Christmas Movies “Too Scary” For Kids?

Readers — Either I am not getting the joke, or this is a REAL article about why parents should REALLY worry about letting their kids watch “scary” movies like Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and (I kid you not — unless she’s kidding us ALL), “Miracle on 34th Street.”

Anybody? It it a joke or not? And if it IS a joke, where’s the punchline? And if it’s NOT a joke, where’s the Abombinable Snowman when you need him? — L.

82 Responses to Christmas Movies “Too Scary” For Kids?

  1. Jessika December 11, 2010 at 7:00 am #

    Oh for pete’s sake!!! Where is it going to end?

  2. Maggie December 11, 2010 at 7:12 am #

    Looking at the tone of her other posts, I’d say she’s just being snarky.

    She’s not very good at it, though.

  3. TripleZmom December 11, 2010 at 7:13 am #

    Just watched the new “A Christmas Carol” with my 6 and 4 year olds (well, the 2 year old was present, but he doesn’t watch anything for more than 5 minutes). They were a little scared, but they got over it. I can’t believe this article is real.

  4. Silver Fang December 11, 2010 at 7:14 am #

    It won’t end until children are prevented from accessing any media content not strictly controlled.

  5. Linda Wightman December 11, 2010 at 7:29 am #

    Been there, heard that. These are the same people who sanitize fairy tales on the same grounds. Wicked stepmothers? Wolves that eat grandmothers? Witches who eat little children? Horrors!

    A little pretend scariness is good for kids; it helps them deal with the real scariness in their own lives. Our job as parents is to help them learn to deal with their fears, because, no matter how hard we try to protect them, they will encounter tragedy and trauma in their lives.

    Maybe the problem is that she’s looking for a DVD to entertain and distract her kids while she does something else. Christmas specials were made to be enjoyed together! Parents can then be aware of when their children are afraid or worried and deal with the problem immediately.

    Aren’t toddlers not supposed to be watching TV, anyway?

  6. Stephanie - Home with the Kids December 11, 2010 at 7:47 am #

    They’re only too scary if you only allow your children to watch the most sanitized of children’s shows. I really, really hope she was going for parody and missed.

  7. Su December 11, 2010 at 7:55 am #

    I think it was supposed to be snark. She almost made it in a couple of spots.

  8. oncefallendotcom December 11, 2010 at 8:21 am #

    Not one mention of “A Nightmare Before Christmas.”

    Not scary, but “The Christmas Shoes” was depressing and sad.

  9. anon December 11, 2010 at 8:37 am #

    You need a break. It couldn’t be any more obviously tongue-in-cheek.

  10. Denise December 11, 2010 at 8:38 am #

    Oh,for the love of the Heat Miser. Really? Too scary? Sigh. Anyway, I wrote about Rudolph last year, not that he is too scary for today’s kids,but that if it were remade for today’s kids, you can bet that the dad would be LOT nicer (and the whole thing would end on a lecture about how we’re all special).

    The thing about the old Christmas shoes and movies is not that they’re too scary, but that some of them don’t hold up — and don’t hold the kids’ attention.

  11. Meagan December 11, 2010 at 8:42 am #

    Definately a joke that’s not a joke. The part that was funniest to me was when she said kids would be scared to think about Santa locked up in jail with the creeps they see on the news. Hmm. Maybe you shouldn’t LET YOUR KIDS WATCH THE NEWS. If they still believe in Santa, they really shouldn’t be watching murder rape and war stories at 6.

    The other funny part was predicting what little kids are afraid of. A toddler MIGHT be freaked by Frosty melting, but they’re just as likely to be afraid of moths or fire hydrents. Because kids are WEIRD.

  12. pentamom December 11, 2010 at 9:09 am #

    Okay, every kid is different. I know my kids were traumatized by some of the most innocuous things — I mean, they were meant to be slightly frightening or dramatic, but at a really low level. And they’re not generally timid kids, and other things that I would have thought far more scary/intimidating didn’t faze them. So it’s not entirely right to say “poo poo no kid would be scared of that.”

    Where it goes off the rails is to assume that anything the least bit disturbing is too much for kids to handle, generally. You have to know your kid, but just because something is dramatic in a negative way does not mean it’s going to hurt a kid, or even give him a bad night, and should be kept from him.

    But I think the article is just a failed attempt at satire. People think they can write satire by just writing things that, if said in an obviously snarky tone, would be taken for what they are (which isn’t really funny, either — it takes more than a snarky tone to make weak cynicism funny, O ye amateur comedians.). But actually it takes more cleverness than that.

  13. HSmom December 11, 2010 at 10:12 am #

    Oh good grief, Charlie Brown.

    We just got home from taking our almost 12-year-old and 7 year-old sons to see “The Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader.” THAT was scary (though they seem none the worse for it). The Abominable Snowman is nothing….

  14. dmd December 11, 2010 at 10:28 am #

    If she’s trying to be snarky, she needs to keep trying. Snark needs to be obvious so that you almost see the wink wink. You can see from the comments that the readers don’t get snark – they think she’s nuts!

    I will admit, though, that Nestor the Long-Eared Donkey is pretty rough as a Christmas story. I didn’t remember it that way but when my son and I watched it, *I* couldn’t take it!

  15. annamcbean December 11, 2010 at 11:39 am #

    You know, my 5 year old is a “Mary Poppins and Winnie the Pooh” kind of kid. He can handle himself on the playground just fine, he’s active and intelligent and all that jazz, but show him a movie with even one slightly frightening scene and he’ll be begging to sleep with us for a week. Seriously, we actually can’t even watch one of the Winnie the Pooh movies anymore… because Owl makes his eyes big for a second and you can see the red veins and OMG that’s just petrifying.
    But even so… I know my kid. And that’s what this list is totally missing, that a parent is going to have to know their particular child and how that child will react to things. I know 3 year olds that can watch the end of The Little Mermaid and get excited while my 5 year old quivers at an off-screen bull in a Kipper video. You have to make the choice of what’s going to scare your kid by actually knowing your child and what they can and can’t handle. And for the record… the part where Frosty melted was seriously one of the most traumatic things of my childhood. I guess that means I had a very easy childhood :)

  16. Kimberly December 11, 2010 at 11:50 am #

    I hated these movies as a kid. I don’t like stop motion it bugs me. The rest were boring and sappy. So while I wouldn’t prevent a kid from watching them, don’t ask me to watch them with the kids.

