Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Torn over whether to let my son read JR Ward

So, back in October, my son surprised me by asking if he could read Dark Lover. Apparently his girlfriend recommended it. I automatically said no.

But now I'm rethinking my position. He's going to be 17 next month. He watches R-rated movies that are full of sex and violence. He's read the Sookie Stackhouse books, which I was hesitant about at first (thank you Shower Scene in Book 4), but we didn't let him watch True Blood until this season.

I'd like to think we've raised him right so far, and I remind him A LOT that the relationships he sees on TV and the movies are not necessarily true-to-life and I expect him to respect women and not view them as sex objects.

And, from what I read in the blogosphere, many of you started reading romance in your teens (I only started less than two years ago), so am I pulling a double-standard because he 's a boy? I know it sounds weird, but I don't want him to view Dark Lover as a sex manual, if that makes sense.

I know there was some sort of kerfluffle recently about a teen reviewing an erotic book for a site, but I think that was mainly over the fact that he wasn't presented as a teen when he did the review? Or that it wasn't his parents that gave him the book?

I've decided to let him read it, but I'm curious about what other romance readers think or what you've done if your teen expresses interest in reading romance. And, is it different because he's a boy, or is it just different because for me it's not a hypothetical kid?


  1. I think you should let him read it-if anything it might open up some great discussions. My mom always let me read books that weren't necessarily in my age bracket just for that reason.

  2. Interesting question that I don't have to ponder for awhile yet. I think you know your son best. You know his maturity level. What he can handle and what he can't. If you think this is something that he can handle, I see no problem with his reading material. Take a look a Playboy and all those magazines, with this he's seeing a committed relationship between two people.

    BTW, count me in as one of the people who've been reading romance forever. I picked up my first romance novel and it wasn't even an HQ, when I was eleven. Would I let me daughter read one at eleven. Probably not but we're two different people with different experiences. And despite me picking up my first romance at eleven, I think I turned out relatively normal!

  3. I think the kerfuffle was more because that reviewer was 15...

    I was a completely unsupervised reader, so I was reading some pretty adult stuff by 12 and 13. It sounds like you two have a great relationship and can talk about this stuff - go for it.

  4. Hm, well I did certainly not read books like Wards when I was 17..but if I knew they existed I would have. I mean I started with those harlequins when I was 10. The only thing those books left me with was a need for a HEA.

    I think you should let him, if not perhaps he will think what is the big deal about them that you hide them like that..but it is all up to you in the end

  5. I agree...you know him best but I say let him read them.

    Can I say something inappropriate? Yes? OK....I would love for (let's say) my hubby to read them and use them as a sex manual LOL!

    Seriously though, from what I read about you and your son (when you post about him) I think it sounds like you 2 have a good relationship and he can talk to you about it if he needs to.

  6. What an interesting question! I'd agree with you and your commenters above, that you know your son best, and clearly have a strong, loving relationship with him, and also, at 17, he's probably been exposed to far worse.

    I think it's wonderful that he's a reader, and that his girlfriend recommends books to him that he then wants to read.

    Also, you may be surprised - he may be bored senseless by the sex parts. That tends to be my husband's reaction when I get him to read a book like this.

  7. (lol Carolyn) That's what I was thinking. He might read 30 pages and think his girlfriend was wrong in thinking he would like it!

    I believe 17 is old enough for him to decide what to read - with your loving guidance of course. As long as you are around to answer any concerns he may have while reading it, he should be just fine. You telling him that books of that genre are not "life guides" was a nice touch! Now it would be a different story if vampires violently attacked innocent humans...

    Great question Patti! My 5 year old daughter "reads" my books -- she says she likes the pictures on the covers of the girls with the cool tattoos! lol (I hide the books that have more graphic pictures on the cover)

  8. i think you should definitely let him read it. at 17, he's practically an adult, and will presumably be on his own before too long.

    there's obviously a lot of sex in the book, but it's actually not that graphic compared to a lot of similar books, and it's between two people who really care about each other. i would say the sex is R rated (pooossssibly NC-17), and as a 17 yr old, he's allowed to see those movies, so why not read the books?

    plus...i don't know your son, obviously, but if it were me, banning the book would be one sure way of making sure i found a way to read it!

  9. Buckeye Girl: Yes, we're pretty open about sex so you're right, it might open up about stuff we hadn't touched on yet.

    Lynette: He's very mature, and that was one of the plusses in my thought process was that the book portrayed a committed relationship.

    Chris: I think it's really more about my "baby" growing up, LOL!

    Blodeuedd: I probably would have read them too :) Good point about hiding them...

    Kris: I think we do have a good relationship and he could talk to me...maybe a little embarasment on his part :)

    Carolyn: Hadn't thought about that - he might be bored with the sex stuff but the action in this book is pretty good. Maybe he'll like the scenes with the Lessers :)

    Julie: My younger daughters like the "tough chick" covers too but groan if I accidently leave a scantily clad man cover out.

    Jane: Good point about banning the book. I guess I'm just having a hard time letting him grow up :)

  10. Patti above Jane made a very valid point, at 17 years old if you say now way Jose can you read this book he is going to by heavens find a copy and read it for sure!! If his GF is the one who recommended it he can get a copy from her presumably so his asking to borrow yours means that you two right now have a great Mother and Son relationship, better than the Mother Daughter one I had at that age for sure....

