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WWYD - ex allowing 6 yr old to watch inappropriate DVDs/TV

(17 Posts)
mindablankforthis Thu 28-Jul-11 11:47:46

Not too sure how to deal with this situation, need some opinions on how to address this issue without creating a huge blow out.

Background - DD is 6. Split with ex 3 years ago. Ex had an 'unconventional' upbringing. His mother died when he was 7, and he practically brought himself up as his dad was working alot, sister moved out and older brother couldn't give a toss. He was allowed to watch 18 films i.e. horrors etc. from the age 4/5 - his mum was quite ill, little adult supervision and older sister hasn't got the brains she was born with (she was the one who let him watch the films). He told me of an incident where both he and a friend (same age - 5) watched alien together 'cos his sister let them, and his friend's parent went ape shit 'cos the boy was traumatised by the film - ex tells this story with a smirk. He does not think it did him any harm watching 18 films from a young age, and it's impossible to get him to understand that it's not appropriate for our DD to be watching films/tv aimed at an older age range.

Before we split up, ex was trying to get our DD to watch Doctor Who, despite the fact I told him it wasn't suitable for her to watch (aged 18mths - 2.5yrs). She was clearly terrified of his big dalek toy that he got as a xmas present from a friend, but he continued to play with it when he was with DD alone 'to try and get her used to it'. She hated the voice and the noises it made, and eventually he gave up 'cos he couldn't demonstrate that DD actually liked it and was not terrified of it/the programme. I was able to do something about this as we were still together and he did, up to a point, listen to me when I asked him not to let DD watch things like this, or have to put up with him playing with his 'toy' when it clearly scared her. He now no longer pays any attention to what I say or ask of him.

We have had ongoing 'discussions' about what is and isn't appropriate to watch, and each time he asks me if I think 'x' is OK to watch, when I say not yet, and give him reasons why, he simply ignores me and lets DD watch it anyway. It was PG rating that was under debate, until recently when he is now pushing 12A films and 15s too. What I am also struggling with is that he is getting DD to lie to me about what he is letting her watch. She can't lie to me, she always ends up telling me but not after she's gone along with whatever lie he tells me, and she is seeing that he can lie so easily with no conscience whatsoever. I know it won't be long before he moves onto 18 films, as she's older than he was when he started watching that stuff. He's trying her bit by bit on older stuff, gauging how she reacts and then pushes things further.

He doesn't like kids programmes, continually tells her he hates what she watches and tries to push his tastes onto her. He cannot just let her enjoy age appropriate kids stuff, which she does enjoy, and seems desperate to get her to grow up beyond her years. I do not want that for her.

I'm more angry at him encouraging her to lie to me, but am worried about the escalation of inappropriate films/tv programmes. He cannot be reasoned with, because of his upbringing, and how he thinks it didn't affect him (I beg to differ on that, but that's a whole other thread). I don't want to be the bad guy all the time, but I cannot stand back and allow him to keep doing this, especially the lying to me.

So, WWYD? How would you deal with this situation?

berkshirefem Thu 28-Jul-11 12:44:36

I was all ready to jump on and say “you can’t control what he does at his house and you must let him get on with it as he’s her parent too” But I have to say, this rings massive alarm bells. I may be totally wrong but it seems almost close to grooming to me… Getting a young child used to watching inappropriate material and starting with soft doctor who then moving to 15 certificates and getting her to lie about it… Big worry…

The PG stuff isn't for you to decide because it's "parental guidence" and he is her parent. But the other stuff is concerning and more so, as you said, the encouraging her to lie.

Have you asked her about it? Do you see them together much? What would he say if you suggested this to him?

mindablankforthis Thu 28-Jul-11 13:17:16

I agree with the PG issue, but the problem with that was the things I told him would be an issue i.e. things that would cause nightmares, he dismissed, and let her watch anyway. His 'parental guidance' is non existent, for the reasons I've listed. Under normal circumstances, with a 'normal' person, I'd be able to discuss what is and isn't appropriate, and we could then agree or compromise if he was able to convince me I was being over protective. But, this situation isn't like that unfortunately.

