used formula too for the judgmental one on this board. So you watch Disney and turn anti feminist now.....bahahaha

♥♪Megan♫♥ - posted on 10/01/2011

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Meh, I grew up on Disney princesses. I'm in home care, I believe in gay rights, womens' rights and am pro choice. Oh yeah and I vote and debate.

Candice - posted on 10/01/2011

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Well, Walt Disney was a sexist bigot- so the lack of mothers or positive female influence is no surprise. Effing Disney... now all that princess crap is running rampant and creating little anti-feminists. Alas, that is another rant.

Merry - posted on 09/28/2011

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Thanks loureen! Now I'll be singing 'the circle of life' all night! Love that song :)



Maybe I should put lion king on now.....

Charlie - posted on 09/28/2011

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Well Mufasa did die but that wasnt the end of Simba's relationship with him, he was there in "spirit" and his presence gave Simba the courage to take back his place as king of pride rock.

I think the overall theme of The lion king is fantastic , the circle of life!

[deleted account]

More than likely because it is a plot line that works ! Screen writers seem to unable to develop new ideas. Have you noticed how many movies today are remakes of movies from years past, or even remakes of remakes? How many movies are based on cartoon characters our parents became acquainted with in comic books of previous decades? It's a time proven formula so naturally it's re-used. Is that so different from the time tested ways of raising children? Hugs, and have a wonderful day Rebecca.

Sherri - posted on 09/28/2011

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Kahlynn The Lion King DID have his mom through the whole movie Sarabi and she was still alive in Lion King 2 as well.

Kahlynn - posted on 09/28/2011

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I have been saying this for years, The Lion King, Little Mermaid didn't even have her mom, Ice Age, Finding Nemo. Astro Boy dies and comes back as a robot and his father rejects him. I don't know why this is, are they trying to keep a touch of reality in the plot line? Maybe. These are rated G movies as well..

♥♪Megan♫♥ - posted on 09/26/2011

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I agree with Lora. I believe the same thing has to be done for divorced children and adopted children. When I was little my parents had (and still do have) a book called: Why was I adopted. It explained why children are adopted for many different reasons in a way I could understand as a 4-6 year old child (the best part was where the adopted child came from BTW it included coming from a gumball machine)

Life isn't perfect and even though Disney movies do always have happy endings there's a lot of work getting there.

Lora - posted on 09/26/2011

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I know from real life experience about a parent dying to a child. My son's Dad & my husband died just a couple of years ago. My opinion is that a parent dying is the worst thing that could happen to a child. But it does seem like that in most children's movies that have a decent plot a parent has to die. My son was 8 when his Dad passed. He's 10 now and is having problems with his passing. We are seeing a therapist to help him resolve his issues. If all our children's stories were rainbows and bunnies, I think children would think that, that was the way things were suppose to be. I do think that they need to know that things arn't always rainbows and bunnies. It need's to be taylored toward the child and his/her age. Children deal with death and other issues alot different than we do. I wish life was about rainbows and bunnies. We all could use a lot less stress in our day to day dealings. I know I could.

♥♪Megan♫♥ - posted on 09/25/2011

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My favourite Disney/Pixar movie is Finding Nemo. My daughter started refering to her middle toe on her left foot as her lucky toe because like Nemo's lucky fin it didn't form all the way. I believe that helps her to not be self concious about the toe, she even shows it to people when she's wearing sandals.

Melinda - posted on 09/24/2011

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Rebecca, I think, if this bothers you or your children, you are right to limit how many such movies your children watch. I also think that death and parents being away at times are very real issues for many children. To be honest, we have no way of knowing if our own children might face such a situation in their young lives. I'd suggest if it does come up and especially if your children get upset by it, take it as an opportunity to discuss an important topic with your children (discussion depth will depend somewhat on age). Not as it affects the personally but certainly other children their age all around the world. There's no reason to dwell on the death part but rather how we can help friends and others that face such.

[deleted account]

Yeah, it's supposed to be ghosts bowling, but I thought it wasn't a good idea to overdo the ghost thing. Mind you, my mother was an avid bowler! So, it could be after all! :-)

I love myths and stories from around the world too. The most common ones are the Grimm and HC Andersen ones... European basically. I used to know some wicked Finnish ones, but have long since forgotten them. I think my heart was always firmly in the Pacific.

Were you ever able to figure out if it was just his imagination seeing someone, or were they really there? Because I do believe in ghosts/spirits/whatever you want to call them, I could believe that he did see someone. The younger the child is, the more open they are to seeing such things because they don't know they're not supposed to believe yet.

