When kids are young, family movie nights can seem relatively simple. All it takes is the latest Minion, Disney, or another animated movie to gather a family in front of the television for a fun movie night. Little ones often look forward to that day (and freshly popped popcorn with candy) all week.
During the teen years, it’s not so simple. Tastes and interest change, and teenagers seem more drawn to their rooms than the couch for a family movie night. That’s perfectly normal developmental behavior. It’s why we put together ideas that you and your teenager will love!
6 Ideas for Family Movie Nights that Teenagers Will Love
1. Food + Movie Theme
Are you watching a musical set in Greece? Make Greek food for dinner. Or maybe an action superhero movie is more your family’s speed, so why not try making (or ordering in) food featured in the film, such as shawarma or an “American Cheeseburger.” The options can feel endless. You can even keep the movie a secret and let them guess based on the dinner or movie snack menu.
2. Tune In to a Faith-Based Film
Before high school, children typically attend church services at the same time as the adult worship services. During the drive home, families could easily talk about Jesus by simply asking: How was church today? What was the Bible story about? However, this often changes in High School when many churches move High School services to Sunday evenings.
Watching a faith-based film can inspire, uplift, and encourage spiritual growth and connection as families tune in together. Movies like Courageous, War Room, or The Shack provide excellent opportunities for discussions about faith, forgiveness, and the power of prayer.
3. Watch a Documentary
Documentaries can be both educational and entertaining. Pick a topic that interests your teenager. That could include your child’s favorite musical group, athlete, or area of the world. Focusing on your teenager’s passions shows your child you are interested in what interests them. This can help open the way for deeper and more meaningful conversations about their passions and perspectives.
4. Pick an Old Favorite
How many times did your now-teenager insist your family watch that same princess movie over and over again when she was seven years old? Or how many times did your family find Marlin’s missing son? Or maybe you consider yourself an expert dragon trainer after learning from Hiccup and Toothless 43,000 times (give or take a few thousand). Those movies from your child’s early years still hold a special place in their heart. Bring them back for a special encore showing. Share your favorite memories and laugh about how much your child adored it.
5. Make it More than a Movie Night with Games
Combine the fun of movies and games. You can choose a film with a related board game or trivia game and play it before or after watching it. Or they don’t have to be related at all! Ask your teenager about their favorite game to play on their phone. Then download it and play it together before watching the movie.
6. Go on a Parent-Child Date to the Movie Theatre
With all the streaming options and the rising cost of movie tickets, many families choose not to go to the movie theatre. However, why not make an exception and go on a parent-child date (or is that a parent-teen date?!) to watch a new release? Many parents find that the time spent together in the car can be just as meaningful as the time spent watching the movie.
Connecting the Movies to Biblical Lessons
Engaging in deeper conversations about Jesus can happen after watching any movie together. Your family doesn’t need to watch a faith-based movie to see biblical themes, character traits that honor God, or choices that don’t align with biblical teachings featured in the plot or main characters. Depending on the movie, you can lead yourself and your teenager to talk about challenging and heart-wrenching issues, such as racism, gender discrimination, human trafficking, death, and apartheid.
To help you bravely and biblically talk about it, we put together some sample discussion starters that you can use (or modify for other movies) to begin to unpack a movie topic. These questions are based on the film Sound of Freedom (PG-13).
What’s Sound of Freedom about? After rescuing a boy from ruthless child traffickers, a federal agent learns the boy’s sister is still captive and decides to embark on a dangerous mission to save her. With time running out, he quits his job and journeys deep into the Colombian jungle, putting his life on the line to free her from a fate worse than death.
Conversation Starters for Sound of Freedom
- What did you think about the movie?
- Did a specific scene or character resonate with you or stir strong emotions?
- Did you know much about sex trafficking before? What did you already know? What surprised you?
- What are some other types of human trafficking that you’ve heard about? (Bonded labor, child soldiers, forced labor, involuntary domestic servitude, etc.)
- How might God be prompting our family to help?
(Tip: Prayer can be a first step! Here’s a sample prayer:
Father, thank you for opening our eyes to modern-day human trafficking. We admit it’s one thing to read about the story of Joseph in Genesis and another thing entirely to be confronted with the reality that this sin still runs rampant in our fallen world. Let your peace and love be felt by those in captivity today. And, Father, we ask that you rescue each and every child, just like you rescued Joseph. If it’s in your will for our family, show us how we can help. Amen.
Want more Family Movie Night Ideas? Try 4 Christian Family Movie Night Ideas or Amazing Children’s Books Turned into Thoughtful Family-Friendly Movies (from our sister site, Family Today.)