Star Wars and Superheroes introduced to our formerly non-violent house - Mothering Forums

Forum Jump: 
 
Thread Tools
#1 of 9 Old 08-02-2011, 09:28 AM - Thread Starter
 
aricha's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: Vermont
Posts: 1,166
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)

We have always been very careful about the media our kids are exposed to, and their TV and movie viewing is very much restricted to non-violence (both physical violence and social aggression like name-calling, bad language, etc). The kids toys are limited as far as weapons go-- there is some exposure to things like pirate cannons and knight's swords, but no big swords, guns, etc for them to use. My 6-yr-old son was very recently allowed to get a police officer figure with a holstered gun after he pointed out that he knows (from our discussions) that police officers carry gun for protection but that their job is to protect and not to hurt people and that most police officers never even actually use them. Anyway, non-violence is very much a family value and this is how it has been since my step-daughter was a baby.

 

However, this is VERY MUCH not the case at my step-daughter's mom's house. She watches a lot of movies that are made for teens/adults, and last year they started watching Star Wars. Because of this (as well as the kids' natural curiosity about this type of play and the inevitable exposure from friends and school), we have, over the last year, had lots of discussions about why that type of play isn't allowed at our house, with reasons ranging from worrying about their personal safety to studies about the effects of media violence (discussed in a way that is age-appropriate for the various ages). Superhero and good-guy/bad-guy play has been allowed, but it's always revolved around superpowers and bad acts (stealing something, for example) and not weaponry. Since the younger three haven't had any exposure to media portrayals of bad guys or superheros, it was all still imaginative play and not reenactments of stuff they'd seen.

 

So, anyway, mostly because of my step-daughter's obsession with it, and because of the age of the older two, this summer I lightened up a little bit about the Star Wars stuff and the Super Hero stuff. I let a couple things slide, I let the two older kids attend a meeting of a "Star Wars Club" at the local library, I let my son check out a superhero book at the library... I let the six-yr-old hold onto his "light saber" balloon that the clown made for him at a friend's birthday party. My theory was that we would continue the conversation about violence and non-violence, other ways to solve problems, the realities of hurting other people, etc...

 

Well, my moment of weakness was like opening the floodgates. Because my step-daughter has watched these movies, she has all kinds of information about shooting and killing and different weapons... She isn't using her imagination but is recreating scenes from the (inappropriate) movies she has seen. It's become an obsession with the older two and the 4-year-old wants to play with the big kids (like she always has) and it is really bothering me that she is being exposed to this stuff. She is also somewhat uncomfortable with it-- the other day she was upset because her older brother said she couldn't play their game because she refused to "make a weapon" to play with.

 

It's been hard to engage them in a conversation about it because my step-daughter gets defensive and it seems to hurt her feelings (or something) to talk about it and the older kids kind of shut down or tune out.

 

Any thoughts on how I can reign it back in? Is there any hope on closing the floodgates that I unintentionally opened, without putting a ban on it altogether (since I believe that would just make them hide it rather than actually stop them from playing it)? We have always been careful to talk about differences between our two houses (our dietary choices, our TV choices, finances, etc) in a way that doesn't paint one family's choices as "better" than the other, or that indicates we think her mom is making inappropriate choices for her... but this one is posing more of a problem for me. any hope that they will tire of it on their own? Any suggestions for other topics that might capture their interest for dramatic play that doesn't involve violence?

 

Anyway, sorry so long. I would love to hear other people's ideas and perspectives on the topic in general, and specifically how I might handle the aspect related to raising one child who is exposed to very different media and play at her other house...


Parenting four little monkeys (11, 8, 6, and 4) with the love of my life. Making it up as I go.
aricha is offline  
#2 of 9 Old 08-03-2011, 07:13 AM
 
Keakie's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2011
Location: GA
Posts: 9
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)

Forgive me if I've missed it but how old is your SD?

 

I don't have any good ideas as to how to 'reign it back in'. shrug.gif Is allowing them to continue playing but intervening when the content gets to be too much an option? Or is it more or less "too much" from the get go?

