Reading YA as a mom has been really eye opening.
Books I would have taken for granted before Baby Chick, probably even love, I now see very differently. I’m more aware of the unhealthy messages in fiction than I ever was when it was just myself.
I think about this a lot, actually. However, I decided to write this post after discussing a YA girl power vengeance novel. The story plot involved an assault, and then the victim going vigilante on her attacker in an act of revenge. The discussion was whether it was a healthy message for our youth.
Our opinions differed, with mine leaning toward the belief that teenagers are able to tell realism from a fantasy. However, there are area’s where I know that isn’t true. Do I believe my daughter wouldn’t go on a murderous rampage against those who hurt her? No. But, do I believe she’s got as clear a head when it comes to a healthy romance?
Yeah, not so much.
There are too many popular romances out there for our daughters that glorify abusive relationships. It’s so easy for impressionable girls to want to romanticize a negative behavior that is written as ‘loving’. They don’t see it for what it really is. Controlling.
The first time I went on this rant it was for my nieces, who were deeply invested in the Twilight saga. At the time Baby Chick was actually a baby, but my nieces were all in high school, or early college. I’d read the series. I’d been caught up in the addictive feelings it inspired. Still, I felt like it was necessary for me to explain how, even though Edward was dreamy, his behavior’s were not. In addition, I wanted them to recognize how the concept that Bella would give up everything do be dead with him was a false idea, and completely unhealthy. Then, on top of that, all the consequences of her choice never came to fruition. In a sense, she was rewarded for killing herself by getting everything she really wanted.
My niece wrote an essay on it in a college class.
I was so proud.
Unfortunately, it hasn’t ended there. There’s a slew of problematic romances out there, even outside of reading. I’ve tried my best to steer Baby Chick away from all of them.
I remember taking her and her friend to see Suicide Squad, and on our way out there was talk about Joker and Harley Quinn, and all the awwwws and envy from young tweens… and it was a little scary, because those Joker and Harley checked all the abuse boxes. Our girls need to recognize how horrible it really was, despite how entertaining the characters in a movie were. I don’t want any girls too long for abuse. Ever.
Seek a partner who builds you up!
Thankfully, for every one bad romance there are five great ones. There are romance novels out there showcasing relationships that are compassionate, giving, supportive… like Fangirl, Flat Out Love, or Looking for Alibrandi.
Now, if go look through my Goodreads shelf you’ll probably see plenty of unhealthy, romance novels. *cough-Jericho-cough* Well, the thing about teenage brains is they aren’t fully developed. I believe Baby Chick knows the difference between reading vigilante story and being an actual vigilante. My hope is once she’s an adult she will also be able to tell the difference between reading about a dangerous relationship, and actually living one.
And, if I’m wrong, Mommy bird will be right there to chirp in her ear.