You should have seen how quickly the elves bowling thing worked!! It was like instantaneous! He was all scared and I asked why. He says the thunder is too loud and scary. I just go "Oh, that's not scary! It's just elves bowling." in the most authoritative yet nonchalant voice I could muster. (I'm afraid of lightning) He looked at me as though I'd just jumped off the crazy truck, and I explained how he plays bowling on the Wii and asked what the sound is like when the ball hits the pins. Bingo! Light bulb went on and he says, "Oooohhhh, I know that sound! You're RIGHT! That IS elves playing bowling!" Fear gone. lol

Charlie - posted on 09/24/2011

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I love myths I always loved reading the stories from around the world !

I hope Seths fears have eased .....we had a rough patch a while back with someone he could see that was scaring him during the night and day ....creeped me out but I didnt show that I was creeped out, he would point at them and look at us like we were crazy for not being able to see them too .... its kinda hard to help them through there fears sometimes, we just had to ride that one out ...funnily enough that was all before he was even interested in TV or movies !

BAHAHA I love that thunder is the sound of elves bowling !!

[deleted account]

Feen, I'm glad it worked to use Monsters, Inc in explaining the whole "monsters aren't bad" thing to Cooper! With Seth, he just hung onto the "I'm scared" (think of Boo when she sees Sully roar in the simulation room). Even after stopping the kids from watching that movie, it didn't stop his fear of monsters, but I could then start talking to him about it. It's easier for me to use Japanese folklore and beliefs to steer Seth's imagination away from negative things. So, he believes that some of the sounds are actually just ghosts (specifically his grandmother - my mother) accidentally bumping into things as they come to say "good night" to him and give him good dreams or sometimes the "scary shadows" are just monsters out looking for bad monkeys. He also used to be afraid of thunder, but now he's fine with it. Thunder is just the sound of elves bowling.

But I'm with you on preferring the original stories! They are awesome. I'll wait until Seth is a bit older before I'll start reading those to him, but I'm going to start telling him Maori legends next because those tales are great too.

Charlie - posted on 09/24/2011

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Personally I prefer the original stories always have , I read them to myself as a kid and loved them but then I have always been a horror buff.

Carolee - posted on 09/24/2011

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I think these movies also help kids who are not in these situations understand what other kids who are in these situations are going through. It will open them to the experiences of others.

Brittany - posted on 09/24/2011

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The original fairy tales were tales of horror to scare children, not to make them laugh.

In a strange way I think these movies help children who have experienced the lost of a parent, either by divorce or death. Especially within the last 11 years with the wars, the dramatic increase in divorce rates and the negative media on T.V.

♥♪Megan♫♥ - posted on 09/24/2011

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Disney's Snow White did show the Queen falling to her death from a cliff, but it's hard to tell if that's really a down grade from dancing to death in hot iron shoes.

The Princess and the Frog wasn't an original story title, but it was an original idea to have Tiana turned into a frog. I liked that movie. Tangled was oh so slightly different from the original Rapunzel. Monster's Inc was an original idea as far as I can tell.

The Fox and the Hound was another movie that focused a lot on animal life. But the end made me cry.

♥♪Megan♫♥ - posted on 09/23/2011

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Jodi you sound like my husband. He's Canadian and I had him watch the movie, when that part came he laughed til he teared up and said "Well, that's true.

Disney made up for that line though when they did Meet the Robinsons and called Canada 'Northern Montana'. BTW that movie had no dead parents, but the main character was dropped on the doorstep of an Orphanage by his mom. There were live parents in it.

♥♪Megan♫♥ - posted on 09/23/2011

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I was referencing a line from Finding Nemo. Marlin and Dory are telling the 3 Sharks how Nemo was stolen by divers (An Australian dentist and his friend) and one of them goes: Probably an American. They just think they own everything.

Charlie - posted on 09/23/2011

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And there are quite a few Disney movies Sherri mentioned that has two parents.

♥♪Megan♫♥ - posted on 09/23/2011

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That's true. There seem to be more Disney movies with moms or showing moms than there are of dads.

Finding Nemo had both but the mom died in the opening scene. The same with Bambi (ok his mom died 1/2 way through the movie and his dad showed up only a few times)




Monsters Inc didn't exactly have parents (Although Sully's mom is mentioned briefly when Mike's on the phone) Lady and the Tramp had 2 sets of parents- the humans and then the dogs :)

Charlie - posted on 09/20/2011

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I had never had a toy gun in our house or had shows with shooting on it around and yet still my oldest son fashioned a "gun" out of a stick and started shooting I was stunned !

"Jodi, I had to stop the showing of Monsters, Inc. ever since Seth started talking about being afraid of monsters."