  17. Angie December 11, 2010 at 12:06 pm #

    This is ridiculous. :/ At least the commenters on that blog are all lining up with their cluebats.


  18. SKL December 11, 2010 at 12:37 pm #

    Ugh, save me from that site! I have nothing good to say about it.

  19. crystalbluestar December 11, 2010 at 12:42 pm #

    I was terrified of the abominable snowman when I was a kid! Every time that show was on I’d hide behind my dad’s big harvest-gold upholstered chair. But that was part of the thrill of Rudolph too!

  20. Nicole December 11, 2010 at 12:57 pm #

    In my informal testing I’ve found that shooting spaceships out of the sky isn’t traumatizing however watching Little Foot’s mother die is. As in after watching land before time you will daily here questions of if you or other people are going to die, and also worries about getting lost and having to find your way home. After shooting spaceships from the sky movie (part of Doctor Who) you’ll hear “Can we watch it again? Can we can we can we? The one with spacehips and shooters! Boom boom bang!”

    Kids are weird.

  21. SKL December 11, 2010 at 1:25 pm #

    Childhood wouldn’t be the same without the Abominable!

    I remember when we were little and we thought it was “the Bumble!”

    My dad would pretend to turn into “the Bumble” and chase us around. It was scary and terrific fun. Being scared is NOT the same as being scarred! Some kids just need to be reminded that it’s all pretend. Maybe the “problem” (if any) is that parents don’t watch with their kids and pay attention to how their kids are taking it in as the movie goes along.

    I have a rule that my kids don’t get to watch certain movies until I’m available to watch with them the first time. This is partly for my sanity and partly for theirs. Mine, because afterward they keep asking me 1000 questions, and I can’t answer if I haven’t seen the movie. Theirs, because I can watch and notice whether they are getting the main points, getting scared, etc., and put in my two cents as appropriate. (Of course, at Grandma’s house, anything goes, but at home, I am queen of the boob toob.)

    My kids’ first movie was the Wizard of Oz, which my youngest watched before her 2nd birthday. She was enthralled – sometimes scared, but riveted, and she has always loved that movie. The girls watched Rudolph a year later and adored it. The Bumble is such a cute monster anyway. You almost feel sorry for him. (The movie is actually full of bleeding-heart themes, actually.) The Grinch is a favorite nowadays.

    The Polar Express did scare one of my kids a little (they’ve only seen it once so far). But I think that was more because of her vision issues and not knowing what would happen next. (Where the kids were on the front of the runaway train, falling through chutes, etc.) Could also be because we don’t usually watch stuff with all kinds of unrealistic, hyper-stimulating craziness.

    I am looking forward to having my kids watch the old family classics such as Miracle on 34th St, A Christmas Carol, It’s a Wonderful Life, and A Christmas Story. They are not old enough to really understand them yet; maybe next year.

    By the way, my 3-year-old discovered among a collection of animated fairy tales “The Little Match Girl.” It tells of a little poor girl who dies in the cold streets on Christmas Eve while others celebrate in their warm homes (she’s afraid to go home as her parents would beat her because she hasn’t sold enough matches). I was so glad that my kids were able to see this, as it sparked an age-appropriate discussion on charity and why it’s needed. My guess is that the CafeMom crowd would find this thoroughly objectionable.

    Is anyone else surprised they forgot to trash the Charlie Brown Christmas? (We watched that last year and it will be an annual tradition here.)

  22. gramomster December 11, 2010 at 1:47 pm #

    I loved, and still love, all those old Christmas movies! The Abominable snowman was totally a fave! Those are movies that I won’t own on DVD, as I dislike them losing their ‘specialness’ of being for holidays. I’m expecting them to start cycling through my netflix DVDs here in the next week!
    Love Charlie Brown Christmas, Little Drummer Boy, Rudolph, Frosty… all of ’em!
    And yes, it totally depends on the kid. Grandboy isn’t fazed by expected things, either in real life or on video. Freaks the heck out if there’s a fly in the house.

  23. Amy L. December 11, 2010 at 8:34 pm #

    I’m not sure she’s being snarky, guys. She may not be a great writer, but I wish I has remembered those parts of some of these old movies. I should have gone back and watched those old movies before I bought Rudolph just a couple of weeks ago for my three year old. I completely didn’t remember about the Abominable Snowman and that thing really scared her. I felt terrible for showing it to her, she’s just not old enough! She had nightmares for three days and woke up screaming about that “monster not gonna get me.” She is not a sheltered child, we are pretty free range, she likes to play hide and seek, she likes to have me jump out and say “boo” and scare her, but that Abominable Snowman was just too much for her. As a mom, I would have appreciated the warning by reading that article. And I’ll wait until she’s a little older to show her the oldish movies. I’m sticking with Charlie Brown Christmas this year.

  24. Elizabeth December 11, 2010 at 8:54 pm #

    “They’re only too scary if you only allow your children to watch the most sanitized of children’s shows. I really, really hope she was going for parody and missed.”

    I dunno, I keep trying to get my four-year-old to watch ANYTHING by ANYBODY that is not aimed at two-year-olds.

    She can’t. She gets scared. Believe me, we never censored anything–if it’s that bad, we won’t watch it ourselves, out of respect for our common humanity. (Rape, murder, etc.)

    Some kids are just more sensitive than others. It’s inborn.

    I think it depends on the child, but then, it always has. There is only one difference: some parents generalize and insist that the show should be taken off the air, other parents empathize and provide an alternative, and still others don’t even empathize and just tell the poor child to “buck up” and take it, and the child will become one of those “I was traumatized as a child” parents.

    I am not sure whether the article was snark or not. It was pretty terrible and I think the headline was just chosen for shock value.

