How Young Is Too Young for a Midnight Movie?

kid eating popcorn at the moviesMy oldest son was nearly 3 before he saw a movie in a theatre. I took him to a midweek matinee of How to Train Your Dragon, and it was a big deal.

My youngest son, however, has been going to movies since he wasn’t yet 2. I was stuck to emcee a movie for the radio station one night and decided to test out his stamina to see if he could sit through Kung Fu Panda 2. He enjoyed it, and we’ve enjoyed taking him to movies ever since.

Last night, when a gunman opened fire in an Aurora, Colorado movie plex, it was the midnight showing of The Dark Knight Rises. In the audience, that saw more than 70 shot, were a 9-year-old, 6-year-old, and a 3-month-old.

Some have asked that we not blame the victims in a time like this. Fine, I appreciate that we don’t want to pile on the tragedy, but shooting or not, there is a big question lingering here:

Why the heck are kids at the midnight screening of The Dark Knight Rises?

twitter asking parenting questions aurora batman
These same questions flooded Twitter

Okay, your 9 -year-old kid is a huge fan, and you’ve talked about it and made a choice that he will see the movie. Why is he at the midnight showing?

At 6-years-old, I can’t think of a reason why a reasonable parent would let their kid in the theatre on opening night. Fellow Babble Kid Scoop writer, Amber Doty, has a Bat-crazy son. She and her husband agreed to watch the film to judge for themselves if it was appropriate viewing. Even then, I’m guessing a matinee would be part of their plans.

And the 3-month-old? Certain things happen when you become a parent. Sacrifices need to be made. You can’t do all the things you used to be able to do when you were single.

Kids change things, and one of those things is the ability to see a movie at the drop of a hat. A 3-month-old, while likely to sleep through a midnight movie, has no business being there. The parents need to realize that if they can’t get a sitter on opening night, they can see it another day. Or, better yet, wait a couple months until the DVD comes out and watch it then.

I’ll save the gun debate for another post.

I’m not piling on victims of a shooting here, I’m asking a question about the choices modern parents are making, and asking why they make them.

Your mileage may vary, but I take my kids to age appropriate movies, at age appropriate hours. Call me crazy, I know. After all, I’m the dad whose kids have never been to McDonalds.

[UPDATE] I wanted to add my responses to some comments in the body of the piece so they remain more visible:

Children should be immortal. My heart aches every time I hear news of a child dying for no good reason (and there is never a good reason for a child to die). I did not know the 6-year-old was among the dead when I wrote this post.

That said, I stand by my original assertion that children of that age have no business being at a midnight screening of a movie of that type.

This article is meant to be a discussion on the appropriateness of bringing children to movies, the timing may be too sensitive for some, but this question was the first one that I asked when I read the story, and heard the details. I expose my honest reactions in my writings; this piece is just another example of that.

The Wall Street Journal asks this same question: Why Were Children At A Midnight Screening?

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