When was the last time you read "Little Women"? Have you seen the movie? I just watched it for the first time (the one with Winona Ryder) this last weekend and I'm thinkin' it might be a really good movie to share with pre-teen and teenage daughters. (OK, die hard literary folks might want their daughters to read it...but reading can be such a solitary process and watching a movie together has social benefits).
Now before you begin saying "they'll never watch THAT!", think about what they might learn if they did. The following messages are loud and clear:
- family matters--especially when times are tough
- the relationship between the sisters back then isn't very different from the conflicts between modern siblings
- the attitudes of teenagers (then & now) are just as "independent" and "testy"
- different "little women" have different criteria for choosing a boyfriend, husband or life partner
- staying true to your dream is important for a "happily ever after"
- smart girls are "cool"
So how do you encourage your daughters to watch this movie with you? Bribe 'em? Perhaps. Depending upon the age of your girls, you may need to dangle a little carrot. Some younger girls may just enjoy exclusive Mom/daughter time. But others may need a small incentive the first time you want to watch an "old" movie with them. You may consider an "if you watch with me then I'll ____". You might choose to watch a movie of their choice AFTER they watch "Little Women" with you. You might promise a trip to the Mall AFTER they watch "Little Women" with you. Some girls may even respond to a "treat" closer to home….an opportunity to talk with Mom where they get to do the talking.
Many kids think that movies are just for entertainment. And many are! But if you choose to focus upon a few nuggets in almost any movie, you may find at least one or two messages that can stimulate an important discussion with your children. When the movie is over you can explore what happened during the movie (the plot or events within the story)…or how the characters responded to challenges…or imagine what you would have done?
The more personal you make it, the greater value the experience will be. Don't frame the movie experience as "education" or ask them "what did you learn?" Instead, ask questions that allow your children to share their ideas and attitudes without interruption or criticism. And be on guard to "zip your lip" if you are tempted to tell them what they should have learned or taken away from the movie.