Tag Archives: media

FLASHBACK – Sex, Drugs, Violence and Dirty Words

In one week, my son will return from his summer visitation with my ex.  For the next couple weeks, I will post some of my favorite posts and then resume with new content.

In the meantime, please do me two favors: 1) please forward a link to ftdad.org to any of your friends who you think would benefit, and 2) please send an email to contact@ftdad.org if you have any topic suggestions – I’m always anxious to hear from readers and get input.

Enjoy the end of summer…

My son and I sat down to watch a classic movie with a PG rating – Beetlejuice.  

Photo Credit: Muotoilla * via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Muotoilla * via Compfight cc

I had fond memories of the 1988 movie – the Tim Burtonesque feel, the comic genius of Michael Keaton, and the Banana Boat Song.  And it was not even a PG-13 film like Iron Man or The Avengers – both of which he saw and I had no problem with.

I had forgotten a few critical scenes, words, and concepts my son might not have been ready to take in.  I had forgotten a PG rating in the 1980s could be just this side of an R rating.  Watching it again, I wonder if Beetlejuice should have been rated PG-13.

I began talking with other dads about this.  There was the one who showed his son The Bad News Bears having forgotten about the amount of language and drinking in that PG film.

We have also talked about our tendency, especially with our boys, to afford more leniency with violence than we do sex and nudity.  How can we show them Braveheart and The Patriot because of the overarching story and message and turn our heads at the brutality, violence and blood?

I have another friend who will allow for a moderate level of violence in the media his son consumes, but draws the line when the story involves the mistreatment and disrespect of women.  But even those story lines can provide great opportunity for conversation about the consequences of being a jerk toward women.

So, what is the right answer?  Do we let the Motion Picture Association of America decide what our kids can watch based on their age and MPAA guidelines?  Do we say “no” to everything with adult content?  Do we shelter our kids as long as we can?

I do not have all the answers and, frankly, have quite a few questions.

Even if I censor the content at home, my son still goes to school, still visits friends (with older siblings), still rides in the car and sees billboards for local adult boutiques and Captain Morgan Rum.

I want to hear what you think, but here is my attempt to develop some boundaries:

  • Stay engaged in your kids’ lives and know what media they consume.  This seems like the first, logical step.  Ignorance is not bliss.
  • Educate yourself on the content they want to consume.  I routinely use sites like IMDBKids-In-Mind, and Common Sense Media to get reviews and recommendations about the content my son consumes.  He usually knows which films I will say “no” to, but often I need more information – especially if I have not seen it before and want a sense about what he will see.  Some of the sites even give you topics to discuss following the movie.
  • They probably know what you watch, so do not be surprised if they think the same content is OK for them.  In the do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do category, our kids take cues from us, so if you do not want them watching horror movies, you may want to reconsider your Friday the 13th movie marathon.  They can see the “recently watched” shows on Netflix just like you can.
  • Engage in the discussion with your kids.   I remember watching a movie called Phantasm at a friend’s house when I was in late elementary or early junior high.  For whatever reason, I could barely go get the mail in broad daylight for several days after seeing it.  I was just waiting for the Tall Man to jump out from behind a tree or show up behind me when I looked in a mirror.  I have told my son about that experience, and it may have tempered his desire to watch a horror movie…for the time being.  Be honest about why you set boundaries on the movies they watch and let it be a conversation, not just a lecture.

What limits have you set on movie/TV content for your kids?  How do you approach the subject with them?

Wait Before Destroying The iPad

Silence hangs over the house like a heavy blanket on an otherwise beautiful afternoon.

You have several kids at home…there should be noise, so your imagination takes over.

They must be outside trying cigarettes or drinking a beer in secret.  No way should they be this quiet.

But on your way to the back yard, you walk by the family room.  Each kid sits quietly on the sofa, almost shoulder to shoulder, ears plugged with earbuds, shoulders slouched, neck bent, eyes fixed on 3.1 million glorious pixels.  Not a creature stirred.

Moments like those make me want to yank out the earbuds and snatch every device.  Then, in front of the kids, use a ball pein hammer to delicately shatter each iPad screen, and show them the door to the back yard where they should be playing.

Photo Credit: Finnberg68 via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Finnberg68 via Compfight cc

But, since I have my own dysfunctional relationship with electronics, I tone down my response and give the kids five more minutes to wrap up before they get sent outside or must start a new, non-electronic activity.

So…what is it with our love-hate relationship with electronics and “screen time”?

As someone in my mid-40s, access to electronics growing up was limited.  I might just harbor jealousy when I see what amazing resources my son has access to.

Photo Credit: zigazou76 via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: zigazou76 via Compfight cc

I had to go to the library and look up articles on microfiche.  Part of me wants my son to share in my suffering.

Having just finished open house for my son’s fifth-grade class, half of the academic helps for our kids come in the form of iPad apps.  So, now he can legitimately say screen time equals study time.

So, should I just give up?


It is time to embrace these amazing tools.  It is also time to recognize my son’s job will likely have a close tie to his ability to utilize screen time.

But I will help him find a balance.  He will hike with me.  He will set up a lemonade stand.  He will play an instrument.  He will play rugby.  He will help with DIY projects around the house.

And I might let him find the YouTube video to help out with the DIY project.

What role do electronics play in your home?  What is your biggest struggle?