Twilight Obsession: Is it Healthy for Moms and Daughters?
"New Moon" Movie Opens in November, "New Moon" Trailer Aired Sunday
Since "Twilight," the first book in the four book saga, was published in 2005, tweens, teens and their mothers have become obsessed with Bella Swan and Edward Cullen and his family of vampires. The second book, "New Moon" includes werewolves into the supernatural mix of characters. As an avid reader, this was not a series that initially piqued my interest. It was not until my tween daughter asked if she could read Twilight this spring that the series really caught my attention. My daughter, who loves to read, had been enjoying the vampire genre in her book choices over the past year and was hearing the commotion over Twilight from many of her friends. She particularly enjoyed the "Vampirates" series by Justin Somper. It seemed to me to be a huge leap between Vampirates, clearly a child's series, and Twilight. I told her I would read Twilight and let her know if it was appropriate for her to read.
Let me just say that much to my chagrin, I became completely enthralled with the Twilight saga and read the entire four book series in a total of about one week! While many of my friends were allowing their tween daughters to read the book, I felt it was still inappropriate for children under twelve or thirteen. I explained to my daughter that Twilight was not about vampires in the same way as the other books she had been reading, that this was much more a forbidden love story. While the main characters, Edward and Bella, remain chaste throughout the first book, it distressed me that a young sixteen year old girl would be so willingly give up her life for a boy, a vampire boy no less! Furthermore, the sheer intensity of the relationship between Bella and Edward is more than an eleven year old could begin to comprehend. Therefore, my answer to my daughter was no, not yet. But, having said "no for now" does not mean I am not looking forward to sharing my love of this series with her in the future.
A good question to ask is why have many readers become obsessed with the Twilight series? Each of the four books is rather verbose and longer than necessary. They may not be the best written novels of all time. The answer lies in the fact that the saga is a classic love story in the tragic sense. It is deals extensively with the concepts of good and evil and redemption. These reasons alone are enough to cause a sensational, cult-like following of the story and its characters. These literary concepts form the backbone of many classics that have endured over time.
A more important question might be whether it is healthy for mothers to share their enjoyment of the Twilight saga with their daughters. I believe there are many reasons why mothers can not only share their fascination for all things Twilight, but use their daughter's obsession as a springboard for meaningful discussions of important life lessons! First and foremost, the four series saga is an incredible love story. While the primary love story occurs between Bella Swan and Edward Cullen, many other stories of true love shine through and develop over time. Throughout the entire Twilight saga, you find many committed couples that work hard at keeping their families intact and safe. In fact, the only characters portrayed in the series that do not remain married are Bella's own parents, Charlie and Renee. This becomes important later in the series when Edward wants to marry Bella and while she is willing to commit herself to spending eternity with her Edward, she is leery of the concept of marriage, due to her parent's marital failure. However, the story does impress the importance of commitment and marriage and family throughout and the concept of love within the sanctity of marriage eventually wins. In a time when most children see divorce more often than healthy marriages, these books can form the foundation for discussions about the sacrament of marriage.
The departure of Edward at the beginning of "New Moon" is tragic, but it is clearly his sacrificial attempt at protecting the one he loves more than his own life. The appearance of Jacob Black in Bella's life helps her to consider the different qualities in the two young men she loves so deeply and why one choice would more suit her than another. Certainly, Edward, Bella and Jacob all struggle with their choices and consequences of their actions. Most readers tend to identify with either Edward or Jacob as the most suitable choice for Bella and even claim to be members of "Team Edward" or "Team Jacob." This opens up fun discussions between mother and daughter not only on what "team" they are on, but why they chose that team. Whichever choice one makes between Edward and Jacob, you can't go wrong.
One of the most important reasons for mothers to share Twilight with their daughter is the concept of chastity which becomes an important sub-theme throughout. While Bella might wish to give in to her human desires at more than one point as the story progresses, Edward continues to just say no. It is true that Edward is frightened that a physical relationship between them would end in Bella's death. But that is not the only reason he remains chaste. Edward Cullen makes it clear to Bella that he prefers to wait until he marries her in order to save her soul. As a parent trying to make the case that sex should wait until after marriage, the plot allows our beloved vampire Edward to make the case for us! The Twilight series scores huge on this point alone.
The plot of many novels, movies and TV shows revolves around the concept of redemption. Twilight's plot is no different. Through the Cullen family, you can teach your child about having the will to overcome one's basic instinct to become a better person or, in the case of the Twilight series, vampire. The Cullens fight against their animal instinct to take lives of innocents on a daily basis by choosing to live a life where they take nourishment from animals. This is a sacrifice that they endure for eternity because they choose to be better vampires for the good of the living human race. This is their redemption for being abhorrent vampires.
Finally, it is worth noting that plowing through Twilight, New Moon, Eclipse and Breaking Dawn might require some determination on the part of tween and teen readers. Each book is easily over 500 pages. While it is not difficult to read, it will take time to complete the series. If you are a mom trying to instill a deep love of reading in your children, the Twilight saga could quite possibly make your job much easier.
Twilight has often been referred to by adults as their "guilty pleasure." I have come to believe that the Twilight books are much more redeeming than the term "guilty pleasure" connotes. It won't be long before I decide to let my tween daughter read the first book. I do plan to spread out her reading of the entire series over several years, as Eclipse and Breaking Dawn contains more descriptive physical scenes and demands a more mature reader. I look forward to sharing this series with her and the discussions that arise from them. As mothers, we don't often have the opportunity to share a passion with our children. "New Moon" is being released as a movie in November and "Eclipse" and "Breaking Dawn" movies will follow over the next few years. I believe this will give my daughter and me something to look forward to sharing together all the way through her high school years. Who knows? Maybe she'll share her passion for Twilight with her own daughters!
Published by Rebecca Caroll
Rebecca is a person passionate about life! She is a ardent supporter of adoption and an advocate for children with Special Needs. Outspoken on all things political, she always enjoys robust debate. Her fai... View profile
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Memorial Day Voices
Which Memorial Day family activity is your favorite?
- The Twilight book series is a healthy obsession you can share with your daughter.
- The Twilight book series contains themes of chastity, enduring love, and redemption.
- Reading the Twilight book series with your daughter offers many opportunities for discussion.