    I use an entirely different kind of source to rate movies for my kids, though frankly, with DD1, it’s so hit-and-miss that it’s easier to just stick them in front of a box of legos and deal with the clean up, than to constantly be comforting her after slapstick!

  25. Vickie December 11, 2010 at 9:27 pm #

    It’s meant to be tongue in cheek guys, with a hint of reality. But as a kid terrified of clowns, sitting on Santa’s lap, the Abominable snowman and the Grinch, I can totally understand! I had to LISTEN to Rudolph until I was about five, because the Abominable scene scared the willies out of me! (I mean hysterics.) The cartoon Grinch terrified me as well.

    I personally don’t want my kids de-sensitized to “scary” things on tv. We have enough of that already. It’s how we as parents REACT to the scary stuff that is crucial.

    Did my parents ban those shows for me? Heck no! They audiotaped Rudolph so I could listen to the “horror” scene and go back to watching the show when the scary stuff was over. As for the Grinch, I hid behind a chair and watched parts of it.

    I love the free range blog, and I love the concept of free-range. I just personally don’t think the author was suggesting anything drastic. It was meant to make you look at the shows from a kid’s perspective.

    Being Free-Range doesn’t mean fear-free children. It means keeping fear from ruling a child’s life, and the parent’s.

    My respectful two-cent’s worth. Lenore, you are such an inspiration to me. And the toy soliders in the Nutcracker STILL scare me. :)

  26. maggie walkup December 11, 2010 at 10:14 pm #

    Wait, his name isn’t Bumble? I’ve always called him that and now my kids do, too. They LOVE the Bumble – and he’s friendly at the end (after they cruelly pull out all his teeth. Myabe that’s why people are so afraid of the dentist).
    Likewise with the Grinch – he learns a lesson and he brings back all the toys. It wouldn’t be much of a story if he didn’t steal Christmas.
    My kids weren’t upset by Frosty melting because they know that snow melts…duh! Besides, Santa brings him back. I’d be more afraid of that crazy stalker magician!
    Neither of my kids (2 and 4) were scared by any of the Christmas movies we’ve watched. Not even Santa Clause is Coming To Town with that CREEPY wizard guy. Of course, my kids watch Spiderman and Batman and all those “scary” things. If it gets to be too much we turn it off and talk about what is scary and that it’s just pretend.

  27. Linda Wightman December 11, 2010 at 10:39 pm #

    Hmmm. I’m seeing another pattern here. People are talking about their under-5’s being scared — but I believe most of these movies were originally intended for an older audience. Perhaps they should be saved for when the younger ones are asleep.

  28. SKL December 11, 2010 at 10:47 pm #

    Hey, I have a dumb question and it’s off topic, but you guys probably have the answer. What’s the name of that Christmas move with the heat miser and snow miser? I remember loving that part as a kid, but I don’t know which movie it is.

  29. msmama December 11, 2010 at 11:35 pm #

    And apparenly happy endings don’t matter if there’s one bad thing in a movie? I hope this mom doesn’t show her kids ANY movie then.

    All my life I thought that the reason they pulled the Abominable Snowman aka “Bumble’s” teeth in Rudolph was because he had too many cavities because he didn’t brush his teeth. (For the record, several of my friends thought the same thing).

    Fast forward to last weekend when I watched it with my 2 1/2 year old (who loved the Bumble). That’s totally not true. It was never ever mentioned in the movie!!

    So…obviously left out of this discussion is lying to your children. Or I guess more politically correct is “explaining things to your children in terms they understand.”

    I also showed my son Mickey’s Christmas Carol. I know now that I have to fast forward through the “Ghost of Christmas Present” part. Still…no harm done as long as I’m there with the remote.

  30. Uly December 12, 2010 at 12:00 am #


  31. Sky December 12, 2010 at 12:06 am #

    HSmom, Dawn Treader is out? Do you think it’s too scary for 7 and 4? I’ve read my 7 year old the books and she loves them. They both saw L,W,T,W and Prince Caspian twice and were a little scared in some parts but okay with them both. Is Dawn Treader any scarier than those two?

    I agree with others – it entirely depends on the kid. Some are more sensitive to others, and parents know their kids, and can act accordingly. I do often watch shows I enjoyed as a kid and think, “Oh, I didn’t remember that scarry part”, but, as has been mentioned here, I probably watched them as an older kid (7-9) and people tend to show them to younger kids (2-5). That’s where the problem has largely cocured – putting on shows for kids who a generation ago never watched anything but Seasame Street or Mr. Rogers. If she’s talking about toddlers, I kind of get the article. If she’s talking about school age kids…that’s another matter.

  32. KarenW December 12, 2010 at 12:23 am #

    If that article was satire, it’s the most suck-ass satire I’ve ever read. At least as a serious article, it’s passable writing, although not terribly helpful. As many have pointed out, it is almost impossible to predict what might scare a little kid. No Christmas movie scared me as a kid, although several depressed me (Year Without a Santa Claus, for example). As for my own kids: when she was little, my daughter was absolutely TERRIFIED of the Muppets, which broke my heart because I love them! My son was never scared of anything at all.

  33. Jen Connelly December 12, 2010 at 2:30 am #

    I belong to the parenting site that article is from and I refuse to read anything from the Stir. It’s all sensationalized crap aimed at scaring moms or telling them how they should be doing things and why they are wrong for not doing it that way in the first place. It’s trash (whether it’s satire or not, and this was pretty poor satire).

    The really sad part is there are a lot of parents that think that way. My kids have seen most, if not all, those movies and then some. They love zombie movies (real ones, not kiddie movies). I was recently told I was a horrible mother (on that mom’s site) because I don’t censor my kids and allow only G rated movies (and only if I’ve watched them before hand to make sure they don’t have inappropriate adult humor mixed in because most do and they should be banned for kids under 10). I was like WTF? That site has an overabundance of nutty, paranoid helicopter moms. Any time I mention being free-range I get slammed as a “bad” mom and that I don’t care about my kids.

