Q: We have two kids -- twins who will be graduating from high school soon and spreading their wings. I'm having a hard time adjusting to the idea our influence as parents is almost finished. Is that a normal reaction?
Jim: Many Moms and Dads think their parenting responsibilities are over once their kids move out. But that's not always the case. In fact, the empty nest years can offer some of your greatest moments of influence as a parent -- if you're prepared.
Throughout their teen years, kids usually strive for more and more independence and often don't listen to their parents' instruction. But once they're old enough and leave home, reality hits. These newly christened adults are suddenly confronted with budget constraints, job challenges and relationship pressures --with no safety net from you. As life's pressure builds, young people often turn back to their parents for guidance. For Mom and Dad, it's an opportunity to share the wisdom their children probably rejected in high school.
But here's the catch. Your kids will only turn to you if you've maintained a strong relationship with them. In part, that means allowing them to find their way without constantly rushing in to offer your advice before they ask for it. Stay connected, encourage them and let them know you're available. Then be patient -- and wait. In time, they may seek you out, and you can experience a whole new level of connection and influence with your adult children.
Q: As a parent, I'm slightly uneasy about the way that companies like Netflix, Amazon, etc. are producing "original" shows that stream straight into our homes. It seems like there are fewer (if any) content restraints and something of an "anything goes" approach. Am I overreacting?
Bob Waliszewski, Director, Plugged In: Although I may be in the minority, I'm not a big fan of the current "we're doing our own original programming" craze. That's because here at Plugged In, we're finding that many of the shows we've reviewed would be rated R (even NC-17 -- or should be) if the MPAA rated television programs.
Last year, a record number of scripted series -- nearly 500 -- were aired. The majority of those shows would not be anywhere close to what we'd call "suitable for family viewing." In fact, many of them are what I would describe as outright pornographic. That concerns me greatly because I'm aware of the damage that sexual content on TV can cause -- to an individual and to a marriage.
A growing number of "direct distribution" outlets have no qualms about producing shows with explicit nudity and egregious sexual activity. It's more than just HBO (with "Game of Thrones" and "Westworld"). Some of the more obvious examples on streaming services include Hulu's "The Handmaid's Tale" and Netflix's canceled "Gypsy" as well as some episodes of "The Crown." Amazon's short-lived "adaptation" of "The Last Tycoon" portrayed sexual content that I doubt F. Scott Fitzgerald would've written. Personally, when reviewing Netflix's "Glow," I had to stop after about 30 minutes because the nudity and graphic sex were beyond the pale -- even for this seasoned entertainment critic.
All of this begs the question: How are these shows affecting children and teens who are watching (not to mention adults)? And yes, the young ones are watching. So you have a right to be concerned. Lots of the original content being produced by streaming services does indeed push all sorts of boundaries, and much of it can be "no holds barred." If you subscribe, most likely you'll at least find parental controls. But perhaps the best parental control would be not subscribing at all.
For a wide range of media reviews from a family-friendly perspective, see PluggedIn.com.
Jim Daly is a husband and father, an author, and president of Focus on the Family and host of the Focus on the Family radio program. Catch up with him at www.jimdalyblog.com or at www.facebook.com/DalyFocus.
INTERNATIONAL COPYRIGHT SECURED. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.