What to Do When Your Kids See an Unapproved Movie at a Friend’s House

kids watched unapproved movie

My kids were at a sleepover and watched a PG movie that I wasn’t told about nor did I approve of. How do I talk with the other Mom without hurting the relationship between the kids and the Moms? Asked by Sarah – 30 something – Nashville, TN


marjorieLandonThis has happened to me when my kids watched a movie at a friend’s house and the words I used with the other parent were “Hey –if you could please let me know next time what movie you plan to watch, I’d appreciate it. There are certain types of movies that we still don’t allow our kids to watch”. It was a simple request and the parent was apologetic and more than willing to honor my request. What one parent considers an appropriate movie for youngsters can drastically differ from another parent’s opinion. If this was a ‘first offense’, then you should keep the conversation to a brief point in telling the other mom that you would like to be notified of any movies your child may watch at their home in the future. Simply telling the parent that you are very cautious about what your kids watch on television should give the message that parental consent on both sides should be a factor next time this happens. This mom will hopefully understand and involve you in the next movie selection where your kids are present.  Marjorie – 30 something


Amy C.There are 2 approaches that have worked well for me. If your child is older (say 10 years and above), you can and should expect your child to understand what the family rules are and to call home before watching a movie — or playing a video game, or leaving the neighborhood or other comparable behavior — that is not allowed.

If the child is younger, I think you are definitely within your bounds to say something to the mother.  It can be done with a gentle tone, something like “I’m sure you weren’t aware, but we’ve decided Johnny is not to watch PG movies yet.  I hope it’s not an inconvenience for you, but we really feel its best.” 95% of parents will absolutely understand.  The rest are Knuckleheads and you can’t do anything about them.  It’s like offering meat to a child from a vegetarian family:  most parents understand that’s not cool and will not punish the kid for it.  Amy C. – 40 something


amyBrownWow, this is tricky. I think you have to decide what is more important – your child’s viewing of PG movies or the friendship with the other Mom. The reason I say this is that I’ve been witness to this same scenario with a couple of different friends – one who was the mother with PG movies playing in her home, who was on the receiving end of a well intentioned call of concern… which ruined their friendship AND another who was a mother who called about an R rated movie for her 14 year old and also got the cold shoulder in return. My own view is that there probably isn’t anything in that PG movie that they haven’t heard about or will be exposed to in the near future, provided they have access to TV, the internet, and friends at school…so I’d default to either not allowing my child to sleep over or let it go. Frankly, knowing me, I’d let it go. Good luck on this – and let us know what you decide to do! Amy B. – 40 something


annGlaserThis is a huge deal for some parents and a no-issue for many.  Unfortunately, if you really want to be in charge of what your child watches, you need to keep them home!

No-kidding aside. You need to say something to the parent each and every time they go over for a playdate or sleepover.  You also need to let your child know that they are supposed to call you if they want to watch a movie, to get your approval on the movie.

I know a parent who wanted her child to watch NO TV or movies and  had her kids call her and she would pick them up when the TV came on at a friend’s house.

I agree that you should know if your young child is watching an inappropriate movie at a playmate’s house.  But, unless it is a G movie, this will be hard to quantify as everyone seems to have their own ideas about what is appropriate.

So-I don’t think you should go backwards as your child has already watched a movie you did not approve of.  You should just be overtly obvious with future playtimes about your feelings about media content.  Remember-there are also tons of nasty video games and stuff on the internet that even young kids can get into.  My basic suggestion-Say that your child is happy to come over but if the TV goes on-she/he needs to go home and don’t approach the mom who had the sleepover.  Remember-she did have your kids overnight!  Ann – 50 something

margeGiuntoliFirst of all, was the movie age appropriate?  If it wasn’t, point out that some children have nightmares or anxiety that have to be dealt with after the sleepover is over.  If it was appropriate and the content is what you are disapproving of, ask how she selected that particular film.   It may be a kid favorite or recommended by siblings and chosen with good intentions.  Anything else would just hurt her child’s chances with his/her friends.  If she is new to the sleepover business, suggest she run the movie choice by the parents first.  I call it “overnight etiquette,” and it is just like asking if any child has food or pet allergies.  But remember, same age children travel at different experiential levels and, likewise, parents travel on different appropriateness levels.  If you are uncomfortable, ask first then make the choice as to whether to let your child attend another sleepover at that house or not.  Marge – 70 something