It's Only a Suggestion

We are quickly entering a gray area here at Casa Wente. See our oldest is 9 1/2. We said she's too young for PG -13, although many of her friends are allowed to watch them. I was even the mean mom who said no when a friend brought a movie to our house to watch for a sleepover. Then my kid, she read every single Harry Potter book in 6 months. Well hell, if she can read and understand (she made 100% on every AR test) then why for the love can't she watch the later movies? So we decided she could. But of course there is no 700 page Simpsons book. How do we decide she's ready for that cultural phenomenon? Huh? Someone? Anyone?

Then my fellow bloggers and parents of similarly aged children Steph and Stu at Badmom said they let their offspring watch The Simpsons Movie. Woot! This meant someone knew the answer to my question which I promptly asked in their comments section "I'd just like to know the official age for watching the Simpsons. Please and thank you." Which resulted in the following email exchange.

In our house it's 10; Mason very nearly planned an entire Simpsons party for his birthday this year. He did, however, have a marathon Simpsons-watching day to himself after turning 10 (we have all the seasons on DVD).

I feel a little ridiculous that is has become such a big deal. The Ingalls family would be appalled that this is our growing-up milestone...

Thanks. I do wonder if we are too worried about this, my parents didn't edit what I watched as a kid, I don't think it hurt me. I think I'll be blogging about this issue soon.
Hey if we were the Ingalls family we'd be getting our teens ready to marry and build a house of their own. Of course then we wouldn't have to live with the whining and complaining. Maybe they were onto something there!

Good point about pioneer families...Hmmm.

I also watched TV 24/7 and turned out a reasonable person (so I say), though I do wish I'd done more reading & writing as a kid. We just felt like there is so much grown-up dialogue in The Simpsons that everyone's life would be easier if watchers were nearer to jr. high age so they'd get most of the jokes & innuendo.

Good luck :D
10 for the Simpsons huh? Well, I know that as far back as I can remember I was watching The Young and the Restless, As the World Turns and Guiding Light all summer long. I think I was 10 for the summer of Kelly and Morgan, ah young love. That began my life long dedication to The Guiding Light and John Wesley Shipp (who played Kelly) ya'll may know him as The Flash or most likely Dawson's daddy. Oh yeah the point here, I can't imagine letting my daughter watch a daytime soap. And apparently the TV Ratings agree as daytime soaps are TV-14. Oh and those cartoon people? The Simpsons is TV-PG which is not recommended for the under 10 set.

Black and white, right? I wish! Fairly recently we started letting both girls watch PG movies from when we were younger. Except guess what. We are OLD and those movies were before they added that pesky little 13. Gremlins and Beetlejuice, whoops those would so be PG- 13 now. In fact in 1984, explicit violence in the PG-rated films Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom and Gremlins were "the straws that broke the parents' backs". Their complaints led to the MPAA introducing the PG-13 rating. Wow, way to undo all that careful parental control we'd been working on for 9 years. Just a side warning for anyone who hasn't recently watched Gremlins, there is a scene where the girl talks about her father dying stuck in the chimney as he was playing Santa for her and "that's when she found out there was no Santa Claus." Um yeah, I SO didn't remember that either until I was watching WITH my kids. Luckily I was trying to divert their attention with bright shiny objects as she was telling the gruesome tale and they missed that last part. Now they are only allowed to watch with us so we can say, oh that's a sad story she's telling, lets skip to the naughty gremlins, click.

Not only did I watch soaps but I have a laundry list of movies that my parents let me watch that I can't believe. They took me to see both Ordinary People 1981 and Reds 1981 when I was 11. My hubby counters this with inappropriate but BORING. Which, well he has a point because I don't really remember either movie, but I do know I was NOT allowed to see Endless Love 1981 or Blue Lagoon 1980. But I distinctly remember going to see Saturday Night Fever 1977 and Grease 1978 as a double feature at the drive-in. My dad slept in the backseat while my mom and I watched the movies. I was 8 years old people, I am thinking most of the sex stuff went over my head, I was just there for John Travolta. Another lifelong boyfriend. NO he does not believe in Aliens, sticks fingers in ears, la-la-la-la I can't hear you! Where was I? Oh yeah, so if the movie is over their heads or BORING that doesn't make it automatically okay, does it?

Also in the gray area, Outsiders 1983 now listed as PG-13 originally PG. Is my Harry Potter reader ready for this one? I believe I may have to review it first for myself. It's a sacrifice I'm willing to make for my daughter, I mean do you remember the cast of this flick?

So Internets... how closely do you monitor what your kids watch? Are we just too concerned? We all turned out fine, right?


This is a great post Karen.
I was also allowed to watch anything. We had HBO as a kid and hence my sex education. :0
I am very strict w/ my girls they are almost 13 and 15. Even with PG 13 movies they sometimes drop the F bomb and have lots of inuendo.
Check out this site:
They ask you do join, but you can skip it (at the bottom, no thanks)
you can go in and review all movies that are recently released on DVD or at the theater.
In each review, they rate the violence, drugs, sex, profanity...even giving you how many times they say the f word, s word etc...
I find it very useful as a tool before I let them rent or go to the theater.
I should blog about is very useful.

November 11, 2008 at 11:45 AM  

All 3 of my kids have been watching The Simpsons for the last couple of years. The kids are 12, 8, and 5.

