I tried this thread under Popular Media and didn’t get any replies - maybe someone here can help me out.
What are your thoughts on the appropriateness of the book Twilight for a 13 yo who enjoys fantasy? I read the book and found it to be fast paced and engaging. Obviously the world view isn’t Christian. My 13 yo enjoys Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, and Artemus Fowl. What do you think? Thanks in advance for any replies.
I think it depends on the 13-year-old. I started reading Stephen King when I was 12 or 13 and feel that, for me, that was appropriate. My son has friends who are 17-18 years old who I don’t think are mature enough, though.
It does depend on the thirteen year old. I read the books, expecting to not like them after being annoyed by my friends who were border line obsessed with them, and was surprised when I enjoyed them. I don’t see anything to object about in the first book for someone that age, but while there are definitely good moral lessons talked about in the books (like not having sex before marriage), the last book might be a little mature (because they are married). It’s not graphic, but it really depends on what you want your child exposed to. I’d probably suggest reading the books yourself to see what you think!
Don’t allow him books which promote evil values, as the Twilight and Harry Potter seriea do, but give him good books that will help cultivate in him good values and raise his mind to cognitive thinking, for we exist not for ourselves but for Jesus Christ, the Truth Itself.
As a parent, it is your duty to keep him away from evil and to lead him to Jesus Christ.
And beware of certain Catholics on this forums, who do not accept the Church’s teachings. They are wolves in sheep clothing.
From the perspective of not losing brain cells: Harold Bloom thinks Stephen King is a terrible author, Stephen King thinks Stephenie Meyer is a terrible author. (He does like J.K. Rowling, though.)
Protect your 13 yr. old’s forming I.Q., no Twilight! In all seriousness, I looked at the first book but put it down after the first page, the writing was really bad.
I don’t think it’s a hill worth dying on. Save your big guns for the really important conflicts that can destroy a teen’s life or soul (etc. drugs, premarital sex, etc.) These little issues are not worth creating a conflict over.
The more you forbid it, the more the teenager will desire it. That’s a weird characteristic about humans–we crave what we can’t have. (Think about diets–you never wanted fruit in your life, but when you are told, as you are in the South Beach Diet for the first two weeks, that you can’t have fruit, then all fruit suddenly becomes delectable!)
But when we are given permission to have it, we no longer crave it. USE THIS principle with your teenagers–unless the object of desire is overtly sinful (e.g., “I want to have pre-maritial sex with my boyfriend”), grant permission. You will find that this principle defuses their desire for all kinds of things! Honest, if you say “yes,” they won’t be interested anymore!
HOWEVER…it’s perfectly OK to qualify that permission. E.g., I would suggest that parents who are concerned should read the Twilight books themselves, and then engage the teen in discussions about the books. It would be wonderful if you actually enjoyed the books and conveyed this to your teenager–compare the books to Barnabas Collins and Dark Shadows, phenomenoms of the early 70s when you or your parents were teenagers! (This approach alone will probably discourage the teenager from reading Twilight books–after all, what self-respecting teenager wants to read something that mom or dad is reading and enjoying?! Eugh!)
Unfortunately, as adults (parents), we have a difficult time interpreting the books the way a teenager does, because we are no longer teenagers, and when we WERE teenagers, our culture was different.
If you don’t agree with that, then think about it in terms of children’s or senior citizens’ media–why does a child sit wide-eyed at the thousandth reading of Cat in the Hat, while we as adults are bored? Or how can a senior citizen attend a lecture about colonoscopies and be fascinated, while younger adults are grossed out? It’s really, really difficult to walk in another generation’s shoes, and that’s another reason I think we should be willing to allow teens to read Twilight, as long as they are willing to discuss it. They are teenagers, we are not, and as long as it’s not overtly sinful, why shouldn’t they participate in the norms of their teenaged culture? Why do we want to force them to be oddballs in their peer group when there is no real reason other than, “I’m suspicious of these books.” That’s the kind of approach that creates resentment and eventually rebellion in a teenager. We need to let them enjoy being teens, realizing that they WILL grow up, even as we did.
As for teens developing obsessions, they all do. (Sometimes those obsessions are religious, BTW, and the proud parents assume that the teenager is “special” and above the other teenagers who are obsessing over rock stars or fictional characters. Not true. They’re normal teenagers, but instead of getting a crush on the Twilight vampire, they’re getting a crush on Jesus and their faith. It will probably pass in college, and often, the formerly compliant teen will rebell bigtime once they have a little more freedom.)
Obsessions and crushes are part of being a teenager. I had so many pictures of my teen idols all over my room that relatives thought it was wallpaper. I got over it (kind of!–now I have pictures of Robert Patrick all over my frig!). Don’t be upset when teenagers act like teenagers! Contrary to what some people on CAF think, they are not just cuter adults. Yes, in other countries, teenagers are considered full-fledged adults, but this is not another country, this is the United States and we have a different culture and like it or not, it’s the reality you live in. You can’t change reality just by being a curmudgeon and complaining that it isn’t right.
