What makes us who we are? Is it our hair color, our skin color? Is it the neighborhoods we grew up in? Is it our memories, our past experiences? I guess it’s a little bit of all of these things but not all of these things get passed on to our children. What if you want your children to have a connection to that part of you that formed who you are today? What if you want your children to connect with the childhood “you” that helped make you the big, excitable geek you are today? What better way to do that than to connect your children with the experiences that helped shape your dreams when you were their age.
Traditions are important. They can help instill values and teach lessons. They can be the tie that binds family and friends. So, when my children were very young I started something called “Daddy’s Picks” with my little ones. Simply put, “Daddy’s Picks” was our extra-special movie night where we sat down and watched my favorite childhood movies. Now of course, this took place before even Netflix was a thing but as the service came on line I first used it to rent the DVDs we’d end up watching, later turning to the service to stream content for our movie nights.
Daddy’s Picks was a lot of fun for myself and the kids but became so much more than just us sitting around the TV watching 80’s movies. It was part bonding, part sociological experiment, part family tradition in the making.
“Kids these days have no attention-span!” I hear that often from people and while there is some truth to the statement with how “fast food” our lives have become, I actually found quite the opposite in my own home. Movies told at a pace that is slower than much of today’s fare not only held my childrens’ attention, they were often engrossed. Everything from The Last Starfighter to The Princess Bride to the original Star Wars movies, with the exception of Popeye, held their attention. It even got to the point that when life got a little busy and we missed a weekend, I would eventually be met with, “when are we doing the next Daddy’s Pick?” They looked forward to it and if I let things go too long they eventually -in their own way- demanded it. “Dad, we need to do a Daddy’s Pick soon.”
It wasn’t just the movies though, it was family time and experience. I made Daddy’s Pick an event. We picked up dinner from somewhere. Sometimes it was craptastic, often there was popcorn and candy involved, or their favorite ice cream from one of the local chains. We all huddled up together on the couch, ate and watched. It was priceless. I’ve shared this story before and every time I do, men with children who aren’t quite that age yet exuberantly chime in with how they’re going to be doing that with their children one day!
I think that part of being a parent is the desire to share who you are with the next generation. To pass on what you’ve learned and apparently I’m not alone in this.
Netflix recently commissioned a study and found that 76% of the men they surveyed said these movies from their childhood helped them teach life lessons. What was interesting to me, though unsurprising when you consider the human experience of passing knowledge through storytelling, was that 85% of dads from around the globe are passing down the shows and movies they loved as kids, to their own children. Apparently, Inspector Gadget is #1 here in the U.S. among dads. Again, not surprising as my own children actually loved that one when they were young.
Now that my sons are teens, one of the things I’ve found most fascinating is that the radio versions of the 90’s hip hop I played around them when they were a little younger has become a part of their listening habits. My sons love A Tribe Called Quest, NAS and even some more recent hip hop cats with an “older” flow like Mos Def and Talib Kweli. And, now that they’re older (17 and 16) I’ve enjoyed watching some of the more grown up movies that I loved as a high schooler. Movies with great fight scenes and a little gore. We loved watching Arnold rack up a video game-like body count in Commando. I did forget that there was a brief scene with a bare-chested woman in it which is something we have to be careful about as we watch our favorite old movies with our children… the nostalgia makes us forget some of the content. That and seeing the edited for TV version of a movie so many times on channels like TNT or FX that we may have forgotten there is some adult content to be aware of. Another example would be Bruce Lee’s epic Enter The Dragon! I’d forgotten there was a topless scene in that movie as well because of having seen the edited version so many times over the years.
I think that what I love most about this experience with my sons and daughter is that we have our own inside jokes that tie into these “old” movies. I can make a “who shot first” joke and they get it. When I drop them off at school I can joke with them and tell them as they leave the car, “have fun storming the castle!” and we can laugh together (or they’ll just think I’m corny as usual). We have a shared experience that transcends time and generation as we can relate and joke about the things they watched as children like Gullah Gullah Island or the shows from my childhood like Robotech- we all can’t stand whiny, melodramatic Lynn Minmay!
Disclosure: This is a sponsored post. I am a member of the Netflix Stream Team but in everything I do, I strive to impart value to you, the reader so partnership doesn’t mean softball, craptastic posts. I’ll do my best to keep the good stuff publishing, whether paid or not.