a mother bonds with her young son


How Hollywood Saved My Relationship With My Son

Jun 4, 2019

When you have more than one child, it’s natural to have more in common with one (or two) of them than the others. Children are unique and have their own personalities and while this is of course a good thing, if you’re a parent dealing with a child whose interests lay so beyond what you like or understand yourself, it can also be highly frustrating.

It’s hard to forge a connection when the last thing you said to that child — that wasn’t a directive — was “please pass the maple syrup” over breakfast. You can’t force a conversation with a quiet or introverted child, and it would be wrong to try. But I wanted to hear my son’s sweet voice and understand what he thought about things, so I set about making this my problem to solve.

Relevant Reading: 5 Steps I Take Before Watching a Movie With My Kids

My daughter and I have many things in common, but when it comes to my son, we could not be further apart. He is very active and has a thirst to build things whereas I prefer, well, more sedentary pursuits and clicking “add to cart” on Amazon. It was becoming increasingly difficult to think of new adjectives to use when presented with proud Minecraft builds, and I knew I had to make something happen that would have us closer together before more time had slipped past.

That “something” ended up happening quite accidentally, and I have the seasonal holidays, a blackout and Harry Potter to thank.

Weather caused a power outage here and over the course of a few days, we watched all the Harry Potter movies. I was amazed that after each film we had so much to talk about! We discussed everything from funny character quirks to plot development, and even the way the sets were built.

I let go of any guilt associated with us doing something "lazy" and leaned into it.

I’ve always loved movies and it never occurred to me that something I’d been guilty of turning on to keep him occupied could wind up being a catalyst for real conversation.

Being able to connect to something he was interested in that took place on a screen was OK with me. It didn’t have to be time together "doing something" because — although we were silent and sitting in the dark together — it was leading to some great discussions afterwards. I let go of any guilt associated with us doing something "lazy" and leaned into it.

Now we have our movie time every week or so, and we’ve made it a project. We’ve found great serials that are ongoing and expanding (like Marvel and DC universe movies) because not only can we talk about fan theories and characters, we can anticipate the next release and have a just-you-and-me outing together when the release date rolls around. So, yes, while it’s not something like hiking in nature or an intellectual stretch like mastering chess together, I am completely OK with our thing being sitting in a dark theatre (or on a cozy couch) enjoying a sugary pop and a salty snack once or twice a month.

Relevant Reading: 10 Movies From Your Past That Won't Make Your Kids Scream in Terror

As my son gets older, our movie going also gives me a great opening for discussions about things that really matter: representation, equality, racism, ageism, sexism and social justice. As a former English major, I often try to throw in terms that help him aptly describe how the story works. And as close as I am with my other children, I will always remember and hold dear the day my introverted, quiet and generally unexpressive son turned to me and said, “Wow. That was a real subverted trope!”

Pass the popcorn!

Article Author Jeni Marinucci
Jeni Marinucci

Jeni is a writer with a guilty conscience, a love for humour and a questionable home-haircut. After her children were old enough to make their own sandwiches, she returned to university to complete her B.A. in English Literature — a designation which has provided her with an extensive library and crushing student loans. When no teaching college wanted her, she had to choose between taking orders through a drive-thru window or from an editor. She chose the latter.

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