From what I have read from various Catholic organizations, neither the Harry Potter series or the Twilight series promote evil values. Quite the contrary–both series are praised for promoting good values.
The setting is certainly questionable–a witchcraft school? A den of vampires?! How can any good come out of this setting?!
But sometimes you have to look a little deeper. Teens don’t want morality tales, they want the morality hidden so that they can have the pleasure of discovering it. Morality tales are great for children, and we as adults often enjoy them out of nostalgia for our own childhood, but teenagers need something a little heavier.
Sometimes things that appear wholesome are not wholesome at all. A lot of the sit coms on TV appear to be wholesome, but actually promote promiscuity, drunkeness, and materialism.
Parents have to be wise as serpents and gentle as doves!
Again, I say do not forbid something that is not overtly sinful. It just creates desire and craving. Let the teenager be a teenager–don’t expect him to be a saint so young. Say yes, and trust your teen to have a brain and a well-formed conscience (hopefully you helped him/her develop these!).
I am a homeschooling Catholic mom and have a 13 year old daughter. My daughter showed interest in reading the books, so I read them first. I think the books are ok for most 13 year olds, one of the points I particularly liked was no premarital sex. There have been blog quotes posted on previous threads about Twilight that were totally inaccurate, and completely slammed the books, twisted things and in some cases made accusations about the books that were totally out of left field. I suggest you read the books yourself and decide if its right for your child.
Thank you very much for all of your replies. I’m extremely grateful for your insights. As I mentioned in my original post, I read the 1st book, and found it a very interesting read. What concerned me most was Bella’s almost immediate obsession w/ Edward. She went from being a very bright girl (having had AP Biology II) to a senseless thing w/ a one-track mind - who didn’t seem to care if she badly hurt her father in the process of getting what (or whom) she wanted.
Thanks again for your insight. You’ve given me alot to think about.
There is no Church teaching on HP or Twilight so what teachings are you referring to?
I personally don’t care for the way these books portray love and chastity and how dysfunction and obsession are twisted into romance. BUT having said that, I would allow an old enough mature enough and well grounded in the faith teen read these books. I don’t think most 13 yr old girls fall into that category but that’s just MHO.
Having said that I read the first one and didn’t hate it, it’s entertaining i guess, but then again I’ve never gotten the whole vampire thing…not my cuppa.
I have read bits of the various Twilight books, and personally I am against them. For one thing, the writing is terrible! Also, I can’t help but notice some moral problems, like a lot of “making out” despite the book’s supposed chastity, or a very weird view of sex conveyed in the fourth book.
The real thing that warns me away from these books, though, is the reaction they inspire in the preteen girls who read them. I am a teacher, and it was strange to see the effects of the books on girls, especially junior high girls. They become obsessed, and take Edward as their ideal man. The problem is, Bella and Edward have a very unhealthy relationship, where he is oddly protective and she is extremely obsessed with him. Girls take models for their own relationships from the books they read, and I can say that I would be very upset if a daughter of mine were in a relationship anything like Bella and Edward’s.
Just one person’s opinion, but I would warn against letting children and teenagers read them. I would suggest Robin McKinley’s books (which are fantasy/fairy tales) or, as suggested before, Regina Doman’s books.
I am currently reading the fourth book and have enjoyed them. I do not have kids so I can’t necessarily comment on the appropriateness for children, but I do agree with some of the other posters who have said “pick your battles.” I think sometimes that if you make things too forbidden you drive kids to wanting them more than they would have if you’d let them read them – after investigating for yourself, of course. I also think that you have to weigh your credibility for future battles – if you forbid everything because it’s not perfectly wholesome, you can run into troubles with future things that are so much more important battles to fight.
Like I said earlier, ALL teenagers (generally speaking–of course there are exceptions, but they are not the norm) become obsessed with something or someone. It’s part of being a a teenager.
For many teens, it’s a “teen idol,” usually a musician, actor, or someone in show business. When I was growing up, it was David Cassidy, Bobby Sherman, Sajid Kahn, and my fave, Jonathan Frid. When my daughters were growing up, it was Michael Jackson, In Sync, Menudo (yechh!), Hanson, etc. When my MOTHER was growing up, it was Frank Sinatra, Elvis, etc. (My mother was in love with Gregory Peck, and named my brother after him.) When my grandma was growing up, it was Rudolf Valentino and Errol Flynn.
Other teens become obssessed with an athlete–for my husband, DOROTHY HAMILL! A lot of girls loved Dorothy, too. My husband’s ice dance partner said that her sister was so obsessed by Dorothy that she not only cut her hair ala Dorothy, but she brought her ice skates to summer camp, even though she really wasn’t into ice skating herself–she just wanted to be like Dorothy!
