My husband and I sometimes show our son older movies. These are mostly movies that we enjoyed growing up and think will stand up to his scrutiny. Sure there are moments we will need to explain (landlines with a really long phone cord), and moments that were very in style for the time (I'm looking at you, 1980s fashion). But there are some facets of old movies that I wonder if my son is even picking up on.
Namely, the role of the Dad in the family dynamic.
My son has two working parents who love him dearly and give him a lot of attention. Sure, he is at an age where he knows that not everyone's family looks the same: Some parents stay home with their children; some families only have one parent; some families have parents that live apart...all of that is normal for him. Would a family dynamic in which the Dad is disengaged be strange for him to see?
Working Moms get a lot of press, but we should recognize the strides that working Dads have made over the years - less all about the office, and more about the home life. While there is always room for improvement, I have realized that this is my son's idea of normal: Parents as partners.
So what will happen the first few times my son watches a movie from the 1950s? Will he feel like he can identify with a family that is portrayed so differently than any dynamic that he has a model for now? What questions will he have about the idea of a "normal" family from that time period?
I definitely want my son to see how gender roles have changed over time, and maybe watching movies is a good starting point for that. I think it is one of the simpler ways we have to start the conversation about who makes up a family and how the idea of a family has changed over time. At the very least, it may give him an appreciation of the family he has now. And isn't that what we all want? How do you teach your child about the changes in family dynamics over the years? Share with me your tips in the comments.