DEAR AMY: I am a divorced man who shares custody of a 13-year-old boy with my ex-wife. Last weekend I became aware that my son’s mother had given permission for him to watch “The Exorcist.” If you are not familiar with this horror film, some of the worst scenes are available online. They are very disturbing and I cannot imagine anyone allowing a 13-year-old to view this film. She has allowed him to view other R-rated horror films, which are highly inappropriate for his age. I can’t even believe it is a discussion as to whether he should be watching these films, but apparently she sees nothing wrong with it. My ex-wife knows I disapprove. I have talked to my son about how I feel about these inappropriate movies. I have told him he can choose to watch better films, but at 13 he probably thinks it is cool. Any advice? Do you think I am overreacting?
DEAR HORROR-FIED: I do think that you are overreacting, but it is a natural overreaction, and it is very much within your rights to have your own opinion about these films.
Yes, I have watched “The Exorcist” (at least two versions), but there are other horror films that are much more graphic that I cannot imagine watching — or letting a 13-year-old watch. As in all things, there are degrees of horrible to horror movies.
Parents should consume media alongside their children in order to see what they’re seeing. (Is your ex-wife doing this? Probably not.)
But your son has the ability to see films or scenes from films online. Understand that he can likely gain access to almost anything he chooses. Also understand that his friends are influencing him, possibly even more than you and his mother are.
Explain your point of view, without coming down too hard on him. Ask him to describe why he is drawn to horror films and, yes, accept that it is definitely considered “cool” at his age to push this boundary.
At some point very soon, your son may start experimenting with watching porn. If you are calm and maintain an open attitude now when discussing these things with him, he should develop his own cultural meter when making choices on his own.
I hope you will watch movies with him, alternating who gets to choose the film. If I were you, I’d start with “Jaws” — still scary after all these years.
DEAR AMY: I am a 60-year-old man, divorced and in a long-distance relationship with a 63-year-old woman. My concern is her ex-boyfriend. They have been broken up for two years but still stay in touch. He changes her furnace filters, drives her to the airport, watches her house when she takes a trip and is her tech guru when she gets frustrated with her computer or cable. She has stated she is done with that relationship and has no romantic interest. I believe her. She is a quality gal, and I trust her, but this boyfriend situation makes me uncomfortable and sad and it keeps me guessing. I want to be her only man, but feel the pain of the distance between us. Should I just get over myself and realize people keep previous friendships beyond their break-up, or is this a deal breaker? I am seriously considering moving out to her state to live with her.
DEAR WORRIED: The distance between you naturally makes you worry about your gal’s other relationships.
It is not necessarily a deal breaker for someone to maintain a friendship with an ex, but you should decide for yourself by visiting her and getting to know this man.
Your friend’s openness about this is a good sign. She should also be sensitive to your uncertainty about this relationship, and reassuring when you have questions.
DEAR AMY: The hypersensitivity of the pregnant woman signing her letter “Expectant” made me smile. She was excessively worried that her pregnancy would upset her childless friends. I suspect that she is, perhaps, overly wrapped up in her own pregnancy. Expectant parents can be surprisingly narcissistic.
DEAR EXPERIENCED: I agree that pregnancy can bring on a special sort of preciousness. Thank you.