PG-13: Ready or Not?

Posted on April 11, 2019

The terrible twos, the preschool separation blues, the elementary school adjustments, and the middle school social challenges are all in preparation for high school’s peer pressure, academic expectations from parents and teachers, “independence” declaration, and communication breakdowns!!!

Who could ever be ready for all of this? Surely not a 13 or 14-year-old, new-to-teenage-years child! Then pour some physiological changes, hormone spikes, and unwanted hair growth to the mix and just observe. Obviously, these are not soluble ingredients. Each one is a layer of its own like the seven layer taco dip that I used to make back in the day!

How then can we assume that the minute a child turns 13 and is headed for or entering high school that he or she is magically ready to handle the challenges of life? How can the MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America) decide that the day children turn 13, they no longer need PG (Parental Guidance) at the movies?

Here’s an overheard conversation that inspired this post:

“Where did you leave Cody?” asked Mom X.

“With Shawna,” answered Mom Y.

“Leaving a 5-year-old with a 13-year-old? Will they be okay?” questions Mom X.

“Well, if she can go to the movies by herself, now that she turned 13, she can watch her sister! Besides, she already has a boyfriend and she’s almost in high school. She’s responsible enough.”

“Has she ever watched her before?”

“No, not by herself. But I have to start at some point.”


Hope this message is clear. Let’s not pile on too much responsibility all at once just because your child has turned a certain number in age. And yes, even if they think they are ready! For all we know, this newly turned 13-year-old who just started high school is watching her little five-year-old sister and her new boyfriend stops by and then what? I’ve also seen 13-year-olds crying in PG13 movies that they are perhaps not ready to watch alone just yet.

Pass responsibility in phases and stages. Let kids get adjusted to new responsibilities one step at a time. Don’t overwhelm them with too much too soon and then not expect a disaster to happen. And if you do, don’t be disappointed with their choices, or lack thereof. Young teens make irrational decisions mainly because they are unable to manage themselves. Be mindful before you leave young children for them to manage.

Even if they are 13 now, PARENTAL GUIDANCE should be very much in place, until you are pretty sure they are ready. In fact, I suggest that any 13-year-old who’s “almost” in high school is in the midst of magnanimous personal and social growth and changes, and should NOT be burdened with babysitting young siblings unless it’s an emergency. This is in the best interest of everyone.