Thursday, January 25, 2007

Appropriate For Children?


One of the commenters (Cape Cod Mary) asked me if Skeleton Coast was appropriate for a 13 year old boy, and whenever anyone asks me that, I have to admit, I never have any idea.

From QueerJoe's Perspective
I don't have any child-supervisory responsibilities. I don't have any of my own children. My friends, family and neighbors would never be crazy enough to ask me to watch their children.

As a result, I don't have to watch my language when I'm at home. I don't watch movies with a critical eye as to whether something would be too violent, or too sexually graphic for a child to see. And I don't make a mental note of sections in books that might or might not be appropriate for young teens.

I guess it shouldn't surprise me when someone asks me a question like that. I know it comes from a parent whose constantly viewing materials and situations from the perspective of how it would affect their children. And doing something as a matter of routine, it's easy to assume everyone does the same thing. But speaking for the childless masses, I'd like to confirm that many of us have no idea what's appropriate or inappropriate for children.

I don't mean this as a chiding of the person who asked. In fact, I'm glad that the commenter wants to encourage her son to read. I don't think anything is more important for a young person's education than reading. Moreso, I wanted Mary, and other parents to understand that I am by far the worst person to judge what an adolescent would consider enjoyable and what a parent would consider acceptable for their adolescent. It's like asking a president of the United States whether he thinks $3.40 is too much to pay for a gallon of milk.

I also appreciate the other Anonymous commenter who provided her opinions. I'm assuming s/he's someone that would really know.

Current Knitting
I've worked my way up a few more inches on the Dark Tweed pullover.



Barring any recurrence of sickness, I should be able to make some decent progress on this sweater over the weekend. While small gauge knitting takes longer, in general, I usually like the way the resulting sweater looks.

Weekend Fiber Activities
In addition to the Dark Tweed Pullover, I also have to try and finish mending my brother-out-of-law's sweater, finishing plying the multi-color merino, and do some work on the color block sweater. We'll see how much I get done.

14 comments:

Carol said...

You're right, Joe, it's hard to judge what kinds of things will prove upsetting or disturbing to different kids. Lots of profanity, graphic sex and bloody, sadistic and/or grpahic violence are easy. But it's the more subtle stuff -- a parent dying (hear that, Disney?), too much suspense, a vulnerable person being exploited, cruelty for the sake of cruelty even in the bad guys, threats to someone's home, stereotypes -- that are harder to judge. Stuff I think won't bother one kid might make another cry.

Glad you're feeling better, Jos.

Emma said...

Can I just say that, based on the little I know about you from your blog, I think you'd make a great parent.

I've thought this for a while but this seemed like a good time to bring it up.

As Carol says, it's not always obvious that something is unsuitable for a child. When taking my daughter to the cinema for example, she wouldn't be upset by what she saw on screen but the very loud soundtrack might overwhelm her.

Anonymous said...

Of course I don't know for sure if that woman will find those books appropriate for her son. The only way she will really know if she reads one for herself and makes that determination on her own. In general they aren't overly violent or have any lurid sexual overtones. They also have a great alternative history spin that might intrigue a teenager and generate some conversation between parent and child. That being said, I usually come for the knitting content and enjoy looking at the progression of your projects. Glad you are feeling better. Anon from yesterday

JoVE said...

I think what Carol says also raises a more important point which is that there is no universal standard of appropriateness for a child. It depends on things like the parents values and the particular personality of the child. My kid hears more swearing at home than would be permitted in a PG movie, so if the little explanation under the PG symbol says "mild bad language" I figure she's fine.

Also, it is usually the content of the story. Things like suspense don't work with some kids. Or, as Carol mentions, a parent dying. The number of kids who find The Lion King upsetting is incredible. But it is a G rated "kids" film. Go figure.

But I think you know this, which is probalby why others think you'd make a great parent. Great parents pay attention to their particular kids and work out what is appropriate for them.

Elizabeth said...

I could probably write a 10 page essay on child-appropriateness, but then you'd tell me to use my own blog for that! I would give a 13 yr old a lot of autonomy in choosing reading material. I think I was 12 when The Exorcist came out and I read it. My mom wouldn't let me see the movie, but she didn't mind me reading the book.