    I cannot tell you one way or another what to do having no children of my own, can say same as many others though have read books along these lines and much worse believe it or not in the Westerns that my father put in my hands from 8 or 9 years old and I am not "warped" by the "sexual nature" of those books.
    I honestly think that when the lines of communication are open as they seem to be with you and yours that everything will be fine. After all in today's world the young man knows more about sex and violence from the world news than will ever be covered in a "steamy romance"!

    jackie b central texas

  11. I'd say let him read it. He asked which is a good sign and he has no doubt heard a few spoilers from his girlfriend.

    My ten year old son is reading the Young Bond books at the moment and was curious to read the original James Bond stories. After some discussion and explanations I agreed and he is working through at his own pace. I suspect that a lot of the language is above him but he appreciates the story and the action.

    On the other hand I wouldn't let him watch the James Bond movies, they capture the action but not the deeper thinking that is shown in the books.

    I was reading everything I could get my hands on at 17 including Anais Nin which was very educational.

    Your son has had a brilliant grounding from you and I'm sure he understands about how to view literature critically and to learn from it too.


  12. Jacabur: You're right - I've just got to let him go and hope we gave him the foundation to know the difference between fact and fiction (pun intended :D).

    Ian: LOL - my son's name is Ian too :) Perhaps Ian will enjoy the action in these books (there is quite a bit of it). I hadn't thought about the fact that the girlfriend may be sharing spoilers *cringes*. Yikes!

  13. At 17 years old I think your son is definitely old enough to make the difference between real life and fiction, so I don't see why not.
    I only read the first book so far, and even thought there are some "wrong" (rape, one of the brother collecting girls in bed) scenes, but overall, Warth isn't treating Beth wrong.

    Anyway, it's just my opinion ^^

  14. I think a seventeen year old is close enough to an adult to read whatever they want.

  15. What an interesting question and discussion, Patti. I don't have any experience to really provide you with any advice other than to reiterate other people's comments that it seems obvious you have such a good relationship with your son that any issues which do arise you should be able to openly discuss with him. Good luck!

  16. This is very interesting Patti!!!! This is a great discussion! And I am one to just say what I do... My daughter is 16 going on 17 this year... and she does not pick my books (her bff does)... but like you said, they watch tv, shows, movies, music and all other sources of media ~ hell... they have school, that's enough right there!! But anyway, the world offers them enough. I just let my daughter know that this does not happen in real life, lmbo. But I let her reading go wild. Don't we support the I READ BANNED BOOKS, lol. Well... I will shut up for now!
    Hugs to you honey!!!! Enjoy Ian!!!

  17. Really it's your gut feeling. Is he mature enough, are you willing to let him view material like that?

    all your own choice.

    I will be frank, I am 19. I have been reading not only romance but erotica since i was about 15. (yes, gasp!)

    I turned out completely fine. (honest!)

    The fact that your son wants to read in the first place should be fantastic in my view let him read!

    That is just my POV.

    As long as he is mature enough to distinguish...then let him roam free!

  18. I will say that it is interesting seeing a mum concerned about her childs reading.

    I will admit...my mum never knows (even now) what I read...she knows it's something to do with vampires or something and that i read too much.

    So it is very interesting seeing how a mum is reacting to her kids reading somewhat questionable material.

  19. My owner was introduced to some very steamy books when she was 13 and you know who gave them to her to read: her grandmother!
    I think your son is old enough to try it and I agree that it's a good idea to discuss the book with him afterwards.

  20. Tynga: Good point about the rape scene - Butch's reaction to it was a good thing IMO, as far as him being angry at the attacker.

    Estella: You're probably right, it's probably just hard for me to let go :)

    Kris: Thanks, I'm sure he'll be fine, it's starting to be ME I'm worried about, LOL!

    Cecile: I hadn't thought about the influence of school either - he goes to an all boy's school so I'm sure things get pretty crude :O

    Wings: He's very mature, I think he can handle it. Maybe it's me that can't handle it,LOL. Interesting to see a parent concerned - in a good way or a bad way?

    Sullivan McPig: Your owner's grandmother must have been a spunky woman! It's probably not a bad idea to discuss afterwards :)

  21. Patti I can relate to this one..

    My eldest at the same age read that same book - Only thing was he didn't ask me to read it..

    I passed him curled up in the living room with it. I left him to it and said let's have a chat about it when you are done..

    Because I know my kid, he is a reader - he's logical and he tend to sum up a whole lot from very little.

    His verdict...
    He liked the brothers ALOT... he connected with Ward's world through the name pimping, the music and the influx of techy stuff..

    Every boys dream is to have a dragon in the back yard - so to have a shifter Rhage in house was an immediate sell for him..

    The vast amount of destruction in this book was like manna from heaven for him..

    The sex didn't grab him. He thought Beth was an idiot, had no awareness to her own danger and went where angels fear to tread... He thought Marissa was just a silly girl, pretty yet stupid..

    He read three books in the series and then he was done..

    All that series of books is housed on shelves where my kids have access to them - my 12 yrs old only interest was in wanting to know if there was sex - yes.

    He has no interest. he's more the swashbuckling, pirate, adventure sort of reader..

    Girl spoils those plot for him, they need toilet, and makeup and always want to talk...

    So I know he wont be looking at those book for a few more years yet - if ever.

    You know your kid hon - go with your instincts..


  22. EH: See, this is why I'm so glad I blogged about this. It hadn't occurred to me that he might gravitate towards the fighting and name brands and stuff. Thanks for sharing your experiences!