One of my favorite Christmas movies, and I'm sure yours as well--unless you haven't seen it in which case you need to see it immediately--is Love Actually. I only allow myself to watch it between November 1 and December 25, because I don't want to overdo it and get sick of it. ahem. So I watch it several times during those few weeks. The kids had never seen it, of course, as it is rated "R". But they know it's one of my favorites.
So this year, I was faced with a dilemma. A asked me if he could watch it. He knows it's one of the movies I usually wait until they're in bed to watch. I said "no", and he asked why--after all, he knows how much I love it, and it's a Christmas movie! So what could possibly be bad about it?
Quick side note: for those of you who haven't seen it (until later today since you're immediately going to find a way to see it), it's an ensemble movie about several different couples and their relationships, during the holidays in London. One of the stories is about a sweet couple who happen to meet during their jobs as stand-ins on movie sets, where they must pose in different stages of undress and doing very sexual poses, so that the crew can get the set and lighting ready. Awesome. It's awkward and sweet and funny. But there are boobs (gasp!). And inferred sex acts (the horror!). And I'm sure this segment of the movie is what earned it the "R" rating, since when they show it on TV all they do is omit the entire segment involving this particular couple, and cut out the occasional swear word.
Anyway, after A asked if they could watch it, I heard my brother's voice in my head. During one of our extended conversations over lunch, we talked about sex in movies. His theory was, why are we so willing to allow our kids to watch horrible violence in television and movies, but we don't allow them to see movies that show nudity and sex? Is violence more appropriate?
Holy cow, when you put it that way....
Okay, so here's a mini-confessional: Put on your judgy pants, you're going to need them: I let my kids watch rated "R" movies. As long as I've seen them, and I don't think they'll be too scarred from them. A loves zombies. I let him watch Zombieland. We watch Die Hard. And although they aren't rated "R", the Lord of the Rings Trilogy is a regular thing around here, and what's more violent than that? Oh and while I'm confessing, J loves coffee. And they go to bed whenever they want on the weekends. And sometimes I give up on parenting for an entire day and don't care what they eat for meals. Go ahead, judge away.
But lordy, I haven't let them watch sexy movies. And I still would be uncomfortable with it. But there's a big variety of sexy stuff in movies.
So this one had me thinking. I love the movie. It's sweet. It's romantic. It has beautiful messages in it. I am trying, as hard as I can, to step out of my inner hangups and be very open and honest with them about growing up, sexuality, and love. So far I'm doing pretty good. They handled the boob in Titanic quite well (see this post). So I made the decision.
I would let them watch it. With me. First, I told them what to expect. I told them that there were boobs in this movie (I'm sure they were horrified). I said "there's a couple in this movie who have jobs to act out love scenes on a movie set to help the crew make the set just right, and so they're pretending to do sexy stuff and sometimes they're not wearing any clothes, but they're not actually doing anything. It's just supposed to be funny because of how awkward they must feel."
And so we sat down and watched it. And they enjoyed it very much. Their favorite storyline was the one that involved the boy that's about their age. And they didn't even seem interested in the "naughty" stuff. So I guess it's my hangups, not theirs. And I don't intend to pass them down.
I'm still going to be aware of what they watch, and I have no problem saying "no" if I feel like it crosses some lines, but I'm trying to be thoughtful about it, and allow them to grow up. It's been several weeks, and they seem fine. Apparently John and Judy have not scarred them.
But they still can't watch Superbad.