Dear Dr. Bill,
I am a mom who is feeling very guilty at the moment. I allowed my 8-year-old son to watch a scary movie about 2 months ago. He had some friends over and became very upset because I wouldn’t allow him to view a rental video they wanted to watch.
I eventually gave in and now he is suffering big time. He won’t go to sleep unless I’m with him. He doesn’t even want to be in a room alone at times. What can do to help him?
It sounds like this so-called "kids movie" made a huge impact on your son—and now you’re dealing with the fallout. Unfortunately, parents can no longer trust ratings or descriptions of movies or DVDs — we need to review the content ourselves first, or turn to Focus on the Family's "Plugged In" Web site for guidance.
Your son was obviously traumatized by what he saw in the video. He sounds like a child with a very sensitive spirit—someone who feels things very deeply.
Reassure him that the movie was only make-believe, just like many of the stories in his children’s books. Pray with him about his fears, and encourage him to pray on his own when he becomes frightened at night. Show him in the Bible where Jesus promises us that he will never leave us or forsake us.
By the way, It's not a good idea for you to sleep in his room at night or to let him sleep in your bed. Instead, find another way to make him feel secure, like turning on a nightlight or letting him fall asleep to some soothing music.
Thanks for writing Susan. If you have a question for me about family issues or Christian living, just click the “Questions” link on the Culture Connection page.