Parenting a tween is tricky business. We want to recognize our tween’s growing independence, but deciding where to draw the age-appropriate line can prove muddy at best. When it comes to movies, I’ve developed a list of 5 rules for tweenage viewing that are working surprising well within our family – take a look!
1. Free to watch films. Knowing G and PG-rated films provide safe viewing options for my tween, I allow my son the freedom to watch these movies at his own discretion – that is, as long as his homework is done.
2. Rate and see. As you know, The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) rates movies in accordance with the appropriateness for the intended audience. Does that mean every PG-13 rated film is off-limits by default for my 11-year-old? No, but it does suggest I proceed with caution. In my household, permission is required to view any PG-13 or higher rated movie. Even then, permission is granted on a strict movie-by-movie basis. When I combine the description information contained within the MPAA rating box along with trusted parent advice from sources like Mom’s Movie Minute, I can rest-assured knowing I’ve made an informed viewing decision for my tween.
3. Talk about it. It can be difficult for tweens to understand why they’ve been prohibited from viewing a film that all their peers have seen. They may also wonder why you’ve allowed one PG-13 or R-rated film over another. I’ve found that sharing my decision-making process with my tween has not only helped him to better understand my reasoning, it’s opened the door to larger discussions surrounding allowable and unallowable behaviors, images, and themes within our home – and his consciousness.
4. Movies are meant to be shared. Movies – regardless of rating – must be viewed in a shared family space. Not only does open viewing ensure parental monitoring, it encourages family togetherness.
5. Discuss the film and/or Fast-Forward. In our house, any approved movie with a PG-13 or higher rating must be viewed in the company of an adult – and not just any adult! An adult who’s prepared to discuss (or fast-forward) mature or graphic thematic elements and images as necessary. Once the movie is over, we take the time to casually discuss the film with our tween, inquiring whether he has any questions about what he’s just seen. This informal conversation also serves as a great opportunity to remind your child that movies are created for entertainment purposes; any profanity and/or questionable sequences ought not be repeated or shared with friends.