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What would you do in this situation?

Elise's picture

Would love all feedback on this particular issue:

I am sm of twin boys age 7. We have them 50/50 and just got through with a large chunk of time with them (some of which included Halloween). Both boys during their time here were having difficulty sleeping every night, either coming down to our bed, getting in to each other's bed or asking to sleep in the same room as their 4 year old ss. This was a change in behavior for the most part.

On Halloween the more open little guy lets it slip that they had watched the movie Scream over the past weekend. (If anyone hasn't seen the movie scream it's an r rated horror film about teens that kill each other. When I saw it when it first came out, I had to pause it a few times I found it so scary). They said their Mom and friend were watching it with them on their usual "movie night". Supposedly when the boys said it was too scary they refused to turn it off. They told us there mother swore them up and down not to tell us they had seen the movie. They then told us that the reason they'd be having a hard time sleeping was b/c they'd been having nightmares from the movie. They expressed regret for telling us and begged us not to say anything to their mother about the issue.

We can either:
1. Respect their wishes to not say anything to their Mom and just hope it doesn't happen again. Historically when my husband has tried to talk to her about these kind of issues (ex. last year they went to school with one of her explicit rap cds and were playing their favorite tracks to us and their little sister) she gets very defensive, turns it back on my husband and then later takes it out on the boys. It hasn't worked in the past to talk to her....but does that mean quit trying?
2. or we try to talk to her about it. Maybe if she knows that her actions in letting them watch a horror film resulted in a week of nightmares she'll think twice in the future. The down side to this is that she will most likely get angry with the boys for telling us and they may refrain from expressing to us concerns in the future. But maybe them telling us was a cry for help

I'm torn. I hate the thought of her taking things out on the boys (i.e. putting them in the middle). But I 100% do not agree with letting small children watch horror films and concerned what they will continue to be exposed to. Additionally, whatever they are exposed to eventually gets filtered down to my 4 year old and then I get questions from my ex where she's learning things when he and I are careful and in alliance on what she can and cannot see at this age.'s common for her the BM if she knows we don't agree to something she tends to do it more just to spite my husband. It's so hard to know what to do......


Thanks is advance for your input!


sunshine's picture

I would mention to her that while the boys were with you guys that you noticed a difference in their behavior and normal pattern. Which would alarm you to think that maybe something has occurred, such has,,,a horror movie or been told a scary tale.. Espcially since it was recently Halloween,, you could squeeze those in there,,,maybe she wouldnt think the boys said anything. But alarm her that they appear as if frightened..I wouldnt say that the boys said anything,, but I would mention it so she is aware that you noticed how they acted #1 and number #2, she will realize the movie did affect them.

Colorado Girl's picture

First of secrets. I would have DH explain to BM that he doesn't want the kids to be put in that position. What happens if (heaven forbid) something bad happened to them and another adult explained to them that it's okay to keep secrets and they've already been taught that is okay by their mom....

If you don't want to go that route...simply ask her. Tell her their strange behavior and that they were having nightmares. "Did something happen at your house? It's no big deal or anything, I was just wondering..." See what she says.

"Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass...It's about learning to dance in the rain."

h7's picture

Why bother confronting her if she's only going to make it worse? By respecting the boy's wishes you show them that they can confide in you, so when they need help in the future they know they can come to you. Also, I wonder if you sat them down & explained to them that movies are not real... I mean really get that through to their minds. The reason I say that is because I watched scary movies most of my childhood. The first one I saw, my mother sat down next to me & explained not only that it was fake how they did it to make it so real looking. I've been addicted ever since. Of course, I'm the creative & curious type so it appealed to my nature & not everyone is alike.

But by doing that, you kind if defuse the situation without even dealing directly with her. Just a thought.

Hope this helps,

Imustbcrazy's picture

Have DH tell her that the boys have been having really bad nightmares. Tell her that you are not sure what the cause is, but it is keeping them up a night, they don't want to sleep alone... tell her everything you described here WITHOUT telling her that the boys let you in on the BIG SECRET. Express your concern about what is going on and tell her that you will be monitoring what they watch on television as a precaution. She will KNOW WHY they are having nightmares. It is not about CALLING HER OUT on her mistake, but maybe just nudging her into reality that they are too young to be exposed to such things. If she TOLD the kids not to tell you guys they saw the movie then she KNOWS they are too young. Mention nightmares, and she will know why they are happening. Let her conscience do the work for you. That is if she HAS one.

Daddys Gurl


need2vent's picture

Colorado Girl hit nail on the head. When I used to teach a divorce care class for kids that was THE number#1 Rule. Should be for any child that age regaadless of family situation becasue as Colorado Girl sadi and I am happy to reinforce what if it was a bigger issue?

Children should be taught at that age that any adult asking them to keep a secret from a parent is not doing what they should be doing.Our pediatrician used to even reinforce that every time we saw her when the kids were younger along with things like "I am going to touch your private area now becasue I am your doctor and making sure you are healthy ,but even I should not do this without your parents present"

Only an idiot mother would let her 7 year old watch an R rated scray movie. I wouldn't let my 12 and 14 year olds watch one last night, BUT at their age I chose another that I had seen and knew they were capable of handling.

Dawn-Moderator's picture

We just went through this thing with Bm telling ss to not tell us something. I agree that neither parent should tell the child to keep something form the other. It's just a movie now, but it could be something more serious in the future.

I also agree that 7 is way too young for any R rated movie. We don't let ss watch them and he is 12. We had a similar problem with PG-13 when ss was around 5. Bm always let him watch movies that he shouldn't have been watching.

I would have Dh tell Bm what problems they were having and that you guys were trying to find out what the problem was and inadvertently, it came out about the movie. Dh should tell her that it's not right telling the kids to keep secrets because he wants them to be able to tell him anything. Also, he should tell her that he doesn't want the kids to get in trouble for telling because it was very, very upsetting to them and that is bad enough.


Elise's picture

Update...taking all of your kind responses in to count, I gave my husband a reco on how to handle. He as part of a general conversation with her asked "have the kids been having nightmares at your house" she immediately got defensive and said "NO WAY. Have you been letting them watch scary movies or something?". Husband replied "Not at all....we carefully monitor their movies and they don't watch anything over PG. Plus "Step-mom" (me) doesn't like horror films...they scare her too much (they do!)." Conversation done. We were pissed that she turned it around on us...but we knew the point was probably made. Fast forward two days later and one of the boys said. "Did you say something to Mom about our nightmares? Because she got off the phone with you (DAD) and asked about our nightmares". And you know what SS told her back "Yes, we have had nightmares....because of that movies Scream we watched with you last weekend!". Isn't that the best? Thank you all for your advise.

Imustbcrazy's picture

I don't like scary movies either... they SCARE me.

Daddys Gurl