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The Twilight saga: New Moon–important questions for teens and tweens

new-moon1Many of us have devoured the Twilight book series and waited with great anticipation for movie #2, New Moon, which opened this week.  What’s not to like?  Vampire fantasy, hot actors, forbidden love, and imminent danger combine for a fantasical spectacle sending screaming girls to theatres across the country.   It doesn’t even include real sex (yet), which makes it perfect for teens, or maybe even younger ones, to enjoy without hesitation, right?

Maybe.  Or maybe not.  It depends.

I had fun reading the first book, and part of the second, but as I read deeper into the series, I began to feel queasy about issues that had nothing to do with vampires or sexual tension.  This saga is targeted to impressionable adolescents who are just beginning to sort out love and relationships.  

And I don’t want my sons or daughter to seek relationships like these. 

They probably won’t, since we don’t know any vampires or werewolves, but even so, I want to help my kids think through some of the following questions:

1)  What do you think of Bella Swan (the girl-next-door heroine)? 

Do you think Bella is good role model?  What makes her appealing beyond her looks (and apparently, her scent)?  Is she interested in anything besides Edward Cullen?  Do you think her accident-prone nature is endearing?  Does she believe in herself?  Do you relate to her struggles?  Would you want to be Bella’s friend?   

2)  What do you think of Edward Cullen (the hot–excuse me, cold– vampire boyfriend)?

Okay, Edward is gorgeous, chivalrous, sophisticated, and did I say gorgeous?   I might swoon for him too (except for the cold, hard, sparkly skin part–that’s not for me).  What do you like about the way he treats Bella?  Does anything concern you?   What do you think about the multiple-century age difference between them?

3)  How about Jacob Black (the other friend/werewolf)?

What qualities do you see in Jacob?  What makes him different from Edward?  Who would you prefer as a friend?

3)  Are there any humans in this series you could look up to?

Are there any (human) women you admire in this movie?  What about men?  (Do you hear the sound of crickets chirping?)

4)  What do you think of Edward and Bella’s relationship?

It’s really exciting to be loved, rescued and protected by a superhuman dreamboat who would do anything for you.   Edward clearly loves Bella.  But seriously, how much fun would it really be to be Edward Cullen’s girlfriend (aside from the constant threat of peril)?  Would you really enjoy being watched nonstop, even while you weren’t aware of it?  What if your boyfriend forbid you to go places or talk to certain people?   What if he got really angry and out of control sometimes?  Are these signs of a healthy relationship, or not?

When Edward leaves her, Bella falls into deep depression until she befriends another guy (Jacob).   Do you think Bella could be happy without a boy?  If you were her friend, what advice would you give Bella?  Do you know the warning signs of serious depression?  What are some healthier ways to deal with heartbreak? 

*******************************

Now, many of you might feel like I’m getting much too serious about this fantasy.  I get that.  I think people can enjoy the passionate thrill of these movies.  My boys will probably roll their eyes and moan, “Mom, you’re doing it again.  We can handle this–we know it’s not like real life!”  and that’s okay with me.  That’s my job as their mother.  I need to be sure my kids don’t want to be just like Edward.  Or Bella.  Or both, together.   Because that could become a bloody mess–for real. 

If you’re looking for balanced information to decide whether movies, games or books are age appropriate, I highly recommend Common Sense Media

With the above caveats, I hope you enjoy the movie, the adventure, and the eye candy.  ;-)   Let me know what you think. 

 

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12 comments to The Twilight saga: New Moon–important questions for teens and tweens

  • I’m thankful my kids don’t care about this book/movie at all!

    That said, these types of social/pop culture things are GREAT teaching opportunities. When we, as parents voice our disapproval it just silences or censors the dialog. I have to respect, listen and be interested in what interests my kids or they will just stop sharing those interests with me. This gives parents an opportunity to prompt kids to think deeper and to begin to decide what they believe and why.

    GREAT post.

  • Alison

    I derived guilty pleasure from the books but, yes, I worry about how impressionable pre-teens and teenage girls view the relationship. You nailed it again.

  • pam

    Julie and Alison, thanks so much for your feedback. I posted this with some trepidation since I know so many are crazy about Twilight. But I found myself biting my tongue often about this, which was a sign I needed to get my thoughts out there. Thank goodness for the outlet of blogging!

