Q: Since my daughter became a teenager, it feels like I'm raising a little monster. I'm ashamed to say that sometimes I just want to pull away and separate from all the drama. What do you suggest?
Jim: I've got two teens in the house, so I understand. That sweet little toddler who used to meet you at the front door every night after work doesn't even want to be in the same room with you now.
But remember this when your teenager's attitude makes home life feel like a monster movie: Just help her get through it. A teen's emotions are often in turmoil, which can make them easily angered and irritated. (Just think back to how you felt at that age.) That means you'll have to work hard to maintain boundaries and respect in the home.
Of course, if your child's behavior is dangerous or out of control, seek professional help. Otherwise, understand that this time in your daughter's life has to run its course. And, most of the time, it will. Your job is to help her keep her outer life stable despite the emotions she's feeling inside. And someday, she'll thank you for it.
For more tips on helping teens thrive, go to FocusOnTheFamily.com.
Q: I have never understood movie ratings -- especially what standards are used to decide how a film is rated. And who makes that decision? Can you explain the process?
Bob Waliszewski, Director, Plugged In: While the folks at the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) wear a lot of hats, they're best known for rating films for content issues with the familiar G, PG, PG-13, R or NC-17. But here's some history: Long before these letter-ratings existed, early MPAA pioneers drafted a self-regulatory ethics list in 1930, known as the Production (or Hays) Code, outlining dos and don'ts concerning what could be shown in all American movies.
The 1930 Hays Code specifically prohibited nudity, profanity, illegal drug use, clear depiction of violent crime, etc. It can best be summarized by its first General Principle: "No picture shall be produced which will lower the moral standards of those who see it." (For the record, though, it also exhibited contemporary racial bias.)
Obviously, those guidelines didn't hold up as studios continually pushed the envelope. Finally, in 1968, the MPAA transitioned to the familiar system of letter-ratings, which advise viewers of roughly what a movie does portray (instead of mandating what it can or can't).
Fortunately, there are still films today that uphold the mostly forgotten standards of yesteryear. Many don't, of course, and as a result really do "lower the moral standards of those who see (them)."
What's more, today's anonymous group of MPAA reviewers -- which sadly represents (primarily) the interests of the major studios -- uses nebulous "criteria" for ratings that leave me scratching my head most of the time. For instance, the MPAA's PG-13 is the group's way of communicating that you should be perfectly comfortable letting your child view any film so rated once he hits his 13th birthday. I take issue with that because (1) not all 13-year-olds have the same maturity, and (2) a lot of what passes for "family fare" these days would have been rated R just a handful of years ago -- by the same group!
Since the MPAA's ratings basically can't be trusted, a better approach -- although I run the risk here of coming across self-serving -- is utilizing an online resource like our very own PluggedIn.com, which spells out objectionable content. We don't tell you to go or not to go; we just equip you with the detailed information of what's in a film (music, TV and games, too), so you can decide for yourself.
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.
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