Family Movie Night

by Karyn Bowman

This past week has been incredibly busy for our family.

Image by Mathew Hull

Image by Mathew Hull

There have been several ball games, graduation, 4H activities, the parade, town wide garage sale, two birthday parties, and various concerts. Other people I know had dance recitals and graduation parties to host.

While it is an incredible time, it is also incredibly tiring. A few times I wondered if I could fall asleep right where I was but knew I had to stay awake. In truth, I love these moments even during the most hectic moments. But when it is all over, I want nothing more than relax.

Once Sunday arrived, I was ready to do nothing. Which I did rather successfully beyond reading a book, planting a few new plants, and making stuffed shells for dinner. Later that night, the husband and I watched Parental Guidance starring Billy Crystal and Bette Midler.

Midler and Crystal play grandparents who have been reluctantly asked to watch their only grandchildren. Once in the house, Midler realizes that they are the ‘other grandparents,’ the ones not seen as fun but as a burden. During this week, she wants to create memorable moments for the kids and asks her husband not to screw it up for them.

Image from

Image from

This might be hard because their daughter, Marisa Tomei, is a bit of a helicopter parent but she is aided by the rules of their school and social circles in which kids are told to use their blue voice and baseball games don’t count runs or strike pitches. Old school clashes with new school as grandparents try to figure out a smart house and a set of rules of life that do not always make sense.

This is not a deep movie, there are some moments that one might call cloying or manipulative. But it has nuggets of truth hidden in the biting or bitter remarks made by various characters.

As parents, we strive to do better than what we thought of our parents’ parenting styles. We try to eliminate bullying or unhappy feelings. We strive to make everyone feel good about their accomplishment.

I understand the daughter’s point of view of wanting to be different from her parents. I mean, how many of us have seen the saying “I opened my mouth and my mother’s voice came out” and giving a head-nod of agreement? How many of us vowed that while we love our parents, we were going to raise our kids differently which meant ‘better’ in our heads.

It is not always like that.

Some modern tricks have value as do some of the old ones. I think that not all modern tricks and tools work as well as some of the old ones. I think sometimes kids have to lose games and develop skills from that loss. I think kids need to be taught how to speak to others without being a manipulative bully – and when that happens call the kids for acting out in a manipulative manner.

In the end, parents have to be parents which means setting boundaries and consequences for inappropriate behavior while allowing kids to have fun. It also means that kids have to learn how to treat others in a respectful manner. And sometimes, you break every rule you ever set for a magical moment.

Would I watch this movie again?

I think I might. There is a sweetness as Grandpa learns to bond with his grandchildren. There is some honesty in one of the subplot’s involving careers. While this movie might be acceptable context-wise for those who are pre-teen, I think it is best for adults who get both worlds of parenting.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.