Tuesday, June 23, 2009


My son, who is four and a half, likes to go around the house shouting, "expelliarmus!"

Contrary to what you may be thinking, our son has never seen the movie Harry Potter. He is however obsessed with getting to watch it. Between our enjoyment of the books and movies and mentioning that in passing, to posters in the library and stores, to older cousins who may have talked about it, he is convinced that it is the movie to watch. After much pestering, I finally broke down and said that if he could listen to the book and understand what was going on then he could see just the first movie. Well...luckily he hasn't quite made it there yet.

This issue has really been quite a conundrum for me. One minute I think I am being too strict. After all I know many children his age who have seen the movie and others like it. But as I am checking the book out for him, I get some of the most judgemental stares and comments which make my already present doubts loom larger...doubts about whether I am introducing him to media he is not quite ready for...doubts about whether I am doing the right thing.

So...I would like to know what you do. How do you gauge when certain media is appropriate and at what age?

Do your standards change for your younger children as your older children grow up?

What are creative and positive ways you have told your children "no" when it comes to certain media?


Megan said...

I've been wondering this as well. I think it has to be based on you and your child. Some kids are more mature and can handle some content better than others and as a parent, you have the right to gauge that for your child. I really like the response you gave Owen. If he can sit through the book, then he probably would be okay watching the first movie.

~Sherry (Bear) and Stephen (Wolf) said...

My kids are really good about it... I tell them that it is a movie for older kids, or adults. I don't tell them they are bad movies. I tell them it is intense. I sometimes tell him about a milder scene, and ask him what he thinks. My 4 1/2 year old will then tell anyone who comes over that what ever movie we had recently talked about is not one he wants to watch till he is older.
My husband and I try to screen all movies first, and if they are at all negative, like "Fox and the Hound" or just too much language or too intense like "Zanthara" we just don't let our little parrots watch them. My general rule is that if I wouldn't show it to my 2 1/2 year old, I don't show my 4 1/2 year old.

Morg.Jess.Audrey said...

I just wanted to give a shout out to Kelly! I found this blog through a friend & I'm excited to start checking regularly!

Tannie Datwyler said...

Delia - I LOVE this questions and I am kind of surprised/disappointed that more people haven't commented because this is something I'd really like opinions from others about.

*Sigh* I'm not sure how I feel about this. When a movie is based off a book I think that is a GREAT rule of thumb to say the child can see it if he/she has listened to or read the book. But that's not always the case......

It's hard for me to know when my child is ready for a certain movie. Right now all she watches are cartoons since she is only 3 and of course all of these are rated G. She hasn't quite gotten to the point where she is asking to watch a certain movie. Though I'm sure this is coming....

I have another question that is related if anyone has suggestions - do you ever watch movies/TV (that are not meant for children - we're not talking rated R here, just normal adult movies or TV shows) while your child is in the room? How do you feel about that?

I wish I could offer more advice Delia - but really I'm looking for ideas from others as well.

Jared and Delia said...

I hope more people comment too. Because you bring up another issue to consider. Even within the realm of G-rated movies there are some movies that some may consider inappropriate. My son loves the Lion King, but when we visited family a month ago my SIL said that they don't watch that movie because it is too violent and dark. So...there is a range of movies within the G-rated ones and how do you know when your child is ready to watch certain movies within that range?

I have watched adult shows with my son in the room. Sometimes I will (rarely) let him stay up and watch American Idol or some other family friendly show with me if he had a late nap. He used to not care too much about what I was watching but now he has started to show interest - especially in the commercials. The reason I try to stay away from doing this too often is that the commercials...even at 7 at night...are often VERY inappropriate for a four year old. There are a lot of commercials advertising shows woth people running around using guns and showing dead people. The show I can gauge alright but the commercials - you never know. That bugs me.

LeeAnne said...

