I'm a bit of a prude when it comes to my three kids. I don't allow them to say "sucks" or "pissed off" -- at least not in my presence. So imagine my discomfort when I chose "The Piano" as our "family movie" one recent Friday evening. All I remembered about the 1993 drama is that it was extremely artsy and starred Holly Hunter -- and that I liked it. Somehow I completely blanked all the scenes with frontal nudity and oral sex.
It wasn't the first time I've squirmed uncomfortably while watching a movie or TV show with my children. I expect "Sex and the City" to be, well, sexy. But I've been caught off guard more than once by other films and programs. While watching "Wedding Crashers," which is wildly funny, I had to quickly throw my hand over my daughter's eyes during the sex scene featuring Vince Vaughn and Isla Fisher. Even a mainstream sitcom like "Friends" delivers a hefty dose of raunchiness with every episode.
A lot of this has been my fault. From outward appearances, it seems like "Friends with Benefits" is a fun, lighthearted comedy. And I like Justin Timberlake. But the movie is rated "R" for a reason. There's sex -- and a lot of it.
So all this got me wondering: What pop culture have you experienced either with your kids -- or with your parents -- where suddenly an unexpected cringe-inducing moment occurred? I asked a few of my friends this question, and here's what I was told.
Freelance writer and New Jersey mother Jessica Wolf said she feels as though these types of moments happen to her at least once a week.
"The movie 'Ted.' It's about a teddy bear. WTF? And the movie 'Best In Show.' I totally forgot about all the sex in the beginning of that movie," she said. "I remember getting the original 'Bad News Bears' years ago and thinking it would be tame for my then middle-schooler and elementary schooler. Wrong. Drugs and bad language abound. I have effectively stopped watching movies with my kids because it's too uncomfortable."
Another mother of two said: "'Modern Family' when the kids caught the parents having sex. And 'Grease,' which we took the kids to when they were younger, and there was limitless making out in the car. We had to explain what a rubber was."
A 40-something neighbor told me that, as a teenager, she remembers watching "Officer and a Gentleman" with her father. "He didn't say a word when I hit stop on the VCR as mom came down the stairs. She happened to come down right during the sex scene. I wasn't allowed to watch that stuff with her, but dad was okay with it."
A 50-something mother of three girls cited "Game of Thrones." "My 15-year-old has read the books and we refused to allow her to watch the show for two full seasons," she said. "But with her two sisters raving about it, we succumbed. Watching that HBO 'Porn with Emmys' series with her is cringe-inducing. The sex scenes are so unnecessary!"
Another friend said her father took her to see "Body Heat" when she was in junior high school. The verdict? "Nightmare!" she exclaimed.
Huff/Post50 also asked our Facebook fans about unexpectedly cringe-worthy moments.
Sandra Kay Prevo Powell: "'Big Bang Theory' with my granddaughter. I never realized how many sexual references there were. I like the show and thought she would too, oh well. Never changed a channel so fast!"
Robin Bailey-Chen: "'Grease.' My friend told me that her 4th grader loved it and when I watched it with my kids I cringed at the sex, smoking and 'mature' themes. I think most of it was over their heads though."
Sandy Indianer Nickerson: "'Interview with the Vampire' with our son when he was about 9. I'd throw my hand over his eyes periodically in a panic. He'd say thanks. Then after the show I had a long talk with him about the themes of the movie. He turned out okay."
And most kids do. But that doesn't erase the fact that watching TV shows and movies -- everything from "Bride of Chucky" to "American Pie" -- with your children, even the older ones, can be, er, incredibly awkward.
What cringe-worthy moments do you recall? Let us know in comments.
"Discuss the expectation of parents and kids in terms of how you behave at home and what responsibilities they have," said Katherine Newman, dean of the school of arts and sciences at Johns Hopkins University and author of The Accordian Family: Boomerang Kids, Anxious Parents and the Private Toll of Global Competition. "It's better to talk these things over rather than be silent and grinding your teeth behind closed doors." Groceries, cooking, laundry and tidiness can all be areas of conflict, so lay down some ground rules. Photo courtesy of jim212jim
"Instead of saying, 'I don't see you applying for jobs and this can't go on forever,' talk about what you expect," Newman said. Discuss goals for hours per day that will be spent networking and searching for jobs or choosing and applying to graduate schools.
While you're talking about autonomy, also lay down some ground rules for privacy. The most obvious: Knock before entering. Photo courtesy of ricky.montalvo
Boomerang kids are young adults who have typically become accustomed to keeping their own schedules without answering to anyone. That can rattle parents who want more accountability, or just a little courtesy. It's fair to ask an adult child to text you if they are going out rather than coming home for dinner. While it may be fine for them to keep their own hours, it's not fair to come home late and disturb the sleeping occupants of the house who have to work in the morning. Photo courtesy of srwsrwuk
If young adults are doing everything they can to move toward autonomy, parents should be patient and recognize there are larger economic forces at work. Rather than having them pay rent, focus on steps toward independence -- such as eliminating any revolving debt and paying student loans on time.