DEAR HARRIETTE: My 10-year-old daughter has been begging to watch "Mean Girls." All of her friends have seen it, even though it is PG-13. My husband and I do not want to expose her to movies like this yet because we think she is still too young. She is a bit immature, and we are nervous that she will not really understand what is going on in the movie. We did not let our oldest daughter watch PG-13 movies until she was actually 13, so we do not want to change the rules. Every time she asks, it turns into an argument. We feel bad punishing her, but we think that is the only way she will learn not to beg for things when we say no. What should we do? -- Strict Parents, Manhattan, New York
DEAR STRICT PARENTS: You are dealing with a number of issues here. First, recent studies suggest that PG-13 movies tend to feature more violence than some R-rated movies, which feature more sexual behavior. Showing violence to children is not recommended, of course.
That said, your daughter is likely to be exposed to both violence and mean girls in her young life. Your job as a parent is to teach her how to behave when it happens. Watching the film "Mean Girls" with her can provide an opportunity for you to talk to her about appropriate and inappropriate behavior. You can talk candidly about what happens when children bully others. This can be a valuable learning experience.
As far as changing the rules with your younger child, do know that it is common for this to happen with families. Your younger child is naturally exposed to more experiences because she has an older sibling. You may need to adjust accordingly.