Parental Guidance

Photo by Liane Metzler on Unsplash

The following presentation has been rated PG for parental guidance. It is not recommended for persons under 15 years of age.

Any regular TV or movie watcher will by now be completely desensitised to such classification warnings preceding tv shows and movies. But what do they mean? As a new parent, what guidance am I supposed to provide when watching a PG show with a child under 15?

What should I expect in a PG movie? The classification board claims that a PG movie should only have “themes with an impact of no higher than mild”. What the hell does “mild impact” mean? Is it the movie equivalent of a car collision where the airbag does not deploy — just a fender bender? Or the equivalent of having an open palm slap across the face, but no fist! Maybe I am taking this too literally, but then again if someone was going to mildly impact my child’s face I would at least know what parental guidance to provide: I would yell out ‘duck!’.

Themes with mild impact are considered those that are “confusing or upsetting to a child”. Gee whiz that narrows it down. I’m guessing eating, shitting and sleeping are safe, but the rest of life is wide open. In fairness, modern gadgets and social media are also hardly confusing to the youth. I am certain if Melania would allow Trump to see his youngest child, Barron would have explained how the spellchecker works and we would never have had ‘covfefe’. But she probably keeps Donald away from the impressionable boy knowing that one of the main prerequisites of parental guidance requires the parent to be mature enough to provide guidance.

I am still no closer to knowing what mildly impactful themes may cause confusion and upset to children under 15. Naively, I would reach for the staples of prudery, namely sex and nudity, however turns out these require an M rating, so it can’t be them. But hang on. A movie which requires parental guidance can’t have sex or nudity yet an M rated movie does not require parental guidance.

For those not keeping track, it appears that the classification board is of the opinion that once a human offspring reaches 15 years of age, it is genetically predisposed to understanding how sex works. Either that or on the 15th birthday precisely the parents must have ‘the talk’.

I never had “the talk”. I did grow up in the days of dial-up internet. Learning about sex from the internet in those days was a lot more thoughtful and patient process. You would request the download of Pamela Anderson’s Playboy centrefold and as the lines of pixels slowly filled up the screen you had plenty of time to contemplate the deeper meaning of sexuality. In those days, premature ejaculation meant finishing before the download was complete.

Perhaps I can look to what society considers parental guidance. Perhaps it is better to leave such guidance to the professionals. After all, we demand accredited teachers for English, maths, music, arts, geography and history. But some people get very upset at the notion of schools teaching kids about sex and gender orientation. While we as a society are happy for professionals to teach kids about oil painting, we seem hell bent on reserving the more risk-filled of life’s lessons to ourselves as parents. If a kid fails at oil paintings, worse case scenario is that you end up with the next Picasso. Yet when it comes to potentially life threatening behaviour, such as STDs contracted through irresponsible sex or car accidents due to risky driving, we demand the right to pass on our own brand of ignorance and misconceptions, fervently fighting back the influx of new ideas and objective reasoning.

So where does all this leave me with PG rated shows? Anyone looking to buy a second-hand TV?




Exploring the responsibilities of parenting through questioning my understanding of the world around me and learning more about it by travelling.

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Exploring the responsibilities of parenting through questioning my understanding of the world around me and learning more about it by travelling.

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