Listening to children gives us the greatest insight into their minds. What exactly DO they get from the things around them? What have they misunderstood? People, including close friends of mine, have often told me that they allow their children to watch programs, movies and play video games that are intended for much older children and adults. Their reasoning? A.) their kids know it isn’t real; or B.) their kids don’t get the adult connotations. Some of them have even better reasons but those are for another post. Here is my real life experience with my seven year old and why I stand behind my idea that they are TOO YOUNG! Watch it alone or with another adult. Turn it off until the kids are asleep. It would be rated G if it was meant for children under 12. Just because you thought it was cute doesn’t make it appropriate for grade schoolers. (I chose a movie I remembered to be great fun, for family pizza and movie night! So did not remember how inappropriate it was until we were sitting there!) Children really do struggle with the idea that they ARE NOT adults. Partly because we expose them to adult stuff and partly because we sometimes act just like them. In their minds, we are their much taller, bossier equals. Recently, Emily, 18, said something inappropriate in front of her brothers. I corrected her. Sammy, 7, retorted with, “Yeah, Emily.” He wasn’t being sarcastic (would have been an added issue) but it wasn’t his place to correct his much older sister. I told him that “no one asked him to add anything.” I often have to remind all of my children that I have been doing this mom job for a while now (I was a nanny for several years before having any children of my own.) and I can handle it on my own, thank you anyway. Well, this time he started crying. I asked him why he was crying. Sobbing, he explained, “but you corrected Emily. Parents are supposed to do the right thing. If you did the right thing, then why was it bad for me to do?” I tried to explain to him that, as the mom, it is my responsibility to correct my children, but he isn’t the mom. Life is confusing! His sobs got louder and he said that I wasn’t being kind and I must not love him. In his words, “If you love someone, you are kind to them.” I had to move into the next explanation which was that, sometimes, loving someone means that you have to tell them something they don’t want to hear. And so, here I am, telling you: No matter how much bonding you think you’re doing with your cutie while you watch your favorite show or take them to that PG movie they wanted to see almost as much as you, don’t do it. Read with them, sing songs (especially the ones you sang to get them to fall asleep as infants) with/to them, tall them stories about when you were little or even made up ones. They will only be this little for a short time. There will be plenty of time to show them those movies you loved from your youth or to watch a TV series together. And the best thing will be that they truly will GET it and you two can engage in a real conversation about what you just saw. Until then, let’s engage our kids at their real levels. I know this sounds harsh but, you can’t take it back once it’s out there…like nude pictures on the internet….it lives on FOREVER.