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"My husband has been letting my son watch horror movies behind my back."

Years ago, I walked in on my husband and young son watching a horror movie. They were snuggled up on the lounge as the terror unfolded on screen, completely united in their fear of what was going to happen next. I didn’t want to interrupt them. They were clearly bonding over the experience, so I left them to it.

I’d yell at my husband later, I decided. He was going to cop an earful about letting our impressionable son watch terrifying movies that were clearly made for adults and not children. The conversation went a little something like this.

Me: “What the hell were you thinking?!?”

Husband: “I’m sorry. It won’t happen again.”

Me: “How am I going to get him to sleep?”

Husband: “I’ll do it. It’s my fault. I’ll get him to sleep.”

Me: “Okay, but don’t ever let him watch movies like that again. What were you thinking?!?”

Should kids be allowed to watch horror movies? Image via iStock.

I thought it was sorted. A few times, as they tried to choose a movie to watch together, they'd ask me for my input. I'd watch the preview, check out the rating and let them know if I thought it was a good idea. They tended to watch bawdy comedies and action movies more than anything which were fine by me. My son continued to have problems sleeping at night but I put it down to his overactive imagination.

Each Thursday night my son and I sit down to finish his homework together. He needed to choose a movie genre, write a paragraph about why he enjoyed that particular genre of movies and then write a list of movies he'd watched that met the criteria of that genre.

He chose horror movies and I chuckled, thinking it would be a very short list.

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Instead, this is what he wrote:

There it is, splashed all over my son's homework book. Image supplied.

I glanced over at his work and caught sight of what was becoming a progressively long list of movies. "You have to choose movies you've watched hon," I said.

"I have watched these. Dad and I watch them behind your back all the time," he said, laughing to himself as the list reached the bottom of the page.

He didn't notice that I had frozen on the spot as fury raged through me and my eyes swept wildly across the kitchen for something to throw at the back of my husband's head (he was sitting in his office which adjoins the kitchen). Preferably something hard enough to startle him but soft enough not to cause any damage.

My son finished his homework and then went to brush his teeth before going to bed. I picked up his homework book, walked into my husband's office, slapped it down on the desk in front of him and walked out.

Nothing needed to be said.

I'm the one who has been dealing with my son's terrible sleeping habits for YEARS and now I know why he can never get to sleep easily. I put it down to the fact he is my oldest and I never taught him good sleeping habits, choosing to coddle him at bedtime and stroke his head until he fell asleep. I blamed myself for his continuing sleeping issues.

Now I knew it wasn't my fault at all. But I was both angry and relieved.

Even I can't handle some of the movies on my son's list. Scream, just one example.

My husband has always been obsessed with horror movies, since a young age when he used to watch them without his own parenting knowing. In an effort to bond with our son during their limited time together (he works extraordinarily long work hours) he allowed our son to choose some inappropriate movies. Many, many inappropriate movies.

I explained to my husband the way it was impacting our son's sleep and therefore my sleep. I reminded him that there were heaps of action movies he could choose that were still inappropriate but less likely to cause him to have chronic nightmares.

Then I sat my son down and had a similar conversation with him. We talk about trust and how he had betrayed my trust. How his dad did the same, how he really wants to fall asleep 'normally', however if he continues to watch horror movies, that will never happen. I told him he really needs to choose more appropriate movies from now on.

And look, I watched a few horror movies when I was young. I probably shouldn't have but my parents weren't home. I watched all the Nightmare on Elm Street movies, The Exorcist and Twin Peaks. However, I was much older than my son is now. When you're a child, a couple of years makes all the difference.

What restrictions do you place on the kinds of movies your children watch?

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