Gifts for Mom, Grandparents, Besties and YOU🎄 ➔

It’s summmmmerrrr! That means hitting the pool, watching a lot more Netflix, and binging on popcorn and candy at the movie theater (well, that’s what it looks like in our house at least!). And there’s usually a long list of feel-good funny ones as well as action-packed dramas to choose from. One such movie is out right now—Show Dogs—and it’s getting quite a bit of press, but not all of it is good.

The recipe for a kids’ classic is there: famous faces and/or voices (Will Arnett and Ludacris with a cameo from Shaq), talking animals that come to life, and farts and butt-slapping. Really, what more do our kids need? Well, unfortunately, for all of the fun and humor and life lessons packed into Show Dogs, some are saying it sends the wrong message to our kids about consent and the touching of their private parts.

The premise of the show is that Max, a police dog, infiltrates a dog show in the hopes of rescuing a kidnapped baby panda. Well, unfortunately for poor old Max, being a “show dog” (even if only undercover) means getting your private parts inspected, and touched. His initial reaction is to resist, but, as reported in an article on Macaroni Kid, he’s repeatedly trained to “go to his ‘zen place’ while it happens so he can get through it.” And, in the end, that’s exactly what he does. 

Fearing that he’ll lose the competition and all hope of finding the panda, Max does succumb to this pressure. “The judge’s hands slowly reach behind Max and he goes to his ‘zen place'”, Macaroni Kid says. “He’s flying through the sky, dancing with his partner, there are fireworks and flowers-everything is great-all while someone is touching his private parts.”

Parents are saying this is problematic and sends the wrong message to our kids, since we tell them to NEVER let anyone touch them there. In fact, some say the movie goes so far as to depict “grooming”—a term used to describe what predators do as they “train” kids to relax, get used to being touched, accept being touched, etc.

Listen, I get it. This is a kids’ movie. And is everything in kids’ movies (or even movies for adults) supposed to be taken as fact? No. We recently saw Peter Rabbit, which was criticized for the way it portrayed deadly food allergies. My son is allergic to nuts and has an EpiPen. We still laughed, enjoyed the movie, and looked past that scene to enjoy the story as a whole.

And we are huge Star Wars fans. My kids know they can’t (and shouldn’t want to) cut someone on half with a light saber.

It is our job to teach our kids that movies are movies. That talking dogs aren’t real. And that sometimes fiction is really just that—fiction.


Our kids see themselves in these characters, even if they are animals. (Sometimes especially if they are animals.) My daughter was inspired to be a brave police officer by a tiny bunny in Zootopia. And to overcome her stage fright by an elephant in Sing

The creators of these movies know what they are doing, and they intentionally create characters our kids love. Characters they idolize. Characters they copy, in speech, and in actions.

So even though Max is a dog, and in real life, performance dogs are inspected, and probably do have their bodies touched prior to a show, in Show Dogs, Max isn’t just a dog anymore. He’s a character being forced to consent to something that we’ve taught our kids is inappropriate, never okay, and downright abusive. 

Take this criticism however you want to take it. You may choose to boycott the movie all together, as many did with Peter Rabbit, or to movies like Star Wars because of violent scenes. Or you can take your kids to see it and have a conversation afterwards. Maybe this movie provides an opening to a discussion you haven’t had yet, but have been meaning to start. Turns out a talking police dog can open that door for you.

In the end, we need these kids’ movies for our sanity this summer, because the days are daaaaaang long. But more importantly, we need our kids to be safe and know that they are in charge of their own bodies.

If you liked this, you'll love our new book, SO GOD MADE A MOTHER available for pre-order now!

Pre-Order Now

Karen Johnson

Karen Johnson is a freelance writer who is known on social media as The 21st Century SAHM. She is an assistant editor at Sammiches and Psych Meds, staff writer and social media manager for Scary Mommy, and is the author of I Brushed My Hair Today, A Mom Journal for Mostly Together Moms. Follow Karen on Facebook, Twitter , and Instagram

10 Lessons I Hope You Learn Playing Youth Sports

In: Kids, Motherhood
Boy dribbling down basketball court, black-and-white photo

Last night was my sixth grader’s last basketball game of the season. He played with many of the same gang of boyhood friends he has known since kindergarten. This year, however, they were introduced to a traveling team, older players, and much stiffer competition than they had encountered in the past. They stood the test and played their little boy hearts out. I am proud of my son, his team, his coaches, and all the familiar faces we came to know in the Greenwood Laboratory School cheering section each week, sometimes two to three times in one week!  Here’s to...

Keep Reading

I Love You At Every Stage

In: Kids, Motherhood
Three children at park, color photo

Confession: I love the 1-year-old phase. Our youngest is one and such a joy to be around. He’s still so cuddly, finds such joy in the smallest things, is learning new things every day, and smiles at every little thing his big brother and sister do. I love the 3-year-old phase. Our only girl is three. She has a flair for the dramatic, but she is very forthright with her feelings. “I’m having a hard time.” “I just miss my daddy when he’s at the Fire House.” “I’m a princess.” “God made me beautiful.” She is quick to be a...

