Adapted from a recent online discussion.
DEAR CAROLYN: How do I talk to my neighbor about the inappropriate movies her son is watching and their effect on my son?
He tells my son about watching “cool movies” like “Stripes,” “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” and “Groundhog Day.” I think these movies are extremely inappropriate for a 10-year-old and have asked her son not to discuss them with my son. He’s usually pretty good about this, but I’ve still heard him mention the movies.
My children are not allowed to watch television except, on rare occasions, G-rated DVDs. I don’t want to come across to the neighbors as being unreasonable, but I’m not sure I can let my son play with him anymore if this continues.
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Is there a diplomatic way to tell the neighbor that I think her son’s movie viewing is harmful to her son and mine?
DEAR NEIGHBOR: No, but you can have a warm and sympathetic conversation with her to say you allow only G-rated movies in your house, and that when your son is at her house, you’d appreciate his not watching PGs or above.
Aaaaand that’s it.
What you can’t do is censor perfectly normal conversations between perfectly normal kids, except for language or R-rated material.
Well, you can, but I advise against it – because you definitely can’t provide your kids with a world scrubbed to your standards, not without locking them in and unplugging all media, which you sound suspiciously close to doing and I beg you not to do. Kids have to learn to live in their world, and that process doesn’t start when they’re 17. It starts when they’re falling on their diapered butts.
I do sympathize with your frustration when a peer pokes holes in your son’s protective shield.
But even if you managed to banish this source of amicable corruption, there’d be another – at school, on the playground … or, my personal favorite, the profane drunk fan in row 12.
Age 10 is a fine time to start teaching instead of just blocking. What are your reasons for finding X too mature for your son? Start forming those ideas into explanations for him. You can only protect kids for so long; eventually the education you instilled in them has to take over. Right?
I was going to end here, but this really bugs me. You’d rather teach your son it’s OK to shun someone – for reasons that are barely the kid’s fault – than to have your boy hear a few naughty words?
Seems to me some poor values go on display in the effort to enforce values.
Full disclosure, my 10-year-old has seen “Ferris,” but not “Groundhog Day” or “Stripes.” But it might be time for “GHD,” because that movie is flat-out brilliant.
Email Carolyn at firstname.lastname@example.org, follow her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/carolyn.hax or chat with her online at noon Eastern time each Friday at www.washingtonpost.com.