Holidays are relaxing and fun.
You arrive at your parents’ or grandparents’ houses and apartments. You sleep, if you sleep at all, on a dusty old air mattress that sits on the living room floor. You sniffle. Everyone sniffles. And no one can hear beyond the roar of everyone talking at once.
But I will always remember the winter vacation when my daughter and I shared every episode of Joss Whedon’s Firefly. Thank goodness for the selflessness of libraries and their DVD collections. Trapped in my parent’s house, we sequestered ourselves in the room where I grew up (airplane posters still on the wall, but the Farrah Fawcett poster long since removed) and my then 12 year-old laughed and pondered and thought out-loud about the characters and the moral dilemmas and the love interests of the motley crew that piloted the Serenity through all sorts of half-legal adventures.
Firefly got us through the holidays, and when I wrote about this for psychology today, the blog received literally thousands of “reads.”
So, in the spirit of resilience through an often chaotic time (i.e. the winter vacation), may I humbly make some recommendations for television watching with kids of different ages? I implore anyone who takes these suggestions to first check out the shows themselves. What works for some families might not work for others. But this much I know for sure: watching a well-written show with your kids is a fantastic way to build parent-child resilience. One of my mentors even writes prescriptions for television shows for his patients. It’s in fact a lot easier to talk about tough stuff in the displacement that good television fiction affords. That’s why I feel so strongly about this kind of activity. And now, with Netflix and Hulu and Vudu and Amazon and countless other mechanisms of streaming video, some old favorites sit merely a mouse-click away. In the following paragraphs, I’ll suggest two options for little kids, for middle school kids and for teens. Please feel free to disagree or to add your own suggestions.
For the school aged crowd (age 6 to around 10 or 11)
For the young adolescent (age 12 – around 15)
And for the teens and adults among us
There are of course literally hundreds of other shows to choose from. All of them carry the capacity to buffer winter vacation with thoughtful laughter and critical appraisal. Feel free to suggest your own choices in our comments section.