There has been a lot of chatter lately on whether or not Brave is appropriate for kids. I have to confess, I haven't seen the movie. But, I do know that the whole discussion of "appropriate for kids" makes my teeth ache. Regarding movies like Harry Potter and Avatar, I have read various comments by posters commenting on how they see young children watching these movies and wonder what kind of parent would allow a five year old into see any of the later Harry Potter movies, or Avatar. I have to say, I am one of those parents of which they speak. My children have seen all the Harry Potter movies, and Avatar and probably quite a few others that would elicit gasps of shock, incredulity, and in some, indignation bordering on overzealous rage... I understand about terrified children, and it makes me sad to think that there are children who go to sleep at night utterly terrified. I was one of those children - heck, I am one of those adults. My husband finds it both amusing and burdensome when we watch a scary movie together and in the middle of the night I am nervously waking him up in order to accompany me to the bathroom. To his credit, he obliges...
You might think that I force my children to watch scary movies in order to buttress them from a life of hiding under the covers... but no. My motives for allowing my children to watch movies with more adult themes is that it is wonderful fodder for conversation. Avatar led to some very interesting talks about the correlations between Pandorans and Native Peoples, and the attitude that in order to make things better some handsome white guy had to come to their rescue... Children's movies like Cars simply doesn't have the complex, rich tapestry of emotion, experience and, well, pathos that exists in better movies (though, blockbusters aren't considered the "best" of movie fare - but I do find that they provide opportunities to point out stereotypes that exist all around them). My kids have watched various documentaries, many of them quite adult... we pause and discuss as much as we can. I find movies and books excellent fodder for communicating our families values - sometimes very much in contrast with the world around us.
Another aspect that I find about watching movies and reading books to my children that I find interesting, is that we connect on a different level. It also allows me a distinct level of involvement in their entrance into a technological world. When our kids were born, my husband and I made a deal that TV or movies would only be watched when an adult was in the room - but that content would not be particularly limited (Game of Thrones if for Mom and Dad only!) - it would be DISCUSSED. We are not perfect, the kids have watched the occasional children's movie without us present, however, we are mindful as parents and this decision has served its purpose. The kids are also interested in the things WE are interested in. It is nice listening to The Vinyl Cafe with my 9 year old - not ONLY hearing chatter about whatever new videogame all the kids in his class are playing... it helps me relate.
And, our kids are aware of the world around them and various real life issues. We have created opportunity to discuss larger issues such as racism, bullying, and gender discrimination. I was very proud of my 6 year old standing up for his friend when another child called him "fat."
I am all for the websites that describe violence of movies, and feel that parents should make decisions based on their own kids and values. But, just because you hear about a parent watching a movie rated pg 13 with their 6 year old, doesn't mean that parent doesn't have values.