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?)


  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?

  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.

  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

  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.

  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.

  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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