I was shocked and dismayed that my older son was shown The Lion King at school in kindergarten when I had been shielding him from all those nasty Disney animated movies. I think that people in general and movie raters in particular don't count animation in the same way as they would live action. From a child development point of view, this is total baloney. A child under 5 years really doesn't understand the difference between animated characters and actual human ones. I tend to think that 80% of Disney animated features are not suitable for anyone under 6, but I'm clearly in the minority on this issue. As the lines between animation and live action become less clear with CGI technology, it means whatever flimsy excuse there had been for different standards is no longer valid.

As a parent, my position is to let kids read pretty much whatever they are able to read at nearly any age but to carefully monitor the video and film choices until the mid-teens.

Kathy Merrick said...

Well, maybe Joe would make a great parent--if actually liking children weren't a pretty much expected part of the proposition.

I have always been a sort of parent who let the kids read what they want and I've always valued the questions and conversations that resulted.
It gives a parent the chance to give kids information that might otherwise be given by the class sophisticate.

Then again, I read "Crime and Punishment" and "Borstal Boy" in seventh grade, so maybe I'm not the good judgment parent I think I am.

Cara said...

Some parents have no judgement when selecting films: my step-brother rented "Starship Troopers" for his two kids when they were, I think, 4 and 6. Are you kidding, like a kid needs to see giant bugs ripping people to shreds?! I wasn't surprised his kids had nightmares for weeks, it's quite graphic.

And yes, you need to know your child. Some kids are very sensitive. I sat behind a family at the first Harry Potter film, and their young daughter got very upset at the sight of the dead unicorn.

My daughter (3YO) loves Lion King, but I do tell her the daddy lion is dead, and won't wake up. One day, my husband was napping on the sofa, and our daughter walked up and said, "oh, daddy dead" ... maybe a little less disney.

M-H said...

Telling someone they would make a great parent is considered a compliment, but I'm never sure why. I am a parent (retired), but some of the parenting I've observed from people who would no doubt consider themselves great parents seems pretty inadequate to me. No doubt they wouldn't think I'd done a good job either. [shrug]

Barb Brown said...

I used the same criteria for suitable reading for the kids that Mom used on me..if it wasn't appropriate, I'd get bored and put it down. Which was true, as one chapter of Peyton Place when I was 7 bored me to tears.

I have to agree on the Disney movies. The kids and I rented Pinnochio back when videos first came out. I had two boys hiding behind my back while I fast forwarded to the end to show them that the characters did so get out of the whale. My older son (5 at the time) was very angry at me for renting a movie "that could scare little children like my brother".

I think most people who say "you'd make a good parent" mean that you are empathetic and open to view points other than your own. Which is true of you, Joe. But you have to like kids too, or you'd never survive the first month.

Barb B.

Cara said...

After reading Barbs comment on Pinnochio I feel I must add something: you can't always tell what will scare small children and what won't. I went to Disneyland with my parents when I was four, and the Peter Pan ride SCARED THE CR%@ out of me. My parents thought it was kinda funny, but I still remember riding through most of it with my hands in front of my face. They wouldn't let me ride on Snow White for years, they thought that might just put me over the edge.

Sherry W said...

cara, I loved sci fi at an early age, and ET scared the bejeebus out of me!
I was old enough to not want to admit it and my poor Mom bought me the book and poster for my birthday that year. I hid them under my bed!

I think the only adult book I read as a kid that bothered me was 'The Red Pony'. Yeah, I thought it was about a pony...right...

Carol said...

The Snow White ride was really bad. There's the woodcutter who comes at you -- I was in college and still practically wet myself.

My parents let me read anything I wanted but were a little more choosy when it came to TV and movies. I remember when my mother thought the TV show "Soap" was inappropriate for a jr high student, and I was quite indignant.

M-H said...

My father took me to The Wizard if Oz when I was abut seven - my first movie - and I was terrified of the Wicked Witch of the West. I tried to hide under the seat. But hey, fear isn't fatal and I survived. As do all kids. It can even be a wee bit enjoyable to be a bit scared.

Geraldine said...

Does one ever retire as a parent? Here's hoping. However, you don't actually have to like children in general to be a good parent, just your own, and that tends to come with the package in most cases.

I think what the person was wanting to know perhaps was would you have liked the book when you were 13. You could probably answer that if you can remember back that far (when Noah was just coming off the ark!) I find many parents grossly underestimate what their kids can cope with/enjoy, and really the only test is to put it in front of them and see what happens! I think that is what constitutes good parenting - close observation and being open minded enough to actually see what is happening, rather than getting bound up in one's own preconceptions.

BTW, I think anything Disney is unsuitable for any age...