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MOVIES

Letter from a “grumpy old man”: What are your thoughts about taking babies and young children to the movies? I admit to being a grumpy old man and I hate hearing crying babies and the loud voices of small children (“I have to go to the bathroom!” or “What is that man doing to the lady?”) when I want to listen to the movie. What do you think about parents who inflict their children on others in places where children don’t belong? What do you think about young children seeing naked adults and violent acts on the screen?

I don’t think much of parents who allow their children to disturb others in public places. Movie-lovers like me have the right to enjoy a movie in peace.

I have much sympathy for parents trying to raise children today, but I have no sympathy for boorish or selfish parents who take young children to places clearly designed for adults (and children old enough to understand how to keep quiet and not disturb others).

Every child Preschoolers ask questions in loud voices. Once young children are in the movie there is little a parent can do except promptly remove the child who makes noise. However many movie-goers can be disturbed in the time it takes to do so.

I can think of no good reason to take children under 4 to the movies. Of course parents need recreation, but there are options. They can alternate so one parent enjoys a night at the movies while the other minds the kids. They can ask a relative or sitter to watch the children. They can rent a movie, wait until the kids are asleep, and have a movie “date” at home.

Also it is WRONG for young children to see sex or violence on any screen, big or little. I once overheard a mother tell a man to mind his own business when he asked why she took her small child (he appeared about 3) to see a movie with much loud violence, “It doesn’t bother him and he won’t remember it.” I heard the child scream in terror so I think this mother was wrong as well as rude.

I worry about the noise levels in many contemporary movies. I have seen young children terrified by loud sounds like automobile crashes or gunfire in movies. Why frighten a child or expose tender ear drums to excess decibels?

At what age should parents take young children to age-appropriate movies? I was taken to my first movie at age 4 (it was “Captains Courageous” if any movie buffs out there want to calculate my age).

My daughter just took the twins — almost 4 — to see “Stuart Little” and reported it went well except for some spilled candy which had to be replaced to stop the crying. She told them ahead of time there would be a scary scene with a cat so they were prepared. Hannah sat entranced through the entire movie while Jeremy squirmed a bit — typical patterns for each of them.

Parents must ascertain whether a movie allegedly suitable for children is in fact suitable for their own kids. I suggest careful reading of reviews and talking to other parents.

A movie for young children should be short (under 2 hours), contain no violent or scary scenes, and be easy to follow. Some preschoolers do not like scenes where a child or animal is hurt. My advice to parents: know your own child.

The rule for adult events like concerts, church services, weddings and funerals is that the parents must be prepared to promptly remove a crying or otherwise noisy child. Aisle seats are a good idea. A small pad of paper and a few crayons also can help when the child is restless or bored.

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