Movies With Teens: The Cider House Rules

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The Cider House Rules (free prime streaming here or purchase here) is not for the faint of heart, parenting-wise, but it’s a very well made film with a lot of themes we need to be discussing with our children anyway.

Some things to think about:

Abortion: Is it right or wrong? Is it okay to take a child’s life because it is inconvenient for the parents? Or because the child may grow up in less than ideal circumstances? Is it better to provide women with “safe” abortion services, even if you don’t agree with the practice, so as to prevent more harm to human life than absolutely necessary?

Marital Relations: Why is it so difficult for people to abstain from relations outside of marriage? What are the consequences? Is it possible to avoid succumbing to this particular temptation? How can we safeguard this most beautiful gift for the sake of our future spouses, and for ourselves? (A not-just-for-kids picture book: The Princess and the Kiss)

Morality: What – or who – is the source of our morality? Does morality depend on our feelings about a situation, or it is an objective reality outside of ourselves?  The Toby McGuire character changes his stance on abortion when faced with a pregnancy from an incestuous relationship. Is that valid? Is abortion always morally wrong or does it depend on the circumstances surrounding the conception of the child?  Are there other cases where a wrong might be considered right?  Or are these always evils to be avoided at all costs?

I’m looking forward to talking about these things – and more, I’m sure – with my older children today, and probably for the rest of the week as the thoughts take form in their minds.

And here’s a thought for moms: Do you shy away from being a moral authority for your children because you, too, are a sinner?  Do you feel that your own sins negate your right to guide them in the way they should go?  (Have you read Kristin Lavransdatter? I was most saddened by this story; the whole plot is driven by a premarital/extramarital affair and it’s consequences, the most noteworthy of which being that Kristin does not ever feel she can claim her role as moral guide, because she committed the same sins.)

If I’d remembered exactly what this film was about before I suggested it, I might have shied away, but it’s really very well done.  Not too graphic, and what is shown doesn’t feel gratuitous.  Do you watch and discuss films like this with your older kids?

A herd of wild ponies grazes alongside the railroad tracks in my living room.  I hope the locomotive doesn't scare them away!
A herd of wild ponies grazes alongside the railroad tracks in my living room. I hope the locomotive doesn’t scare them away!

6 Comment

  1. I think repentant sinners are the best moral guides. Only a repentant sinner knows the both the heavy burden of a sinful life and the easy yoke of a God-fearing one.

    We talk about abortion, but haven’t yet gotten into why some women might feel that was a solution. Incest is not something they know about yet. We’re getting there. We recently watched Sense and Sensibility (also streamed on Netflix – well done with Emma Thompson and Hugh Grant) and the fact that one cad had gotten a young woman pregnant, and then left her, was made known. My 13 yo daughter was scandalized!! So, slowly, these sexual sins – so prevalent in modern society that they are hardly even noticed any more – are being introduced to my innocent teens.

  2. ALL great questions, and worthy of discussion. I am a sinner (as we all are), but that does not prevent me from talking to my older children about right, wrong, and what I should have done differently. I speak openly of regrets I may have from decisions I did make. We absolutely do discuss the right and wrong of things, and if a certain situation can turn a wrong into an “acceptable”.
    These are VERY difficult subjects to discuss with teens, but they do need to happen! We can not expect our children to go out into the world unarmed with information and the morality of their decisions. While they are ultimately their decisions, I can rest easier knowing what I have taught them.

  3. It’s kind of a long story, regarding a friend who “tricked” me into seeing that film, now, sadly, a former friend, but it left quite a bad taste in my mouth. My sons know we believe any abortion is wrong, no matter what, but whether they live that out can only be their choice. Now that Faith is aware of everything that goes on in this house, it’s harder to have adult conversations about topics I’m not ready to discuss with her — at least the kind of conversations you would have while cooking or eating dinner, or after a movie. We’re getting into some of these serious sins though, and being a sinner never stopped me from debating sin!

    1. I talk with them all the time, mostly as we run into real life situations, but books and movies are great conversation starters, in my opinion. You don’t have to wait for a real life acquaintance to mess up. I think this film is very well done, though it expresses thoroughly worldly attitudes. We can compare that to what our God thinks, and talk about the challenges of living a Christian life. Forewarned is forearmed, you know? I’d rather be honest about what they’re up against and how to defend against it before they actually have to face it.

  4. May I comment on the photo and what a plush field of carpet those horses are gallavanting in?

    1. We like our carpets thick around here. 🙂

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