3

My 9 year old son recently made a new friend who lives in our neighborhood. My wife and I like the friend and are happy that our son is being more social.

Apparently, there are very few rules at the friend's house. For example, he's allowed to ride his bike in the street without a helmet, roam the neighborhood freely and watch R rated horror movies.

Our son spent the night at the friend's house last night, and we learned from him today that they watched Slither. My wife and I are very upset that our son saw this movie. We feel that it's totally inappropriate for kids his age. This is the first time he's seen an R rated movie, let alone a horror movie.

We haven't talked much with him about it. I asked him if it scared him and he answered "Not really," but I have a hard time believing this. (This is coming from a kid who's still scared of Harry Potter.) How do I talk to him about it? Should I continue to let my kid play at his friend's house, and if so how do I approach the subject with the parents?

  • 2
    I cannot help with your decision about if he should still be allowed over; but perhaps he is not scared because the movie just flew right over his head and was so far away from reality that it didn't openly scare him? Harry Potter, despite all the magic happening, is really really close to childrens reality, in comparison. – Layna Jul 8 '16 at 6:50
  • 1
    Not quite relevant to the meat of your question, but objectively speaking, you can easily make the case that Harry Potter is rather scary, more so than random horror movie, because it involves humans deliberately inflicting evil on each other rather than some boogey monster. – user3143 Jul 9 '16 at 11:45
  • My 5 year old's favorite movie is Aliens vs Predators. The rating system is just a guideline. How you teach your kids to handle the content typical of these ratings is up to you. I wouldn't worry about it personally. I'd just explain the idea behind the language and nastiness and blow it off like it was nothing. Make a big deal and he might want to see more, if for no other reason than to find out why he's not allowed to watch them. – Kai Qing Jul 13 '16 at 1:19
  • My son was terribly broken up over "Inside Out", but had the time of his life watching "Jurassic Park", during the same week. – pojo-guy Mar 26 '18 at 21:24
5

Hopefully you have some kind of relationship, or at least an open line of communication with the friend's parents, since you let your son spend the night there. I would have a brief conversation with them about this, along the lines of:

Zach had a great time at your house, thanks for letting him stay over! We did have one concern, we know he watched an R-rated movie there. We've made a personal decision to not let him watch "R" movies until he gets a little older, so if he stays over again, please keep that in mind.

It doesn't have to be a big deal. Different families make different decisions, and while you don't want to micromanage his time away from home, this doesn't seem like such a big request, especially if you frame it as your issue not theirs. At most, they might think of you as being a bit uptight or overprotective, and if so, so what?

If your request does meet with hostility, or if it's outright ignored then that would be a red flag about whether you want your child to spend more time there or not, but I don't think you want to assume that will be the outcome without trying first.

4

Sounds like you need to take this up with the friend's family.

Since your son isn't showing any adverse effects from the movie (like talking about monsters or people dying), I'd be glad that he wasn't adversely affected, but angry at the parents nonetheless.

From the things you mentioned it sounds like they don't have the same standards of parenting as you do. Some families are too busy, others just have different standards. Still others let their kids run completely riot.

If your son is going to be there, you need to talk to the parents and get them to agree to rules that you have at home and you expect to be followed at their place too.

See if they can agree to reasonable rules, for example that he won't see any R rated movies or walk alone in the neighbourhood without an adult.

Follow up, and if for a moment you sense your son isn't in a safe parenting environment then you should definitely consider not letting him be there alone - only allow the friend to stay over at your house, or have a parent go with him when he visits his friend.

  • "you need to talk to the parents and get them to agree to rules" - how do I do this without insinuating that their rules (or lack thereof) aren't any good? – David Kennedy Jul 8 '16 at 15:21
  • You need to be polite but direct about it, for example "We don't let our son wander the streets without an adult, would it be ok that you keep an eye on him when he's with you?". If you don't solve the issues then you'll only end up being worried if he goes there again. – vikingsteve Jul 8 '16 at 15:55
4

I asked him if it scared him and he answered "Not really," but I have a hard time believing this. (This is coming from a kid who's still scared of Harry Potter.) How do I talk to him about it?

Looking at the preview, I'd have a hard time believing he wasn't scared by the film, either. It might be that his friend was unafraid, even laughing, which made it less frightening. Or it may be that he will show fear in situations where there was none before. Just keep the lines of communication open about this with him. Be sensitive to changes. Remain neutral or he might think there is something to fear.

Should I continue to let my kid play at his friend's house, and if so how do I approach the subject with the parents?

If your son wants to continue the friendship, then yes, absolutely. I think you should discuss your R-rated movie policy with them, and video games if you have one. What their son does is out of your control, but let your son know that he's to follow the same rules there as he follows at home: he wears a helmet when biking, he lets someone know where he is at all times, and teach him to be aware of potentially dangerous situations with strangers if you have not already done so. Roaming the neighborhood on a bike for a 9 year old may be perfectly safe depending on the neighborhood and the quality of his judgement.

  • "Just keep the lines of communication open about this with him." - can you give any tips about how to do this? When I ask him he becomes unresponsive and walks away. – David Kennedy Jul 8 '16 at 15:24
  • I'd say in this case, don't ask, just listen. Let him know you're there for him for any problem (or worry/etc.) then listen to whatever he wants to talk about. If you're a listener, he'll eventually talk if he has a problem. – anongoodnurse Jul 8 '16 at 16:32

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.