Unteach Twilight to your tween

Submitted by Amisha Upadhyaya

Warning: Behaving Like Bella is Dangerous to Your Health

Looking at Taylor Lautner aka “Jacob”s abs are enough to make me into a swooning adolescent again just like the shrieking girls at the Twilight: New Moon screening I went to last night. However, the rest of my reactions were more along the lines of nausea, an urgent need to bite Bella to get it over with, etc.

The movies of Twilight as cinema aside — though they provide ample fodder for satires on bad acting and directing with Bollywood-worthy scenes thrown in — the content is even worse.  Here are the spot-on Top 20 Unfortunate Lessons Girls Get from Twilight.  It seems obvious — anyone over 20 had the same reaction — until I saw this: “Using Twilight to Teach Tweens.”

As anyone who has worked with tween and teen girls can tell you, the biggest hurdle is self-esteem. They are already boy crazy, many thinking they are defined by external sources: what the media tells them about their bodies, what society tells them about men, what movies tell them about romance. Many still fight in this day-and-age over that antiquated virgin-whore complex, filled with raging hormones and feeling bad about it in an effort to be a “good” girl — or rebelling viciously against it in self-destructive behavior.

So the last thing we need is a female protagonist who is ready to leave her parents at the drop of the ha). Who has no ambition of a career, of college and ready to ditch a future to remain 18 forever.   Here’s a character who has no social life, no friends, no female role models and engages in life-threatening incidents to get the attention of a boy who left her but who doesn’t explore sexuality in a healthy way. Who refuses a healthy relationship with a strong, real friendship — not to mention leads the poor guy on —  for a guy who leaves her, warns her that he could kill her, puts her in life endangering situations and talks in cliche-love whispers.

If anything, tell your tween and teen that yes, the werewolves are hot…but I guarantee that what they liked more was that he was a nice, hot guy who talked to the girl and hung out with her.  There wasn’t a tween or teen who didn’t want Bella to end up with Jacob based on the groans and moans and sighs.

To engage in a healthy discussion of Twilight with your teen, talk to her (or him) about how you handled your own crushes and heartaches which are an inevitable part of it all and maybe even, if relevant, how you met your partner.  Most experts strongly advise on talking to teens as early as 12 about sexual protection and the risks of sex.

Point out all the mistakes of Bella and the virtues of your own progeny: too bad Bella doesn’t have a [insert name of daughter’s best friend]; too bad she doesn’t have plans for college like you; too bad she’s not into [insert name of a hobby of hers]; I’m proud you wouldn’t run away as soon as there’s a problem.

They may not follow these words, but no positive words are ever wasted on a teen.  Given there are no clinical mental problems, they remember it all.  They soak it all in and trust me, those words are recalled. If not before a mistake, then afterwards as they regroup. Many do learn lessons, either the hard way or the easy way, but they will be listening. And we should always be sending positive, strong messages, especially when they need us most and have made a mistake.

And maybe show some classic teen movies or even “kids” cartoon movies which are quite sophisticated in directing and script.  Once she or he sees really good teen movies and acting, you can laugh together at the silliness of it all.

I leave you with how that favorite vampire slayer of ours kicks Edward’s staring, pale undead butt.

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