 

I know you've mentioned trying to talk to SD about it and it hasn't gone over well. Would she respond better to you emphasizing that it isn't that you're criticizing her mother/her mother's house, just that your children are too young for that kind of play/that level of violence?

 

hug2.gifeither way. This sounds tough.

Keakie is offline  
#3 of 9 Old 08-03-2011, 09:01 AM - Thread Starter
 
aricha's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: Vermont
Posts: 1,166
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)

My step-daughter is 9 next month. The other kids are 6, 4, and 2. I did think about the "they are too young" approach, but decided that wasn't the message I wanted, since I feel like the weapons and violent play is not something I want for my kids, period. When they are adults they can make the decision about violent TV, movies, and video games if they want, but it's not something I am ever going to support (and I hope I can manage to raise them so that it isn't something they want to do later, either, but I'm sort of resigned to the fact that it's not something I really have much control over).

 

My husband (who stays home with the kids during the day) and I talked about it yesterday some more, and we decided to have a family meeting to address the issue. In addition to the type of play, he said that the 4 year old has been feeling left out of the play with the older ones and the 4 and 6 yr olds were feeling bossed around by the oldest.

 

So we made it clear that we weren't discussing any particular person or incident, but that we felt like we needed to have a reminder about what some of our family rules were. We talked first about not excluding people from games or telling people that they can't be a certain character or can't play if they aren't a certain character. (The kids did point out that it is okay to want to play somethign totally by yourself if you want some time alone.)

 

Then we talked about play that involved weapons, killing, and hurting others. I told them it wasn't the characters themselves I objected to, that they were welcome to play Star Wars characters, but that they needed to find other things to play besides fight scenes. We talked about all the other cool things that were part of Star Wars (exploring other galaxies, learning to use The Force, being friends with robots and various alien creatures, escaping from dangerous situations, etc). We also talked about all the other cool things they used to pretend about before they even knew about Star Wars-- detectives, exploring and adventures, outer space stuff, magic, fairies, dragons, magic powers and potions.... We talked about super heroes that had magic powers that weren't used to hurt people, like Storm who controlls the weather and Flash who can run super fast.

 

I could see an immedite change with the 6-yr-old, who spent the next hour comign up with other cool non-violent things he could pretend to be. Some of it went over the 4-yr-old's head, but I think she is most concerned with not being left out, and she was happy that everyone was reminded that they can't tell one person they can't play. I'm not sure the oldest is totally on board yet, but this morning she was pretending that Darth Vader had captured and trapped her and she had to escape, which is an improvement. I also let the older ones know that there was not to be any questionable or "gray area" TV or movies for a while (which included the BBC version of Narnia, which they had been hoping to watch) until I was convinced they were able to remember what type of play is appropriate... and I think that had an impact on the oldest (though if she thinks about it, I'm sure she'll realize that she can just wait until she is with mom and then watch whatever she wants).

 

Anyway, I'm still very open to any ideas or suggestions. I wanted to give an update in case there are others struggling with the same issues. Thanks for any ideas you have, especially about addressing differences between the values at the two houses... It's a lot harder to walk that fine line the older she gets.


Parenting four little monkeys (11, 8, 6, and 4) with the love of my life. Making it up as I go.
aricha is offline  
#4 of 9 Old 08-03-2011, 11:45 PM
Banned
 
SneakyPie's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2002
Location: Somewhere around here . . .
Posts: 1,272
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)

Dude.  That is way too much micromanaging of your kids' play, and way too much responsibility being placed on your stepdaughter.  She knows you're going on and on and on about her very favorite thing.

 

If you don't want them playing Star Wars, it's much simpler to just ban it outright.  Although play violence is a well-documented developmental phase, one that children usually need to go through around that age.  They do grow out of it.

SneakyPie is offline  
#5 of 9 Old 08-04-2011, 07:32 AM
 
coffeegirl's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: a glaxy far, far away
Posts: 839
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)


Quote:
Originally Posted by SneakyPie View Post

Dude.  That is way too much micromanaging of your kids' play, and way too much responsibility being placed on your stepdaughter.  She knows you're going on and on and on about her very favorite thing.


