“Parental Guidance is a rating. But it also an instruction. We as parents, need to help our kids process and understand what they see.”

It is a wonderful day indeed when your kids are finally at the age when you don’t have to go to the one choice of film at the marques that is animated anymore.  Granted, we thank the gods of Pixar who made those years so much more palatable to the millions of adults who spent their rainy Saturdays with Nemo or Buzz light year, but let’s face it, there is a limit. But navigating what is appropriate for your family and what exactly does PG, PG-13 even mean? RMD helps you break it down so that you don’t find yourself having to hustle your kids out of a theatre after learning a particularly colorful new phrase.

Parental Guidance is a rating. But it also an instruction. We as parents, need to help our kids process and understand what they see. This probably should involve a discussion afterward about some of the themes and issues and how they made your child feel. This is an important way to discuss values and ethics. Navigating what is appropriate at what stage is particular to each child.

I remember a time on a weekend when my husband had a film on in the background that seemed fairly innocuous until my five year old son came in. In the scene Tom Cruise was helping Cameron Diaz remain safe by pretending to kidnap her at gunpoint to get her out of a situation. In context and to us it was not scary because we knew she was fine and it was part of the story. My son saw the image of the pretty lady with the mean man with a gun to her head and burst into tears. It is these moments that we realize how callous we are to seeing violence and how important it is to protect our kids and to help them understand what they are seeing if and when it comes up.

PG-13 is a rating that deems a movie mostly inappropriate to kids under the age of 13. It suggests parental caution for kids under the age of thirteen as the subject matter may be more mature and include sex and or violence.

Rated R, meaning restricted means it’s usually not recommended for kids under the age of seventeen. This is a tough one. Movie are definitely pushing the boundaries into all sorts of levels of gross out humor and certainly very dark subject matter in the horror film genre. Remember, once a kid sees something, they can’t un-see it. When they have been exposed to something frightening or disturbing it can have very damaging effects so use extreme caution.

It does seem in American culture we are way more accepting of images of violence over nudity or healthy displays of sexuality. In either case, as parents we need to make wise and informed decisions about what are kids are exposed to as entertainment. So before you take the leap to taking your kids to a more mature movie, do your research and be ready to answer some questions as they arise.


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