What’s your daughter reading? Seriously, think about that. What is she currently reading?
She might be at such a young age that it’s really irrelevant. There are bears, princesses, and you have to find 4 hiding goldfish. That’s about it. Sure, the plot line is a little thin, but she asks you to read it over and over and over. It’s good bonding time and you’re raising a little reader. Good for you, Dad.
But what happens when she’s older and she’s making decisions on what to read on her own? Some experts have voiced their opinions on how young women could perceive relationships based upon fantasized stories. I’ve already addressed my distaste for all things Twilight, but that was what I first believed to be bottom of the barrel as it came to content.
I was wrong. Do you know if your daughter is reading Fifty Shades of Gray? You should. Look, I haven’t read it, can almost guarantee I won’t read it, and definitely won’t be listening to it on my commute (it could make a traffic jam awkward). But your daughter might want to read it. That’s dangerous stuff, right there. It’s being lauded in the media and lifted up as edgy. But a teenage girl reading that is going to warp her sense of relationships. Face it, you don’t want your daughter involved in that in real life.
Look, depressed vampires and belligerent werewolves are one thing. You don’t need to worry about her ACTUALLY bringing home one of those. Yeah, maybe a few introductions will be with someone that’s tatted up and looks like they tripped on a tackle box, but they’re not going to make you part of the living undead. Rest easy there because you shouldn’t have to break that one to your daughter.
But the representation of what’s normal in relationships and physical relationships; you have to talk to her about that. So many dads look at a situation like that and ostrich up. “Too much drama”, they say. “I can’t talk to her” or “That’s her mom’s job” are two other common answers. Seriously, you need to get over that and get ready for that conversation. I’ve said it before, if you want your daughter to be able to talk to you about anything, you should be willing to talk to her about anything.
Yeah, it’s going to be uncomfortable and it’s not going to be fun. It’s going to be a conversation both you and her remember for the rest of your lives. And that’s why it’s so important. As my friend Dale says, “That conversation just might stop her from having sex with a drug addict.” That’s nothing to bring up during your speech on her wedding day, but it’s true. If she’s going to read fiction, she needs to know what should be fiction to her. Just like she’s not still trying to take off on that broom after reading Harry Potter. And don’t pull the technicalities of Universal Studios on me.
Yes, there will always be those things out there that we wish our daughters weren’t exposed to. I guess Twilight’s no worse than those Harlequinn novels my mother-in-law reads, but that’s another blog post. But just because she is into something you don’t understand, doesn’t mean you stop being her dad and that you stop helping her understand the world around her. It means you double-down, get serious about parenting, and be there for her.
Thanks for reading and thanks for being a dad….