  34. Laura December 12, 2010 at 3:20 am #

    My daughter is really sensitive so she doesn’t watch many movies yet (3.5yrs old), because they are too upsetting for her. The drama and villains are too much for her imagination and it really disturbs her. So we don’t watch movies because I’m being sensitive to her feelings. She was scared when she saw Rudolf. The abominable snowman was scary, she was very worried about what would happen to Rudolf of Yukon Cornelius. So I think the article could be helpful to parents of young, or sensitive children. But if your child isn’t sensitive or is older than it might be considered ridiculous.

  35. Elizabeth December 12, 2010 at 3:40 am #


    That is a good point about kids being little. It’s hard for those of us living in isolated nuclear families, without older kids around to let us enjoy the films aimed at their age groups, to hold off as long as we should.

    Age makes such a difference in these discussions. I would never let my four-year-old ride the metro alone but I think Lenore did the right thing with her nine-year-old. We forget how soon they grow up!

  36. Kate December 12, 2010 at 3:44 am #

    I have to admit when my husband and I re-watched Rudolph, we had either forgotten or never realized how mean they were to each other. (The same goes for some of the Charlie Brown cartoons too) We did what good Free Range parents do: we had a conversation with our seven year old about how being mean isn’t what we do in our family and how the whole thing was just pretend anyway. Haven’t had a problem.

  37. Library Diva December 12, 2010 at 5:41 am #

    What a crappy article. I can’t even get upset about the sentiments that may or may not be behind it, because they’re so poorly expressed. I see it as just an attempt to drive site traffic with a bunch of things that are frequently searched this time of year. Lenore, I wish you hadn’t published it. This isn’t worthy of the attention you gave it, or as a matter of fact, the attention it received from anyone else. At least the damomma thing was thoughtful. You can’t say the same about this article.

  38. Anne December 12, 2010 at 8:37 am #

    Jeanne Sager is a terrible writer and most of her stuff isn’t worth reading. Not sure if she was trying to be funny. But then that is rarely ever clear. She makes a living writing this garbage.

  39. oncefallendotcom December 12, 2010 at 9:17 am #

    I am sitting here watching “It’s a wonderful life” — the real black & white version– for the first time ever. Not one mention of George Bailey getting slapped by the druggist so hard his ears were bleeding. I guess watching a magic snowman melt is more traumatic than getting your face slapped till your ears bleed.

  40. Uly December 12, 2010 at 11:27 am #

    I have to admit when my husband and I re-watched Rudolph, we had either forgotten or never realized how mean they were to each other.

    I’ve never seen the movie, but I actually can’t stand the song. I mean, I actually hate it. The moral is supposed to be something like “dude, don’t bully” or maybe “you’re special anyway”, but it comes out like “it’s okay to bully people unless they’re useful to you. Then you want to stay on their good side, but if you bully them anyway it’s all right, because they’ll be so happy to have you pretend to love them that they’ll help you anyway”.

    And where was Santa, the responsible adult, when the other reindeer were completely excluding Rudolph, NEVER letting him play their reindeer games, calling him rude names (like Pinocchio)? He doesn’t show up until he needs Rudolph’s nose! I guess if they were calling him Stinky it would’ve been all right, right? If they called him Stupid-head he’d still be bullied to this very day, right? I’m not saying Santa should’ve been butting in at the very first sign of discord among the reindeer, but if one of your deer is being completely ostracized, by all of the other reindeer, it’s time to step in.

  41. Uly December 12, 2010 at 11:28 am #

    But, you know, that’s just me. You can sing whatever song you want to your kids. It probably won’t harm them. I heard Rudolph enough times growing up and it hasn’t completely warped me, I don’t think.

  42. SKL December 12, 2010 at 1:08 pm #

    Uly, I’m not sure about your last sentence. Seems you might need some counseling to get over the trauma.

    I hadn’t watched it for many years, until my kids were about 3. Then I noticed for the first time just how bleedin’-heart it really is. I mean, the Bumble just needed to learn how to be a productive member of society? BARF!!

    The thing to remember is that schoolyards were a lot meaner (or, less PC) in the days when that movie was made. Kids routinely said a lot worse stuff than what you hear in Rudolph, usually out of the earshot of responsible adults, not that the adults would necessarily step in anyway. In fact, pretty much everyone had at least one “name” reserved just for them for when anyone else felt crabby toward them. And if you didn’t like your “name,” you could resolve the matter with your fists, or do something to earn a different name. Responsible adults verbally discouraged this but still tolerated it. (In fact, I distinctly remember my elderly next-door neighbor calling the special-needs girl across the street “fatso” and “little elephant” as she was walking down the street.)

    Obviously I don’t like that kind of behavior (and I received it all the time in elementary school), but I kinda wish kids still had the opportunity to develop a thick skin against it. Because sooner or later, someone’s going to say something unfair about you, regardless of how they word it. Once I had a boss who was in danger of getting fired, so he blamed me for his foolishness, except the way he put it was “poor SKL, you can understand why she felt she had to __.” And people are always trying to undermine each other with BS about being “a really nice person but not so smart,” etc., etc. No matter how pretty it sounds, it’s name-calling and people need to know how to deal with it.

    Oh, and I thought the message of Rudolph was that everyone has a useful talent, no matter how odd they may look on the outside. Personally I believe there is almost no adult human being who does not have enough inborn talent to carry his weight / meet his basic needs. This used to be considered a “truth,” but nowadays it is less and less accepted, which is one of the ways in which I feel society has gone backward.

  43. Uly December 12, 2010 at 2:04 pm #

    Nah, I don’t dwell much on the song. I just dislike it, because the intended moral is not the one which actually comes out.

    The actual bullying I actually had as a child (which is what shaped my perception of Rudolph) is admittedly still a little upsetting to think about… which is why I strive to put it out of my mind entirely. So long as those kids have grown up and don’t do it anymore, I hold no ill will against them. (And do you know, that’s the truth? It’s not just something I say. I doubt any one of us is the same person today as we were as children.)

    Did you follow the wiki link above, btw? I tracked down the movie.

