I have read so many blog posts about “The Hunger Games” lately. Parents talking about why they don’t want their children to see the movie. Some talking about not allowing their children to read the book. They feel it is not appropriate for their children. As if they somehow feel the need to apologize for making a decision they feel is best for their own kids. Concerned about being judged by other parents as “too conservative” or not “with the times”. Then there is the other side of the coin. Parents who feel they have to explain why they DID allow their children to read the book or see the movie. They worry about judgment for seeming too “permissive” or not caring about the scars their kids might get from the message of the books or the violence.
I have a difficult time with both of these points of view. Not because I think there is a correct age or time for a child to see a particular kind of movie or read a particular book. Not even because I disagree with the message or storyline of the book and/or movie. (By the way I just finished reading “The Hunger Games”, and have not yet seen the movie.)
The problem I have with those two trains of thought is why the parents even feel the need to explain their decisions to every one else. I am of the opinion that 7 out of every 10 people are reasonable, intelligent, caring individuals, with the other 3 being the jerks in this world. That being said, why should the 7 reasonable, caring and intelligent people feel as if they have to justify or explain their decisions or actions regarding their children? Especially since they are probably explaining it to the other 3…the unreasonable, uncaring, and unintelligent people.
The parents who need to justify and explain their actions are the ones who neglect, physically, emotionally or sexually abuse their children. They are comprised of the 3. The other 7 are making a decision regarding the things they think are appropriate for their children in a thoughtful and meaningful way. That is not to say that every decision they make will be the right decision. Parenting is fraught with mistakes and learning curves. There is no manual that a person gets to help them when they become a parent, and even if you did get a manual with your first child, you would need to toss it in the trash when the second child comes. Each child is unique and what works for one child won’t work for another child.
For example, my oldest, Joe Cool, was a very easy baby and toddler. He listened and responded very well to time out and removal of toys as discipline. I can still discipline him by taking away his toys (now a cell phone and PS3 as opposed to legos and trucks), and I can still “get” to his conscience by letting him know I am disappointed in him. I thought I had this baby/toddler thing mastered and then came along my second child, The Genius. COMPLETELY different in every way shape and form from his older brother. Time outs and taking things away didn’t phase him in the least. I had to use physical discipline with him, and even then he would act as if he was going to do as he pleased. I am not proud of using physical punishment on him, but it was my last resort, and the only thing that worked. However, since I am one of the 7, I know I did the best I could, and I knew the most appropriate way to discipline my kids. Even now The Genius will try to argue, cajole, redirect, and excuse his behavior. I no longer have to use physical discipline, as he is 12 now and removing computer time works best. But he is very different from his brother in many ways. He is definitely the more sensitive and considerate brother, while the older one is more musically inclined and has an amazing sense of humor. I love them both tremendously, and I STILL know what is best for my boys.
I used to feel as if I had to explain my actions and motives regarding my decisions about my kids, but no longer. They are pretty awesome people, and I know that the only person that knows them better than themselves….. is me. I know what makes them tick, what motivates them, what they are afraid of and what they want from life. I know their hearts and most of the time I know their minds.
My point is that I want those of us parents who are part of the 7…….the people who are reasonable, caring and intelligent….to own that we are part of the 7, and know within ourselves, that we do not need to justify or explain our decisions regarding our children to anyone besides our partners, ourselves, and sometimes, our kids.
So if you want your kids to see a movie, or read a book, or not, it is your decision to make. So decide, and own that decision knowing that you are always trying to do the best for your child.