Tweens and R-Rated Films
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Tweens and R-Rated Films

Parenting expert Jan Faull, MEd, on the R-rated movie question.

Q. "My mature 14-year-old daughter recently asked me if she can watch an R-rated movie. I trust my daughter and her judgment, but I have reservations about letting her see the film. I don't know why she wants to see it, and I haven't seen the movie myself, so I don't know what content is in the film that would make it R-rated. She claims to already know what happens in the R-rated parts. Should I give her permission to go to the film? I fear saying no will only make her want to see the movie more."

A. Tell your daughter that it's is fine with you if she go to see this R-rated movie, and any other for that matter, as long as the two of you go together. Plan to go together, and then after the movie plan to go out for a bite to eat and discuss the movie and its R-rated segments.

The meal is your opportunity to offer your opinion and insights, including sifting the R-rated segments through your family's beliefs and values. Of course, your daughter will then have the chance to offer her thoughts and feelings too. As she speaks, it's important to listen carefully as to where her thinking and judgments truly lie regarding the R-rated portions of this film.

One question to ask is whether she thinks the R-rated segments fit and are necessary to the movie's storyline, or are they gratuitous, simply added for the sake of shock value.

If she balks at your offer to go together, then it's okay to refuse her request. With this option, you risk her sneaking off to go with her friends. To avoid this possibility, allow her to go without you but tell her you'll be going too and that you will insist discussing the movie with her at some point after you've both seen it.

It's important to ask yourself why you're inclined to protect your daughter from seeing an R-rated film. Part of parenting is following the ratings shielding children from certain unsavory scenes. In the big picture of your daughter's life, seeing one R-rated film will probably not have a tremendous negative impact. If you do allow your child to see one, be sure to tell her you're allowing her to do so because you feel she has good judgment, and that by seeing the film she won't take on the values, beliefs, or behavior of the actresses or actors.

The fear is that by going to see such a film, your daughter will be intrigued and want to see more, eventually becoming immune to the R-rated segments, rather than appalled. By allowing her to see one film, you might satisfy her curiosity about such films, build trust, and open up communication lines between the two of you. More than anything, you don't want to blow her request to see an R-rated film out of proportion. No matter your decision, you want this issue to be a relationship-building opportunity rather than a contentious one. It's best to avoid letting this one issue inadvertently harm the relationship you've worked to establish between you and your teenage daughter.