Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Men, Women and Children Adoption Movie Guide

Our lives are profoundly shaped by social media. We make friends, communicate, find romance, and fight online. Paramount Pictures’ Men Women and Children showcases how the lives of high school students and their parents are enmeshed with the online world. One mother watches over her daughter’s social media very intently. Both members of a struggling couple seek affairs online. Pornography negatively impacts men and women, adults and teens. Girls are subjected to online sites that promote unhealthy body image.
How’s This Relevant to Foster Care and Adoption?
This isn’t so much relevant to foster care and adoption, so much as it is relevant to parenting any teen or pre-teen. Foster kids and adopted kids are, among other things… kids. And they grow up to be teenagers. And in all likelihood, the internet will impact them. Kids who have been adopted or in foster care may use the internet to search for their birth families or former foster homes. They may use the internet to develop their sense of identity. On the other side of those internet transactions are folks, some of whom are safe, and some of whom are not.

The film is surprisingly thoughtful, and offers a broad view of the range of ways in which social media impacts the lives of teenagers and their parents. Although it’s hard to see, the film also does a good job of depicting a teenager’s spiral into depression and suicidality. It’s not a happy movie – but it certainly is thought-provoking.

There’s a lot of uncomfortable stuff in the movie, but the movie thoughtfully shows realistic consequences and growth from lessons learned. A mother exploits her teenage daughter by having her pose for racy pictures. This is uncomfortable, even though the mother does eventually suffer consequences. A father, desperate for pornography, uses his teenage son’s computer. Both father and son are addicted to pornography, and both have relationships that suffer because of it. An overzealous mother’s efforts to protect her daughter drive her daughter’s boyfriend to attempt suicide. A girl is invested in a website that promotes eating disorders; she eventually has a serious health emergency. A boy is bullied by text message.

Men, Women and Children struck me as thoughtful, funny and sometimes silly, in a 1980’s BBC Hitchhikers-Guide-to-the-Galaxy sort of way. Social media seems inextricable from the lives of most teenagers today, and this film does a good of showing how that can be a good thing or a bad thing. It’s not a movie for kids, and some adults will be put off by the well-earned R rating (predominantly for sexual situations,) but for those adults who are open to it, it’s worth seeing because of how thought-provoking it is in its exploration of social media. Recommended for adults.  
Questions for Discussion
How can parents encourage their teens to process their sad feelings without being overbearing?
How connected are each of your kids to social media? How much does it impact their lives, self-image, and friendships?

How involved should a parent be in monitoring their kids’ use of the internet? How much is too much? How much is not enough?

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