I'm feeling this, too. :(  I know you said in the meeting that you weren't singling anyone out, but you SD knows that she's the one who loves Star Wars and brought the Star Wars play-acting to your household.

 

What do you think is wrong with the Narnia TV movie? Who is it that had been wanting to watch this? If it was your SD, I would maybe re-think that decision if I were you....just so she doesn't feel SO picked on and singled out by all this. Even if she acts like she doesn't care, I can almost guarantee you from what you wrote that she's feeling like you're dumping on her, specifically. I understand that's not your intention.

 

And you're wrong to think that imagination isn't being used. Star Wars and the superheroes obviously do spark their imaginations and inspire their play. They're kids; they're not actors with scripts in their hands running through the scenes, kwim?


caffix.gif
coffeegirl is offline  
#6 of 9 Old 08-04-2011, 07:32 AM
 
coffeegirl's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: a glaxy far, far away
Posts: 839
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)

sorry, double post.


caffix.gif
coffeegirl is offline  
#7 of 9 Old 08-04-2011, 09:54 AM - Thread Starter
 
aricha's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: Vermont
Posts: 1,166
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)


Quote:
Originally Posted by coffeegirl View Post


I'm feeling this, too. :(  I know you said in the meeting that you weren't singling anyone out, but you SD knows that she's the one who loves Star Wars and brought the Star Wars play-acting to your household.

 

What do you think is wrong with the Narnia TV movie? Who is it that had been wanting to watch this? If it was your SD, I would maybe re-think that decision if I were you....just so she doesn't feel SO picked on and singled out by all this. Even if she acts like she doesn't care, I can almost guarantee you from what you wrote that she's feeling like you're dumping on her, specifically. I understand that's not your intention.

 


 

Yes, she knows that she brought Star Wars to the house. But they also know that her 6-year-old brother is the one who is into super heroes (though he hasnt actually seen superhero movies or TV) and that he is the one who most often initiates that play and the "go to" person for super hero-related knowledge, just as she is about Star Wars. We really were not just talking about Star Wars, we were talking about violent play. Whenever we have conversations like this, every single one of the kids feels singled out and that we are talking directly to them about a specific incident. That's how my brain works too-- if my boss starts talking about needing to improve our response time, I immediately think of times I, personally, did not respond to an issue as fast as I could have, or that one client a year ago that I dropped the ball on. I know my step-daughter feels singled out because that's just who she is... and I also know the 6-yr-old thought I was talking specifically to him, and the 4-year-old kept bringing up specific incidents where she told someone else they couldn't play or when she pretended to fight someone... so she thought we were targeting her, too. I don't think it would be possible to have a conversation with these three children without them thinking we are singling them out... I'm certainly open to suggestions, but I think we handled it as well as we could reassuring them all that we weren't talking about any specific game or characters or incidents, just about the type of play in general. And we continue to reassure them, when the hesitate about a certain character, that it isn't Luke Skywalker or Green Lantern we are concerned about, it is what they are choosing to do.

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by coffeegirl View Post


And you're wrong to think that imagination isn't being used. Star Wars and the superheroes obviously do spark their imaginations and inspire their play. They're kids; they're not actors with scripts in their hands running through the scenes, kwim?


I think I see a big difference in this type of play between pretending and imitating. She *is* running through scenes from the movies, and essentially "directing" the younger siblings in who the characters are, what they do, etc. I think kids learn by using play to work through things that they are puzzling over or thinking about. As an example, last summer our car got broken into and some things were stolen. For the next couple weeks we saw a lot of "burglar" play. It initiated a lot of discussions (mostly between the kids, sometimes involving the adults) about why someone would take something that didn't belong to them, why the "burglar" might have taken the specific things that were taken, whether and how people might respond to that happening to them, how one can prevent it from happening. They were using play to work through something they didn't understand in order to better make sense of it in their own heads. I see that as valuable, and a lot different from the kids imitating a scene from a movie where someone breaks into a car and steals something. That's what I meant when I said they weren't using their imaginations-- they are imitating, not pretending.