Some teens become obsessed with gaming, or vampires, or goth, or CARS, or music, or the theater (the so-called "Acting Bug), or the environment, or fitness, or poetry, or journaling, or even church and faith.
I was into Jonathan Frid and Dark Shadows, horror stories especially vampire stories, anthropology, Africa, blood diseases (fascinated by hematology–today, it’s the one department in the lab that I hate the most!), ferns, Coke and Pepsi (which is one reason I have a hard time giving it up–I associate it with my happy teen years), helping black people escape from the ghetto, poetry, World War II (I read Mein Kampf in 8th grade and devoured that special, The World at War that was shown on late night network TV, also loved Hogan’s Heroes), Shakespeare…etc. etc.
And when I was into something, I was into it repeatedly–I saw certain movies over and over and OVER again, and I read certain books repeatedly. My room was filled with pictures of ferns and Africa and I copied poetry and kept a notebook, which I still have today. I memorized several famous passages from Shakespearean plays. I wrote a vampire screenplay when I was 15.
It’s just normal. When I grew up, it all passed. Today, I am still interested in some of the above, but I am no longer obsessed.
It all passes. It’s just being a teenager. Grownups, don’t “obsess” about it! Relax and let teens enjoy being teens. It all goes so fast.
Yes, of course teenagers get obsessed with things. But I just think there are much less harmful obsessions – like Lord of the Rings, chick flicks, Hannah Montana, whatever. Not creepy stories of twisted relationships.
I think some teenagers need creepy and twisted to be able to face their fears and overcome them. It’s the old “catharsis” theory.
I have written a novel (unpublished because I’m still working on it) where the hero rejects the smiling, happy Jesus of his Protestant church because his life is anything but smiling and happy. But when he reluctantly accompanies his Catholic buddy to Mass, he sees a copy of Pieta (one that has been painted, complete with blood, like the one in the Italian parish in my city), he wants this Jesus, because he knows that this bloody, suffering (actually dead in His Mother’s arms) Jesus knows what he and other humans are going through.
My teen daughter is not into Twilight at all, but friends of hers are so we’ve talked about it. We’ve talked about the writing level of the books (she wants to be an author so doesn’t like to read poorly-written 'boiler plate" type books). But we’ve also talked about how derivitive the bboks are. If your daughter wants to read about vampires–have her read Dracula! It is extremely well-written, scary, and yet very, very moral. If she is into the romance aspect, have her read Jane Eyre. It is a wonderful story about an unrequitable love (although I guess being a vampire is more interesting than having your crazy first wife locked in the attic) and how it can be reconciled.
My constant point in these discussions is that there are so many good books (and not all old fashioned ones either), why spend time with badly written, predictable plotted books? Even if she is looking for a ‘light’ read, there are better choices.
As others have said though, I’m not sure I would choose this hill to die on, but I would work to find better books to suggest.
I agree to a certain extent, but sometimes, we just want to read for R and R, not for the sake of improving our minds.
I have series of Dark Shadows novels (32) that are really low-level reading. But such fun to read! So relaxing. I don’t have to think really hard to understand what’s going on. I have no trouble remembering who the characters are. There aren’t any foreign names that I keep forgetting if they’re male or female. No quotes that I have to Google. No similies or metaphors or analogies or philosophizing or references to other great works of literature that I’ve never read. Just sheer entertainment–romantic characters, a suspenseful but predictable plot, easy to follow dialogue, and lots of nostalgia for my teenaged years when I loved Dark Shadows and Barnabas Collins. A quick hour and I’ve read the entire novel.
It’s especially tought being a teenager, especially a literary teenager. Sometimes the brain is fried and the teen just needs to kick back and relax and read something simplistic and easy. Nothing wrong with that.
BTW, read Dracula a little more carefully. I’ve read it every year for the past 30+ years, so I really know this novel well. It’s my personal opinion that on the SURFACE, it’s moral and Christian, but underneath, it is actually an attempt by Stoker to make fun of religion, particularly Christianity. Stoker was not an especially wholesome person. I agree with you that it’s an excellent novel for a teen to read, but don’t be too quick to assume it’s better for the soul than Twilight novels.
Yes I agree that not all reading has to be ‘improving’. However, there is still different levels of light reading–from pure twaddle to just fun frothy stuff. I would rate Twilight more in the twaddle department because it’s just not all that well written. *Harry Potter *books, for example, while fun, are much better written and actually require that you keep a bit more track of names, places, etc!
My examples were probably a bit too deep compared to Twilight, but my daughter is a voracious reader who had no trouble with *Jane Eyre *(and is older than 13). My point still stands that there are so many good books out there (especially for girls) that I would just steer my child to one of so many other choices. But again, I don’t know that this is the hill I would die on–especially since mom has already read the book and can talk about it with her daughter.
Finally, I agree with you about Stoker not being the finest, most upstanding citizen, but as vampire books goes, Dracula is definately the best.