I find this a really interesting topic because just amongst my friends, we each have a completely different set of boundaries. Which is totally fine by the way! Our conversations about what we each feel is and isn't appropriate gave me the idea to share it with you as you will find yourself in this position or coming up to it soon enough.
I'm going to start with saying what your rules are, about which movies and TV shows are allowed and aren't in your household is completely YOUR decision. Where this get's tricky is if you have friends who let their kids watch violent or scary movies and these kids re enact them taking it out on your kids. Awkward hey? We have been in this spot many times and what do I do about it? Nothing really. I'm not a judge and I can't make laws on my friends telling them what they can let their kids watch. However I do talk to my kids about it and in a very subtle way.
So first let's delve into the scenario I just mentioned. You have a friend who let's their kid or kids watch shows be it cartoons or real life (meaning actors) and they are all about fighting. Your friend obviously has no issue with it but you do because your child is coming home bruised and battered from their play date. Now if you are a mum that would prefer to talk to your friend about it then by all means go ahead you need to protect your own. If you feel completely awkward because you don't want to ruin the friendship or anything then you can actually talk to your kids about it. With Jack I always say before we arrive at any play date, there is to be absolutely no rough playing (I'm totally ok with boys being boys but I'm talking about rough play that ends in tears) and if they start anything that is too rough you either walk away or come and tell us. My kids also know what they aren't allowed to watch so if that gets put on they know to tell the parent they can't watch it. I'm fine with friends and other mums thinking I might be a little strict but I know my kids and their capacity.
That brings me to my next point. Do you know your kids limits to the things they can view? You will find that this is where the boundaries for each of your friends is different. And again that's totally okay. My kids can watch pretty much any animation and be alright with the scary bits. You know when Snow White is running through the forest before stumbling upon the seven dwarf's house? Something like that doesn't bother mine at all but I know many kids that completely freak out during a scene like that. Recently we found out something really interesting about Jack which made us re-look at what he watches, putting away many DVD's. He loves all things super hero which is great for Cam because when they watch a movie together, Cam is not stuck with a Disney movie that he has seen a gazillion times. Jack is not a violent kid and he knows that play is out of bounds. So we are happy with our decision to let him watch SOME of them. There are still some that are too violent or dark for my comfort. However we watched a family Disney movie that was not animated and there was a witch in it. Now jack has watched all the animated Disney ones and most have witches or the 'bad person' and he's been fine. He saw this one who was real and completely lost it. We turned it off straight away and had to explain to him that even though it wasn't a cartoon they were still dressed up and just pretending.
We had a similar incident with Eva recently where she was watching a real life version of a cartoon and she burst into tears because it was just all to real for her. A character in it had died and she just couldn't handle it. We again explained they were just pretending and acting the cartoon version and then I looked up the actor and showed her pictures of him from other movies and she was fine then. Just when you think you are being protective things like this happen. I didn't think great I'm a terrible mum but just didn't realise the effect it would have and now I know. Those movies are now away and will come out again when my kids are old enough or will understand it better. So just because a movie is G rated and for children, it doesn't mean it will be necessarily fine for your kids.
When it comes to each having their own rules on what can and can't be watched, it is not for you to make judgements. Some may read this and disagree that Jack can watch some super hero movies. Well that's our decision and we know our child. If he was a rough kid and constantly getting into rough play at school then that is the first thing he wouldn't be watching. As you can see when our kids reacted negatively to a movie, it was turned off and put away. I encourage you just worry about your own kids and not anyone else's. Be the movie and TV police to your family and not your friends; they will be doing the same and I assure you they will have a different opinion. I know some of my friends let their children watch shows and movies mine can't and they would feel the same about me. If they came over I wouldn't put anything on that their kids couldn't watch and I know they would do that with my kids as well.
So how can you tell what will be appropriate or not? That's a tough question but again lies with you. You can be like us and we will put it on as a family and if it is too much for any of our kids then it's off. At Christmas time we watched The Grinch and Eva didn't like it and thought he was too scary. Jack thought it was hilarious so we let Jack watch it still but when Eva is at a friends house or having a nap. There have also been a few things our kids have asked us if they could watch that Cam and I were unsure about. Jack asked if he could watch a movie a few of his friends had seen and knowing Jack I didn't think he would like it after the whole witch incident. Cam and I said to him we (Cam and I) would watch it one night when he was in bed and see if we thought it was appropriate for him. After the movie, Cam and I talked about some of the scenes and decided we would watch it with him and keep an eye on his reaction. He was fine so it got a tick of approval. We have done that a few times and the decision has sometimes been a no sorry buddy maybe when you are a bit older. I'm not talking about M rated movies either, these are usually in the family genre. If you don't want to watch it though you can always look it up and read about it. There are usually plenty of reviews so have a scroll through some of them as well to give you an idea about the type of movie it is. Your children's behaviour and how they play will be another way to help you make your decision as well. If they are getting in trouble at school for playing too roughly or suddenly doing karate kicks at another child's head inspired by a movie they watched then you have your answer about whether that movie was ok. If your child is bursting out with inappropriate language or behaving like a familiar scene then again probably a no on that one too.
There is a fine line between what is appropriate or not for your children but the line is marked by your decision. As long as you respect the boundaries of your friends and they yours then it's for no one to make judgement calls or end friendships over. Obviously if these lines are crossed then certainly talk about it! However I hope this has been a handy help or a little encouraging for you in making your decisions. There is no point me listing all the movies and TV shows I approve and disapprove of because the opinions will be split anyway but just do right by your kids and what they can handle and how they will respond to it after in their play.
Seeya Wednesday for my new Mumma of the Month Story on a good friend of mine xx
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