Saturday, March 10

To answer Stewart:

I have a question. I'm asking this with genuine curiosity. As a parent, exposing an eleven year old is a concern to you. What about violence? Does your child play videogames? Watch violence on TV? What is his exposure to that?

It is the hardest thing about being a modern parent. I try to ensure that he isn't over-exposed, but he's also a curious kid, and there is a lot out there!
I DO try to monitor which video games we bring into the house. When Big O was in the second grade, we took he and a buddy somewhere in my car. The longer I listened, the more appalled I became. Because this sweet cheeked, velvet painting-eyed adorable child in my backseat was spouting absolute garbage from his newest video game, one of the early versions of Grand Theft Auto. gaaaaaah. I was biting my tongue and forming the discussion for later, when my own sweet boy, missing teeth and all, said "really? you get extra points for killing policemen? hah-that's funny!" At which point I pulled the car over and probably scared the other little boy to death explaining how and why that was so NOT funny.
In spite of that lovely vignette, I don't forbid Big O from going over to houses where those games are played, because it IS the modern world we live in. But he knows my feelings on the issue, and knows that those games won't be coming home. (Ask me how bitter I am that Jak & Daxter changed from an adventure game to a cartoon shoot-em-up. No, don't -that would be a whole 'nother post.)
Big O is dying to play games online, and is still forbidden. He hasn't really expressed an interest in a My Space page, thank dog. Is that more of a girl thing? My other attempt at monitoring what he's exposed to is that we don't have cable. Saturday morning is still golden for my kid because that is his weekly dose of cartoons. I don't want to give the impression that he's living in a purity bubble or anything--his father buys him the occasional crap game and takes him to movies that I don't approve of. In a way, I think that's a dad's role, and especially in the case of a divorce, kind of par for the course. I am fortunate that I have a pretty good relationship with his dad still, so when he called me to ask if the 300 might be too much, I could just say "Ya think?" and they chose a different movie. You have to pick your battles.
He doesn't watch medical gore, and the sci-fi violence of Supernatural and Smallville are his favorites right now. I can't keep him cut off from everything, and I'm not sure it would be fair to make him a total social pariah, unable to discuss anything on television except Ugly Betty. He is a big Simpsons fan, and I really debated that, but again, can't keep him away from everything, especially when our local Fox affiliate plays two episodes a day, before I am home from work.
I just want to make sure that I give him age appropriate but still challenging stuff. He has the sense of humor that is sooo ready for Adams, but I got him watching the holy grail not so long ago, and I had forgotten the virgins and the spankings. Not incredibly raunchy by today's standards, but I had forgotten all about it. He's eleven. There is far worse on MTV, I guess. There's such a short window on being a kid anymore, though.
There you have it.


Sayre said...

Lordy, I know just how you feel. My son doesn't understand why I say no so much to stuff "the other kids" are watching or doing. On the rare occasion that I do say yes, we usually wind up with nightmares and a remorseful child who wishes he hadn't asked to see whatever it was. Z-boy is only 7 (8 next month). He's fascinated with dinosaurs but we hadn't let him watch "Jurassic Park" before now. It SEEMS harmless, but people get eaten quite violently, children terrified, and other animals are killed. It's a great movie, but not for a young imagination. So he begged and we relented but told him that when we said, he had to cover his eyes. That seemed to work pretty well. He got to see the dinosaurs without being over traumatized by what they actually were. There was a lot of discussion with this one - so sometimes the no-no stuff can be an opportunity.

Whew? Ya think I have some thoughts about this?????

Mert said...

I don't think that it's completely unrealistic of you to want to control what your children absorb in the home environment... Like you said , as parents we have to pick our battles.

Just because there is so much garbage out there doesn't mean that we should give up either. We do what we can do, and instill what we feel is important.

For me, teaching my kids that there are so many wolves in sheeps' clothing is important. I am a survivor of sexual abuse (incest), so I have instilled a general if not neurotic stand point in my 6 yr old the importance of stranger danger, but also friends and family . NO ONE is allowed to touch her "bathing suit areas", she is not for any reason to go into a car or house or be alone in a room with anyone that isn't her parents, nana, and great-aunt.

In the grand scheme of things, this is what is most important for me to teach my kids. But you can bet your boots that I have locks on my cable channels, and that we tape our shows and watch them after the kids are in bed.

Anyway, I think you are doing the right thing, and though you cant control everything your kids see, I think that we can at least sleep at night knowing that we are doing everything in our power to protect those precious little brains.