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The struggle is real; we want our kids to love reading. It’s the foundation to ultimate freedom – if you can read, you can learn to do anything! But with so much of the media our kids take in focusing on visual, video formats (like YouTube, TikTok, and Netflix; also, not a bad thing)) bookworms seem to be a rarity these days, and you find yourself fighting with your teen to finish the most basic of reading assignments. And if your child struggles with dyslexia or any other type of learning disability, this can be doubly hard.
Your teens wants to read a book!
The day comes. You’ve imagined it, dreamed about it, tried everything in your power to force it into existence!
Your teen is asking you to buy her a book! It’s a friggin’ miracle! You decide to make it a mom date – you’ll head over to Barnes & Noble, hang out for a bit and peruse the new novels as you sip on delightfully sweet caramel lattes; she’ll share details about the book she’s chosen, gushing over how she relates to the characters. Maybe you’ll stop for lunch after at that new bistro…and of course she’ll open up and give you all the latest tea in her drama-laden teenage world. You’ll give advice and she’ll thank you for it, and you’ll both laugh and have this amazing day as you lavish her with gifts, the proud mom of a gen z teen who asked you to buy her an actual book, with like, words and stuff!
Oh the expectations! I’ve warned you that I can be a bit of a drama queen, though I think I’ve passed drama and headed straight for wildest fantasy land here!
The dream Crushing Reality
In any case, reality strikes and here’s what actually happens:
You get ready for a nice day out with your teen, fully prepared to reward her generously for her interest in reading. She asks you if she has to go. You say yes, she whines, pouts and throws a hoodie on over her pajamas. She gives you the silent treatment the entire way there, and when you step in the store, says something like “do I at least get a coffee for this?”
You hold back the urge to punch her in the face, buy her the fucking venti Frappuccino she wants, and ask for the title of this stinking book.
She begrudgingly follows you through the store as you ask her questions like, what genre is it, do you know how to find a specific book in here? She mumbles I don’t know with an annoyed look on her face until finally, you just ask an employee. You try to salvage some validation for yourself, proudly stating that your daughter is looking for such and such book, pretending for a second she’s a regular lover of reading and knowledge…only to be met by a strange and almost shaming look from the store associate.
Not the reaction you were hoping for, but whatever. You remind yourself that no matter how shitty this day is going, in the end, you’re buying an actual book for your teen who hates to read, because she wanted it! You hold on to that thought as you follow the douchey store associate’s directions, find the correct aisle and finally discover the treasure that is your daughter’s thirst for knowledge and adventure!
You excitedly read the back cover, and your smile starts to twist into a crumpled wtf face. You skim through the pages of the book, your child standing there with a stupid look on her face, acting bored, annoyed, and spoiled as ever. You look at her, look at the book, and back at her again.
Your teens wants to read an erotic novel?
This is no award winning classic. This is borderline porn! A romance novel with some very descriptive, very erotic scenes that you wouldn’t dream of exposing your child to!
What’s a mom to do?
As a mom whose faced this exact situation, and as a woman who was taught that sex was something shameful to even speak of outside the silent confines of the marital bed, I’d like to offer a bit of insight and advice…
Before reading further, please know that this is my opinion, based off of my experiences and my unique set of values. You are the mom, and only you can decide what’s best for your children. Every kid is different, every family is different, everyone’s values are different. But I hope you’ll keep an open mind and at least hear me out!
Buy the book.
Let your child know you trust their judgement.
One mistake I’ve made with my kids far more times than I’d like to admit is making them feel like their ideas are invalid. But telling our kids that the book they’ve finally chosen to get excited about it smut and we don’t approve sends a message. It is like telling them that their interests and ideas are wrong and stupid. Like their opinions don’t matter. And that is a very unhelpful attitude to have towards teens. Trust me on this one!
There’s a couple of possibilities here as to why your kid has chosen this particular book:
They are genuinely interested in the story. The outcome here is that either your child will enjoy the story and find out reading isn’t so bad – maybe even find out they like reading, or, they’ll be meh about the story and you’ll be no worse off than you already are.
If you’re worried about exposure to sexual content, let it go. They’ve seen far more than you want to know. Chances are, they know more about sex than you do at this point. Try to focus on the part where they want to read!
