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Family TV: Don’t Judge Me for Watching R-rated TV with My Kids

There I am, watching ‘Dexter” (an oddly engaging series about a likable serial killer) on Netflix, when all of a sudden two of the main characters start having sex. These are not just typical, suggestive, prime time network scenes. These are pornographic (albeit somewhat entertaining) views with graphic visualization of naked people having sex.

Now, I’m not a prude. And I even found the scenes on TV fairly enjoyable.

Family TV Time (Or Not?)

The problem was it was family TV time—I was watching with my kids. AWKWARD!

What do you say to your 12-year-old son and your 16-year-old daughter when an attractive naked woman walks out of the shower, or when, later, there are clear views of her in bed with her boyfriend? It would be easy with your wife (hey, this show is pretty good…) or with the guys (HEY!! Did you see that!!! REWIND IT!!).

We all (independently) decided on maintaining an uneasy silence.

A little later, during dinner, as the discomfort faded a little, we made vague references to our family TV. “So Daddy and I were watching pornography together,” was what my daughter said to my wife. “I’m not sure I can watch with you guys anymore,” I said to my kids. “I might get arrested.”

And What About That Song?

A few weeks later, in the car with my college kids, I overheard teasing and guffawing as they were singing some graphic lines in a Beyonce song describing oral sex. “You know I’m here too,” I said, again a little awkwardly. Surprisingly (maybe because they were older) the joking continued, even though I was present. And in reality … it was less uncomfortable. (Although my 12-year-old was also there and clearly “got it” as well.)

I’m probably supposed to use these incidents as “teaching moments.” The experts would say that these are good opportunities for a meaningful conversation about values and sexual relationships. But I think I’m going to just stick with sarcasm. They get the message, and besides I have no hesitation at other times to have a frank discussion. (Don’t forget … I’m the one who gave my kids condoms when they left for college.)

As my kids get older we enjoy a lot of fun things together. I really like that the interaction is changing as they grow toward adulthood. But it was certainly less awkward when they didn’t get the double entendres in “Shrek.”

Dr. Dan Borison, a writer and dad of five, is a doctor in his free time.

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