In a letter to Dear Prudence, Emily Yoffe’s provocative advice column, a mother writes in to ask if the rules her son’s playmate must abide by at home, many of them allegedly faith based– no video games, no cartoons, no superheroes, no Harry Potter anything– need apply when that friend is at her house.
The mom writing in says she and her husband disagree on how vigilant they need to be when the friend is in their care.
“My husband says we should just let him watch and read the stuff and that his parents’ rules can be for their house, but we don’t have to follow them.”
The question is made all the more urgent by the mom’s confession that her husband is threatening to take the boys to a movie on an upcoming weekend playdate.
“Matt will be staying with us this weekend and my husband wants to take the boys to see a movie of which I know Matt’s parents wouldn’t approve, but one that is age appropriate for 11-year-old boys. Is my husband right? Can we disregard Matt’s parents’ wishes or should we follow them as they seem to trust us to do?”
Dear Prudence offers practical advice mixed with plenty of personal opinion. She first makes the assumption that the child’s parents have given this family a “list of forbiddens.” It’s unclear if they have or not. She then goes on to say that since these children are 11-year-old boys, expectations must remain in check.
“If Matt picks up a copy of Harry Potter or plays a video game while you’re in the other room, so be it. But taking him to a movie when the parents have explicitly forbidden such evil entertainment is a violation of their trust and will only smash the relationship of the two boys.”
“Discuss with the parents what your plans are and see if you can get them to sign off. If you can’t, come up with some other entertainment. I do wonder why parents think they make their restrictive beliefs more appealing by trying to keep their child from experiencing the world.”
This all reminds me of one of my best friends in grade school whose mother forbade television and junk food. My after-school agenda regularly consisted of Gilligan’s Island, Oreo Cookies, and milk. While my friend’s mother never asked my mother to refrain from giving her daughter cookies and letting her watch TV, it was clear by this girl’s voracious appetite for all things otherwise verboten, especially Fritos, that she knew she was getting away with murder at our house.
That said, I would be annoyed, angry even, if someone took either of my daughters to a movie without checking with me first. And that has nothing to do with my faith, or lack thereof.
I will confess, however to feeling guilty when a recent small guest in our home announced it was her first time eating Skippy peanut butter because her mom only allows her to eat the “natural kind.” Not that I thought it would damage the child, but once a kid tries mainstream peanut butter, she’s pretty much ruined for life.