Friday, August 15, 2014

Differing Tastes, Parenting Styles Making Mountains Out Of Molehills

Dear Tazi:

I am the mother of a toddler. In a world full of violence, I would like to keep my child shielded from evil for as long as possible. I monitor what little television I allow "Eddie" to watch, keep educational DVD's on-hand for his entertainment, and do my best to limit his exposure to roughhousing that occurs on the playground and in other public areas. The one problem I am having is occurring in my own home, with my husband's taste in movies.

"Rick" has a preference for violent horror movies that turn my stomach. I refuse to watch the absolute garbage that he calls entertainment, and ask that he not view these materials during Eddie's waking hours. Rick feels that I am raising Eddie to be "a complete and total wuss", but has honored my request not to watch his gruesome movies when there is a chance Eddie could walk in on him, as he agrees that "R-rated" movies are inappropriate for young children. Because of this, Rick watches his movies late at night before bed. It can get rather late before the movies end, so Rick has developed a habit of simply turning off the TV and going to bed without taking his DVD out of the player.

A few nights ago, I went out with my girlfriends and left Eddie and Rick at home to have some father-son bonding time. Rick told me that they had watched some of Eddie's Baby Bumblebee DVD's and had a fun evening together before putting Eddie to bed for the night. I thought this meant that the Baby Bumblebee DVD's were the only thing viewed that night. I was wrong.

Eddie woke up in the middle of the night, upset that I had been out at bedtime, so I hugged and snuggled him; but he would not go back to sleep. I carried him out to the living room to view his DVD and was shocked to discover that my husband had left a Quentin Tarantino movie in the DVD player! My innocent child was exposed to machine guns, blood, and profanity! Thankfully, it was only a few seconds until I was able to stop the DVD and shield Eddie - who did not seem to notice what was going on - but the damage was done. Rick cannot understand why I am so angry with him! How difficult would it have been for him to remove his DVD and put our son's DVD back into the player?

Rick says I am over-reacting and being a control freak; I say that Rick is being a lackadaisical parent. My concern is making sure an episode like this never happens again. I am tempted to ban violent movies from our home, but Rick has already said he would not abide by such a rule. What is your opinion, Tazi?

Concerned Parent

Dear Concerned Parent:

The issue at hand appears to be more than just a difference in opinion between you and your husband; but a difference in parenting styles. Your husband has agreed to compromise in order to balance his personal interests with the well-being of your child, and it appears that this dynamic has been working well. You mention that Rick has a habit of leaving his DVD's in the DVD player; have you developed the habit of double-checking the DVD player to see what is actually in it before turning it on? You do so much to shield your son from real-world violence, I would not think this one small step (just the push of a button) would be too much to consider in order to keep the peace in your home.

Banning violent movies from your home is not the answer. Your husband's tastes in movies may not reflect your own, but to tell him he cannot bring these movies into his own home is to treat him like a child. In a healthy marriage, both members are equal partners with an equal say in matters. You are Rick's wife - not his mother, so it would be in the best interest of your marriage not to try and discipline him.

You say that your son did not seem to notice the few seconds of the violent movie that played, and I am inclined to believe that he was too tired to notice anything more than his Mama's arms around him. I would not fret that this incident will be the ruination of your son's innocence. Furthermore, rather than blame your husband, use this incident as a lesson to never assume - as the expression goes, it makes an "ass" out of "u and me".

A simple, inexpensive solution that would guarantee an incident like this one will never occur again would be to buy a second DVD player dedicated solely for your child's movies. DVD players can be purchased for less than $50; the expense could be considered an investment in your child's well-being. You could even label it "EDDIE'S DVD PLAYER" so there would be no confusion as to which player is which. I'll close by saying that I believe the more important issue at hand is for you and your husband to get onto the same page when it comes to parenting your child. Your local community center may be able to assist with some low-cost or free parenting classes.


Ask Tazi! is ghostwritten by a human with a Bachelors of Arts in Communications. Tazi-Kat is not really a talking feline.

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