Wednesday, July 27, 2011

How Adult Is Too Adult?

Posted by: Seleste deLaney/Julie Particka
I'm on vacation with the extended family and had an interesting talk with my (almost) thirteen-year-old niece today. She reads the YA novels I write under my other name, but tonight while we were talking books, she asked what my "Seleste deLaney" books were about.

Pretty sure I went deer in the headlights for a minute there.

You see, I'm the aunt who gets in trouble for answering questions because I believe in honesty. I strive for "age-appropriate honesty" but I don't believe in giving BS answers. For example, I took a different niece to a parent-approved movie, and the word fornication was used in a prayer. She asked me what it meant. Yeah. Rock meet hard place. Needless to say, I got in trouble over that one, even though it's what I would tell my son or daughter if they asked. Basically I said "it's something grown-ups do when they're alone" or something like that. To one parent that's perfectly acceptable. To another...not so much.


So when the thirteen-year-old asked about my "other" books, I was a little leery of answering. But I did it anyway. I didn't talk about the sex, but I did explain the plots. If her mother gets on me about it, so be it. I'll take my lumps, because I realized if I didn't answer her, the easiest way for her to find out would be to just read them.


Now, I'm all for family as fans, but if I thought explaining the plots would get me in trouble, it's nothing compared to the backlash if she read my sex scenes because I wouldn't answer. But the real question is when is a book too adult?

I read my first book with sex scenes in it (that I recognized as such) in sixth grade. Granted, it was much less descriptive than mine, but considering it was coerced sex with a teenaged prisoner for the purpose of impregnation (with an alien baby no less)...I like to think it was "worse" than the sex I write.

What about you? When did you first read books with sex and, if you are a parent, when do you expect your kids will? (And if you want, what is worse? Descriptive sex between consenting adults? Or something like I mentioned above?)

6 comments:

  1. I remember reading romance when I was 8 or 9 yo, but it was sweet romance, like Nora Roberts and Danielle Steel (my mother's books). There were sex scenes on them. These scenes weren't too descriptive, only more emotional, but I remember knowing what it was and what it meant.

    Now, for my kid ... I'm not sure. TV shows and movies are already way more explicit nowadays than 10-15 years ago, when I was a teenager.
    I hope to keep my girl (4yo) away from those shows and books for as long as I can, but we can't protect our kids from everything, can we?

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  2. I have a 14 year old daughter and we've kind of been going though this recently. We have a pretty good/open relationship, where I try (even though it's harder than hell sometimes) to talk to her and be honest about sex and other things in life. She's going to be a freshman in HS in a few days, but i can remember reading about throbbing members when I was in middle school - not that i want her doing that. But she wants to read about romance and sensual situations, so I'm trying to do it gradually (which is a lot more than my mother did - she didn't care/know what i read, i got my books from my best friend's mother).

    I've started her off with books that I think aren't too explicit - Eve Silver (Otherkin), Carrie Vaughn (Kitty Norville), Molly Harper (Naked Werewolf) - and have made sure they're books I've read before. She's got a long way to go before books by Lora Leigh, Maya Banks and Laurel K. Hamilton go on the radar.

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  3. Lol...I attended Roman Catholic schools for grade school, middle and high school and I remember reading The Scarlet Letter (about adultery and forbidden love) when I was in 5th grade and then reading Lord of the Flies when I was in 6th grade - I didn't really understand a lot of what was taking place but now I think that they were probably age innappropriate....lol

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  4. I have a 15yo who's an avid reader of YA fiction. Some of the books have sex/sexual situations and I'm okay with that. I read books with (tame) sex at that age. My take is that books give you a safe space to explore complicated issues before you're ready to tackle them in the real world. That said, she's never reading my books. Never. Because I said so.

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  5. It's funny because when I read that book at 12, I showed my mother (I was afraid I'd get in trouble if she found it). She said it was not a big deal, so I took it as the sign I could read whatever I wanted.

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  6. I can remember getting my hot little hands on a romance when I was around 12. Somehow, whenever I opened it randomly, I'd find myself in the middle of a sex scene. My, my did I ever get an education, and what my parents had told me about sex was nowhere near what I was reading! Fun post!

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