Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The Cringe Factor

I am old fashioned. Horribly so.

I can not see a movie that has some steamy scenes with my 14 year old daughter. The other day, I saw a   movie highly recommended by a close friend. “Can we see this with Ishita?" I specifically remember asking. “Oh yes" was the reply.

 Within a few moments of the movie starting, the hero and the heroine were unabashedly romancing each other. I spent half the movie looking at the floor and the other half surreptitiously looking at my daughter. She was of course all wide eyed eagerness. I on the other hand was cringing and squirming on the seat. Apart from having the heroine in various states of undress, the movie also had some extremely violent scenes. I definitely did not think the movie was appropriate for a 14 year old. Angry, I questioned my friend's judgement. “What? You found it inappropriate? Have you seen the clothes girls wear on MTV? And have you seen how violent the cartoons are these days? Trust me; she did not see anything that she hasn't seen before."

May be, but I am the kind of a mother who left her 14 year old behind to see Love Aaj Kal. Hilarious but true What was the harm in watching a hero and heroine having a few flings before and after marriage? Living together is no big deal in today’s world. So why not watch it on screen? But while watching the movie, there were several moments I felt glad our daughter had not accompanied us.

Innocence is slowly being lost in our world these days as more and more children are growing up on American TV shows. And the internet is certainly not helping. In Mumbai at least, I see my daughter's classmates aping the film heroines and wearing tank tops and mini skirts. I hear the boys her age using words I did not even know existed in the English language. I know some of her friends write on Facebook that they are in a 'relationship'. I see that and I feel awkward. I do not know whether having an old fashioned mother helps or harms my child. But I grew up in a different world and it is tough to let your values go, even for the sake of your own children.

Few months back my daughter Ayushi, who was not yet 8 at that time, came back from school all excited.  "Mamma, I learned a new word today."
“Wow! That's great! What was the word?"
"Gay. Supriya learned that from Dostana. It means a man loving and kissing another man."

I cringed.


Anonymous said...

Totally understand what you are going thru, as sometimes I am also in such cringy situations !!!

The thing that upsets me the most is the use of such words by innocent kids, without knowing the meaning or the context of use. Its very saddening to see kids talk beyond their age, too !!!

Nona said...

Have you seen the shows hosted by kids on TV? The young veejays! They talk like their senior counterparts.

What is so nice about a kid talking like an adult? Are the kids supposed to talk like kids? Where is childhood these days? Isn't that schedule also being compressed and shortened?

Kavita Saharia said...

Just few days back my six year old said to me...mamma lagta hai papa tumse pyar karte hain,kya wo tumhare boyfriend hain?.....hmmm !!!Cringe factor is here to stay i suppose.

Smita said...

I totally agree with you!!

When I had reviewed Kaminey a lady had come & said my 4 year old son did like the language of the movie! I was very frank to her & asked her as to why did she take her son to a movie which came with an Adults certificate?

My parents never allowed us to see a movie with too much violence! I feel there is a right age for everything and anything before that kills the innocence of the kids. Specially the present generation which is already growing up too fast & quick and who just know how to repeat things!!

Such situations can really be embarassing!!

Kavi said...

I guess our own upbringing plays a major part as well. I cant imagine watching a movie with a young one by my side.

But then, there is so much of explosion of awareness through multiple mediums that what we sometimes are concerned about...are not really too much of a concern for children of the modern age..! Its upsetting. yes.

The cringe factor is here to stay

NR said...

Yup i agree with u that thesedays movies are not that suitable to watch with kids but i think one can avoid as much as possible. Even if u watch news all sorts of rubbish dominate it...so i guess time is like that.

I understand the mother in u is worried but got to accept it!!

Swaram said...

Sheesh! Its so difficult to react in such situations.
There is a right time for everything .. I don't think my parents allowed us to watch anything and everything. Scares me sometimes when I c kids nowadays know so much more than what we knew @ their age. Its good that we r grooming them well @ home. I think values do help them differentiate b/w good and bad when they learn something outside!

The Holy Lama said...

Equally distressed. Watching movies are now very restricted. Even some of the kids channels have these provocations and subtle hints. No protection for us:(. Now we value the good old DD.

Tarun Mitra said...

I can understand what you went through. And you just blame it on being old fashion or like that.

It is what is feel is level of decency that we have in a family. Though I might call myself liberal, but still I cannot watch a movie with steamy scenes with my family.
Now take this one too, 10 years ago a friend of mine could not watch 15+ movies in STAR TV but could have computer wallpapers of heroines but another can watch movies but can never have the wallpapers on his computer..

Society has opened up at a pace much faster than imagination. But it is upto us how we regulate its effects on us.

PS: I am just 24 yr old and sharing this experience of a son.

G S Pillai said...

My own mother has been super cringy all the way, still is, but I dont think it has prevented me from doing any of those things. Personally I wish she had been more realistic. I think parents' cringy-ness might be good to a certain point, but over-do it, and you risk not knowing your child at all. And once children get over the mental barrier of hiding their true selves from parents, the sky really is the limit with respect to possibilities in life.

Swatantra said...

Amazing... can't believe what you are going through..

