Let's Go To The Movies

Kids and R-rated films

We met family in North Myrtle Beach for a few days over spring break.  Although the weather was cooler than we had anticipated, my children still enjoyed hanging out with their cousins, swimming, playing miniature golf, staying up late, and trekking to get ice cream on the golf cart.  Kid stuff!

The girls tackled the outlet mall one afternoon and that evening, the guys took in a late night movie.  Since I do NOT do horror films, I was not disappointed that I didn’t get to join them to see The Cabin In The Woods.  (If you haven’t seen this film and you are a child of the 80’s like me, think Jason/Friday the 13th)  They grabbed the late show, 9:45 pm, so it was after midnight when they arrived back to the house.

The next morning over breakfast, the guys were telling us about a mother in the theatre with her 3 children: approximate ages 7, 5 & 3.


I nearly spit my coffee out.  My first reaction was, “Did you say something to her?  Were the kids okay?”

After discussing even HOW they were allowed in the theatre, all I could think about was their little minds and how it was going to affect them.  I am THE person that has nightmares for weeks after seeing a scary movie.  And I am an adult.  How could someone think this is possibly “okay” to do with a child?   It makes me anxious just thinking about them going to sleep and the images to which they were exposed.

Because I can’t protect them.

Had I been in that theatre, I would not have sat in silence.  (I say that but would I really have done something?) Even as I write this, my mind starts strategizing about how I could reach out and protect them, if only for a short time.  Even days later, I am worried about them, where they are, who is watching over them, are they protected?

And then I get angry:  How can a mother be so selfish?  Are there laws against this?

So I ask you:  (in the words of ABC’s John Quinones) What Would You Do?

Jennifer Bilbro is the Founder of OutToEatWithKids.com, an online resource and mobile application designed to help families search for economical & healthy children’s meals. Visit OutToEatWithKids.com for more information or submit your restaurant info to jennifer@outtoeatwithkids.com

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Mark Winter April 20, 2012 at 01:40 PM
I find it interesting, Ms. Bilbro, that in your previous blog about children in restaurants you didn't think that people shouldn't complain when someone's child is being unruly or that a restaurant owner shoudn't decide whether or not he wants to allow children in his establishment. Now you are upset because someone didn't say something to this woman about bringing her children to an R rated movie and that the theater mangement allowed her to bring them in. While I agree that this woman exercised some extremely poor judgement she was, as Mr. Allen points out, not breaking any laws. Neither was the theater management. Saying something to this woman would most likely have resulted in a confrontation. And you would have been in the wrong for instigating it. We see examples of bad parenting every day. It's not our job, nor our business, to step in and try to correct others behavior. Especially when they are not endangering themselves or their children. I seriously doubt these children will suffer any long term damage from seeing this movie.
Christie April 20, 2012 at 03:36 PM
Mark, you totally miss the point of this blog. Jennifer's blog about restaurants banning children focused on how a child's behavior affected adults. This post deals with how a mother's incredibly poor judgement affects a defenseless child. I have seen the movie in question and can tell you subjecting a 7 year old to that level of violence, gore, and language borders on child abuse. Yes, bringing a child to an R rated movie is not breaking the law. However, the management of this theater would have been within their rights to decline service to this mom for this particular movie. Frankly, I don't know how anyone could argue that the theater should allow her to subject her children to this type of film. I am not sure I would have had the courage to say anything to this particular mom, but I feel better knowing that Jennifer and Kelly would have the courage to stand up for these kids.
Mark Winter April 23, 2012 at 10:23 PM
No, Christie, I do get the point. What I am saying is that Ms. Bilbro wants restaurant owners and patrons to look the other way when children act unruly but expects theater managers and patrons to step in and tell a parent when they are using bad judgement. Yes, the management of the theater may well have been within their rights to refuse to allow this woman to bring her children to an R rated movie, but why should they have to "step in" when this woman is doing nothing illegal? It's not their job to parent her children, it's hers. And while you may not like what she does, it's not your right to "step in" and say something. If you or Ms. Bilbro did, then what prevents this woman from telling you to go do something to yourself or worse, like punch you in the nose. You would be the one in the wrong because you initiated the confrontation. So think about that before you decide to raise someone else's kids. As far as bordering on child abuse, are you serious? Give me a break.
Jennifer Bilbro April 24, 2012 at 12:56 PM
Christie & Mark, thank you for your comments. Every situation is different. There are moments when it is best to not get involved, and other instances when we certainly should. A brief moment of a crying child may not warrant a restaurant owner speaking to a patron, but throwing food, a long period of disruptive behavior, or a child screaming inconsolably for 15 minutes may. As a mother, I'd be offering assistance to the family before I complained to a manager. (in a helpful and kind way) In the case of the R rated film, children under 17 can see an R rated film if accompanied by a parent/guardian. Does that make it right? Of course not; however, I am within my rights to express an opinion to anyone. If the mother chooses to react violently, then she is doing something illegal. And since I am a mother, it would be difficult for me not to get involved when it comes down to protecting a child.
Maya April 27, 2012 at 07:19 PM
There is a big difference between reaching out to help a child that is being actively abused and trying to dictate which movies are appropriate for other people's children to watch. To say that these children need to be protected, and to still be agonizing over it, is in my opinion an overreaction. You have decided that since you personally are traumatized by scary movies, that all children will react the same way. I think that is how the discrimination and inequality in our country happens. People make moral or emotional judgments based on their own feelings and believe that the rules that make them comfortable should apply to the rest of the population.


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