FILED IN: Parenting

All This and $9 Will Get You Popcorn and a Soda

Saturday Night Fever was my first R-rated movie. ?‚? I was 12.?‚? I bought a ticket and walked right in past the ticket-takers and among the ushers with 12 year old girlfriends on a Sunday afternoon at my local movie theater, which, in 1977 was simply that, a movie theater, not a mega-plex.?‚? ?‚? Popcorn was sold in boxes, not bushels. Before that day, John Travolta was simply Vinnie Barbarino and The Boy in a Plastic Bubble.

It’s an understatement to say that times have changed.

Almost thirty years after Night Fever (cough, choke), I would just as soon drop my 14 year old son off at an R-rated movie as I would hand him the keys to the car and my American Express.?‚? It’s just not time yet. ?‚? But he doesn’t want to watch claymation, animation or animal tales.?‚? He doesn’t want sweet or sentimental.?‚? He goes for action or horror or adventure or toilet humor, which is all completely appropriate considering?‚? he’s almost 15.?‚? ?‚? ?‚?

Why wouldn’t kids start seeing R-rated movies before age 17? Fact is, many kids today start seeing PG-13 movies well before age 13. My son was around 11 when G and PG movies were just not amusing or entertaining.?‚? That was just about the time I was ready to drop talking candlestick flicks for something a little more upbeat. At that time he was still seeing movies with me, so they were reviewed and monitored for content. As the younger sibling, my daughter started seeing PG-13 movies around age 9.?‚? And while those weren’t always my most stellar parenting decisions (i.e. do not see Must Love Dogs with your preteen, because it is NOT appropriate, while similarly rated The Perfect Man is absolutely fine), it has not adversely affected the world as we know it or even her developing psyche or sense of self.?‚?

Actually sometimes I think it’s good for kids to be well-aware that they’re the victims of an error in parental judgment.?‚? After all, it gives us leverage for not making the same mistake again, and for the right to cover their eyes on occasion, or hope that their popcorn and gummy worms are as interesting to look at as they are tasty. ?‚?

How do we know where to draw the lines when what’s acceptable for PG or PG-13, or even R, keeps changing??‚? Is it ok for a 14 year old to watch people get blown to pieces but not someone’s naked backside or some intentional boobage??‚?

And is?‚? there a difference?‚? between MTV shows, many of which I do allow him to watch,?‚? and R rated movies??‚? Is there a difference between R-rated sex and R-rated violence??‚? How about what he can find when he outmaneuvers my parent controls on the tv when I’m not around.?‚? Do I just succomb to pressure and allow him to see an R-rated movie in a theater??‚? ?‚? If I don’t, am I a hypocrite??‚? And who decides??‚? Absolutely not, and…ME! ?‚? It’s the privilege of being a parent ???‚¬??? I’m judge and jury in a court of one handing down sentences and changing my mind, when appropriate or when I feel like it.

But is it unrealistic to think that the time isn’t right now when I’m still around monitoring what I can while gently shoving him in the right direction and screaming my opinions through the crack under the closed bedroom door?

I guess I’ll just keep making these decisions on a case by case basis.?‚? Precedents matter not,?‚? but I suffered no negative effects by seeing Saturday night Fever at age 12. I didn’t want to become a dancer or wear platform shoes or have sex in the back of a car (at least until I was older) and I still know every word to Stayin’ Alive.

Oh yeah. I suppose that part about “no negative effects” is completely subjective.