What’s the difference between books and movies?

Censorship. Okay, that’s a big, nasty word that on the surface I don’t agree with at all. However, I realize as a mother, I censor what my children are exposed to every day. I actually let them read practically anything with the understanding if something makes them uncomfortable or they don’t understand it, they should come and talk whatever it is over with me. This probably makes some parents cringe and, I’ll admit, when Sean spouted back a synopsis of one of the books I’d given him, the heavy material shocked me. He wasn’t bothered and understood what was presented well enough for us to have a really good conversation. This speaks well of my intention not to shelter my children but bring them up as thinking beings despite the small number of years they’ve managed to accumulate.

That’s all very well, but why am I bothering to comment about it? Well, today I censored them swiftly and without thought to the possible expansion of their view of the world. They ended up watching a bit of a movie about small time drug dealers being attacked by their neighbors and in trouble with their buyer. Ever other word out of the characters’ mouths seemed to be a foul one and the content between drug dealing and use, and murder and assault was extremely mature.

Okay, how is this different than reading a book about an abused child who splits into multiple personalities in an effort to handle it?

Was the problem the television being a more “in your face” presentation? Was it specifically the foul words that could get the kids in trouble if they repeated them at school? Was it hypocrisy on my part to be open in one area and censorious in another?

I don’t know the answers to any of those questions, but thought I’d throw this thought up to all of you. Is there a difference when mature topics are presented in a fictional setting between books and television or movies? And what do I teach my children by making that distinction so pointedly. On the one hand, I said, we’ll discuss it and figure it out. On the other, I came down as authoritative parent figure “You Shall Not Pass.” Right or wrong, I’m uncomfortable with the inconsistency and my inability to come up with a straight answer, not that this will in any way affect my decision to let them read what they want to or to limit their TV privileges. It just means I’ll worry the concept in my head until I decide something, possibly just that I’m happy the way things are, contradictory or not.

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