Vivek S Patwardhan said...

From personal experience [and that of several friends] I can say that this happens almost to every parent. It is a part of parenting experience. Laugh it off!


Blunt Edges said...

no idea how 2 react...maybe coz somewhere in my mind i think its ok that kids are learning things faster...the same way i learnt stuff quicker than my parents when they were kids! i kinda feel its normal though me not being a parent makes me think about it a whole lot casually than u...so guess my view isn't 2 be taken seriously.

i just read what i wrote...n i doubt if it makes any sense...but posting nevertheless :)

The Panorama said...

Aparna, am there...cringing with you. I shudder at the thought of my innocent boy watching porn online and getting drunk by the time he is 15.
But as they say, instilling values in children should be done in their formative years. When they are in their teens just cross your fingers and hope you did a good job. Nice post:)

Nupur said...

It's like this A.If you don't take your kids by your side in these moments of awkwardness-which is quiet hard to avoid these days-they will go out and express their queries.Specially like in your case as you mentioned your daughter's friends who seem to be knowing lot of things at this age..So,it's always better to pass on the information in the way-subtle that is-we want to rather let the kids find them on their own.

Yes,I face this situations quiet often since I have two nieces in my house who are 5 and 12.And they are already know about FB,Orkutting and such things.It's hard to keep them away.Because world out there is moving quiet fast.

It's tough to digest for me too that at this age I was pretty dumb according to todays standards :(

Sad but the world does this to you and your culture !

Diwakar Sinha said...

sorry :P
but that made me laugh, wat to do.
i cud sense my parent's discomfort when it happened...
now at 20+ and in diff city, i normally take home movies, specificaly chosen for family audience, but making exceptions once in a while as well.

Anuradha Shankar said...

i guess cringing is here to stay for us for a long long time.... my son is just 6... i shudder to think what will happen when he's 16!!!

none of us at home are very interested in movies, but u shd hear the kind of stuff he comes up with, just hearing the other kids talk about...

sujata sengupta said...

I think I dont cringe much, my daughter does, when she shares television time with her brother, she hops on to the remote and changes a channel that shows a steamy scene, she cringes at the use of bad words, at violence and at romance thats turns towrads the bedroom, I wonder where she got the cringe factor from, now I think I know!!

Destiny's child... said...

I remember a time when I was about 12-13 and my parents used to swap channels the moment something steamy came up. Now, when I am 21 and often do the remote control handling, 'I' swap the channel when somthing 'cringy' comes up if my parents are watchig with me. :D I don't think these things become a bad influence if you are taught what's right and what's not. Fikar not! :)

Aparna said...

umsreflections, kids are pretty nonchalant when it comes to languages these days and they do not hesitate to use words that are often offensive. But I guess it is the way of the world these days :(

Nona, yes I know the kids, they act like grown ups and the audience appreciate the grown up jokes. Whatever for?

Kavita, that actually made me smile:). You should have said haan, papa mere boyfriend hain!

Smita, we were growing up in a stricter environment. There were lot of things we were told not to do. But these days kids have a lot of freedom. And some parents do not seem to mind taking them to movies with A certificate.

Kavi, when there is nobody to leave your kids with, you have no other alternative but to take the kids to the movies. We watch may be 2 movies a year in the theatre. And we make sure it is a movie all of us can watch without cringing.

Nazish, mothers have the toughest job in the world :(

Swaram, being a parent is tough a job these days. I only hope I am doing the right thing.

Holy Lama, DD was great, we didnt know it then :(

Tarun, thanks for your inputs. It feels good to know the view from the other side.

Bluebird, do not get me wrong. I do not want to stop my daughters from doing or watching something. Just that I feel that there is an age for everything and 14 is too young to expose her to certain things in life. I would hate it if my daughters hide things from me later, so I do give them freedom, just a bit cautiously though.

Unknown said...

I'm equally distressed by this phennomenon and I'm glad that you brought up the topic. I know it's really difficult to react in situations like this.

I guess our own upbringing plays a major role in this also. I cannot tolerate intimate scenes. As Kavi rightly pointed out, there is an explosion of awareness through multiple mediums that we concerned about are not really too much of a concern for children of the modern age. Man, I miss the movies that Hrishida made and yes, now I value the shows shown on DD.

BK Chowla, said...

This is the situation most the parents find themselves in now a days.But,times have changed
Let me tell you, an eight year old asked his sister as to what did the "F" meant???

radha said...

First time here. We all go through this. My two daughters are grown up now. Some programmes they watch can make you cringe even now. You cannot prevent them after a while - but she is 14, and some parental control now will do no harm. She will be fine.

Renu said...

I have been thru these phases first with my parents..we saw AAp ki kasam and I found it uncomfortable, and when today i see that, I wonder why was I uncomfortable...

Even now with my grown up children also, I dont like watching movies except a few comedies, and I always think that my sensibilities are different.

Gymnast said...

LOl..i mean , Love aaj kal ?

It was harmless...wasnt it ?

I remember my mom not letting me read mills and boons and forcing me to change channels when movies came on that were "normal" according to me , but , "cringeworthy" by her standards..

