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80s movies


My kids watched 80s teen angst movies in elementary school. Here's what I learned.

They know every Bender line from "The Breakfast Club" and I'm not sorry.

What I learned by letting my kids watch 80s teen angst movies

I was born on the tail end of Gen X. Too young to be considered Gen X and too old to be considered a Millennial, which means I grew up in between the forgotten generation and the one people still think are in their early 20s. I was a latch key kid with minimal supervision and a teen with unrestricted access to AOL chatrooms sending random people my A/S/L, because that's not dangerous at all.

My older brother was five years older than me, so when that string of teen angst movies came to televisions across America, I had a front row seat. "The Breakfast Club" and "Dirty Dancing" were two of my all time favorite movies. I had no idea why Baby's dad was treating her like a child when she was clearly an adult. As an adult, I now see that Baby absolutely needed to be in the corner.

But that didn't stop me from introducing my kids to that famous dance and just about every John Hughes movie from that decade.

People get very excited, not in a good way, about what's appropriate and inappropriate for children to be exposed to on television. After my kids hit elementary school, it was time to introduce them to the classic 80s movies I watched as a kid. Honestly, the stuff in the Brat Pack movies were pretty PG. Sure there are some adult themes, but the movies were for teenagers, not adults so the themes were juvenile enough for the kids to understand. The things that were a bit more adult minded went over their heads.

They could and likely still can recite every single one of Bender's lines from "The Breakfast Club" and all of Duckie's lines from "Pretty in Pink." But it was "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" that my boys had on repeat for nearly six months straight and yet, they've never once skipped school. Never got Saturday detention or smoked the devil's lettuce in the library.

A group of teens from the 80s.

"The Breakfast Club" poster


This makes me curious what some people think happens when parents ignore the rating on movies, or kids are exposed to media some people think they're not ready for. Typically when kids see things outside of their comprehension, they ask questions or they ignore it. Most of the time when a question is asked, kids are happy with a simple answer and aren't really interested in digging much deeper than what was provided.

When my kids inevitably asked when the teens in "The Breakfast Club" were smoking, I answered, "a drug called marijuana. Its not for kids." They didn't ask anything further. In fact, the only thing they had to say about the explanation was that the kids were going to get into more trouble if they got caught. My daughter wanted a jean jacket and my son wanted leather biker gloves but that seemed to be the only influence the movie had over them.

"Pretty in Pink" inspired my daughter to learn how to sew her own dresses and she's gotten pretty good over the years. Instead of picking up any sort of bad habits, the movies showed them empathy, how to be a good friend, and that sometimes adults don't know everything but most of them are trying their best.