A Facebook friend has a 14-year-old daughter and her husband, while she was working, took the daughter to see a horror film that was really probably not a good thing for the daughter to see. She was feeling pretty conflicted about it and asked for the opinions of other parents….
An opinion? Why yes I *do* have an opinion! I know you are simply shocked to learn that…… 🙂
I started writing my response and, well, decided it was way too long for a Facebook post on someone else’s timeline and so moved my reply here.
I did my very best to keep my kids away from things that I thought would harm them. When our oldest son was a toddler, my husband was out of work and so during the day, while at home with our child, he would watch anything at all he wanted to, thinking it would have no effect on our son. After a time we noticed our son acting out more and more physically and I found out about my DH’s tv habits.
I asked him if we could try an experiment: for 6 weeks, while our son was around/awake only non-commercial kids-oriented television would be watched, saving ad-filled and adult oriented tv for night-time or when our son was out (like with Grandma). Within 2 weeks, we noticed a big and positive difference in our son’s behavior, and so we went on along that way with all 3 of our children.
So, my children were not permitted to watch PG-13 movies before they were 13, unless either one of us had seen it before and deemed it appropriate. I also had seen some scientific evidence that caffeine possibly can prevent kids from growing to their fullest height, so they were not allowed caffeinated drinks (sodas, teas, coffees,etc.) til they were 15.
Of course, I was unable to enforce these rules when they would stay over at their friends’ houses, but I was very persistent at home. Oh and how they would argue and complain about how mean I was!!!! How stupid my rules were! Nobody else had such stupid rules and so on….
When, in turn,each one of them came to me to really talk/discuss (not just complain) about why I had such rules, I would tell them 3 things:
1) My children are the most precious things in my life and I want the best for them, plus I’ve given a lot of thought as to what would be best for them – it’s not about a power struggle.
2) Ruhiyyih Khanum told the story of when she was young, she very much wanted to read a certain quite scandalous book and her mother refused to let her read it. Her mother gave the analogy of a pot that has been formed and dried, but hasn’t yet been fired in a kiln (the greenware stage). Anything can easily make a mark or a dent in that pot and that mark will be permanent. Young people are just like that greenware and until they have been fired in the kiln of life experience,it is better that they be protected ( all 3 of my kids had done some pottery so they knew that this was true).
3) When you attain the age of being able to do these things (13 for those movies and 15 for the caffeine), you will enjoy them a huge amount more than you would have if they had always been permitted to you. When you are young, those ages seem so very far away, and I know because I have been those ages – I have the perspective of age and I know that waiting will not harm you in any way. However, my rules and these protections, as stupid as they seem now, are truly a gift from me to you.
My youngest is now 18 and 2 of my 3 children have affirmed that those rules were “probably a good idea” and one of them even apologized to me for arguing with me about it AND that they had tried to stay a certain friend’s house very often so they could break these rules “behind my back”. This grown child of mine said that even then, he could see the benefit of the rules, as his friend didn’t have them and in many ways, it took away his childhood innocence too early. This same child also had nightmares for years about one scene in “Shaun of the Dead“. I’ve seen it and it isn’t really that bad, but he knows now that he saw it when he was too young and it made a big impression on him.
Your mileage my vary, but I am in a stand for enforcing such rules, and most of the time it’s no fun, lemme tell you. Once something is seen, it cannot be UNseen, not until somebody invents brain bleach or something, and your children are worth it. Innocence lost is exactly that – lost.
The purveyors of movies and tv advertising DO NOT CARE about what is best for your children, they care about your money; do not let them make your parenting decisions for you. We are the protectors of our children and also the educators – the responsibility is ours and the world will do all that it can to tell you just how uncool you are for doing your job.