Nevertheless , kids now a days have so many arenas to learn stuff from..and every generation learns things faster than the one before them..

So i suppose , some amount of over-regulation will only make the kids super-curious and seek other ways to see whatever the parents regulate..

G S Pillai said...

I believe, Aparna, that values are caught rather than taught. There's only so much you can do. Which ever way it turns out, don't be too proud or too sorry for yourself. Funny, aint it, me giving parenting advice! Talk about a big mouth.

aMus said...

since the kids are 12 and 7, we have to be cautious of which movies we watch outside...but i wish i could do something about the current language used by the kids in the playground!

Haddock said...

It takes time for us to come out of the shell.

wanderlust said...

I know what you mean Aparna. But I guess in today's world where information is free for all the only way is to be as open as possible and gently guide them in the right direction.

Nishant said...

Its very saddening to see kids talk beyond their age, too

Work From Home

ani_aset said...

I understand your uneasiness, and good to learn from your experiences. What do you think parents 5 years down the line will have to go through? Recently i was in a coffee shop, when i saw few teenagers (girls and boys) smoking, kissing, hugging outside the cafe :) kids are learning way too fast these days is it?

J P Joshi said...

Understand where you come from, but can only say that, terms of reference keep changing with every generation. Watching steamy scenes with kids is definitely a no-no anyways. It does make both parties uncomfortable.

I remember when we were young, Sangam and Waqt movies were released together. My parents went alone for Sangam, AND did not permit us to go for it. We had to be content with Waqt. Many years later I saw Sangam and did not find anything very objectionable in it, even by then standards..by today's standards it would be a children's film.

Like someone commented, some of the MTV shows with teenagers as hosts and as participants are really well beyond my comprehension.

Aparna said...

Swatantra, thanks.

Vivek Patwardhan, I do try to laugh a lot of my parenting debacles off, and sometimes I also succeed !

Blunt edges, I have nothing against learning experiences of young adults. I just wish it would not happen in my presence :)

Panorama, fingers crossed! Happy parenting.

Nu, compared to today's generation, I was not just dumb, I was also socially inept :-) I am trying hard to be a good mother, but cringing comes with the territory.

Diwakar, I hope you will do some cringing when you become a parent:D till that time happy movie watching.

Anu, kids are pretty smart these days, they do not need movies to learn about life.

Sujata, I always knew your daughter was the smart and sensible one in the family :)

Anonymous said...

I totally agree with you. I am the same with my daughter. Some of my friends are amazed that I restrict her movies -but the thing is, I am just not comfortable and she is just 3! Reading you made me feel so good - thank god I am not the only one!

I think there is a right age for everything and it is better to wait rather than just let them watch whatever.

Just yesterday we saw some child actors acting so very precociously for their age - all I could think was - their innocence is all gone! There is definitely a right age for everything.

Aparna said...

Destiny's Child, if you say fikar not, then fikar not it is :)

Akshay, yes, Hrishikesh Mukherjee's movies were for every one. They were awesome.

Bk Chowla, children are becoming precocious and innocence is being lost.

Radha, yes as a mother of a 14 year old, I often find myself at sea. What do I restrict and what do I allow.

Renu, yes there are things which we saw as children and found cringe worthy are not so when we grow up. All this is a phase.

Gymnast, yah, truly, no Love Aaj Kal for my child:D I try not to restrict her too much. Just a bit to make sure that she is not exposed to too much slime :) I guess being a mother makes me a bit protective

Bluebird, when it comes to good advice, I do not discriminate between parents and non-parents (if there is a word like that) So feel free to write...and I liked the values being caught rather than taught part. Thought provoking.

Suma, I know, the language some kids use can make me blush. Where do they learn it from?

Haddock, :-)

Wanderlust, yes, you are right. As mothers we have to do the balancing act all the time though.

Nishant, true.

Ani-aset, Some teenagers show no inhibition and it makes me cringe. Wait and watch, parenting will be tougher when you decide to have children of your own one day. Then I will sit back and smile :D

JP Joshi, yes our sensibilities keep changing. What was once a taboo is pretty much well accepted these days. We just have to learn how to adapt to changing times.

Wordsndreamz it makes me sad when I watch kids dancing to Billo Rani or beedi jalaile...what happened to innocence?

Anonymous said...

She's 14! I'm sure you don't mind her watching that stuff, as long as you're not WITH her... right?

And why, pray, does "gay" make you cringe? :-)

Sharmila said...

Strangely the romantic songs we cringe at today did not make us cringe when we were kids. I think it is all about experience and how much we 'know' in our heads. So relax .. your kiddos don't see the scenes as adults do. :-)

Amortya Ray said...

Your daughter chose a rather wonderful and politically correct way of defining gay in today's homophobic Indian society. Shouldn't make you cringe. Be happy that the next generation is going to end up a lot liberal than previous one.

Aparna said...

USP, no offence to the gay community. I would have cringed if she had said straight means a man and woman kissing too.

Ishita said...

In my defense, I had raised my eyebrows, not gone all wide - eyed and eager, whatever movie you are talking about. That is a reflex action for every such scene