If you haven’t been living under a rock recently, you have probably seen reviews of the new Disney movie Turning Red floating around. There are strongly felt reviews on both sides of the emotion spectrum. If you love it you REALLY love it, and if you hated it you REALLY hated it! It was because of the sheer number of conflicting accounts that I thought we might skip this one altogether.
But both of my kids, who are 8 and 6, had seen the previews and wanted to watch it.
Some of the issues that I saw being written about said that it was really geared towards older kids and teenagers. With that in mind, I warned both of my kids that this movie was about teenager issues and that may mean they wouldn’t understand all of it, or it might mean they would have questions about things and that it was okay! I let them know that they could talk to me about anything they might not understand and I would do my best to explain. With those warnings, we snuggled on the couch as a family and watched…..
And….I have some thoughts….so buckle up I have a lot to say!
One of the big negative reviews I had read was about language, but honestly, our family watches Marvel movies and shows like The Office and Parks and Rec that have more adult geared language in them. So I wasn’t as concerned about that but I was prepared for it, and by the end of the movie I was actually confused. I think I heard her mumble “crap” once and she said something about drawing “sexy” pictures but again it was mumbled and it was said maybe one time. Considering the subject matter is a group of 13-year-old girls navigating through 8th grade, I will let you know (in case you haven’t been around actual teenagers in a while) the language they hear at school is a HUNDRED TIMES WORSE than what is in this movie. And my kids who are younger didn’t clock any of it. They did clock the fact that the girls liked the boys and they thought that part was gross, the same way they think it’s gross when their dad kisses me!
Another issue I saw people have was about the reference to periods and menstrual products. I personally have reviewed the menstrual cup on Coastal Bend Mom Collective, and have over the last five or so years pushed myself to be more open about talking about those things in mixed company. I never want my daughter to feel shame around her period when she gets old enough to experience that. And I want her to feel comfortable talking about it to me AND her father. That means me AND her father have to be comfortable talking about those things now! Because, those things are learned behavior. If you show your daughter a particular subject, like periods, make you uncomfortable, then she will not talk about it to you. And then you have to worry about who is she talking about those things with and what kind of information she is getting! On top of that, I want my son to grow up and understand what a woman goes through, and be sensitive to those topics. If he is never taught how can I expect him to know or understand later when he is a husband or father himself? So I was actually hoping those scenes would open up conversations. But again the movie never says anything outright, other than a few references to cramps and pads. But my kids didn’t really register any of that because they were distracted by the giant red panda who was wrecking her room.
What I rarely saw mentioned in any of these reviews, good or bad, was the behavior of the mom! Number one: showing up at the girls’ school MULTIPLE times to sit outside with binoculars and then to barge into her classroom waving around pads (before she knew what was going on) is disturbing. Finding drawings of a boy and then confronting that boy publicly without even talking to your daughter is beyond trust-breaking. But it is something that I think many parents still do, although maybe not to that extreme I hope! The helicopter parenting, the not wanting the cute little baby to grow up, so instead of letting go and giving the teen some space to start making decisions when they still have their parents as a safety net, the parent tries to hold on tighter. In the movie – and in life – when things like this happen, and someone is constantly sharing personal things or embarrassing you publicly, you will no longer share or confide in that person. The same goes for a parental relationship. Now, this does NOT mean I think we should just be our kid’s best friend and let them get away with doing anything. That is where healthy boundaries come into play. But much like the cartoon, Bluey is in my opinion a parenting show on gentle parenting, Turning Red is a parenting movie with the cautionary message of what happens when you are unwilling to let your teens grow up and in doing so you avoid pretty important topics that could have helped them because you didn’t want to admit that your baby isn’t a baby anymore.
That is the BIGGEST message of the movie! The mom KNEW what would eventually happen to this girl. And she could have warned her, she could have prepared her. But she wasn’t ready to let go of the image of her little girl and thought by withholding the information it was keeping her daughter from growing up. Unfortunately, time marches on, and before we know it our kids are exploring life, trying to carve their own path. And if we don’t prepare them honestly for things that they might experience, or let them make some mistakes while we are still available to be a safety net that won’t stop them from growing or making mistakes. It just means that when they do they will be doing so without the benefit of experience or a way to easily course correct.
My kids and I thought this movie was WONDERFUL. And the next day on our way to school I was asking them what they thought the message of the movie was, and my daughter said “don’t keep secrets, it just makes it worse” and my son said, ” your family is important!” Those are some pretty profound messages that my 8 and 6-year-olds picked up on, and they are in line with things that we are trying to teach them as a family. So I give the movie a 10 out of 10!
Bonus: Some of the other reviews I saw were from Christians who were concerned with the magic or mystic parts of the movie. That is going to be a personal choice and conviction. I have grown up with Disney movies like Cinderella, Beauty and the Beast, Sleeping Beauty, Aladdin, Etc. And they ALL have some sort of magic in them, so unless you have banned all Disney for that reason I don’t really see why this one is different.