It's tricky trying to talk to DD. I've explained to her already that the number on the DVD i.e. age limit means that she isn't allowed to watch certain films. She knows this, and understands this, but is then being told by her dad that I'm wrong and that she is allowed to watch 12A films and 15s because he is with her when she is watching them. I tried to explain to her she needs to tell her dad that she isn't allowed to watch 12As or 15s but it's really unfair to put that responsibility on her shoulders, and she can't stop him from putting the DVD on, especially when he tells her he thinks it's OK to watch and to ignore what I say.

This all came up this morning when DD told me that she had seen the 5th harry potter film at the weekend with her dad. I told him in the car, in front of DD, that she wasn't supposed to be watching the films as she's too young, and he argued that she was allowed into see 12A films as long as she was with an adult. He took her to see Cars 2 at the cinema and usually drops her back home fairly quickly. But unusually, he kept her 'til about 8.30pm. I asked him what they were doing and he said playing octonauts (her favourite TV programme ATM). He did not mention harry potter films at all. When I asked how her day was and what they got up to (not in a grilling sort of thing, just generally showing an interest as I usually do) she told me they played at octonauts, the same thing he told me by text. Today she let slip she's seen the 5th film, and was upset that she let me know as she'd been told not to tell me. I assured her she wouldn't be in trouble for telling me the truth, and then she told me they were going to watch 5 & 6, but couldn't squeeze in 6 as they ran out of time. It's the lying, and the fact that the age range of films they are watching is going up and up. He's trying to get to the point of then taking her to see the latest film which I know is 15. He's also let her watch family guy too.

It all seems to be moving on so much quicker than I was prepared for, or thought he would try. This is where I'm struggling. And the lying too. I'm raging about that. I cannot believe he thinks it acceptable to encourage her to lie like that, and I'm looking for ideas on how to address that with him and her, so as to avoid a major blow out with him.

berkshirefem Thu 28-Jul-11 16:10:32

Yes, it's the lying that is the problem. I hate to say it though, he is allowed to take her to a 12A film. You have no say, assuming that he has parental responsibility.

You're completely justified in thinking he is a big baby with no concept of what is suitable (my ex is the same and had DD watching Dr Who at 3 years old, it was me who had to get up in the night and deal with the bad dreams etc! grrr!) but unless you have serious concerns that you are willing to take him to court and deny contact for, then as hard as it is you need to work on letting go.

I stand by what I initially said about if the age of the material he is letting her watch is increasing, that smacks of grooming to me (coupled with the lies) But maybe if you gave it a go letting him do other things that are fine (maybe not in your opinion but in the eyes of the law are i.e. 12A films and PG films etc) he won't get her to lie and then at least she'll be able to talk to you if she is worried about anything she sees.

mindablankforthis Thu 28-Jul-11 17:12:41

Hmm, technically he doesn't have PR. Not been a major issue before as I never treat him as though he doesn't have iyswim. But possibly relevant in this situation if he keeps pushing this. I get your point on the 12As, but it's more the progression that worries me now. It was only 5 mths ago that PGs were being discussed, with him then ignoring what I'd said. I thought about it then and didn't consider it worth creating friction over this, even though I'm the one who gets the sleepless night with the nightmares etc. I'm not looking to stop contact or start throwing about court threats for access for him. Just trying to figure out a way around this without causing an argument. And I don't really know how to address the pattern of behaviour, which you rightly say, is the most concerning. I don't want to go in 'all guns blazing' but the softly softly approach to this i.e. trying to make is sound like I'm not criticising him, or suggesting that what he is doing is 'wrong' or whatever, doesn't work. He almost has to think of the answer to the problem himself before he makes any changes, but when he blindly refuses to even consider what he is doing isn't in DD's best interests, I can't get through to him. He won't ever see anything wrong with this, as it's how he grew up and he believes it had no negative effect on him.

If I mention 'grooming' he'll fly off the handle, outraged at such a suggestion. I don't know how to get this across to him in such a way that he 'gets' what I'm trying to say without criticising him. As any criticism means he shuts down and won't take in what I'm saying.

Thanks for your replies though, it's helpful to try and think this through.

berkshirefem Thu 28-Jul-11 21:23:35

Would you be willing to try letting go of the stuff you don't agree with but is reasonable i.e the 12A and PG films. But pull him up on the 15s? He might think you more reasonable and be more likely to comply?

It's also easier to explain it to your dd. for example - "why won't you let Daddy take me to a PG film when PG means parental guidence and he is my parent?"

