Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about when might be a good age to allow your children to start reading romance novels. My son who is 9 wants to read the Twilight series because he really likes the movies. Some people have freaked out when I told them he wanted to read the books because there are a couple of sex scenes in the 4th book.
Debating about this matter has had me reflecting on my own childhood. Personally, I started reading romance novels around the time I turned 12. I found a Harlequin romance novel for a quarter at a garage sale and bought it. After reading the sex scenes, I was hooked. For a curious kid who was almost a teenager, these books appealed to my budding sexual curiosity. My friends often secretly borrowed my stash of romance books, but always had to keep them hidden from their parents who would ground them if they found them reading such “filth”. One friend even hid the naughty books I lent her under the collection of age-appropriate books her parents were trying to force her to read. I always found that a bit ironic.
In my house sex was never a taboo subject. When I was around 5 or 6 my mom told me all about sex, even showing me a pop-up book filled with pictures of genitals and other reproductive organs. I don’t think I will ever forget the cardboard penis that would pop up when I turned the first page. For some reason it even fascinated me back then! So when I started reading romance novels she didn’t mind at all. In fact, she would even buy steamy ones for me for Christmas.
Did all this sexual freedom make me promiscuous? Quite the opposite actually. I didn’t engage in any sexual activity with a partner until I was 19. I think having the freedom to express myself sexually actually made me want to hold off on having sex until I felt ready. It wasn’t this huge forbidden thing that many parents make it, to me it was natural and good, but also something to be taken seriously, especially since sex can sometimes come with serious consequences such as unwanted pregnancies and nasty diseases.
So what do you think? At what age should children be allowed to read books with sexual scenes in them?