Friday, November 13, 2009

How young is too young for romance?

How young is too young for romance?

And when I say “romance” I mean romance. You know—the panting, pulsating and puckering kind of romance that I (and I’m guessing a few of you!) LOVE!

Okay, with that definition in mind… I have a twelve year old daughter who’s a voracious reader. And who not only knows that I write romance, but is quite proud of me. Of course, I’ve told her she can’t read my books until she’s older. And she doesn’t wonder why. She knows. Kind-of. It has to do with s-e-x. But she can’t just accept no… she has asked “well, when then?”

So, that’s what I’m pondering today. How young is too young for romance?

There are some reasons that I do wish she could read romances. There are things she can learn that as a woman I want her to know:
1. The qualifications of a true hero.
2. That women can be strong, independent and intelligent and be loved for it.
3. That true love really does exist and is worth waiting for.

But there are some things I don’t want her to learn quite yet:
1. A couple of “c” words, an “f” word … oh, and that other “c” word.
2. Why college guys actually giggle when the number 69 is mentioned.
3. Why a guy’s shoe size might be of interest.

I’ll admit it… my idea of romance was influenced by the fact that my mom let me start reading romance as a teenager. I don’t think that’s bad at all—I’m very grateful for it! Then again, I’m pretty sure LaVyrle Spencer didn’t use any of the “c” words or the “f” word!

So, what do you all think? How young is too young? If I was going to let her start reading romance where should I start her? Have your daughters read romance yet? When did they start?


Erin Nicholas’ first novel was released this month! And it does hit all the points on list one… and while her hero’s shoe size isn’t specifically given as large, it’s definitely implied!


Kelly Jamieson said...

Great question Erin! My 19 year old daughter is not into romance and turns her nose up at what I write. When she was 17, like you I told her she couldn't read my books, but now she's an adult and she doesn't even want to! I started reading sweet Harlequins when I was about twelve or thirteen and there are lots of great YA romances out there for teens, I'm sure others can recommend some...

Meg Benjamin said...

Neat topic! I've got boys, both of whom sort of snicker at the idea of their aging mother writing romances. Actually I think the kind of sex found in mainstream romance would be a good thing for teens to read. Yeah, it's idealized, but it gives a better picture of what sex can be like than some of the more euphemistic versions in the romances we read as teenagers. I mean, the whole "earth moves" business might elevate expectations a tad.

Skylar Kade said...

I was in my early teens when I picked up my first romance, a little younger when I started reading "Cosmo" magazine. I'm split on this issue, too. I like the idea of recommending YAs, but they don't have the same strong female heroines that many new romances do (case in point -- Bella from Twilight). I think that a parent who can openly discuss safe sex and relationships with their child has a better chance of distinguishing the LOVE from the SEX in romance novels to the child does not get the wrong impression. And I wouldn't worry about the language. Scary as it is, she's probably heard that, and worse, at school by the time she was in 7th grade.

Erin Nicholas said...

Skylar you bring up a great point about Twilight. My daughter read those books and I did as well since she was and it was such a craze I thought I should know what she was reading. She and I then had a long talk about how I hope she was *never* like Bella and why! I should let her read some kick-ass-girl romances just to wash that out of her mind! *G* and you're probably right about the language... I just don't want her to know that her *mom* knows those words!

PG Forte said...

Well, as my daughter reminded me--when I asked her about it today--she read most of my Oberon series when she was about fourteen. The first seven or so were on her computer (which used to be my computer) and she was bored.

I was surprised, but given that I'd read Valley of the Dolls when I was thirteen, I really wasn't too worried about her being irreparably damaged.

As for her picking up bad words, I don't know what schools are like where you are, but around here I'm pretty sure I lost that battle in Kindergarten. By the time she was in third grade, she and her friends had already figured out how to program the text-to-speech feature of the American Girl Doll computer game with all the words on your list--and then some!

Anonymous said...

My mom bought me a bag of the really good romance books at a garage sale when I was 14. She did not know how descriptive they were but I read all those books with in a week and I have not stopped since and now I am 30.

I think it depends on the maturity of your daughter and you. Are you two going to feel comfortable with what is in the books, does this mean she is going to experiment with those acts in the books? Can she come and ask you what exactly they are doing?

jennifer said...

I was a avid reader at a young age and lived in a town with no library. Reading was not that important to my single mom so I would beg my granny for money and go to yard sales where I picked up what my mom called smut books from the early age of 10. I'd like to think I have benefited from it. Sure I learned colorful words and knew the facts of life but I also learned of love and history cause most were historicals.

RachieG said...

Hi Erin! I'm 23 now...but I was 14 when I started reading romance. My mom never censored anything and now I'm the one who goes and picks out stuff for her to read. :) It's a tough decision, good luck :)

Rosemary Gunn said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rosemary Gunn said...

I began reading YA romance probably around 11 or 12, then at 15 picked up my mom's Loveswept #1 (Heaven's Price by Sandra Brown) and there was no going back to the YA.

My daughter, though a voracious reader, was never interested in romances. She's 23 now and after reading my book (Open Proposal) she immediately became a huge fan of erotic romance! Of course, my 17 yo son hasn't read my books, though he's seen my cover and gets a kick out of the idea that his mom writes porn!

Being open and honest about sex with your kid is the most important part. I absolutely loved the YA romances that I read as a pre-teen/young teen. It made it somehow okay to be experiencing all those feelings I was having.

Good luck. :)

Sydney Somers said...

I wasn't exactly reading romance at 12, but did discover VC Andrews around that time when a friend convinced me to read them. Although I'm sure the sex was fairly tame compared in those books to today (at least that's how I remember them anyway) it was still probably more than my mother expected me to be reading, and I turned out okay. LOL

If you're going to let her try some, I'd definitely start with sweeter ones.In Julie James Just the Sexiest Man Alive, which was a favorite of mine this year, the hero and heroine only have sex off stage, and even then very late in the book.

Sweet Vernal Zephyr said...

I don't have a daughter BUT I know I was sneaking my mother's romance novels around that age. She caught me a couple times and would even rip her own books in half if there was any "bodice ripping" or rape scenes. She refused to read novels that portrayed women as weak.

I also know that even as young as 12 I was devouring anything about the subject, sneaking glimpses of Our Bodies Ourselves and creating sex flip books with my girlfriends at the library... so I would opt for showing her authors that portray women and men in the way you approve of - otherwise you will have no control over what she reads at all.