Vs

"why won't you let daddy take me to a 15 cert film?" errr, because you're 6, not 15!!

mindablankforthis Thu 28-Jul-11 23:00:18

Thanks, it's really hard to let go of this, not because I'm trying to be unreasonable, but because I genuinely don't believe she is old enough for 12 films. Like you say though, easier to explain and justify to DD about the 15s. Tbh, the 12 thing would be easier for her to understand than him, it seems. Just need to address the lying bit somehow confused

hellymelly Thu 28-Jul-11 23:14:07

I have a six year old dd,and she won't even watch Disney films like The aristocats/Lion King etc as she finds them really frightening.She might watch a single scene if I was there to switch it off and she knew that nothing scary was about to happen,but she certainly wouldn't be able to cope with a film. I think you are quite right that six is far far too young to see a PG/12 film. Even some of the U films have parts that upset or scare children this age (And I speak as someone who still shudders at the thought of the child catcher in Chitty chitty bang bang,which I saw at 6).i realise that some 6 year olds may be able to cope with things that mine can't,but I also think that can sometimes be because they have become desentitised to the parts that they would naturally find frightening,and that seems very sad.I have no idea what you can do about it,but I really feel for your situation-I would be horrified at anyone letting a six year old watch the more recent Harry Potters. Nine or ten-maybe,six? No.Too little.

blackeyedsusan Fri 29-Jul-11 00:11:53

given that you can't stop him watching these things as he does what he damn well likes, try talking to your dd about films being stories that didn't really happen and how film makers use special effects to make a film look scary but it doesn't really happen. can't think of anything else useful at this time of night...

mindablankforthis Mon 01-Aug-11 19:44:41

Thanks for the replies.

A wee update - ex doesn't see much of DD so I've not had the opportunity to speak to him about this. Wasn't really sure how to approach is tbh, so was doing my usual of waiting for him to contact me about seeing DD. He usually goes 6-8 weeks between contact, sometimes longer, and for that reason sometimes I convince myself whatever he's said or done, isn't worth causing an argument over. I'm also painfully aware of how delicate things are balanced with him actually seeing DD, which she does enjoy, so I need to weigh up whether it's worth raising this as an issue, or let it slide in the hope he calms down on what he does or says when she's with him, as if I push this in a direction he doesn't like, he'll just back off completely and DD won't get to see him.

Anyway, I just received a text from him asking to see DD this weekend, overnight from sat 'til sunday. I've simply asked if they will be watching HP6, as that is the next film DD knows she has yet to see, and she's told me she saw the 5th film just over a week ago. He's obviously trying to work out what to say as he knows DD has let the 'cat out of the bag' re the 5th film, despite him trying to get her to go along with the lie. I can almost hear the cogs turning, as he tries to figure out what to say to explain this. grin He'll now either come up with an elaborate explanation, or not text back at all, and DD won't see him 'cos he doesn't want to face me, or explain his actions. Either way, I think I'vebeen able to demonstrate to him that he can't actually get DD to lie, as she can't lie to me. She simply can't keep secrets to herself so it's a pointless exercise. If he does reply, I'll explain that he needs to realise that asking her to lie to me is beyond the pale as he is simply teaching her that it's OK for someone to tell her to lie to me and keep secrets from me, and that it's not what he should be teaching DD at all, for very obvious reasons.

Hopefully I can do this in a way that doesn't get his back up hmm we'll see...

hellymelly Mon 01-Aug-11 21:44:27

Well good luck.I quite agree that getting a small girl to lie to her mother is deeply misguided.I hope the situation resolves in a positive way.

mindablankforthis Mon 01-Aug-11 22:03:19

Oh dear, I had a feeling it would get to this.

I've explained to him we need to sit down and discuss DD, and how to 'parent' together, so we can resolve this. Pointed out how 'misguided' he was in encouraging DD to lie and to watch things she knew she wasn't supposed to. He responds by ignoring the lies, and is arguing that DD can make her own decisions, and I'm just trying to wrap her up in cotton wool. Says he was cooking for himself, cleaning and looking after a bed ridden mother at 6, so is more than happy to let DD make her own choices about what she wants to watch (ignoring the fact he is introducing these things to her, she's not curious and asking about them).

