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How Cool Kids Get Made, Probably

Photograph by Twenty20

Movies sort of get my family through, especially during holidays, long weekends, extended time off with no camps. Recently during a school holiday, we saw "Zootopia" twice, "Rachet and Clank" once, and we ate our weight in popcorn, Twizzlers and M & Ms. My kids love going to the movies, love watching movies at home, and my husband and I encourage it.

But we're careful about what we let them watch.

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We check sites like Common Sense Media, we talk to friends about what's appropriate. We decide what our kids are ready for. (One friend had to walk out of "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" when his 6-year-old completely freaked out at the part where Han Solo got chased by that big octopus-looking monster.)

We were at the movies one Sunday over a recent break, when we saw one of my first-grader's friends from school.

"What movie are you seeing?" my 6-year-old asked his friend.

At the time, there were two kids' movies in theaters. We were seeing "Peanuts," and I wondered if his friend would be in our movie or seeing "Alvin and the Chipmunks" instead.

Am I holding my kid back?

His friend replied, "Creed."

Let that sink in for a moment. A 6-year-old, a first-grader, was seeing the movie "Creed."

Now, if you haven't seen "Creed" yet, let me fill you in: it's a great movie. I saw it with my husband, and we absolutely loved it. It's a redux of the Rocky franchise, with Apollo Creed's son at the helm this time. We loved it for the nostalgia, we loved it for the great writing and direction, we loved it because of Michael B. Jordan's unbelievable acting. But it's a movie about boxing, and there's just as much blood and violence as you might expect from such a movie.

The one thing this movie was not? Appropriate for small children.

"Why aren't we seeing 'Creed'?" my son asked me. And I had no idea where to begin.

I wondered if this is how the cool kids are made. My kid is watching "Peanuts," and his friend is watching grown men pummel each other to the ground.

It goes beyond movies. My kid isn't even allowed to do a drop off playdate, and his friends are doing sleepovers.

Am I holding my kid back?

So, am I holding my kid back from popularity? Maybe. But my job as a parent isn't to raise a cool kid.

It made me realize something: our choices as parents affect our children. Even in subtle ways. Even in little ways. Even when we think we're right.

My mother-in-law still stands her ground on the fact that she wouldn't let my husband go to boy-girl parties when they began in sixth grade. Did that change his life? Did it alter the course of his popularity in seventh grade?

I'm not sure what the answer is. I certainly want my kids to fit in at school, not to be left out, not to be the pariah, but at what cost? I'm still not going to do things that, as a parent, I'm uncomfortable with. I'm not going to let my kid see movies that I think are inappropriate. I'm not going to let my kid go to places where I don't feel comfortable.

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So, am I holding my kid back from popularity? Maybe. But my job as a parent isn't to raise a cool kid. It's not to be friends with my kids. My job is to make my boys into men, to be good members of society, good people, with a good background.

At some point, I'm going to introduce my kids to "Rocky," "Creed" and "Star Wars." Because they're great movies. Classics. And I'm a big fan. But not just yet. For now, I'm content to let my kids see " Peanuts " and keep it at that.

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