Category Archives: Dad Takes A Break

Almost 24/7/365, but not quite.

Thumbs Up Or Down? Sifting Film Ratings


I can be as (over)protective as just about anyone, but when it comes to deciding which movies my kids can watch, I worry far less about a rating itself than the REASONS for that rating.  PG-13 can mean many things, and the rating has been given to films that I would gladly allow my 9 year old to watch and to other films that I would not want my 13 year old to see.  Likewise, there are a few R films that I have allowed my 16 year old to watch, while there are many others that will have to wait.

Rude language and sex are the touchy issues that give a movie ‘thumbs down’ quickly in my house…at least until the kids are in bed.  If cursing or nudity are the main reasons for a PG-13 rating, that movie is off the list for my elementary and middle school kids.  For example, Austin Powers?  Not for the kids, Baby.  The same goes for Rated R:  As a former-English-teacher-dad of a book-loving high school student, I would like to share Shakespeare In Love with my daughter…but for all its strengths, the movie crosses a few too many lines along the way–for now.

In fact, from my point of view, the entertainment industry lets down families when they salt movies and programs with coarse material that adds little but makes responsible parents think twice about their kids watching.  For example, the Transformers films feature the Witwicky parents making repeated sexual remarks that do nothing to help the Autobots take down the Decepticons.  On the TV front, my son heard the Rock was going to return to wrestling a few weeks ago; he knew the Rock from several family films.  But along the way we discovered that wrestling on TV now includes obscene   between-match dialogue that would have drawn a lecture from the Hulkster in the ’80s when he encouraged the Hulkamaniacs to be good and take their vitamins.  So we will have to pass.

But what about violence?  There has been a lot of talk in the media about film violence desensitizing kids, maybe even leading them to be more violent themselves.  But for me, there is a vast difference between realistic violence and what I consider ‘cartoon’ violence.  To be clear:  I don’t want my kids on brain detail with Jules in Pulp Fiction.  And the first rule of Fight Club?  Don’t let my kids watch Fight Club. 

On the other hand, by ‘cartoon’ violence, I don’t necessarily mean ‘animated’….although Wile E. Coyote and an A.C.M.E. catapult would also fit. I’m talking about violence that moves the story along but that even my elementary age son can understand as pretend fun.  Blowing up an enemy starship?  Fine.  Release the Kracken!?  Bring it.  Pirates that turn into skeletons at night?  En garde.

So this spring we will be heading out to see the new Avengers film, with confidence that it’s a healthy, good time–the modern equivalent to Ultraman and Star Wars from my own childhood.


Note:  Dad Knows Better has enjoyed all of the films/shows/etc. mentioned above, but the point here is about when they would be age-appropriate, and Dad happens to be an adult.  Also, Dad has not received any compensation related to mentioning any of the titles in this (or any other) post…unfortunately.

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Filed under Dad Takes A Break, Morality, Movies & Entertainment

Baby, It’s Cold Outside

After a no-time-for-lunch first day back at work after a week off for the holidays, this evening was a welcome chance to relax–mostly.   Outside it’s the coldest it has been all winter; it’s windy and below freezing.  So it was nice not to have any activities to take any of us back out once I picked up our oldest from driver’s ed on the way home from work and Mom got home from a doctor’s appointment with our other two kids.

After dinner & homework, our 8 year old wanted to play chess.  So we built a fire, and then he and I set up his board on the family room floor and played for a while.

We all love the sports and other activities that usually fill our family calendar.  The kids are stronger people on many fronts because of those experiences.  But an easy night once in a while is healthy, and if it happens to fall when it’s bitterly cold outside, so much the better.

Tomorrow, volleyball and swim practices pick up after their holiday break, and driver’s ed meets again.  But for tonight, throw another log on the fire.

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Filed under Activities & Sports, Dad Takes A Break

Holiday Break Success

With several more days to go, this week has played out pretty close to my idea of a ‘how to’ for a successful winter break.  So far:

  • No 5-something a.m. alarms for any reason.
  • I have already hit that point where I have to stop to think to figure out what day it is–my personal litmus test for time off from work.
  • We have spent time w/ both sets of grandparents.
  • Family time:  Each of the kids received at least one Christmas present that lends itself to spending time with the others.  (video games, a foosball table, etc.)
  • ‘Me’ time:  Everyone has had some time for their own individual interests.
    • The Trio:  Lego sets, sleepover at a friend’s house, driver’s education classes, a baking class with a friend, reading…even a little homework
    • Mom:  an evening out with work friends, setting up a digital photo frame
    • Dad:  lunch with a friend of almost 30 years who lives 3 time zones away on his last day in town, writing this
  • Some long-lingering items on the household to-do list are now to-done.
  • Both of our high-commitment sports (high schooler’s club volleyball and the elementary middle schoolers’ year-round swimming) are off all week for the last time until Memorial Day.
  • Family movie night…finger foods for dinner & a DVD.

For us, this type of week is a healthy balance of powering down after a busy fall and taking time for things that don’t always fit during the school year.  Good times.

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Filed under Dad Takes A Break, Living Well