  • I enjoyed the movie as an adult, after my son was grown and out on his own. But I have wondered how I would feel about these vampire relationships if my son were younger and watching with me. Good food for thought.

  • Mom

    I have not yet read the books or seen the movies. I have seen trailers for the new movie that make me want to see the movie. However, I’m going to read the books first.

    I think it is very important as a parent to discuss the content of books and movies with your children. They need to understand that real love and real life is not like the movies/books.

  • Good points. I didn’t read the series, although my 3 daughters did. I did scan for content.
    And they expressed some of these thoughts, and only one went to the first movie, wasn’t impressed, and no one has mentioned going to see the second. We don’t really censor them from things, but they know when they are uncomfortable about the lines being blurred.

  • Sue

    Hi Pam,

    Excellent questions. One thing that I gleaned from the book and knowing the religious background of the author (which was illuminating for me) is that Edward & Bella’s relationship is far more mature than what the average teen will experience prior to marriage.

    Edward shows extreme care for Bella and puts her needs in front of his consistently as their story unwinds, which is an excellent example of selfless love and the kind of love husbands who follow a Biblical model strive for. Will the average teen find that sort of selfless, giving love in their relationships? Not likely, but it’s something that I think every woman deserves. And in turn, her mate deserves that same kind of selfless love from her. It’s not simply a one-way street, not if you want a successful, life-long marriage, which is something that a young-adult needs to learn.

    Julie did hit an important component right on the head – we MUST keep the lines of communication open with our kids, even if there are aspects of the pop culture which make us uncomfortable. From those times come invaluable opportunities to have Teachable Moments and good Life Lessons.

  • Jennifer Barber

    Rented Twilight movie this weekend and watched it with my husband and teen boys (they thought it was weird). Why are the girls more into this phenomena? What does this say about young girls? This movie did not sit right with me. I felt the glorification of evil…and messages that I felt were subconscious and harmful.

  • Satchel Pooch

    Edward is a creepy stalker.

    It’s also creepy how much Bella lies to her dad.

  • My daughter is way too young to read the books (she’s 15 months) and I am in my early twenties. But there are some parts of the book that bothered me. I read all four books so I can’t remember if the part that I am about to discuss is in New Moon or one of the other ones. But I hated when Sam accidently goes crazy and disfigures his girlfriend’s face. Then the author goes onto say that Sam loves her so much but that he just couldn’t “control” himself. He is very apologetic. Well I know that young girls do not actually encounter werewolves but some might encounter abusive boyfriends who are just as “sorry” and “apologetic” when they can’t “control” their rage. It just didn’t sit right with me that that was included in the books. Abused women do often convince themselves that their partners didn’t mean it and that it was just their emotions and all of that. It doesn’t make it any better.

  • pam

    Wow–who knew this would generate such great discussion? I love hearing different, thoughtful insights on topics flooding the media.

    Cindy,
    I really hope you’ve had a good time with Twilight. I don’t know for sure, but I’m guessing you’re mature enough to handle it ;-)

    “Mom”,
    Reading the books first is a good strategy. And I agree with you that it’s important to talk about the real life/fantasy differences with our kids, no matter the topic.

    Deb,
    Sounds like you’ve taught your daughters to come to their own conclusions about pop culture. Bravo!

    Sue,
    I appreciate your insights. Yes, there certainly is some modeling of a selfless, caring relationship here, and the author’s faith has a lot to do with the crafting of this tale. Hopefully that is the positive part that will stick with people–young and old–who enjoy the series.

    Jennifer,
    My boys actually thought Twilight was “just weird” too –and I don’t think it’s because it’s fantasy or vampires. It doesn’t surprise me that girls are drawn to the romance and passion, but that’s why I think we need to make sure they go into it thinking. Thankfully my daughter’s clearly too young for the books or movies at this point, but the market flood certainly can’t be avoided.

    Satchel,
    **snort**. And yes, there’s lots of lying to (mostly absent) parents.

    April,
    Thanks for sharing that story about Sam disfiguring his girlfriend. It’s that cycle of “he can’t help it because he’s so passionate” that makes me cringe, and there are several more scenarios like that (and even more disturbing) in the later books. I appreciate you joining the conversation.

    Carry on, ladies!
    What should we review next?

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