    (And with regards to “bleeding heart”edness, well, I wear it with pride. Better than being absolutely heartless.)

  44. Scott December 13, 2010 at 12:48 am #

    Reading the comments there, most of the people are not convinced by the article.

    The most reasonable explanation is the author of that article wrote it as a troll to scare up incoming links, please her editor and increase her ad revenue.

    I was talking to a newspaper journalist a few weeks ago who told me his editor monitored statistics on how many people viewed articles on the paper’s web site. Those with few views, such as writers about politics, were at risk of losing their jobs. Those who wrote celebrity gossip and outrageous positions got more views and were more valued by management. This sort of thing does lead me to wonder what happens to society when this sort of sensationalism is presented as if it is real news and opinions.

  45. SKL December 13, 2010 at 1:23 am #

    Uly, yes, thanks for that link. I think we may have that movie in DVD, but I didn’t want to have my kids watch “the year without a Santa Claus” before they have really been into Santa for at least a couple of years. So it’s in the “not yet” pile for now. Maybe I’ll revisit.

    I know also from first-hand experience how bullying hurts, but at the same time, the reality is that it never stops, just changes in form. Protecting kids from the “everyday” or “old-fashioned” type of bullying doesn’t prepare them for the nonsense they will still have to deal with in HS / adulthood. Bullying, like many things, provides an opening to talk to its victims about how they need to look at this sort of thing.

    I was going to say that the more cruel modern forms of bullying are worth protecting our kids from, but then I thought, is the bullying really any worse than before, or is it just that kids are caught off guard because they were protected from it while younger? Frankly, when I was a young teen/preteen, my hormones were such that a reminder from my mom to wash the dishes could make me feel suicidal. (Seriously.) I was teased and treated with disrespect by peers daily, but by then, I knew that was not important. I knew that did not define who I was. I learned that by the third grade, long before hormones marinated my brain. Who knows, but maybe I wouldn’t be here otherwise.

    I’m not saying I know the answers on bullying, but I think effectively “pretending it away” may do more harm than good.

  46. Uly December 13, 2010 at 5:42 am #

    SKL, I think we don’t disagree as much on this as it seems.

    I don’t know if it’s possible to stop bullying altogether, although I suspect that as much as it IS possible it’ll have to be in some non-punitive way. Sometimes I think bullying is just the price we pay for being a social species.

    However, we should definitely not condone it, especially as adults – and when it gets very bad, to the point where it has GOT to be obvious to the people in charge, the people in charge need to do something.

    When I was a kid, after a particularly *bad* incident in the cafeteria, I started going to the library every day for lunch. (I was eventually joined by two other girls, but I was the only one who went there daily.) So I went hungry, it was worth it not to deal with the cafeteria again. (The incident was so bad that the bullying actually *stopped* for a good month or so. That’s, like, bad.)

    Looking back, it’s obvious that the librarian knew what was going on, which is why she let me in the library even when it was supposed to be closed and even though I never had the pass I really was supposed to have to be there. Did she stop the bullying? Not even remotely! But she did help me out, gave me a safe place to be.

    Santa could just as easily have given Rudolph some quiet space he could go to get away from everybody else. Or, upon hearing them call Rudolph names, he could’ve piped up “Listen, no name-calling!” Sure, they would’ve just been sneakier about it, but then at least Rudolph would’ve known that somebody cared enough to pretend they cared.

  47. SKL December 13, 2010 at 6:53 am #

    Uly, maybe Santa wanted Rudolph to find his inner strength. Maybe Santa was a busy guy and didn’t assume he could judge every disagreement he happened upon. Maybe Santa shouldn’t be expected to be the resolver of all societal ills. Just because he brings gifts to good little boys and girls doesn’t make him responsible for everything bad that happens.

    Funny, whenever I was being bullied or otherwise mistreated as a kid, it never occurred to me to think, “where’s Santa when you need him?”

    About personal life experiences. When I was in 8th grade, there was a whole extended drama going on which I won’t go into in detail. At one point, it was decided that to “save” me from having to fight each girl in the “offended group” individually, I could get off by just fighting the biggest girl. Fine and dandy. The fight was scheduled for the restroom after Band class. Band class was cancelled that day, and instead we all just sat around as the band teacher looked on. The Big Bully came and sat next to me and repeatedly punched my thigh. I don’t believe for one moment that the band teacher didn’t see this quite clearly. He completely ignored it.

    I think that when it comes to “troublesome kids,” teachers often let things slip by because dealing with the offense is a hassle. A good kid with no baggage, no problem – zero tolerance, expulsion for first offense, end of story. But a kid with a history of drug treatment, children’s services involvement, juvenile court involvement, special handling files, etc., that’s not something they want to mess with. We can blame the teachers / administrators, but part of the problem is that they don’t have enough freedom to do what seems right, and in the end, the outcome does nothing to help the victim or the perpetrator. So there is selective blindness, deafness, etc., even where it’s clear an adult ought to step in.

  48. SKL December 13, 2010 at 6:54 am #

    Now Superman, yes, he is the guy to go to if you’re being bullied. Maybe you got your “big S’s” mixed up.

  49. edgeofthesandbox December 13, 2010 at 8:46 am #

    Well, that 3D Nutcracker does sound scary. I hate 3D.

  50. Emily December 13, 2010 at 9:19 am #

    In the Muppet Christmas Carol there’s a scene where Rizzo the Rat says to Dickens (played by Gonzo) something like “hey this is scary, shouldn’t we be worried about the kids?” and Gonzo replies “nah, it’s culture!”

    of course, then they bail at the ghost of christmas future, but he always freaked me out anyway.

    I think movies are the PERFECT opportunity to learn about fear in a safe environment. When my son is old enough we will watch “scary” movies together so that he can learn what fear feels like and what to do about it in a way that isn’t actually dangerous.

  51. KateNonymous December 13, 2010 at 10:02 am #

    Here’s what I posted in response:

    “Stories like these are how kids learn to deal with all kinds of things–criticism, ostracism, unkindness, etc.–including being scared. If your child is truly traumatized by shows like this, then by all means shield them. But most kids aren’t that fragile. And keep in mind that to some degree, kids LIKE to be scared, and this is a safe way for them to experience that.

