Rules and Children

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Rules and Children

Query: 
I was referred to your site by a friend after I called her with a difficult question.Here goes: I am married w 5 children BH and consider myself pretty observant along w my husband,although we do not share similar hashkafot.He is more liberal where I am definitely more right wing.Parenting children with our differences is not easy but lately one issue has been taking a toll in particular.Our television does not work and out of respect for me,my husband never fixed it nor renewed our cable.However,we have a family relative who provided us w about 5000 movies on a hard drive. When my children want to watch tv,it is either looney tunes via intenet or one of thousands of movies that we have.I found a rating system on the internet that rates movies based on 3 catagories:sex/nudity,violence,and profanity.In the beginning, it was easy to use.I would look up a movie and see if the first and last catagories were 3 and under (on a scale of 1 to 10)and allow it even if the middle category,violence,was a 7.(For example 2.7.3)I allowed such movies even for my ten yr old.I felt that if I had to give in somewhere,it's with the violence. The rating system is a way for me not to watch every movie he asks me about.However,the other day he asked me about a movie with the same rating as one he watched in the past but it was rated R.My son saw how angry I became at him for even asking, and at my husband for allowing it.(Interesting to note that my son came and asked me after my husband told him yes)I do not even let him watch pg13.My husband feels that what I am doing is too arbitrary-forbiding one movie with the same numerical rating as another just because its rated R.I feel that allowing an R rated film will just open the door to worse.So,how do i decide what movies are allowed and which arent?It seems like I can not rely on the rating system i found especially because if i allow a certain numerical rating once,my kids expect me to allow it thereafter.The second question is how many hours or how many movies is a fair number for a child to watch on a weekend?I don't allow any during the week.I would love to get rid of them all but that is not a realistic or fair option..The catch is that I end up feeling resentful and angry when I see my kids watching something.My blood starts to boil!I always wanted to raise my children without all of this "stuff" but my husband thinks i am over reacting.What is a happy medium?
Reply: 
You and your husband must get on the same page here. It is not only movies-we are talking about a value system. And as the children get older, there will be new issues that will arise. Your children will know that you are divided, and in this division they percieve weakness. For some parents, the conflict of values comes out with drinking-some parents think it's a big deal, others say 'we did it too'. For others, it is concepts in modesty and acceptable clothing -for both girls and boys , then there are peer issues,acceptable music, curfew,internet access, cellphones etc. Now is the time to have a real discussion with your spouse.Bottom line is, values must never be negotiated. And if we cannot agree, then our children grow confused and don't know the difference between right and wrong behavior-because either do we! As far as the movies, know that the rating system sounds good at first but you are not the one doing the rating. So how do you know that what the rater thinks is benign and typical for a teen or preteen to see/hear is the same that you want/accept for your children? A rated R movie is filled with either terrible violence that impacts a child's psyche and remains in his mind, or low and vulgar street language that heard even once, dulls a child's sense of how awful it is , and then the sex/nudity is self explanitory as being unacceptable for your children to be viewing. So where are you going with this? What are your children gaining? if anything, it will cause you more grief as you try to fight off the images and words that they have just had enter thier minds. Hearing and seeing that which is unacceptable can only have kids grow confused as they think: this is really not so bad.There is a reason that it is rated R-and under a certain age not allowed w/out an adult. Now you want to feed this to your children? So i would tell you that instead of going movie by movie and you becoming the 'bad guy' as you negotiate with your children and husband , speak to your husband now and decide absolutely which ratings are ok for your kids. And sfter that, there will never be a discussion or question, not a debate about whether it is ok or not. Non negotiable on values is the way to go. As far as hours, be very careful not to allow the movies to take over your weekends or be a babysitter. Decide now , with your husband, as to what is reasonable for you in your home. Understand that we are raising a generation of couch potatoes who have forgotten how to play or be active. Not only unhealthy, their minds do not grow and develop. Family time is scarce and we do not grow bonded as a family-as opposed to joing together for a family activity on a Sunday. Once you agree on what is acceptable, again, this is not up for discussion each week. Inform the children of these rules with a united front. Hatzlacha rabbah ! slovie
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