Cooper started the monster at the window thing ( he has a large bush at his window that blows around and makes weird shadows) We used Monsters inc to show that monsters are good and they make you laugh like Sully and Mike but I also explained to him about the tree outside of the window ...plus he says "the moon comes out at night to look after Cooper"

The only movie Cooper got upset at was BOLT , about the dog ....he started crying when bolt came back to find his owner hugging another dog that looked like him and bolt got all sad ....Cooper just cried and cried saying "poor bolt" I didnt want to turn it off because I wanted him to see that they end up together and bolt would be happy so I just cuddled him and comforted him ...he was happy by the end and now its one of his fave movies but man I have never seen him react like that before.

Jodi - posted on 09/20/2011

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Donna, Jayden never had a gun when he was young either, nor did he watch a lot of TV, but still managed to find gun shaped sticks and use them with the gun sound they make.

[deleted account]

Caitlin, that makes so much sense! Although, I think it means that I'm really male because I love shooting/hunting sort of games.

I wonder what that means about one of Seth's friends who likes to play "Ninja"? lol And he's not even Asian!

[deleted account]

Laura, neither did Seth. Didn't see guns or violence. Well, where would he see a real gun here anyway, you know? We don't get the old cartoons (like Looney Tunes with Yosemite Sam) and movies were restricted to things like Cars and Robots. He didn't even go to daycare.

It obviously had to come from somewhere, but to this day we have no idea where. He spent his entire life with me, so you'd think I would be able to point to something. I'm totally opposed to guns of any kind, so we don't even have water pistols. The only water squirting thing we've had were these wand shaped things where you pull the end back to draw in water and push it forward to shoot the water out.

OMG Sword fighting! That's the newest thing with Seth. He asks me to play "Princesses and Witches" with him outside all the time. It entails taking his plastic golf clubs (from the crocodile golf game), holding them by the club end and using the handles as swords. Now, I know where this came from, because one night (just ONE, I swear) Dale and he watched an episode of the Star Wars cartoon (on ABC3 which is geared toward older kids). Didn't take long before he wanted to sword fight (although he only calls it "Princesses and Witches"). So, I took the opportunity to teach him what little I know about fencing. He will now issue me my "Witchy foil" and then take up his position and announce "Engarde!" We don't swing the things wildly, but actually duel and if someone gets touched in the belly it all stops, the point goes to the successful duelist and we go again. He's also quick to remind me that the guys in the Star Wars cartoon weren't doing it properly. lol

Jodi, I had to stop the showing of Monsters, Inc. ever since Seth started talking about being afraid of monsters.

Caitlin - posted on 09/20/2011

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I read a theory that boys being more drawn to these things comes from our hunter/gatherer history, and it's pretty much written in our genes, and that's why most people gravitate towards certain roles. Boys like to play shooting games because it prepares them for the hunting they would have to do to provide for their families (going WAAAY back..) It makes sense to me!

Jodi - posted on 09/20/2011

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I agree with Donna about boys gravitating to shooting things. I have noticed that with our boys too. If they don't have a gun (which they don't) they will find a stick shaped like a gun. In fact, they will very PROUDLY show you they have a stick shaped like a gun.



However, I still restrict my kids with the games and movies they watch to a degree.



My youngest is prone to nightmares, so obviously it is sensible to restrict her viewing so as not to activate her imagination to that extent. With the boys (12 and 14), we have had to restrict viewing because certain movies and games seem to activate their testosterone or something because they get a little too boisterous and over zealous. My 14 year old seems to handle it okay these days. I don't restrict him a great deal with his viewing or games (with the exception of R ratings, LOL), although I do supervise.



Edited to add: I tell a lie, my kids do have guns - we have a great time with water pistols in the summer, and some good old nerf guns all year round, now that they are older.

Jodi - posted on 09/20/2011

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Our Finding Nemo video got toasted......literally. My daughter placed it under the grill and I didn't realise until I used the grill and smelled the plastic smell......little bugger. It was quite melted and definitely rendered useless.



Maybe that was a manifestation of what she thought of the movie, maybe not. I mean, she was only 3. I also found bread in the video player, so who knows....perhaps she was merely confused. I'm sure it was a good game though.

Merry - posted on 09/20/2011

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Assassins creed and fable are my husbands absolute favorites! But he doesn't play them when erics awake because Eric hides and says 'oh no what's happening?I'm scared' I don't think he even knows what guns or violence ie really but whenever he sees people shooting, or sword fighting he gets scared.

