There has been a lot of discussion around the intraweb about what parents will and will not let their kids watch for entertainment. I thought I’d chime in to share my “rules” for LilZ. Except that there really aren’t any. But, before I get into that, let me give a little background on those regulations (or lack thereof) by explaining key factors about how MrZ and I grew up.
1) I grew up with a few friends who were very strictly banned from watching anything rated PG-13 or higher. Even in high school. So, they simply lied to their parents. We still watched the movies either in the theater or at other friend’s houses, their parents just didn’t know. I remember one friend who told her Dad at least half-a-dozen time we were seeing the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie. When we never had even seen it once.
2) MrZ and I both grew up with few restrictions on what he could watch ourselves. Especially in terms of horror movies. In Junior High, the Nightmare on Elm Street and Friday the 13th movies were staples for sleepovers. In my group (of girls) we watch those as well as Dirty Dancing at our slumber parties. I bet I saw Dirty Dancing 50 times before I even entered high school.
First of all – I’m fairly confident that my Junior High child is going to be seeing Rated-R movies at some point in time regardless of the rules I set. I’m sure there are parents who successfully protect their children from Rated-R movies through Junior High, but I just don’t really see that as a possibility in our lives. I don’t have the desire to call Moms before sleepovers to make sure no movies are rented that I don’t approve of. I don’t feel like escorting my child to the theater to buy tickets to a movie to make sure it’s PG and not PG-13. In terms of priorities in my parenting world? None of those things are very high. I’m too busy trying to figure out if I can wait one more week before washing the sheets on my kids’ beds before they’ll disintegrate under the filth. If I can squeeze in one more episode of Samantha Who? before I do laundry, then I consider it a good day.
Secondly – I would much rather my son see one of the Rated-R comedies in the theaters (Sarah Marshall, Superbad, Knocked Up etc.) than half of the forensic/crime dramas on television right now. To me? Sex jokes and naked bodies are way more tolerable than Bones or CSI or especially Law & Order: SVU. That show talks about rape and pedophilia and show graphic shots of abused bodies. And it’s on network television at PRIMETIME. I just have a hard time getting worked up over nude scenes and sex jokes in movies when NBC is showing a dead girl who has just been raped by her uncle.
Lastly – have you listened in on any Junior High or High School kids lately when they didn’t think you were? I sit in a line to pick up my Junior High kid several times a week and hear groups of well-dressed, well-groomed kids walking by cursing like sailors. For example, I saw a name-brand wearing kid whose Mom drives a car with a church sticker on the back say, “She’s just a fuckin’ whore. Screw her.”
There’s a lot of talk about sex and drugs in the schools as well. And LilZ attends a very well-ranked public school in town that has minimal negative reports in terms of academics or discipline. It’s kinda snobby, almost. The kids that go there dress better than I do. (Which, isn’t that hard to do, I’ll admit.) This is a “good school” with “good kids” but I’m still no longer naive enough to assume that means they’re all angels with nothing on their minds but good grades and God.
Case and Point: The other day I asked my son what a drug was because I hadn’t heard of it. Or at least, I wasn’t positive I knew what it was. And he knew the answer. Not because of some DARE program, but because kids talk about drugs at school. They talk about sex at school as well. A LOT. And the girls? Let’s just say that as I drive through the line watching the girls leaving the school I wonder how skimpy the clothes will be when NikkiZ hits Junior High if there’s already so little left to work with. There are girls with belly-baring shirts and panty-flashing skirts. And again: THIS IS JUNIOR HIGH.
I think I just have always hoped that if I’m open with LilZ about my opinions but let him make his own decisions, then in the end I’ll have an honest and well-rounded kid in my home.
Maybe I’m just jaded. Or at least the complete opposite of naive. I just feel like there’s not too much of a point in keeping my 7th grader from watching a movie he’ll probably watch at someone’s house when it comes out on video. At least now I know what he’s watching and I can watch it too. Maybe not with him (he feels uncomfortable laughing at sex jokes if I’m in the room) but at some point so that I’ll at least know what the kids are talking about.
And also? Some of that shit is really funny. And if we can’t laugh at a guy who is getting dumped while he’s completely naked – what can we laugh at?