The Boys Are Back is a beautiful film shot in South Australia, starring Clive Owen and directed by Scott Hicks, director of Shine. Inspired by a true story, it is the touching tale of a father who finds himself raising two sons alone while grieving the loss of his wife. As he transitions from part time parent to full on father he learns a lot about his children, and perhaps even more about himself.
Would you like a night out at the movies? I can’t organise baby sitting for you, but I do have TEN DOUBLE PASSES to giveaway thanks to Hopscotch Films. The first ten SquiggleMum subscribers (new or existing, by email or RSS) to leave a comment below will win.
Hopscotch were also kind enough to send Christie from Childhood 101 and I tickets to catch the flick, and while we saw the film on opposite sides of the country we enjoyed chatting about it online. Here are some of our thoughts reflecting on the film:
Cath: So was it what you expected?
Christie: I really enjoyed the fact that the movie explored parenting from a male perspective and the relationship between Dads and sons. Though obviously it is just one perspective.
Cath: I enjoyed the Dad and boys perspective too. Especially in the light of having recently heard Steve Biddulph speak on raising boys, and the importance of the relationship between fathers and sons.
Christie: I found it really poignant when the Dad told his mother-in-law that his young son didn’t really know him, that they needed time to get to know each other and how to relate to each other.
Cath: Yes, it made me wonder how many fathers would have to “get to know” their sons in the same situation. And also made me wonder as a mum how I can facilitate my husband “knowing” my kids right now…
Christie: I think men generally relate differently to their children, and I think this generation of fathers especially have had a whole new set of expectations place upon them.
Cath: I think this generation of fathers genuinely want to be Dads, want to spend time with their kids and want to be involved – but making it happen is hard.
Christie: And society keeps pushing all of us to work longer and harder as members of the workforce which does not facilitate better family relationships in any way.
Cath: That was really highlighted in the movie: a dad pushed so hard at work that he chose to leave his kids overnight to save face with his employer. No dad wants to be in that position.
Christie: Though wasn’t the older boy sweet and brave to offer to stay? I really felt for him when it all fell apart.
Cath: Yes – sweet and brave. I hope I raise a boy who is sweet and brave, even if he doesn’t always get things right.
Christie: So, how do we support our husbands to help them have the time and opportunity to be involved?
Cath: I think we have to take a step back sometimes. As mums we can be control freaks!
Christie: That is very true. I think it is important for a child to have time one on one with each parent, as well as time together as a whole family.
Cath: I agree. And while I absolutely think that parenting works best when both parents are on the same page, I think mums need to let dads do things their way without us criticising.
Christie: I also believe, it is about that being time truly being together too, not just watching the TV or doing chores around the home but having fun, laughing together, getting out and sharing unique experiences.
Cath: Getting the most out of whatever time you have together.
Christie: That is right, creating memories with children.
Cath: But I have to say… if the memory making involves dad driving on the beach with a child on the bonnet of the car, I’d probably step in there!! LOL
Christie: Well, sometimes what Mum doesn’t know can’t hurt her! LOL!
Cath: There was a scene in the movie where the kid was bomb diving into the spa bath. That was a memory making moment I would have missed as a mum, because I would have stepped in too soon, and worried about the mess. Maybe sometimes a memory is worth the mess??
Christie: I don’t think it was the mess that worried me, it was the chance of him hurting himself that had me grimacing! But then, I am pretty tolerant of mess! Fun mess, not domestic mess!
Cath: Did the flying fox in the movie make you grimace, or smile?
Christie: No, I loved the flying fox. Those are the types of things I remember doing as a child.
Cath: Yes, me too.
Christie: I also appreciated the sense of space and freedom that the Dad provided his sons with.
Cath: Do you think the environment they were in contributed to that? Is it harder to give our kids space and freedom in the city?
Cath: I think that can be an added pressure on city dads. They hear the negative stuff in the media and they shy away from giving freedom out of their desire to protect their family.
Christie: Maybe, though not in our household, Immy has a lot more freedom and engages in a lot more ‘risky’ behaviour with her Dad than she does when with me, obviously within the limits of her age but things like general proximity of parent to child and rough play, that type of thing.
Cath: My kids do engage in more adventurous behaviour in the backyard with Daddy too!
Christie: You should see them at the pool, he bombies into the pool holding Immy, she loves it!
Cath: As a kid I used to ride to the local milk bar, spend my pocket money on cheap lollies, ride back to the park, climb a tree and eat them. And Dad encouraged it! I’m not sure if my husband will encourage it in quite the same way, just because times have changed. I guess we’ll see… I did learn to be quite responsible though. With freedom comes responsibility.
Christie: I am interested to know if the movie relate in any way to what Steve Biddulph shared in his presentation?
Cath: Steve Biddulph talks a lot about the stages of a boy’s development. From birth to around 5 he is all Mummy’s. Then he gets a surge of testosterone and becomes Daddy’s little shadow. This lasts right through to early teens, when he needs other male role models around. It was interesting watching the two sons in the two different phases. Dads need to understand that the Mummy-phase will end, and they need to be ready for it!
Christie: I wonder how you will feel when the Mummy-phase ends! LOL! WIll you be ready for it?
Cath: I hope so… but it will be a learning curve for me too! Understanding the physiology helps. I know that right now the kind of love I can give will set him up for life, but he needs the different kind of love his dad can give him too in order to be a balanced man (one day). I can’t imagine how hard it is for mums who have to handle the daddy-phase on their own, or dads who have to cope with the mummy-phase…
Christie: If parenting teaches you anything, it is that everything always changes!
Cath: Too true, too true. So will you do anything differently, or view anything differently as a result of the flick?
Christie: I think it is all about balance. Balancing each role and recognising that both mother and father are equally important. And balancing expectations, there are times to relax and have fun but there is also much to be said for structure and routine.
Cath: Absolutely, I completely agree with you there.
Christie: And have as much fun together as you can, that is what families should be about.
Cath: It was a very real movie. It reminded me that life is fragile, and that we all need to enjoy each stage of our family life – as husbands and wives, as parents, as a whole family.
Would you like to see The Boys Are Back yourself? The first 10 SquiggleMum subscribers to leave a comment below will win. Too easy!! (Aussie residents only)