A Parent’s Guide to the Oscars

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This is not usually how I roll, but I am lucky enough to be attending the 86th Annual Academy Awards in Los Angeles on March 2. As a busy mom of three who just finished writing a book, I had little time to watch all the best picture nominated movies so I have been speed-watching what I can this last week. It is amazing what movies can teach us and make us come to terms with.

Here is my parenting take on a few of the Oscar-nominated movies.

Things that give my parenting mind stress.


Are Hollywood movies becoming more vulgar? And if so what does this mean for our kids who are growing up watching them? The Wolf of Wall Street is set in the era of the 1990s Wall Street excesses where legality and morality are tossed aside. Even though I am an addiction psychiatrist who is no stranger to the world of high rollers, drugs, sex, and prostitution, I found the vulgarity of it hard to watch. I think it is important to be aware of the unhealthy realities of our world, but go ahead and call me a prude but what is the point of sitting through three hours of the graphic visual sound bites? Adolescent research shows that delaying exposure to such negative behaviours is beneficial so although this movie is rated R, that will not stop a lot of teens from watching it. Parents would be smart to put this movie on the “delay until old age” shelf!

Technology and the Generation Gap.

The movie “Her” is about the age old search for love that is found in futuristic artificial intelligence technology known as Samantha. Although I first reacted with an eye roll to this plot, I had to come to terms with the stark reality of this storyline. I have worked with many teens who are far more connected to technology than other humans making me reluctantly believe such an attachment is in fact a very real possibility. Movies can often represent the themes of a generation and HER pointed out how large the generation gap is between myself and my kids. Looks like I will be talking to them about the birds, bees, and technology!

Things that tug at my parenting heart-strings?

Life’s uncertainty.

Two Oscar nominated movies feature stories of adults who experience completely unpredictable and devastating events. For Solomon Northup of 12 Years a Slave; it is being kidnaped and sold into slavery and for Ron Woodroof of Dallas Buyers Club, it is learning he has HIV and AIDS. Both of these movies brilliantly illustrate how unpredictable life can be. And as a parent, they forced me to ask myself the question – how well am I preparing my own kids for the uncertainties of life? Am I focusing too much on the next test or competition and too little on the values that will keep them strong in the face of adversity? These movies made me pause, jump off the parenting hamster wheel, and talk to my kids about finding inner strength, never giving up, and believing in the human spirit.

Love for our children.

The movie Philomena is a tear jerker about Philomena Lee’s true quest to find her son who was taken from her in Ireland and adopted out to a family in America. Gravity’s main character (played by Sandra Bullock) is grieving the death of her daughter even though she is working far out in outer space. The bond between parent and child is undeniable despite distance and death. These stories of parent-child love are universal, human, and powerfully moving. They made me be so grateful for the extraordinary privilege of being a parent and led to several hours of cuddling and kissing my kids!

Stay tuned for more parenting news from the Oscars, Governor’s Ball, Vanity Fair After Party, and Elton John’s HIV/ AIDS Foundation Party! I will be live tweeting and Instagraming from it all!

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