Yep, that’s right. Alert the Mommy Police. I let my 13-year-old daughter watch The Walking Dead. Do I think she’s old enough? Hell no. I cringe as she’s watching it. But I’m not a lazy parent. (At least when it comes to “viewer discretion.”) She’s been begging to watch The Walking Dead for two years and I have held firm with my no. This year I caved. But it’s not for the reason you might think.
I didn’t watch the first season of The Walking Dead. Well, at least not the beginning of it. But Chandler and Dave did. I would occasionally pass by the TV and see some zombie getting its head shot off or bashed in, in a way more gruesome than the time before and ask Dave, “Do you think he’s old enough to be watching this?”
“It’s fine. He’s okay,” would be Dave’s response.
At some point during the first season I got pulled in. And by then it was too late. Chandler, who was in 8th grade at the time, was fully invested, and while it might have been a wise “tough” parenting choice to make him stop watching it, I didn’t.
I will admit that during the second season, when the depth of the darkness of humanity really began to be exposed, is when I started to worry about my son watching the show. The violence and extreme gore are bad enough, but what really bothers me is the means humans will go to, to survive. And on The Walking Dead if you want to survive you have to kill – and not just zombies, sometimes you have to kill other people.
In case you are not aware, The Walking Dead is an extremely dark show.
But for three seasons (well two-and-a-half for me) Dave, Chandler and I would watch The Walking Dead. At first while Marley slept. But as she became older and she started to stay up later, we would start to send her to our bedroom to watch TV in there.
Last year, when Marley was in 7th grade (which, you know, was actually earlier this year), she really started to amp up The Walking Dead campaign. “Everyone at my school watches The Walking Dead, Mom.”
I would immediately list three kids I knew for a fact were not watching The Walking Dead because I knew their mothers well enough to know that there was no way in hell they’d be watching that show. (You know, those super moms who really showcase how lacksidaisical my slightly-better-than-mediocre my parenting skills are.)
“You know we are not allowed to compare ourselves with those families,” she would tell me. (My children have tried to make it a rule that we not compare ourselves with the three super-families run by those three super-moms because they truly are superior in every way to ours -I mean their kids actually like each other and stuff- but I can’t help it, I do it all the time.)
“Different families have different rules,” I would tell her for the millionth time. She would roll her eyes at me and I would wonder what kind of mother would let her 7th grade child watch The Walking Dead. (Even though some of “those mothers” are my friends.)
But Marley is in eighth grade now. The same grade that Chandler was in when he started to watch. So when season four started this year and Chandler and Dave and I excitedly sat down to watch to see what would become of Rick and his crew after taking down Woodbury and Marley poked her head in the room and said in the perfect martyr-like tone of dejection and resignation, “Oh I guess you guys are going to start watch The Walking Dead without me,” I told Dave to pause the DVR.
I had visions of Marley remembering a childhood of being sent to the other room while the three of us watched TV. It’s one thing to send both kids out of the room while the grown-ups watch things that are “inappropriate,” but to send one kid out while the other kid stays in is something entirely different. Especially when done on a weekly basis.
“What grade were you in when you started watching this show?” I asked Chandler.
He thought about it. “Eighth, I guess.”
I looked at Dave.
“Okay Marley,” I said. “I have to be honest. I don’t even like that your brother watches this show. It’s very dark and it shows people doing very terrible things. But I think it’s only fair to let you watch too. Unless it starts to give you nightmares.”
“Oh don’t worry, Mom,” she told me. “Gross stuff like that doesn’t bother me.”
So there you have it. That’s why I let my thirteen-year-old daughter watch The Walking Dead. I am most definitely not a super-mom. And we are definitely not a “Super Family.”