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Donna Gets it Right ----


Prudes and PG-13

AM I THE PRUDISH PARENT I thought I would never be?

Olivia, my 11-year-old, had her birthday sleepover this past weekend. I allowed her to have six friends over. (I’ll catch up on my sleep someday. Maybe).

The evening started out fine, eating pizza, opening presents, doing nails and hair. After a while, some of the girls wanted to know if they could watch a movie, and wanted to know where our DVD collection was ("What’s a tape?", one of them asked me). I told them to look in my other daughter’s room because we had tons of movies there. A few minutes later, they came back downstairs and informed me those were the “baby” movies and wanted to know where the "good ones" were.

"What do you mean the "good ones"?" I asked.

"You know, the PG-13 ones."

Ted and I just looked at each other, then back at the wide-eyed 11-year-olds. I told the girls that Olivia is not allowed to watch PG-13 movies. You should have seen the looks on their faces. “WHAT?” they shouted in unison. Then four or five of these 11-year-olds proceeded to tell me (all at once), how they are allowed to watch PG-13 movies all the time. I wanted to choose my words carefully, and not embarrass my daughter further. (The look on Olivia’s face was much worse than her friends’.)

“Well”, I began, then Ted jumped in. “Olivia is not allowed to watch those kinds of movies”, he practically shouted. “They have violence, bad language, and adult situations that you shouldn’t be seeing at your age!” “AMEN”, I wanted to shout, but then saw the "melting face" look I was getting from Olivia, as if to say “Please, someone kill me now.”

Ted wasn’t done yet. “None of you should be watching those kinds of movies, they’re not for children to watch, and I can’t believe your parents…”, and so on. Olivia fainted.

I tried to say something, anything that would not make us seem like, well, Prudish Old Fogeys. But I couldn’t think of a single thing that would spare us that label, because I believed Ted was absolutely right. PG-13 movies are rated that way for a reason. They DO have bad language, violence, and adult situations that are not suitable for an 11-year-old girl. At least, not for MY 11-year-old girl.

I have seen a PG-13 movie with Olivia. It was “Miss Congeniality”. I hadn’t seen it before and thought it was relatively harmless. There was some violence, and a few choice words. But I wanted to watch it with her in case she had any questions about something that she didn’t understand. She did have questions and I was glad to be the one giving the answers. What I am hoping for is that the answers I’m giving my children now will last throughout their lives.

I realize that I can’t be with my kids all the time, and not all PG-13 movies are the same in content. I’m not an overprotective mother, just a cautious one. And I’ve gotten over worrying about what other parents may think of my choices for my kids. I have specific rules, and when my kids go to their friends’ houses, I let their parents know what those rules are. No exceptions.

The sleepover went great anyway, and the movie conversation ended quickly when the girls saw that we weren’t budging from our decision.

They retired to Olivia’s room and talked and giggled until 2AM.

Until (yawn) next time……



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