1. I LOVED the 2019 movie Aladdin with a few hesitations and I believe there are several life lessons in the fairy tale that you can talk about with your kids.
2. If you’re NOT going to have discussion with your children afterwards, then don’t take them to this movie! Sure, it’s fun to watch, but how is it shaping their beliefs? Be sure to take the time to talk through good and evil, the powers that are true and not true, and about their own choices in life.
3. This blog post is about parenting choices in media and helping our kids navigate truth. Parenting topics are so polarizing, but I don’t want this topic to be that way for us. I know we live in modern-day America where everyone takes a side on an issue and then only defends, labels, argues and accuses, but wouldn’t it be awesome if we could listen to each other even if we don’t see things eye-to-eye? I know I want to sip a cup of tea while I listen to your ideas and chat about our viewpoints, chuckle at the differences and, ultimately, learn from one another’s unique perspectives.If you’re good with these three things, then let’s get started!
Last Saturday I took two of my daughters to watch the newly released movie Aladdin. You’re probably going to gasp a little at this next thing – none of us had seen the first one. I know, I know, we must live in a hole or something. Well, when the first Aladdin came out, I had just gotten married and graduated from college. I had never been drawn to cartoons so I never was compelled to see it.
Fast forward 27 years, we have seven children – five are grown while I’m still raising two daughters, ages 14 and nine. Most would say I’m a pretty strict and conservative mom. I have definitely been careful about our selection of what they watch, especially when they’re eight years old or younger. Don’t get me wrong, we don’t make it freerange tv viewing after age eight. I utilize www.pluggedin.com to help me navigate current movies, games, etc as a great parent resource. In fact, with my tweens and older, I tell them that before they come to me and ask me about seeing a movie, they need to look it up on Plugged In and read through what it says about the movie first. If they still want to ask me, then I’ll have them read it to me before we discuss it. If it has content that they’re too embarrassed to read to me then that seems to weed out plenty of movies without me having to say “no” at all. (Ope, now, wait a minute, I can feel you starting to feel defensive and take sides about your parenting choices. Please, let’s just chat and be okay with not thinking exactly alike. I can respect your parental choices even if they differ from mine, plus I just really want to be friends!)
EIGHT is GREAT:
Why eight years old? For several years I read and read and read books on child development. Since I had so many children of my own, I was always researching to figure out why one was doing “this” or what would help “that”, and it resulted in lots of reading. Consistently child development studies suggest that in the first seven years of life a child is shaping their WORLDVIEW – their understanding of how the world works, what is good and what is bad, what is more important and less important, what is acceptable human behavior and what is valuable in life. For this reason, I am extremely careful with what a child hears, sees, and experiences in the first seven years.
Yes, it’s a lot of work to protect their developing moral sensibilities, but it is so worth it! Just as we build some protection around a seedling tree until its roots are deep, likewise, we should put some safeguards around our young children’s minds while their worldview is being developed.
If we want to help them decipher right from wrong, we need to make it really clear what is right. I didn’t want to muddy the waters of their worldview with a bunch of cartoons that had witchcraft, black magic, sorcery, violence, or even sarcasm and rudeness Mostly, in the first seven years of life I tried to choose wholesome, life-giving, positive materials that were GOOD EXAMPLES of how to interact in HEALTHY ways. Children’s shows today seem to be full of lots of BAD EXAMPLES geared toward ages that aren’t yet capable of deciphering the good examples from the bad ones. They’re just taking in all of the behaviors and it shapes their understanding of what human interaction looks like. We had a guideline in our home that we kept shows that were not top-notch in worldview development to a very minimal amount until age eight. I didn’t absolutely forbid them – my little girls watched Tangled, for example, but not daily, just occasionally. I didn’t let them have a steady mental diet of Arthur because of the bad attitudes on the show. (Wait a minute, now. I’m not wagging my finger at what you’ve let your kids watch, I’m just explaining my own ways while being perfectly content for you to have differing ways from mine. This isn’t too painful, is it?).
This brings me to my first observation about Aladdin:
Point #1 – SORCERY:
Aladdin’s sorcery is a pretty heavy amount and I would be careful about allowing young children to watch it. Personally, I wouldn’t. If you do, maybe you could at least wait until it comes out on video, so they see it on a small, less impactful screen. Partly it would be scary to young children, but even more important to me is that when they are little, they’re not ready for the complexity of evil powers. Sorcery is a real power and it is evil; we aren’t to dabble with it. The Bible speaks a great deal against sorcery, magic, fortune tellers, and more. Isaiah 8: 19-20, 2 Chronicles 33:6, Deut. 18:9-12 are just a few of the examples from scripture.
Point #2 – THE ULTIMATE POWER:
Twice in Aladdin, “the ultimate power” is mentioned in reference to a genie. Interestingly enough, the movie makes clear that while a genie is ultimate, he is not all-powerful. This was a great opportunity to talk with my girls afterwards about POWER – that there really is an Ultimate Power, but it’s not a genie. The One True and Living God of the Bible really is the Ultimate Power and the cool thing is, He is NOT limited in His power AT ALL. Job 42:2 says, “I know that you (God) can do anything, and no one can stop you.” Jeremiah 32:17 says, “Ah, Sovereign Lord, you have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and outstretched arm. Nothing is too hard for you.” He can literally do ANYTHING! Do you have an example of a time in your life when God did something amazing? You could always share examples from the Bible, but if you have a personal example to share with your child, that would be even better!
Point #3 – GOD, THE TRUE ULTIMATE POWER IS ALWAYS GOOD AND NEVER EVIL:
In the movie, the genie’s po