Saturday, March 24, 2012

A Crown of Thorns?

The Hunger Games.  By media accounts, the book trilogy reflects the author's view of society gone amok similar to populating Arnold Schwarzenegger's movie, The Running Man with kids.  Other articles point out the explicit kid-on-kid violence and wonder how the theatrical production will preserve the story line with only a PG-13 rating.  I confess that I have neither read the books nor intend to view the movie.

Over the last few days leading up to the national premier, entertainment writers issued a question aimed at parents of tweens and younger children.  This inquiry sparked experts from various disciplines and notoriety to characterize responses as "tough decisions."  I hear the gears moving.  Supply cigarettes?  Provide birth control?  Allow a tattoo?  Not even close.  Get ready for it... "Should I let my child see the movie?"  Really?  Tough decision?

In the 80's and 90's, I was a DARE Officer that presented self-help topics to eleven and twelve year- olds.  One session examined worthwhile risk taking and overcoming fear.  I introduced the concept of fear by talking about scary films.  My classroom teacher never failed to exhibit the same terror when I polled the students by show-of-hands about what movies they have watched.  Without making a laundry list of teen sex / slasher flicks, I'll simply summarize my findings by stating that an R-rating held no weight in parental discretion.

Current headlines suggest that we already possess a hefty population of unfeeling, uncaring miscreants who enjoy inflicting physical pain and psychological harm, think cyber-bullying, on an unexpected victim.  These same wrong-doers have no problem insinuating that books, movies, music or voices guided their ill-fated conduct and they are not accountable.  Why?  Societal professionals feel a need to readily alibi this populace's actions with some kind of outside stimulus.

Parents should be the best source to evaluate their individual child's maturity level.  Some parents that I know have a clock ticking to rush their kids to grow up way too fast instead of letting them be kids.  Is this wrong?  I do not second guess parental styles.  However, if your fear is only wondering  how your offspring will look in the eyes of peers or said child guilt's you into letting them view it when  "everyone" in their whole universe saw it the first night of release, then listen up.

Hoist up the big boy pants.  Take a deep breath and calmly remind them that you are his / her / their parent and not his / her / their friend.   Your job is to protect them and make unpopular decisions based on what you know at the time of the decision.  Give him / her / them the opportunity to list their "Yeah, buts" but remain firm and patient.  Finally, remind them that you will always love them no matter what even though he / she / they just said that he / she / they hate you. 

Congratulations!  You earned the parental laurel this week.

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