    If you think your child is borderline, ask him or her what it would take to feel safer and enjoy the show. I still remember one year when my brother, terrified of the Wicked Witch of the West, ran out of the room. When he came back, he had his Halloween mask on. Wearing it, he was able to watch the rest of the Wizard of Oz with no distress whatsoever. It’s amazing what problems a three-year-old can solve if you just give him the opportunity.”

  52. Lola December 13, 2010 at 10:03 am #

    This reminds me of the first time my then 3 yo daughter saw the 20th Century Fox’s cartoon version of “Anastasia”. At the end, the weird zombie Rasputin (“Baddie”, for my girl) sort of melts and is reduced to a bunch of convulsing bones that transform into dust, blown away by the wind. Yuck.
    I stood near her, to hug her in case she had some sort of attack, but her reaction was to pout theatrically and whine “aaawww, poor baddie…”
    But on topic, I’m all for making kids resilient, not only in the physical sense, but most importantly in their mental and spiritual dimensions. Kids living in farms are constantly witnessing nature’s most powerful manifestations: sex, birth, death, illness… It’s all just part of the real world, and it’s fascinating how they appreciate all of this in their wondered, innocent and so very wise way.
    Unfortunately, there aren’t any farms near where I live, so I’ll have to use other tools to give my kids this experience. Movies, of course, are one of them.

  53. Cheryl W December 13, 2010 at 10:17 am #

    I have a son who at 5 was running from the room when Curious George on PBS was doing something that might get anyone else in trouble. It was very upsetting for my son.

    But, we did and do watch new stuff (and old stuff) like Christmas specials. He has seen many on the list, and yes, had to run from the room, only to come back in a few minutes (because he loves TV.) I don’t think he has been scarred – I think that he has expanded his horizons a bit and made him think about things that he didn’t want to think about.

    Recently I listened to show on NPR about women in a country in Africa and how they were horribly raped and mutilated. It was horrible. I wanted to turn it off but made myself listen, because our world is not a nice world. I can’t hide from it. But if I learn about it, maybe I can do something to make it less brutal or help others heal. Helping my son deal with small things now like TV shows may help him make a difference in the world later on. I don’t discount his feelings – I want him to be compassionate, but I don’t want him to hide from hard things either.

  54. oncefallendotcom December 13, 2010 at 10:30 am #

    Did anyone watch the Family Guy Christmas special? Definitely NOT for kids! It had a good message at the end, though.

  55. Metanoia December 13, 2010 at 11:44 am #

    And yet they still show the News in prime time slots…

  56. Uly December 13, 2010 at 11:56 am #

    Well, of course, SKL, you and I didn’t live with Superman. But yes, I did expect my teachers to step in when blatant bullying was going on right in front of them. I wasn’t asking them to sneak around and neglect their jobs to do so, but maintaining order was part of their job description.

  57. SKL December 13, 2010 at 1:11 pm #

    Uly, I don’t disagree with your last point. In school, teachers ought to be allowed to maintain order and they ought to do it.

    Of course nowadays, most of the troublemakers learn very early to remind the teachers “you’re not allowed to touch me, bitch,” so I suspect it’s even harder to maintain control than in our generations.

  58. Cheryl W December 13, 2010 at 1:14 pm #

    Ok now! A “Christmas” show that is not suitable for kids – this year’s “Family Guy”! Well, at least not kids who still believe in Santa, any how!

  59. crowjoy December 13, 2010 at 9:29 pm #

    @SKL “Being scared is NOT the same as being scarred!”


  60. wellcraftedtoo December 13, 2010 at 10:11 pm #

    Well, I agree–those awful elves who throw Ralphie down the slide in the department store have always scared the bejeepers out of me.

    Seriously, I think this article was tongue-in-cheek. (But, doing tongue-in-cheek successfully, as we writers know, is not easy!)

    This post, and its confusing tone, could segue into a good discussion on how to successfully create tone, in fiction and non-fiction…The writer in me is intrigued!

  61. Matt December 14, 2010 at 2:20 am #

    Forgive me for being recursive here, but I think the post on scary Christmas movies is another example of the need by bloggers to have _something_ to post every day. It’s bound to produce lots of chaff. And here we are, blogging about the blogger and commenting about the comments on that blog.

  62. SKL December 14, 2010 at 2:31 am #

    Yooou’ll shoot your eye out, you’ll shoot your eye out, cackle cackle cackle!!

    LOVE IT!

    A Christmas Story isn’t a kiddy movie. I’d think most of the humor would be completely lost on little kids. Leaving the not-so-humorous parts. As much as I loved watching that movie for like 24 straight hours with my dad (while wrapping presents), I’m not in a hurry to share it with my kids.

  63. Allison December 14, 2010 at 2:37 am #

    I haven’t yet read the article, but I have kids who were more scared (not scarred, just worried) by the concept of Santa than by the movies. Seriously, this guy you don’t really know can watch your every move from afar and breaks into your house at night when you’re sleeping, for crying out loud! Who knows what he’s going to do? And if Santa can get into the house, then why can’t other people (at least magical ones) with nefarious purposes?

    We handled it by giving them an overview of Saint Nicholas in different cultures. Of course, they ended up not believing for very long, but that’s fine too. :)

  64. Matt L. December 14, 2010 at 2:41 am #

    The title is a little over the top (Too Scary!) but it thought it might make a handy list of what may freak a kid out. This does not immediately mean that the moves are unsuitable but something to keep in the back of you ind. My initial reaction was that there is no way any of that stuff is remotely scary. Then I remember my own reaction to the Santa scene in “A Christmas Story” and thought, “ok, sure the kid might get freaked out by that” does not mean it is entirely inappropriate (but maybe better to save for when they’d actually get the jokes).

    I really have no idea what will or won’t freak my kid out so sometimes it’s nice to get a head’s up.

