I am thrilled and honored to be mentioned in today’s Ask Amy column. A parent wrote in about 9 and 10 year olds who had seen the very R-rated “The Hangover” multiple times. Amy Dickenson wisely suggested an honest and thoughtful response:
This presents a “teachable moment” for your kids and their friends. When other kids mention that they’ve been allowed to see or do something you don’t allow in your family, you can say, “Well, that’s an R-rated movie. R-rated means it’s really for grown-ups, not kids.”
I agree with you that “The Hangover” is highly inappropriate for children. I don’t know why parents aren’t more careful with the media their children consume, but your primary interest should be toward creating and maintaining the ethic and atmosphere in your own home. Nell Minow (“The Movie Mom”) is my favorite arbiter of what media are appropriate for kids. Her television and movie reviews can be found on blog.beliefnet.com/moviemom.
I agree with Amy that one of the most important lessons a parent can teach is that “everybody else is doing it” never works. Kids may struggle with limits — it is part of the job description for anyone who is in the process of growing up. But they respect our efforts to keep them safe. This “teachable moment” shows them more than what R-rated means. It shows them how we as adults make choices with integrity.