They are trying to get a rise out of you. This is entirely possible, and if that’s true? Then you NOT reacting and buying the book is going to shock the hell out of them! And maybe it’s just me, but I find shocking my teens is quite an enjoyable hobby 😉
It’s possible they are hoping you’ll say no to the book so that later, when you complain about them not reading they can throw it in your face that you said no to the one book they chose. 🙄 And as ridiculous as that is, you know as well as I do it will cause an argument, a massive amount of frustration and not a single word of reading.
It’s also possible that they don’t care as much about the story and are genuinely curious about sexuality. If so, then the fact that they asked for the book is enough reason to believe they have questions they want to ask you, but aren’t sure how to communicate with you about it. So make it less awkward. Buy the damn book.
In any case, buying the book will let your kid know that you value their opinion and trust them to read about mature subjects; it let’s them know you recognize they are growing up and that you are cool with that.
Read the book.
Read it together or read it without them knowing, but it read it none-the-less. We always want to know what our kids are into, and this is the perfect opportunity. By keeping up with what our kids are reading, watching, and listening to, we can gain a deeper understanding of their world. And that’s what our teens want – to be understood.
In this case, there are likely other reasons besides just sex that intrigued your teen. As I stated earlier, today’s kids have access to so much friggin’ porn and overly sexualized content; stuff you don’t even know exists! And they’ve already seen it. It’s everywhere. If they were simply interested in porn, they’d find easier ways to do it.
On the flipside, finding out those things that intrigue them is key to helping guide them into a happy, successful future. As you read, see what topics are brought up by your teen. Notice what, if anything from the story influences them.
For example, the book my daughter wanted to read was The Kiss Quotient. Great book, but lots of descriptive sexual stuff. I’ll admit, when she chose this book, I hesitated, big time.
But I also knew that if she wanted to read it, she’d find a way whether I allowed it or not. It wasn’t an erotic novel. It just had me blushing far more than I wanted to in front of that derpy store associate. So, I allowed it, and read it along with her. I’m so glad I did!
The Kiss Quotient is a story is about a woman who has High Functioning Autism, and it relates to her struggles with intimacy. It gives her unique perspective on how relationships and sex effected her, and the challenges she was met with on her ideas of acceptance and love. It was one of the best books I’ve ever read! In fact, I recommend it, for teens and moms alike! Check it out below!
Here’s my experience:
As my daughter read it, I saw a shift in how she treated her brother, who also has High Functioning Autism. Maybe that’s what drew her to the story, I don’t know. But I do know it seemed to open her eyes to how her brother sees the world, and how the way people view him, communicate with him, and interact with him affects him and his relationships.
I also noticed her asking questions and opening up about some of her own insecurities about sex and intimacy. It opened the door for us to have more personal conversations about sexuality, relationships, intimacy, beauty, love, and yup, birth control.
Another change in behavior I noticed with her was a heightened defense of others. Where before she may have laughed along with her friends if they said something like, “OMG quit being so Autistic” in a derogatory way, she now defends others and refuses to put up with that kind of talk from her friends.
If you knew my daughter, you would know that is just not like her. She is literally the personification of Regina George. So being nice to people was like, a total shock. A nice shock. 🙂 And one that gave me a bit of insight on her values. She’s an advocate. A heroine. Which happens to also be what her name means…which has nothing to do with anything, I just find it fascinating!
Talk about the book.
Use this is an opportunity to have meaningful conversation with your child; about the book, other themes throughout, or as a way to offer guidance in their questions about sexuality- without the conversation having to be about sex.
Make up little inside jokes about it. Bring up how that crazy lady in the deli reminded you of a character from the story. You don’t need to go overboard and spend every second talking about it. That will likely just embarrass them. Just let your teen know you’re interested in what they are doing ; that you are available to have those conversations, however deep or superficial.
Sometimes it’s the silly, little things that open the door for those more serious conversations.
Praise your child for reading.
This is a huge accomplishment for the teen who hates to read! No matter your comfort level with the sexuality depicted, your kid read an entire freakin’ book, without any nagging! Praise your child for reading, and encourage them to keep going! Plan another trip to the bookstore with the promise of fancy, sugary, caffeinated milkshakes. Reiterate that you respect and value their ability to choose media that is beneficial. Buy them another book of their choice. Even if the first one was meant to piss you off, celebrating their educational accomplishments and encouraging them to continue in whatever way they want WILL lead them down a road of curiosity, interest led learning, and a thirst for knowledge. It will spark a desire to follow their unique interests and passions. And no matter how smutty the topic, there is always something to learn.
Cuz in the end, that’s what this is really all about. 😊
Show them you value this, and they will begin to value it themselves. Swearzies!