My 12-year-old daughter (like every other tween in this country) is reading Twilight. She had put it off because the thought of a vampire love story didn't intrigue her and she had plenty of other books to read.
And, as a responsible parent, I had read reviews and other people's opinions on the book (I'm not so responsible that I read the book first - but I do plan to read it). And some people love the book and some think it is the single thing that will destroy our children forever (okay, maybe no particular review said that.) The point is that there are differing points of view out there - on any book.
I think that once a book reaches pop culture icon status, like Twilight has, and Harry Potter before it, it becomes a magnet for all kinds of criticism. Now some of the criticism may be valid. And other times it may be more the opinion of the critic than anything else.
The thing is, I'm not that concerned about my daughter getting faulty views of relationships based on Bella's relationship with a vampire. First of all, she gets her views on relationships from lots of places, including real life. Second: vampires aren't real. No really, they're not. And she knows that. Just like when she reads books about faeries and elves and centaurs, she knows that they aren't real.
A famous psychiatrist once said, "sometimes a story is just a story". Okay, that's not what he said, but it works for me. Because if you delve too deeply into just about any story, at least any worth paying attention to, there are some very disturbing elements.
Let's take a look at fairy tales. And I won't even go into the Grimm brother versions of them, because those can get really disturbing. Let's just think about the pleasantly cleaned up Disney versions. The versions that our pre-school girls absorb in greater quantities than the tweens and Twilight.
Cinderella: She falls in love with a guy she has met exactly once, danced with, never told her name to, and then marries (makes me think of the song "Hello, I love you, Won't you tell me your name")
Sleeping Beauty: Prince falls in love with a person who has been asleep for 100 years. She wakes to find a stranger sitting next to her and immediately marries him.
Snow White: Prince falls in love with someone who is supposedly dead. She awakes to a stranger and immediately marries him.
None of those really give a great view of how a healthy relationship should proceed. But the talking heads don't over-analyze these stories and worry that they are harming our daughters.
And why is that. Because they are just stories - and only a part of how children are going to view the world around them.
Sometimes a story is just a story.