Our latest adventure is watching our middle-school daughter fall in love with the idea of love. She sighs sweetly when something romantic happens in a book or on TV and I'm truly excited for her. Terrified, of course, but happy for her. As I watch her change and develop, I wonder about which lines I should be drawing. Especially with the books and movies she chooses.
We've always let her read whatever she wants to, but I often pre-read things to warn her about undue violence or other confusing things that she might find upsetting. Twilight and The Hunger Games are both incredibly popular with her peers, and she's now read both of them. Aside from the typical parental concerns about unreasonable violence in The Hunger Games, I wonder about the love interests in both books. Our daughter seems so clearly to be forming her world-view about what to look for in a relationship and the books she reads will undoubtedly help to shape it. So I worry about things like the fact that Edward is so clearly an adult and Bella is so child-like that the "p" word comes to mind whenever I think of Twilight. Similarly, the amount of duress in the relationship between Peeta and Katniss in The Hunger Games is equally disturbing.
My strategy was simple. I let her read them and I asked her what she thought. When she asked me -- and thankfully she did ask -- I was able to tell her both what I liked and what disturbed me about the books. In addition, I shared with her another dystopian book that I like much better, Divergent. It has a sweet relationship that grows normally between two compatible teens and we were able to discuss the contrast between that relationship and those in the other two novels. Now I just have to wait and see what sticks!