A PG-Rated Guest Post from Andrew Kardon
I’d like to start this guest post by first thanking Lynsey for the opportunity to share my parenting wisdom with all of her faithful readers. I’ll admit that I know next to nothing about wine except that somehow this magical elixir can defy physics. What other beverage do you know of that can be both wet and dry at the same time? Anyways, if my writing of this post gives Lynsey enough time for even one more glass, then it’s all been worth it…
Let me tell you a story. It’s a tale of a young boy, probably in middle school, back in the glorious decade known as the ’80s. To my dying day, I will never forget this experience. Let’s see, it was a Saturday and my dad and I took a trip to the local video store. Yes, this was back in the day when movies were on VHS tapes, and there were loads of mom and pop stores that rented them out. Even more shocking, tons of people frequented these stores! Crazy, I know.
On this particular Saturday, I grabbed a movie that my friends and I couldn’t stop whispering about at school. It was supposed to be hilarious, and my dad loved watching funny movies with me. So what was the problem? Well, this funny coming-of-age story was rated R. I was probably about 11 or 12 at the time. My dad, well, ratings pretty much meant nothing to him. Good ol’ dad!
He grabbed the box and brought it up to the front counter as my heart began to race. Was I finally going to see it? Would I be the first of my friends to actually view one of the greatest movies ever made? My mouth was dry. My mind practically imploding. I thought I might actually faint.
The guy behind the counter grabbed the box from my dad. He looked down at me, gave a puzzled, nasty kind of raised eyebrow and said to my dad… “Porky’s, huh? You know this is rated R, don’t you? It’s not appropriate for him.”
The word him just hung there in the air as all of my fondest wishes and dreams literally stood on the edge of a precipice. An incredibly fragile moment in time was about to shatter into a thousand shards of disappointment.
But good ol’ dad came through. He rented it anyways and we went straight home to watch it. Yes there was adult language and some basic nudity right from the start. But nothing much crazier than I’d seen already. Until… well, yeah… until the infamous shower scene.
I couldn’t believe it. I was about to see a movie with a slew of gorgeous women… completely naked. Yes, we’re talking those three magical words that could make a young boy in the ’80s do just about anything: Full. Frontal. Nudity.
As the scene started, my dad actually spoke up for the first time and said, “Uh, Andrew. I don’t think this movie is appropriate for you.”
And I did what any other 12 year old in this situation would do.
Nothing. I did absolutely nothing.
I didn’t even acknowledge his comment. And my dad didn’t either. That was the last he mentioned of it and we both enjoyed the rest of the movie together.
Was he wrong to let me watch it? Am I completely scarred for life? I’m pretty sure the answer’s no on that last one. Questionable on the first. He later would actually go on to tell me and others that he’d much rather I watch movies like that with “sex and nudity” than see other films full of “war and violence.” And I think he’s right.
It’s funny, I’m really not a big fan of horror or war movies at all. Is that because of my dad’s influence or was my dad’s influence fine with me because I was already predisposed to certain film genres?
Sorry, this is getting too metaphysical and heavy. Go grab a glass of wine and I’ll come back down to Earth.
Every parent is different. Every kid is different. Some 5 year olds can 100% handle watching an action-packed, violent film like Avengers or Iron Man. Some 10 year olds still freak out at Harry Potter.
My wife and I are constantly amazed at what does and doesn’t scare our kids. We watched the Wizard of Oz with them recently, preparing for the tears and shrieks when the flying monkeys first appeared. But the kids didn’t even bat an eye, as my wife and I basically hid beneath the covers.
The most violent film my kids have seen is probably Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith. It’s the last film of the Star Wars prequels. The one where Anakin Skywalker [SPOILER ALERT!] becomes Darth Vader. The film features some pretty rough scenes including an implied one of Anakin slaying an entire class of young kids. Then there’s the big fight where his arms and legs are severed, and his body massively burned.
I’ll admit that was a little rough. My then 8 year old was okay with it, but my then 6 year old was a little upset by it. He was fine, just a little rattled by it. I’m still learning what bothers them on film and what doesn’t but for the most part I have a good feel for it. So I can make a pretty educated decision about letting them watch certain movies.
The funny thing is, lately I’ve been renting a lot of classic films from the ’80s. I’m talking PG movies like Back to the Future, Spaceballs, and The Goonies. And a lot of these are massively loaded with curses. Hearing that actually upset my kids more than any other violence or fight scenes they may see in movies today.
The bottom line is, only you know what’s appropriate for your kids. Just because your neighbor took his 4 year old to see the latest Star Trek film, doesn’t mean it’s appropriate for all 4 year olds. (Ten bucks says the first time that 4-year-old shows up to preschool with a Star Trek T-shirt on, the other kids beat him up and steal his milk money.)
Just remember that movie ratings aren’t law, they’re a guide. So use your parental guidance wisely and responsibly.
And no matter how much your kids beg and plead, and no matter how mature you think they may be, please do not ever let them watch any Tyler Perry movies. It’ll only encourage him to make more.
What’s the “worst” movie you’ve let your kids watch so far?
Andrew Kardon is a self-made daddy blogger over at Mommy’s Busy, Go Ask Daddy, as well as one rockin’ freelance writer. He’s also a regular contributor over at Singlemommie.com where he pretends to know what he’s talking about.