 

I know that my opinion about violent media exposure isn't something every parent believes in, and I know I have a much lower threshold for what I consider violent or aggressive TV/movies than many other parents. I also know that my feelings on the subject are supported by studies on the effects of media violence on children. It is also how I was raised and a pretty strong cornerstone of my religious beliefs. My values are not really something I see changing, though I did try to examine my own beliefs about this type of play this summer, which is what is causing me to come looking for advice. 

 

So anyway, I welcome perspectives on how my step-daughter (to whom I am very close and who I have co-parented since she was an infant) might be hearing what we are saying, and how she might feel. I am open to suggestions on how to best handle the differences in expectations between the two houses and help her to navigate them. And I am receptive to the idea that her unique situation living between two houses may need different handling than the same situation with one of my biological kids. 

 

And just because I respond or even disagree, it doesn't mean I'm not hearing you or even taking in what you said, I'm just continuing to discuss it... I think over the internet it often sounds like arguing, but at least from me you can consider it more of a discussion.


Parenting four little monkeys (11, 8, 6, and 4) with the love of my life. Making it up as I go.
aricha is offline  
#8 of 9 Old 08-04-2011, 01:49 PM
 
greenemami's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2007
Location: PA
Posts: 1,779
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 10 Post(s)

We've struggled with a similar issue and it has been very frustrating for me as well.  Dsd is 6 years older than dd and there have been many times when I have walked in to find them playing games about "evil witches" dying in violent ways or other violent games that I am very uncomfortable with, especially since they started when dd was only like 2 years old.  Most everyone I've talked to about this has said, well she would have been exposed to this eventually, but that doesn't mean that it makes me happy that she started playing this at such a young age, especially since she was more imitating and playing along and didn't really understand it.  I am okay with being the stricter house in terms of dsd, but it is a struggle to not make her feel "bad" for playing these sorts of things.  I try to encourage positive games that do not involve dying or violence or "bad guys" all the time, but it is a struggle.  It makes me a little sad to think that dd could have had a few more years of more innocent play though in other circumstances. 

 

It sounds like you really made an effort to make it a family issue and didn't blame it on dsd at all.  From what you wrote, I think you did a nice job talking about the larger problem instead of pinning it on dsd as the one who introduced Star Wars etc.. I do think it is okay to limit things you are uncomfortable with at your own home, even if she is being sent a different message elsewhere. 


Single mama namaste.gif to dd dust.gifand ds fencing.gif, loving my dsd always reading.gif .
greenemami is online now  
#9 of 9 Old 08-05-2011, 05:24 AM - Thread Starter
 
aricha's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: Vermont
Posts: 1,166
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)

BTW. re-reading my post about our family meeting, I can see that I did sound like we focused just on Star Wars, but it actually was a much more general discussion. I think when I wrote I was thinking mostly about the impact on my step-daughter and the issue as it related to step-parenting, so my emphasis was on the part that related to her. But it was a much more general discussion than how I relayed it on here. Sorry for the confusion... re-reading my own post, I would have reacted the same way, which was to say that I was singling out my step-daughter. 


Parenting four little monkeys (11, 8, 6, and 4) with the love of my life. Making it up as I go.
aricha is offline  
Reply

Quick Reply
Message:
Drag and Drop File Upload
Drag files here to attach!
Upload Progress: 0
Options

Register Now

In order to be able to post messages on the Mothering Forums forums, you must first register.
Please enter your desired user name, your email address and other required details in the form below.
User Name:
If you do not want to register, fill this field only and the name will be used as user name for your post.
Password
Please enter a password for your user account. Note that passwords are case-sensitive.
Password:
Confirm Password:
Email Address
Please enter a valid email address for yourself.
Email Address:

Log-in

Human Verification

In order to verify that you are a human and not a spam bot, please enter the answer into the following box below based on the instructions contained in the graphic.



User Tag List

Thread Tools
Show Printable Version Show Printable Version
Email this Page Email this Page


Forum Jump: 

Posting Rules  
You may post new threads
You may post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are Off