  65. esmeraldasquietlife December 14, 2010 at 3:02 am #

    the fact that there is qny question about whether this is snark or not – the fact that we cannot be totally certain- shows that we are living in a climate of true absurdity- where something like this would not be shocking to see seriously written, and even if it is snark- there are some people who would take it seriously and agree- and that there is anyone who is not felled by the rediculousness of this article is very depressing.

  66. SKL December 14, 2010 at 3:36 am #

    I mean, I know it’s true that some kids could get freaked out by some things in kiddy Christmas movies. But that’s true of any movie. Parents who have sensitive kids (or who have other concerns) can and should do research before showing a movie to their kids, if they haven’t seen it / don’t remember it well enough. The Polar Express was a bit much for my 4-year-old’s sensory issues (though she did watch it without much fuss), but lots of younger kids (including my 3yo) have no problem with it.

    I mean, could anyone make a list of movies that have no content that could bother any kid? I doubt it.

    I can’t remember if it was Stephen King or Stephen Spielberg who said that he wasn’t allowed to watch many movies as a kid because he’d freak out and have nightmares over Bambi.

    So while I honestly do not think that article at the Stir was “snark,” I don’t think it was a public service, either. I mean, even if a movie turns out to be “too much” for a particular kid, the kid will come out OK.

    What always surprises me is that adults tend to assume that animated films are perfect for tots / preschoolers while non-animated films are for older kids / adults. Personally I much prefer to show my kids non-animated stuff (preferably without too many special effects at this point). A lot of animated films have stuff I don’t feel is that great for kids to watch. Once in a while, OK, but not a steady diet. (Of course that’s my own opinion for raising my own kids.)

  67. Sky December 14, 2010 at 5:23 am #

    ] “I know also from first-hand experience how bullying hurts, but at the same time, the reality is that it never stops, just changes in form. Protecting kids from the everyday or old-fashioned type of bullying doesn’t prepare them for the nonsense they will still have to deal with”

    It isn’t, as far as I’m concerned, about PROTECTING our kids from bullying. It’s about teaching kids, in general, to behave properly and morally.

    There was a lot of bullying tolerated (or, at least, not effectively disciplined) when my daughter was in public school that would never, ever be tolerated at her new private school, and it isn’t because the private school is seeking to “protect” kids from bullying, it’s because they are seeking to hold all students to high moral standards (something that simply is not done in most public schools). Their concern isn’t for the fragile psyche’s of the bullied – it’s for the moral growth and character of the bullyers.

    My daughter was spit upon as a kindergartener in her old school by some older children. Surprisingly little was done about it. Although I was concerned about her feelings, this was not my primary concern – my primary concern was the kind of moral influence she would be receiving in the years to come in this school.

    This argument – don’t stop injustice because injustice will always exist and so people need to learn how to suffer injustice – is a little bit asinine to me. Yes, injustice will always exist somewhere, in some form, and sooner or later, we will all experience it. But we’d experience a lot less if more people would actively seek to teach all children within the realm of their influence to stop practicing it. And, even without suffering injustice, children can be taught how to endure it when it finally does befall them through the moral development of their characters.

  68. Alex December 14, 2010 at 9:13 am #

    What’s wrong with scaring kids?

  69. Kurt Kemmerer December 14, 2010 at 10:41 am #

    In a world where I’ve met more than my share of kids who’ve developed some pretty good fears and phobias after seeing movies clearly made for the teen and up set, this is just bizarre. It very well could be satire, and no writer gets the balance right every time when it comes to satire.

    Still, it reminds me that the Santa scene in A Christmas Story didn’t bother our almost four-year-old at all. Neither did the bully scenes, which were our biggest concern. What did bother him, what brought him to tears, in fact, was the scene where the Bumpus dogs ate the turkey. He cried, “What are they going to have for Christmas dinner?”

    In other words, there are obvious scary things that should be kept for later, horror movies and the like, but no one really knows what will affect an individual kid. Besides, he watched the movie this year, and the turkey scene didn’t phase him.


  70. Kurt Kemmerer December 14, 2010 at 10:44 am #

    SKL: Uh, no. A good deal of the humor in A Christmas Story worked its magic on our almost four-year-old, and now almost five-year-old. Perhaps that’s because he gets outside a great deal? I don’t know, but it’s not just a movie for adults.

  71. SKL December 14, 2010 at 12:09 pm #

    Sky, I agree with you that moral development should be given a lot more importance than it is, in schools and elsewhere. Personally if I see someone picking on someone smaller, I take a stand right then and there, whether I know any of the kids or not. (I make a brief comment to the older kid to make him realize he’s acting foolishly.) I teach my kids that they need to look out for the younger kids. Etc., etc. But if someone else (not someone in a childcare / educator role) sees such behavior and chooses for any reason (or no reason) not to interfere, that doesn’t make that adult a villain. It doesn’t make that adult the cause of all victims’ pain. It doesn’t even make him the cause of the bullies’ foolishness.

    I also think that the relatively innocent teasing that has always been common works itself out best without intensive intervention. If adults interfere too much, they highlight the kid on the receiving end as a “helpless victim” and that impression sticks with the other kids, a lot longer than if the “victim” were given a fair chance to “fight his own battles.” And also, forcing someone to act friendly when he doesn’t want to only goes so far. The kid will go through the motions and condescend to the other, but it will be a lot harder for the kids in that kind of situation to ever see each other as equals and act accordlingly in a genuine way.

    When I was about 11, my next-door neighbor, who was a few years older and much bigger, was used to bullying me (and many younger kids). One day she and I were walking down the street and I dared to disagree with her on something. She could not take this and she tried her usual bullying tone to make me back down. When I stood my ground, she slapped me pretty hard in the face. My baby brother was there, and she said some crappy things to him too. I continued to maintain my composure. Eventually she realized her foolishness. She burst into tears and apologized, and after that we were actual friends – she never tried to bully me again. I think it worked out a lot better than it would have with adult intervention. That is very often the case. Hopefully a knowlegeable school employee can find where to draw the line between too much intervention and not enough.

