Are We Rushing Our Children to Grow Up?

Here I am thinking my husband and I are being liberal, hip parents by allowing our 12-year-old son to watch the entire series of The Office on Netflix (if you recall, he's the big Steve Carell fan.)  In fact, it was an episode of this comedy that prompted a discussion on herpes and safe sex - thank you, Michael Scott!  But when he came home and asked me about watching Orange is the New Black because classmates of his watch it, I had to say Whoa, Nelly - there are parents out there that allow their seventh graders to watch that show?  Do they really need to learn the inner goings-on of a women's penitentiary?  (Click here for more parental guidance and reviews from adult and kid viewers from Common Sense Media.)

I informed him that it was definitely a good show, but for adults.  Being a rule follower, he asked what the rating on it is (HE lives by those). I told him TV-MA.  Of course he asked for what content. When I told him, he had this look of complete agreement on his face!  I am proud that my children can recognize for themselves what is and isn't appropriate for them. 

I like to keep the lines of communication open with my sons.  They are both very much informed about sex and relationships, both heterosexual and homosexual, but discussions are kept age appropriate.  When they come home and ask (thankfully) their dad or me about something they heard from a classmate at school, we set the record straight openly and honestly.  Some of the best parenting advice my parents ever gave me was, "If you don't tell your kids the truth about life, other people will."   

Please understand that I am not judging anyone's parenting.  If you feel your 12-year-old is mature enough to watch shows such as OITNB, so be it.   I know there are many programs my sons watch or have watched in years past that other parents would not allow their children to see.  They love movies like Lord of the Rings, Narnia, and Harry Potter - all have their share of fantasy violence - but we've always watched them together. I don't, however, think they need to SEE any two people having sex or witness realistic violence such as body dismemberment. No, we do not sit down as a family and watch Breaking Bad.

Perhaps, I am on the slow train to coolness, but I just don't feel that my children need to be exposed to EVERYTHING this very minute.  Ratings are helpful, but not all-knowing. The most important suggestion is simply that you become familiar with anything your child is watching to decide for yourself if it is appropriate for your family. I think it is our job as a parents to set boundaries on what they are and aren't exposed to.  I just don't see the rush.  

Read more from my blog here.



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