Question: How to agree on family movie night choices?

Our PTSA does family movie nights every month. While I think these are great to bring families together, picking the appropriate movie is somewhat frustrating. No matter what I do, there are parents who complain (sometimes quite loudly). While I know that I can’t make 100 percent of the people happy 100 percent of the time, I would like to make the right choices.

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Advice from PTO Today

Elly writes:

While, indeed, some parents can be constructive and give you ideas to make an event better, some comments can be downright destructive and just leave you feeling unappreciated.

Regarding your movie night planning, Elly says let the students vote. List a few movies, then let them make the final decision. You’ll build excitement for your movie night, and the film won’t be considered lame or “Mom-imposed”; students will feel a vested interest in coming to watch their pick.

You might try the same approach for parents. Create a survey that lets parents check off movies they find acceptable. Make the list long, then choose a few from among the ones most accepted by parents. You shouldn’t need to do this more than once or twice to have enough movies for the year, or do it at the end of each movie night to choose for the next one.

Another possibility is to have two separate movie showings. You could show one for the younger kids (grades K-3) at 6 p.m., then start the one for the older crowd (grades 4 and up) immediately after. Families could opt to stay or leave depending on whether they felt the film was appropriate for their children. Some groups hold completely separate nights for younger and older kids. (By the way, you’ll find lots of tips and ideas in PTO Today’s free Family Movie Night kit.)

And while Elly doubts she can ever help you pick a “perfect movie,” plan a “perfect carnival,” or run a “perfect anything,” she does have some words of wisdom that can help you deal with “perfect complainers.” She recommends that you commit this response to memory:

“Thanks so much for coming and for sharing your feedback! We’re always looking for people to make these events better, and it sounds like with your help, we can. I’d love for you to help us run the next [movie night, carnival, family fun night]. What do you think about sharing these thoughts at our next meeting?”

Elly thinks your complainer will get the hint. Even better—you just might end up with a perfect volunteer at your next movie night.

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