Keep Reading

Simple Moments Shape Childhood

In: Kids, Motherhood
Little boy in shallow water of beach

Sometimes it’s the little things that can turn out to be the biggest things. Motherhood has made me appreciate the everyday moments, the simple moments, differently.  Being outdoors with my boys can be simple in theory, but I absolutely love the adventures we take. Whether we are hiking, biking, swimming, exploring, or checking out a new park, this momma knows it is time well spent.  RELATED: I’m Watching You Grow Up in the Little Moments Because whether they realize it or not, these memories being made are the special ones. The ones my boys will carry with them in their...

Keep Reading

I Promise to Show Up for You

In: Kids, Motherhood
Mother and daughter in garden

My child, I hope you know you can count on this: I will show up for you. I will show up when you wake in the middle of the night, when you get up too early or stay up too late. I will be there to make your meals, read you a story, and tuck you into bed. I will show up when you are sick—taking time off work, bringing you to the doctor, cleaning up your throw-up, and sitting up with you. I will show up at every game, sitting in the stands or a camp chair, freezing or...

Keep Reading

Sometimes Growth Is Tangible, and When It Is You Hold On Tight

In: Kids, Motherhood
Mom putting bike helmet on child

I never expected my sign to come in the form of a plastic bag. As a parent, you’re told over and over how fast it all goes, to cherish these times because they’re gone in a blink. You see the gradual changes in your kids as they move through milestones. One day, they can hold their own spoon. They begin stringing words into sentences. Their ages are counted in years and no longer months. You watch these things happen every day, but I didn’t realize some transitions would come in tangible ways, like a grocery bag filled with wet swim...

Keep Reading

Some Nights They Need You a Little More

In: Kids, Motherhood
Little boy sleeping, color photo

Some nights they need you a little more, mama. Because of the bad dreams or the bogeyman they are adamant is under the bed. Because firefighter daddy’s schedule leaves him missing goodnight tuck-ins and bedtime stories several times a week, sometimes leaving them a little needier and more emotional. Some nights they need you a little more, mama. RELATED: I’ll Lay With You As Long As You Need, My Child Because they are sick. Because they feel safe in your presence. Some nights they need you a little more, mama. It’s not always easy. It’s not always (okay, hardly ever)...

Keep Reading

Sweet Babies, I’ll Be There

In: Kids, Motherhood
Two children lying in bed, color photo

When your world is calm and peaceful, I’ll be there. When your world is chaotic like an ice cream shop on the hottest day of summer, I’ll be there. When you need a Band-Aid applied and a boo-boo kissed, I’ll be there. When you want to perform in your Frozen microphone like you’re performing for a crowd of 20,000 people, I’ll be there. When you feel lost and alone, I’ll be there. When you feel you have nowhere to go, I’ll be there. RELATED: I Will Always Be There When You Need Me, My Son When you need a pep...

Keep Reading

I’m in the Big Little Years

In: Kids, Motherhood
black and white photo of little boy and little girl standing in a window together

I’m in the big little years. It’s when you’re no longer in the tender season of babies and toddlers—those sweet, smothering, exhausting years of being constantly touched and needed . . . . . . but you’re not yet in the big kid years—navigating boyfriends and driver’s licenses and bracing your heart for the impending ache of an empty nest. I’m somewhere in between. I’m in the years of having littles that aren’t so little anymore, but still need you for so much. They have big feelings. Big ideas. Big dreams. But they have mostly little problems (even though they...

Keep Reading

1-Year-Olds Are Wonderful

In: Baby, Kids, Motherhood, Toddler
1 year old baby smiling

Newborns—who doesn’t love them?  The captivating scent of a brand new baby, their fragile little bodies laying so delicately on your chest. Everything that comes with a newborn baby is just absolute magic. But have you ever had a 1-year-old? I used to think the newborn phase was my favorite, nothing could ever be better than having such a tiny helpless little human rely on you for absolutely everything. I could hold my newborn for hours, soaking in every tiny little detail before it became nothing but a beautifully distant memory. But I’ve realized it’s 1-year-olds who have a special...

Keep Reading

My Kids Are All in School Now and It’s a Little Lonely

In: Kids, Motherhood
Woman looking out window alone

I had just dropped my children off at school. All of them. My youngest has just started full-time. It was my first full day on my own since she began, and I had really been looking forward to it, so I took myself into town to do a bit of shopping and grab a coffee. Just me. The kind of days dreams are made of, right? I could suddenly breathe again.  I only had myself to answer to.  I got my latte and something to eat. And then I cried.  My eyes filled with tears as I sat in the...

Keep Reading