We watch all rented movies together as a family (G rated through R rated) so if anything needs explaining or distracting or skipping past, I'm there to do it.

The evening news is full of drugs, sex, and violence too. But we watch it. And it often makes a great platform for discussing topics.

When my 8 year old son expressed an interest in growing up to be a soldier I was all, let's watch Saving Private Ryan. I am the dream crusher.

November 11, 2008 at 2:21 PM  

Also we just watched Rocky Horror Picture Show with our 12 year old son. He thought it was hilarious.

Totally is.

November 11, 2008 at 2:23 PM  

We have a complication in that the sprog's father and I are divorced. I think he shouldn't see some of the things his father lets him watch, his father hates me so he lets him watch those things out of spite. FUN TIMES!

The sprog is a good kid and remains such even through watching really advanced shows and playing really nasty video games. *shrug*

I was more concerned that he would have nightmares than it would affect his behavior because my parenting affects his behavior.

November 11, 2008 at 2:39 PM  

Okay, I know you don't care what we let Carly watch given her age and all but I remember when a group of us watched Fast Times at Ridgemont High in secret at a friend's house. We were about 13. I turned out okay I think...minus the teenage sex stuff.


November 11, 2008 at 4:19 PM  

I was a latchkey kid . . . my brother and I (he's 3 1/2 years older) were on our own quite a bit after school and all summer from a very young age. We watched whatever we wanted. Heck, Dynasty and Dallas were required watching with "the horror" only one TV in the house. We did turn out fine. And really, we didn't watch much. We chose to go out and play.

With that said, I'm a mean ol' mommy!!! My kids have not seen the Narnia movies . . . they have not seen Transformers . . . they haven't seen a ton of other movies their friends have seen. They have never seen Sponge Bob and certainly have never watched The Simpson's. I have never let them see a PG-13 movie UNTIL A MONTH AGO. They're 8 and almost 6 . . . and I let them watch The Bad News Bears . . . I loved that movie as a kid! But Billy Bob . . . WOW! Anyhoo . . . I was pleasantly surprised when my 5 year old said "Mom, this is NOT a Keira movie!" And my 8 year old said "No, we can still watch it. We just better not ever do or say the things they do." Since then we've watched the Indiana Jones movies and started up on Star Wars - 8 year old boy. Each time, my daughter announces "This is NOT a Keira movie" - primarily because it doesn't have princesses, fairies, or unicorns.

But, I guess I've been pleasantly surprised by their reactions. When they ask questions I answer them if I can. Sometimes I just say "You're too young to understand" if they don't get what I'm explaining. And they're OK with it. So at least I think I've done a good job so far and now that they've watched a couple of them, I can trust that they know what is and is not appropriate.

Harry Potter . . . I've read 'em all. In my opinion, the books are way less PG-13 than the movies. The books leave room for you to picture the things that are happening in your own mind . . . most kids won't add all the gore and such . . . but with the movies, well, you can't unsee something. Dude will watch them after he reads the books :-)

November 11, 2008 at 4:25 PM  

I was stricter with my older ones because it's easier when they are the only kids in the house. The youngest (now 9yo) watches a lot more than his brothers did, and this does bother me sometimes. He loved watching Monty Python's Holy Grail with the rest of us, but I know a lot of it went over his head. I don't think he really "gets it" when Anakin goes over to the Dark Side in Episode 3 of Star Wars. I mean, he does get it, but then again he doesn't. Life experience changes how we see films, understand jokes, etc.
My older kids accuse us of sheltering them too much when they were younger. Culturally, this has been difficult for them; however, I don't regret not exposing them to certain things at a younger age.
It's a tough line to walk.

Best wishes to you & yours!

November 12, 2008 at 11:46 AM  

I actually wrote a post about the Simpsons movie a while back in July when we watched it. I was a little uncomfortable watching it with the kids, but honestly, I'm a little uncomfortable watching a LOT of things with the kids.

However, I don't really censor them much. I mean, we don't let them watch anything rated R or The L Word or anything... but basically, if it's on before 8 PM, I'm not terribly worried. We are always there for them if they have questions - but typically if all flies over their head.

November 12, 2008 at 1:46 PM  

It's definitely easier to be stricter with the older ones than the younger ones--I can't believe some of the stuff my 14 year old watches.

I always liked the site for looking at the movies. I picked a PG-13 I was okay with (it was Legally Blonde) and then used that as my ratings template.

I remember taking the kids to see Grease in the movie theatre when it was re-released. OMG! Definitely not the innocent romp I'd remembered.

November 12, 2008 at 11:59 PM  

I'm kind of relaxed about what my kids watch too. W/my oldest I take cues from him. He's 11 and seems to be very uncomfortable with anything sexual right now. So if the movie has the hint of sex it's a no no. But both my kids know they aren't allowed to use the language or do the things they see in movies. W/G it's about if the movie will make him scared at night. That's kind of how we judge things.

November 13, 2008 at 8:54 AM  

For regular TV we have a general rule, if the main characters are older than you, you don't get to watch. (My girls are 5 and 7) They have seen some stuff that we would rather they didn't (at the sitters or a friend's house) but so long as we can talk about it afterwards I think they will be OK.

November 13, 2008 at 1:53 PM  

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