I can't get past this with him. We have completely opposite views on what is and isn't appropriate, he thinks it reasonable for a 6 yr old to make her own choices, I completely disagree. He's avoiding the 'sit down and talk' as that's what he's done from before we split. I've spent 3 years trying to deal with him, he avoids anything that is comes close to being a grown up and talking about things so we can reach agreement on how to move forward. He is oblivious to the fact that he avoids any responsibility in his life now, because he had so much responsibility at such a young age. I just can't get him to understand that.

I have no idea how to get past this. I'm not willing to spend the next 10/12 years with this constant battle with him. It's hard enough doing all the hard work alone as it is. I think we are officially at a stalemate.

sad

hellymelly Mon 01-Aug-11 22:38:53

That must be very hard. I allow my dds (I have a four year old too) what I consider to be quite a lot of choice about things in their lives,but I would not allow them to see or do anything that I think unsuitable for their age.I have also told them if anyone ever asks them to lie to a parent then that person is doing something wrong- it is one of the key things for them to learn about others and so it is a big concern that her own father is twisting that to his own ends. Can't he see that leaves her very vulnerable if someone else where to try to manipulate her? Also just because he was doing something at 6 and survived does not mean it is ok.I wonder if he is using her to make himself feel better about his own upbringing,somehow to validate it. I think he needs counselling tbh.

mindablankforthis Mon 01-Aug-11 22:50:59

I've tried explaining that to him - DD is not him and she has her mum and dad around to make decisions for her, so she can have a child hood - the thing he didn't because of what happened. He does need counselling, but refuses to even consider it. He had a bad experience when he was younger, and refuses to budge. God, I so wish I could just get through to him. I just don't know how. Even when trying to explain why encouraging DD to lie is wrong, he's concentrating on him being such a reasonable person on giving her the responsibility to choose what she wants to see, rather than think about the fact I said no, and she knew I said no, yet he lets her watch something I've already said no to, and encouraged her to lie to me about it, and back her up in the lie.

I've left it with him that when he's ready to sit down and talk about this, we can get past it, but I'm not discussing anything else until he does this. It will probably mean he'll not bother asking to see DD as he knows it means he has to agree to sit down and talk. I feel like shit doing this as DD will miss out but I cannot continue with this situation. We need to sort this, and can't do it if he won't talk.

mindablankforthis Wed 03-Aug-11 23:43:27

Another update!

I'm flummoxed. Out of nowhere I got a text from ex's fiance. She's been talking with the ex and wants us all to meet up once a month to do something together i.e. me, DD, ex and her. shock

It turns out the fiance is the one who is HP mad, and got ex into the films. She found out from ex that DD went to Alnwick Castle yesterday with my parents (they are on holiday with DD this week), and wanted to know where the castle was etc.

This is all so out of the blue, I can't even begin to explain how bizarre this is! The upshot is I think I'll have a better chance getting ex to listen if the fiance is receptive to what I say (and given that I'm DD's mum, and she's the future step mum, I'm sure she'll be happy to listen to my opinion grin ). This development is also surprising because the ex has consistently, for nearly 2 years, refused to give any advance notice of wanting to see DD, and goes long periods between contact, with not so much as a phone call. I usually get a text a day or 2 at most, before he wants to see DD, and then refuses to say when he'll next see her. From that, to now checking his shifts to see when he can confirm in advance a monthly meet up with DD, is just mind boggling to me.

Odd. But a welcome shift in direction for DD's sake. Only a few hours ago I was looking up mediation services, so see if I could somehow sell that idea to my ex. grin

gillybean2 Thu 04-Aug-11 07:39:43

I think you need to look into mediation and get together in a nutral place with a third party who is not on either person's 'side' and will steer the discussion in the relevant direction and try and help you both understand the other's point of view.

If you are going to meet the NP then perhaps you can suggest it in these circumstances.
Otherwise you have a HP made fiance and your film mad ex both against you while you are hoping to make them see things your way...

mindablankforthis Thu 04-Aug-11 12:08:06

I see what you are saying gillybean, and you are right about me needing to be wary. I'm hoping this could be an opportunity to get on better terms with the ex, and get to know his fiance better, so it's a bit easier to deal with situations like the one this thread is about. I'm a tough nut, and can handle the pair of them 'ganging up' on me with their arguments about HP or whatever. It might not even pan out, but we'll see. It's at least a move on from the stalemate we'd reached now. Maybe they think they can both persuade me, who knows? I'll post back with an update at some point, if things work out for the best.

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