Friday, October 12, 2012

When Should You Show Your Kids "Star Wars"?

New Supergirl Pajamas
Since, as I've mentioned before, part of this blog deals with me as a "grown-up" geek raising a little geek daughter, I thought I'd draw your attention to this article over on NBC's "Today Show" blog, specifically about "How To Raise a Happy Geek Kid."

I know for me personally, part of what I think about in terms of raising my daughter is when, and how, to best share with her some of the things I'm into, whether it's music, comics, Star Wars, the Lord of the Rings, D&D, etc. Obviously some of these things need to wait until she's much older to grasp the concepts - she's only 3, so something like the "Candy Land" game is more her speed, versus the abstract concepts of a tabletop role-playing game.  The "Star Wars" movies are too violent for her at this age, and also she's too young (in my opinion) to appreciate the movies the way I did when I first saw them at 6 1/2 years old.

However, I do share with her many of the ideas of some of these things. I've talked about the story of Star Wars with her while listening to the musical score in the car on the way to daycare. So, she knows the general story of the three "real" Star Wars movies. I left out important details like how Luke and Leia are brother-and-sister, and how Darth Vader is really Luke's dad. I want her to discover these things on her own as she watches the films, preferably with me on a Saturday evening some night in the future with a bowl of popcorn while sitting on the couch.

My wife and I have shared our love of different styles of music with her by basically just playing what we want to listen to and seeing how my daughter reacts. We listen to music every night while eating dinner, and as part of that ritual I have created dozens of different themed playlists on Pandora that we stream through the TV. So, I have an "Italian Pizzeria" playlist that has songs by Louis Prima, Lou Conte, and other Italian-American crooners from the 50s and 60s that we listen to while eating any kind of Italian food, and a "French Cafe" station for eating stuff like beef bourguignon or steak frites, a "Mexican Rock & Spaghetti Westerns" station with an eclectic mix of stuff by Calexico, Manu Chao, and Ennio Morricone. There's also a bunch of different jazz (both vocal and instrumental), Brazilian, rock, electronic, holiday music for Christmas and Halloween, etc. While we listen, we talk about the songs and which ones we like or don't like.

In terms of comics, my daughter has learned about these essentially through osmosis by virtue of me talking her with me to the comic book store every week for New Comic Book Wednesday and accompanying me to Free Comic Day for a couple of years now. As she sees things that catch her eye, she asks questions and that creates the opportunity to have a dialogue about it. As a follow-up, we can then go through my back catalog of graphic novels or single issues to looking at the pictures and discuss who the characters are. As a side bonus of her accompanying me every week, she found an entire shelf of "kids comics" and discovered a Tinkerbell Graphic Novel that I bought for her and we now read a little each night at bedtime.

If you're a "geek parent", I highly encourage you to read the article - I found it interesting enough to comment on (as "tartinm", but you'll notice that my comments get repeated about three times due to an issue with me logging in). I'm also curious to hear thoughts from those of you who are raising kids and how you approach the subjects of the hobbies that you're into with your kids (geek or not - I think the same issues can arise with subjects like sports, for example).

Hanging: Home office (laptop)
Drinking: tap water
Listening: "Fran-Dance (Alternate Take)" by Miles Davis


  1. Another friend of mine with a daughter has mentioned that Tinkerbell graphic novel. Maybe I should get that for my niece.

    1. Be careful starting down that path... there are actually, at least count, about 12 of these books. The one I picked up for my daughter was #9, because it happened to be the graphic novel adaptation of the Tinkerbell movie she has on DVD. But inside the front cover, they list the pictures of all of the other books in the series, and of course she wants all of them now.

      Our policy is - "You can't have another one until you finish this one."

  2. I love taking my daughter (3 yo) to Half Price for cheap comics. She's also really into superheros. In regards to tv, I just don't want to show her something that may cause nightmares. Northing too bloody/dramatic/jumpy etc. I'm cool with Star Wars content-wise now, but she probably wouldn't sit through it yet.

    1. I'm Martin's wife, and we just learned the hard way that maybe Joy wasn't ready for "The Nightmare Before Christmas" movie. Martin has been playing the Danny Elfman music for Joy for the past 3 years, so she's really familiar with the music and the characters - and likes them. So we thought she'd be ready for the movie. Big mistake. Now she gets upset at bedtime and says she's afraid of the dark. And a couple nights ago she woke up thinking a spider was in her pants. :::face palm:::

    2. Yeah - that's funny. I was going to post basically the same comment after I saw Digital Orc's response. I'm definitely going to hold off on any other potentially scary or violent movies for awhile.

      It reminded me once while listening to the music for "Star Trek II: The Wrath of KHAAAAAAAAAN" with Joy in the car, I was explaining to her what was happening during each scene as the music played. When we got to the scene where Spock died, I just said, "He got really, really sick, but he knew that he had to risk getting sick in order to save his friends. It was the right thing to do." And she sat very still and quiet, and as I looked into the rearview mirror, I saw her eyes well up with tears and she began sobbing.

      So, now... I just skip past that part when telling her the story. :)

  3. about a year ago I read a post/article/rant about the order in which the films should be shown to a new viewer. The suggestion was 4,5,2,3 & 6 [I believe it was suggested that Phantom Menace be eliminated from the sequence].

    The idea was that you start off (properly) with the fun one (to suck the viewer in) Star Wars. Then Empire with the next chapter and the 'big secret'. Flash back to show how Darth Vader came about (and also show that whininess is a family trait on the Y chromosome) then Jedi as a finale.

    Makes sense to me. This of course presumes you are willing to acknowledge the existence of the prequels.

    Found the article.

    1. Hey there - I've totally seen that exact same rant/review you which order to show the Star Wars films. I remember it quite well. As I recall, there's also on the same site a sort of "edited" version of Episode I that essentially deletes every scene with Jar Jar and replaces some of the dialogue to actually make a semi-decent movie.

      My personal opinion regarding the so-called Prequels is that my daughter can watch them when she's 18 and moves out of the house. By then she'll be old enough to make her own decisions. :)

  4. Kids don't need to be shown things. Unless you are mortally uninteresting people it will be sufficient that you enjoy your books, music, & films as you naturally would. Just don't shoo them away unless what you are enjoying is downright unsuitable.

    My kids are far more upset by the litany of warnings in pharmaceutical ads than by the bland "bang, you're dead" action of Star Wars.

    Now, there are so many of them that 'mortally uninteresting' people are well nigh unto their own demographic... but they aren't going to even want to, much less actually be able to, indoctrinate their kids into anything interesting anyway.

    You can't teach a flower to bloom. So don't.

    1. That's essentially our approach, which I don't think came across well in my writing about it above. But, yes, we just go about our normal every day habits, which include (for me) going to the comic book and/or game store, listening to the kinds of music I like, reading comics, etc. And, we take our daughter's lead to discuss with her the things that she asks questions about.


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