You Let Them Watch What?! Avoiding an Unintentionally Adult Family Movie Night


Here are a few family movie night tips you may want to keep in mind.


Now that my two oldest are in elementary school, they are no longer content sticking to “G” rated animated movies for Family Movie Night. And thanks to all the movies available on streaming services, we’ve started expanding our search to other “family-friendly” movies. 


My husband and I scrolled through the options and were delighted at all of the retro movies that we remembered watching as kids. We saw a particular favorite, stopped, and checked the rating: PG. I remarked that I didn’t remember any bad language or adult content, and it seemed like a reasonable next step in maturity after our beloved Disney favorites. We quickly sold it to our kids as “one of our favorites” and assured them that they would love it, too, and clicked play.


A full ten minutes into the movie, we began stealing nervous glances at each other as the first curse word appeared (I mouthed, “I didn’t remember that being in there” and shrugged my shoulders). A few more words popped up throughout the movie, as well as some sexual innuendos that I’m *pretty sure* went right over their heads. 


We chalked it up to a fluke and reverted to the standard Disney fare for the next Family Movie Night. But, then we decided to try again with another beloved classic. And wouldn’t you know it, more “bad words” and adult situations in that one, too.


One thing became abundantly clear — we clearly were remembering these movies of our childhoods with rose-colored glasses. Maybe all the kissing and bedroom references went right over our heads. And maybe we knew better than to try and use those new words around our parents. 


I started comparing notes with other parents and heard the same thing. In fact, there’s an ongoing Facebook post thread devoted to the subject in our neighborhood group that keeps getting updated with more and more examples. Someone pointed out that when we were kids, the movie ratings went from G, to PG, straight to R — there was no PG-13! It makes so much more sense now!


a boy and a girl on the couch watching parts of an inappropriate movie as their mom and dad cover their eyes in shock


To be honest, we’ve gotten over the shock of it, and just try and be more careful to know exactly what we’re getting into by checking ahead of time. (Pro tip: I always search for the movie on to see exactly which words will pop up, just how scary it really is, and whether any of the adults end up in the bedroom together). And it’s always a good idea to pre-screen the movie without the kids just to be safe.


We are always careful to point out afterward that they might have heard some words that they already know to be on the “bad” list, and if they learned some new ones, they should keep them to themselves (for more tips on handling potty mouths, give What the #@$! a quick read).


Do yourselves a favor and learn from our naivete — research the movie beforehand, ask around, and make sure you’re ultimately “okay” with the introduction of “bad words” and adult behavior. And maybe don’t try that classic movie out at a slumber party (been there, done that!).


Finally, I’ll leave you with some “classics” that you may want to screen ahead of time:

  • Goonies
  • Home Alone
  • Mighty Ducks
  • Ghostbusters
  • The Sandlot
  • Dirty Dancing
  • Grease
  • Big
  • Hook


Add any others you’ve watched in the comments!