[deleted account]

The problem with shooting games, whether they are a video game or running around the backyard game, boys tend to gravitate toward it. I have no idea why or how, but they do. My eldest is nearly 5 and he just spontaneously started "shooting" things around the time he turned 4. We had never talked about shooting, he'd never seen shooting and didn't even own any toy guns! He just made his own "shooting thing" out of the top of the t-ball stand and a plastic hammer, then started running around the yard "shooting" at things! My husband and I just looked at each other dumbfounded because we had no idea where it came from.

I would much rather have my kids see sex than I would violence any day! They're going to have to know about sex sooner or later anyway. Not that they have seen any sexual material other than kissing or a bit of nudity (which they see all the time at home in a non-sexual manner anyway, so big whoop!), but I have purposefully steered clear of excessive violence. Having said that, I have no problem with the Road Runner, Looney Tunes or Tom and Jerry (if they were on). It's fantasy and with no blood, so hardly going to turn a kid into a serial killer.

I had to laugh at the Halo commentary. We have a Wii, Xbox AND Playstation (both hubby and I like video games). Most of the kids games we have are for the Wii and sometimes we'll have a family night of Wii games. However, we have played Burnout on the xbox with the boys and I just shake my head when one of the boys asks to play "the crashing game". (For those who don't know, there are no people in the game, just cars, and the particular game we have played with them is where you drive your car down the road and purposefully try to crash and make the biggest crash scene possible) Do you know why they like it? My eldest likes it because there is a heart badge amongst the things you can pick up while on your way to crashing, and he likes to try to aim the car and get "the crack sign". It's a broken heart and is called "Heartbreaker" because it cuts your score in half. My younger son just likes the noises.

There is one xbox game that my husband owns that my boys will never, EVER see. It's called Manhunt and was banned in a few countries I was told... and for good reason. I played it for about 10 minutes before it was too much for me, and I have been known to pull all-nighters (before kids) just playing games (like Assassin's Creed or Fable).

Charlie - posted on 09/19/2011

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I love Call of duty .... I might play a little when the kids are sleeping !

♥♪Megan♫♥ - posted on 09/19/2011

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eh I just think Sponge bob is annoying. I let my daughter play and watch so many other things. She's almost 7 and has watched all of Ouran High School Host Club. There's cross dressing and brothers pretending to be in love with each other in that show.



One of my daughter's favourite movies is Finding Nemo (the other is The Princess and the Frog also Disney) She understands that the mom dies or the dad dies. And all of Nemo's other brothers and sisters get eatten. But it's a cartoon. Kids are smarter than a lot of adults give them credit for.



Edit: Dyan I kinda giggled at your post. My daughter is almost 7- she gets grossed out when she sees my hubby and I kissing. I doubt she (or most other 7 year olds) would want to go out and have sex.

Rosie - posted on 09/19/2011

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i LOVE spongebob, and so do my kids. i guess i don't really give a crap what they watch as long as there's no sex, and even then, i'm still not that strict with it. it's just sex, it's not like they know what it is to even question it. if they do question it, i'll just be honest. what is going to happen if they know what sex is? i'm not one that thinks they're gonna go run out and have sex at age 7 because they saw it on tv...
IDK, i really think people put to much thought into this subject of tv in general. it's just tv, if you are an involved parent, tv isn't going to take your place.

Natalie - posted on 09/19/2011

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I really think it mostly becomes an issue because the parents choose to make it an issue. I never had a problem with it growing up, my 20 and 21 yr olds never had a problem, and my 4 yr old is doing just fine, too. Generally, the kids aren't focusing on the family makeup. Most of them don't even notice until it's mentioned. And if they aren't mature enough to tell the difference between fantasy and reality, they probably shouldn't be watching these movies anyway.

♥♪Megan♫♥ - posted on 09/19/2011

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Call of Duty is pretty bad, I honestly don't like any of my hubby's games except for Halo and my 7 year old (well she will be in 5 days) only plays it with her step dad not by herself. She has a few friends her age who also get to play Halo. My husband is in school for 3D animation and game design and part of the schooling is research. We also don't let our 7 year old play on Xbox live, she only plays with her step dad and she's only played a few times. She also ends up drowning herself so there really isn't much shooting between the 2 of them.

Merry - posted on 09/19/2011

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I've watched my nephew play halo and I really really think it's only appropriate for older teens. Call of duty is a 'buy it and play it when you're out of my house' type of game.

Sherri - posted on 09/19/2011

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I had to do A LOT of research on Halo as my 14yr old wanted it last Christmas. Call of Duty is a thousand times worse than Halo. Halo is not shooting people there is no blood or terrible language. However, I still think it is only appropriate for my almost 15yr old. He knows he is not allowed to play it anywhere near my 5yr old. I really try and shield them and keep them kids as long as possible.

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