A decade into the parenting game, my husband and I are primed and ready for "The Talk". We've had generations go before us, we've seen friends march down the path years ahead of us, even some of our siblings have blazed the trail with kids recently enough that we can mimic exact "Talk" wording. The playbook is clear.
But, of course, what kind of parenting game would it be if we didn't get a few curve balls? Low and behold, this weekend we did.
When our 9 year old went to a fantastically fun-filled sleepover with a family we adore and enjoy, it launched a whole new kind of "Talk" for our family.
"The" Talk? No.
The "Share and include everyone and remember your manners, even when you've had about 93 minutes of sleep?" Talk? Uh uh.
What about the "Your private parts are private" Talk? Thankfully, no.
Nope, Our. New. Talk. Was "Your friend's parents allow media (in this case, movies) we don't".
What a talk it was.
We know we need to arm kids with tools to "not do" things their friends do. We understand we need to coach kids on how to extract from peer situations they feel are wrong or dangerous. We get that we want to empower kids to stand up for themselves and to stand up for others in the face of mean behavior and any form of physical and virtual bullying.
But, now, because all types of media float at everyone's fingertips, it turns out we have a new to-do:
How to ready our kids to live within our family media rules even when friends' parents advocate something different.
What's ok for kids xyz-age to watch? Play? Listen to? Read?
Mmmm....turns out - that's a whole other sort of fifty shades of grey.
And - thanks to that infamous Moore's law about computing curves/speeds/super powers etc. doubling every two years - it feels like you're on the hook for an entirely new kind of conversation for every child you have a year or so apart in your family.
We talk a lot with our kids about how we wouldn't feed them trash for food and, logically - in fact, even more importantly - we won't feed them trash for their brains. We also talk about how some movies or books are fantastic and full of great elements (a la The Hunger Games or The Beloved-and-Seemingly-Sacred Harry Potter), but they don't make sense for all kids at all ages.
We can keep those rules in place at our home. But, once kids - even in first grade - hit the playground, never mind a sleepover - all bets are off. Kids absorb "second-hand-media". Whatever other kids watch, play, read, listen to - makes it home in some form to your family.
You can't influence the playground (yet), but you should be able to influence what media your kid absorbs at a friend's home if you can talk about it - with them - as well as with their friend's parents.
Arm kids with the language and easy "outs" for how to keep your family guidelines in place. Phrases like - can we check on the show with my parents. Or - do you use SmartFeed to check out titles? or - these are 3 shows (movies) that I know are good with my family - can make the conversation easier for your kids.
Older kids can share their own playlists to get in front of the issues with great titles they think friends will like and parents will approve.
Just as your kids may need practice describing family guidelines without alienating buddies, you may want to stock up on a few descriptions of what works or what doesn't for your family. You can get in front of the disconnects by sharing your SmartFeed playlists - stocked with plenty of ideas that will delight kids and still fit family priorities. You can share premade lists straight from the SmartFeed or build customized lists specific to your friends / families.
Quickly share pre-built Expert Playlists - grab one of 100s of lists based on character traits, providers you have in place, academic ideas, things kids love - and more!
Get started making Personalized Playlists - set up age or family profiles to get recommendations. Review your recommendations to create your own playlists. Or skip profiles and begin sorting our database to find titles you like and save to your playlists.
For more ideas on navigating differing parenting media philosophies with friends, read up on these parenting tech and media tools or help sites should you need: