Dear Dr. Jann: My ex-wife and I try to be consistent but we have different ideas on age appropriate movies for our kids.  She accuses me of being a bad father because I allow our 10 and 12-year-old to watch some movies that are rated R.  Am I wrong?  I say if they don’t watch with me, they will watch with their friends. 

Dr. Jann says: They may, but I personally think parents do not take seriously how detrimental it is for a child to watch movies or play video games where the images or situations are too provocative for their young children. They trust an arbitrary rating system to censor the images or situations their child sees, and that means someone else’s opinion is setting the bar for their parenting. Just because a movie is rated PG13 does not mean there are not situations in the movie you might not want your child to view. You and mom have to set clear boundaries about what you think is appropriate for your kids to see—and let them know why. Then hopefully they will make the right judgments when you are not with them.

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The kids’ mom has to learn to trust your judgment—a difficult task for exes. Be proactive. Rather than simply watching the movies with your children, preview the movie first. Then if you deem it appropriate, watch it again with your children. You really want to get your ex’s attention? Preview a movie and censor it yourself. “I watched it before I let the kids see it and I don’t think they are ready for that one.” That will help build trust, which is at the root of this problem—and the essence of good coParenting.

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About Jann Blackstone

Jann BlackstoneDr. Jann Blackstone specializes in divorce, child custody, co-parenting, and stepfamily mediation and is often called the “Relationship Expert for Today’s Relationships” because of her “real life, down-to-earth” approach to relationship problem solving. She is the author of six books on divorce and parenting, the most popular, the Ex-etiquette series featuring Ex-etiquette for Parents: Good Behavior After Divorce or Separation. She is also the author of the Ex-etiquette syndicated column and a frequent guest or consultant on television and radio talk shows, including Good Morning America (ABC), The Today Show (NBC), Keeping Kids Healthy (PBS), the Early Show (CBS), and The Oprah Winfrey Show. She has been the featured expert in many magazines, including, Child, Parents, Parenting, Newsweek, Family Circle, More, Good Housekeeping, Redbook, BRIDES, Woman’s Day, and Working Mother Magazine.

In 1999, Dr. Jann founded and became the first Director of Bonus Families®, a 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization working to change the way society views stepfamilies by supplying up-to-date co-parenting information via its Web site, counseling, mediation, and a worldwide support group network. They prefer to use the word “bonus” to the word step. Step implies negative things; however, a “bonus” is a reward for a job well done. “Bonus…a step in the right direction.”