I love reading this blog, I check it all the time, though this is my first time actually leaving a comment ;)

I think this is an issue where it depends on the child and what you believe is appropriate for him. I personally think it's cute that he runs around saying "expelliarmus" especially since he got it from being read the book, not just from TV! I think it's a wonderful idea to read him the book in preperation to watch the movie. My mom used to read us books every night when we were little (and as we got a little older, around 8 years old, we got to listen to stuff like Anne of Green Gables, To Kill A Mockingbird, and other classics. Though my mom was careful about it- she edited out any inappropriate language and content as she read!). Though when I was Owen's age I think I was still only interested in animated movies, so once again, I think it all depends on the kid and what he understands and can deal with. My 2 and a half year old for instance, mostly likes animated movies (with the exception of Nacho Libre, which he watched for the first time sort of on accident, I didn't think he'd like it, but BOY was I wrong!), but is VERY sensitive to anger and hurt feelings being portrayed in a movie. For instance, he loves Disney's Aladdin, but there's one part that just makes him literally break into tears- When Aladdin is frustrated that he's going to become sultan and yells at the Genie, and then when Abu and carpet are watching through the window says something like "and what are YOU looking at" Abu and carpet look very hurt and leave the window. THAT bothers Carlos so much! So thanks to that, I try to be more careful about stuff like that.
I think you brought up an interesting point about ratings too. Growing up I was allowed to watch all G and PG movies, but nowadays those ratings seem to be more vague. Like... my Mom thought it would be fine to take my 9 year old sister with her to see Marley and Me because it was PG, but there were a few scenes that were VERY inappropriate for kids (we called them PG-13 moments), and she felt awful for taking her to it! Ratings, especially PG, seem to be too vague, so I think if a movie is PG it's a good idea to have seen it first (which of course you have, with Harry Potter) And this might seem kind of silly, but I'm annoyed that in the G rated movie Brother Bear there are a couple of mountain goats that yell "shut up" a lot (which is not vulgar language, but I do think it is inappropriate for younger kids because that can easily become something they'll start repeating). I love the movie Beauty and the Beast, and it is G, but I don't think my almost-3-year-old son would be able to handle Beast's temper problem! Robin Hood on the other hand, no problem! So I really do think that it depends on your child and what you think would be appropriate for him. You know him best! Sorry, this is probably way too long :)

Megan said...

LeeAnne, I really liked reading your comment and all the other comments that have been posted. Thanks for everyone's insight!

Diane said...

This is kind of a tough topic...especially when you and your spouse don't necessarily agree on where the line should be. (we do agree on what our kids can and can't watch - but not necessarily on what we can and can't watch when he's in the room - see below.) Of course my son is only one, so we don't ever watch movies...though he does like Sesame Street podcasts and I let him watch those when I need to clip his fingernails because it's the only way he'll sit still for me. ;) But otherwise, we usually always wait until he's gone to bed to watch a movie or a tv show. My husband has watched some movies while he was in the room...a couple of times it was James Bond movies...and I personally don't like Hunter to really even hear that kind of stuff - since he doesn't really watch it yet. There is also some music that I don't want him to listen too. But where he's not even old enough to request anything, I'm not sure how I'll approach it when he is old enough to. I don't know. I guess I'll just tell him no. That when he's older he can, but for now, no- and then I'll tell him why (I think this is always important...so that if they are at a friends house for instance that is watching something their not allowed to, it will help them make a good choice if they know why they are not supposed to do.)

Anyway, I don't know if I'm even making any sense (I'm tired)...but I guess to sum up my thoughts I'd say that your approach will probably be different for every stage of life that they go through. and like others said...it depends on the child. So, I guess I didn't really answer anything. But thanks to everyone who did! :)

Missy said...

This is what I have found in my 7 years of mothering. First of all I wouldn't let my 7 year old watch Harry Potter. I know many might find that extreme but I feel it is best for him. I feel many times we are letting our kids grow up too fast with letting them watch movies that they are not ready to hangle. Even at 7 years old there are very few PG movies I will let my son watch. He might not get too scared from them but he gets crazy. He starts running wild and very hard to settle down. That to me is a clear sign he isn't ready.
Also I really like the idea if he can sit down and listen to a story and REALY understand it he can watch the movie. But I know there are books I have read to my kids that I wouldn't let them watch the movie. One problem is that so often they change the movie to fit HOLLYWOOD. Which I find very sad.
Also I have become very careful what is on the TV when my kids are in the room. I have gotten to the point that no adult showsor movies are on until the kids are in bed. Like a said before to many people expose their children to things they are not ready to handle. We might not think they understand but I have seen the effect of it. I believe that is why we have a lot of problem with young kids and it seems every year the kids get younger with the problems (I hope that made sense).
Anyways I just think we have to be very careful what we expose our children too. Even when they ask over and over for it. Because if I wasn't my kids would be watching Transformers. And I know they aren't ready for that.