• Parenting Advice From Bill Maher

    03-28-12 Editor’s Note

    By Eric Messinger

    One of the best bits of parenting advice that I’ve ever
    heard came from a most unlikely source: the comedian and talk-show host, Bill
    Maher. Publicly, Maher has long indicated that he does not want to be a
    father. Still, I often allude to Maher when I’m thinking about children
    and pop culture or news reports that may be too violent or sexual, or inappropriate
    in some way. Last week, I thought of his perspective again when I got
    caught up in a discussion on Facebook raised by a mom who decided that her
    12-year-old daughter was not ready for the Hunger
    Games
    movie. — 

    On Facebook, the mom framed the discussion this way: “I am
    not letting my 12-year-old see Hunger
    Games
    . Just seems too violent. My friend, who is a movie reviewer and
    who cares about my child, was supporting and encouraging this decision, and I
    want her to be a kid longer. Plus, she never read the book(s). Am I a bad
    mother?”

    Her friend the movie viewer weighed in too: “…the director
    Gary Ross did the best he could at desensitizing the novel’s graphic violence
    and keeping the studio happy but it’s the message of the movie that bothers me.
    What exactly are these teens winning and why are they forced to kill? Why not
    have the government just feed them? I worry teens will imitate the film at
    summer camps. Anyway, for my review go to screenqueen.com.”

    My friend, of course, was not being a bad mother, but her
    comment made me wonder if I was being a bad father. Although I had a general
    sense of the Hunger Games’ darkly
    imagined future—in which  kids compete in a televised battle to the
    death—I hadn’t really given much thought to whether it was appropriate for my soon-to-be
    12-year-old daughter because she seemed to really like the books and many of
    her friends did too—and so did many parents. Her plan, for weeks now, has
    been to see it this weekend with a few good friends, as part of one of kid’s
    birthday celebration.

    So how do I think about material that may be somehow too raw
    and edgy for my daughter? Where to draw the line?

    Here’s where Bill Maher is my guide.

    Maher was debating a point about whether the Bill
    Clinton-Monica Lewinsky scandal placed a horrible burden on parents who now had
    to discuss sexual matters with their young children who were hearing terms like
    “oral sex” or “blow job” for the first time. As I remember it, he argued
    that the particular concern was way overblown (so to speak) because kids only
    care what they care about and they process information in ways that they
    can. So, in this case, a sea of 9-year-olds were not likely to start
    taking up an active interest in oral sex. Period. Most were not
    likely to even ask about it—nor would they want to hear more from their
    parents. 

    I thought he was right, and I have found that to be true as
    a parent. As a general rule, kids handle information in a way that works
    for them. I’m sure my girl loves the plotting of Hunger Games without getting too caught up in its dark vision. To
    her, it’s a fantasy world. I let her watch Glee too because she loves the music and drama and I think the sex
    stuff, for now, is kind of peripheral to her consciousness. (Wishful
    thinking?) 

    And when it’s not, when she wants or needs more information,
    then we’ll talk. (I hope.)

    Inspired by the Facebook posts, I checked in with her about
    seeing The Hunger Games, and she
    didn’t think it was such a big deal and that she could always turn away at
    parts that seemed too violent—and she was really looking forward to seeing it
    with her friends.

    Rather than question her about its post-apocalyptic vision,
    I left the conversation there.

    Eric Messinger

    emessinger@manhattanmedia.com

  • Calendar

    Chinese Ribbon Dance Workshop At Battery Park City Library

    Ages 4 and up are invited to the Battery Park City Library for a Chinese Ribbon Dance Workshop! Margaret Yuen,... [more]

    Family Fishing Night In Prospect Park

    Families with children ages 8 and up can cast their line in the Prospect Park pond during Family Fishing Night.... [more]

    Truth Or Dare: Honesty and the High Holy Days At West End Synagogue

    The West End Synagogue will explore the topic of honesty in Judaism during a one-hour family program entitled "Honesty and... [more]

    Little Makers: Chill Out With A Fizzy Drink At The New York Hall of Science

    Want to know the secrets behind citrus fruits? Come to the New York Hall of  Science on Friday, August 22nd... [more]

    Movie: “The Wizard of Oz” In Hudson River Park

    Come to Hudson River Park's Pier 46 on Friday, August 22nd, at 8:30pm to watch 1939's The Wizard of Oz as the sun... [more]

    Symbolic Selfies At The Children’s Museum of the Arts

    For the young artist in your life, come to the Children's Museum of the Arts on Friday, August 22nd between... [more]

    Arthur Ashe Kids’ Day At USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center

    Tennis fans and otherwise will have a blast at the Arthur Ashe Kids’ Day in Flushing Meadows, Corona Park! With... [more]

    Blues BBQ At Hudson River Park

    Combine your family’s love of Blues and BBQ! Hudson River Park’s Pier 84 is hosting this scrumptious festival with America’s... [more]

    Sprinkler Day At Asphalt Green

    Get some relief from the summer heat at Asphalt Green's Sprinkler Day on Saturday, August 23rd.  Starting at 10:30 a.m., your kids... [more]

    Brighton Jubilee Festival At Brighton Beach

    Come to the annual Brighton Jubilee Festival on Sunday, August 24th to experience multiple entertainment stages, shopping booths, kiddie rides,... [more]

    NYC Volkswagen Traffic Jam At Governors Island

    If your little ones can’t get enough of cars, take them to see this classic VW show! The NYC Volkswagen Traffic... [more]

    August Hip Tot Family Day In Greenwood Park

    Greenwood Park is hosting an end-of-summer party for its monthly Hip Tot Family Day. There will be live music, crafts,... [more]

    Pterosaurs: Flight in the Age of Dinosaurs at American Museum of Natural History

    Take a walk back in time to when dinosaurs roamed the earth. In AMNH's latest exhibit, Pterosaurs: Flight in the... [more]

    Marvel’s Avengers S.T.A.T.I.O.N. Exhibit At Discovery Times Square

    Suit up for the Marvel's Avengers S.T.A.T.I.O.N. exhibit at Discovery Times Square! Visitors will be given access to "intelligence files"... [more]

    Art Adventure Mondays At The Jewish Museum

    Explore the galleries of the Jewish Museum with stories, sketching, and exciting themes each week.... [more]

    Pterosaurs: Flight in the Age of Dinosaurs at American Museum of Natural History

    Take a walk back in time to when dinosaurs roamed the earth. In AMNH's latest exhibit, Pterosaurs: Flight in the... [more]

    Blue Man Group

    This literally blue trio combines theater, art, and technology into a fascinatingly original performance that’s hard to describe. It’s recommended... [more]

    Cinderella on Broadway

    Originally produced for television in 1957 and starring an up-and-coming Julie Andrews, this Rodgers & Hammerstein musical made its Broadway... [more]

    Pterosaurs: Flight in the Age of Dinosaurs at American Museum of Natural History

    Take a walk back in time to when dinosaurs roamed the earth. In AMNH's latest exhibit, Pterosaurs: Flight in the... [more]

    Blue Man Group

    This literally blue trio combines theater, art, and technology into a fascinatingly original performance that’s hard to describe. It’s recommended... [more]

    Cinderella on Broadway

    Originally produced for television in 1957 and starring an up-and-coming Julie Andrews, this Rodgers & Hammerstein musical made its Broadway... [more]

  • Sign up here for the

    New York Family

    newsletters

    Thank you, your sign-up request was successful! Please check your e-mail inbox.
    Given email address is already subscribed, thank you!
    Please provide a valid email address.
    Oops. Something went wrong. Please try again later.
  • Latest Issue
  • New York Family Guides