  72. bmj2k December 14, 2010 at 12:25 pm #

    That was not a joke. Problem was, it was written by a person who just made all that up. No research was done, and not a single child was scared, but this blogger decided onher these were scary. Really, it was more pathetic than any thing else.

  73. Kim December 14, 2010 at 1:19 pm #

    The hilarious thing about this is that she advises not showing your kids The Miracle on 34th Street because it will scare your kids to think of Santa being thrown in jail with “all the creeps they see on the news.”

    Um, if your kid is too young to watch a family Christmas movie, why are you letting them watch creepy news shows? (Law & Order or Oz for tots, anyone?)

  74. Steve December 14, 2010 at 1:41 pm #

    If this was on Law and Order: SVU, this would be the case of ‘Tis the season to be suspicious.

  75. Christopher Byrne December 14, 2010 at 7:15 pm #

    My mother, who’s famous line was: “Good Night, Moon is inane,” refused to read us many idiotic pablum besmirched children’s books. (Dr. Seuss was okay, and we reveled in “The Grinch.”) We read “A Christmas Carol” aloud to one another as a family every year, reveling in the ghastly and the ghostly in it, as well as in the joy of Scrooge’s ultimate reversal and awakening to the joy in life. (Same message in the Seuss book, too.)

    My mother also read my brothers and me “Oliver Twist” as a bedtime story. Go find the scene describing the death of Nancy if you want to get “the willies.”

    But the point missed in all of this is the popular belief, justified or not, in the redemptive power of the holidays. You can’t have redemption without danger or evil, and the greater the evil, the greater the potential for a new way of being.

    Scrooge, just to mention one, as the others cited are simply too silly to acknowledge, awakens to a new life. He sees what he might have had. He sees what is, and he sees where his selfish attitude may take us. Particularly chilling are the allegorical twins “ignorance and want” shown to him by the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come. He is told to fear them, or they will become reality. They were already a reality in Dickens’ time, and they are in our own.

    Moreover, there is a wonderful power in literature that is scary because children learn, vicariously and presumably in a safe context, that life may be frightening, but that they have the power to overcome it. Happy endings are only guaranteed in fiction. Real life can be a mess. Teaching children to fear, or worse to avoid, is a horrible disservice.

    Allegories, such as “A Christmas Carol” are meant to instruct and enlighten, but we can’t make them go away, and we certainly can’t change them. Selfishness, venality and, yes, evil, are all around us. If we avoid them, we cannot learn, and ignorance and fear will reign. Kids deserve to get the gift of knowing they can handle anything thrown at them, and triumph. That’s the real message of all these stories and films.

  76. Mrs Embers December 14, 2010 at 8:56 pm #

    OK, if it’s snark, it’s not clear enough. If it’s not, it’s over-the-top. I don’t disagree that there are scary things in Christmas movies (I refuse to watch the new A Christmas Carol movie because that animation is too weird for me, and that donkey thing sounds pretty scary), but it’s up to parents to know their kids and what they can handle. My kids LOVE “A Christmas Story” (they call it “the boy with glasses movie”), but the live-action Grinch is too weird for them, and that’s OK. Not sure they’d like The Wizard of Oz, either*, but other kids might LOVE it.

    I think people are right in saying that it depends on kids’ ages- a lot of these movies might be fine for a 6-year old, but give a 3-year old nightmares. FRK is about knowing your kids and what they can handle, right? So there we go. Use your brain and your judgement rather than a list made by some blogger, and you’ll be fine.

    BW, my kids will NOT be watching any of those stop-motion animated things, but that’s because I hate them. Maybe it’s because I didn’t grow up with them, but I can’t even stand to have them on in the background. Blech.

    Also, as other people have said… Christmas movies are too scary for her kids, but she lets them watch the news? Talk about traumatizing…

    *My mom is in her 50’s and she still can’t watch the flying monkeys in Oz because she was so terrified of them when she was a kid… so I guess there really are things that are too much for kids. It’s just up to us to know what those things are for our own kids.

  77. Linda Wightman December 14, 2010 at 10:07 pm #

    Amen, Christopher Byrne!

  78. SKL December 14, 2010 at 10:14 pm #

    Mrs. Embers, yes, there are scary things in Oz, but some kids are still OK watching it. I remember my daughter’s first time (before age 2) – the horrified look on her face at certain parts – and the complete inability to tear herself away. (Sis just left the room.) On the other hand, there have been times when she’s left the room during scenes involving real humans being hurt badly. She never has had difficulty understanding the difference between real / pretend. She may not be typical, but I would hesitate to write off a movie just because someone else’s kid can’t handle it.

  79. ellen December 15, 2010 at 1:38 am #

    — “Wait, his name isn’t Bumble?” —
    Yes, he is a bumble.
    ” Didn’t I ever tell you about Bumbles? Bumbles bounce!” (don’t know why, but that’s my favorite line)

    I think the writer isn’t sure what to do with this post and is caught between snark and “helpfulness.” The writing isn’t good enough to be snark. Had the post been presented as a reminder to parents of some things that might be scary to some toddlers, than I think it would have been very helpful. It’s the “Are Classic Christmas Movies Too Scary for Today’s Kids” that makes this over the top.

    Just my two cents. It’s not a well researched article. “Nestor the Long-Eared Christmas Donkey” is a pretty horrible tale, but mentioning that because Nestor’s mom dies yet not the “Little Drummer Boy,” where both parents die, is a little odd. Both are Rankin Bass productions.

    The Little Drummer Boy ends happy because baby Jesus saves the boy’s donkey at the end. (I think he brings him back from the dead??) Who needs parents when you have a donkey?

  80. Mike B December 15, 2010 at 3:06 am #

    Hee hee. Comments on her site are running 0 for, 41 against. I hope she’s gotten the point!

  81. SDC December 21, 2010 at 5:00 am #

    I do submit that Glenn Beck’s ‘The Christmas Sweater’ is not suitable for children. Actually, it’s not suitable for anybody with a pulse, and that includes children.

  82. RiyaButler May 25, 2011 at 8:46 pm #

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