Do Not Watch Sixteen Candles with Your Kids

I was out to dinner with friends last night, and the Kavanaugh hearings, of course, came up. We discussed all the usual things. Did he do it? If he did, should there be a statute of limitation on accusations? How we hope the #metoo movement will protect our daughters from sexual abuse. How the things that didn’t raise too much of an eyebrow in the 80s are shocking now.

This brought me back to Mothers Day. Without a mom of my own to celebrate with, I like to keep the holiday low-key. My daughters and I have adopted the tradition of watching movies of my choosing, while eating Snickers and drinking tea. This year, I picked Sixteen Candles, thinking they were all old enough to handle the language and content.

Here is what I remembered from the movie:

“What’s a happening hot stuff?” and “Me?” “Yeah, you.”

I remember the Asian guy being funny, Jake Ryan being hot and Molly Ringwald being lucky. That’s pretty much it.

This time, I watched the movie through the lens of teenage girls growing up in a completely different generation. They were horrified, and though they didn’t say it, probably horrified I could have ever enjoyed this movie enough to recommend it to them. I didn’t mention I enjoyed it about a dozen times.

Here is what my girls saw:

  • The degradation of a girl when she gives her underwear to a boy, specifically so he can show all of his friends and pretend he had sex with her … simply, because it would make him cooler.
  • Drunk driving being comical.
  • A boy handing off his girlfriend, who was so drunk she couldn’t walk, to a guy as an exchange of goods.
  • The recipient of that girl having sex with her in a car, even though, in her drunken haze, she thought she¬†was with her boyfriend, and had no idea who the boy was or where she was.

The hotness of Jake Ryan and the scene with the cake on the table did not compensate for their disgust. It was not funny to them. My intention in picking this movie was to share with them something significant to me when I was a teenager — all the John Hughes movies were. I didn’t get what I was looking for, but I got something better. I witnessed evidence they are indeed being raised in a more gender equal society. I guess next year we will have to watch Wonder Woman.


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Author: Karen Latimer

Dr. Latimer is a Family Physician and Wellness & Parenting Coach. She works with parents who want to feel more confident when helping their children and coaches young adults to help them better navigate college life and transitions. Contact her at to learn more. She is the author of two Audible Originals, Take Back the House -- Raising Happy Parents and Worry Less, Parent Better. She is also the co-founder of the app that makes your life easier and puts social in a healthier place -- List'm.