If you think your kids haven’t heard about the Fifty Shades of Grey movie, think again.
Chatter about the BDSM romance has been rife on the radio, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and TV. Over 50 million people watched the trailer. Advance ticket sales have broken records. Which also means it’s all over the playground and carline at school. This is going to get worse after the movie has been out for a while. Kids can’t escape hearing about the movie.
If you think they don’t know about or understand the plot, consider my daughter’s answer when I asked her if she knew what Fifty Shades of Grey was about.
“It’s a movie about a strange kind of sex,” she told me.
My daughter is 12.
So, just assume your children have heard about Fifty Shades. You can also assume they know it’s about sex. What this means is terrific news: you’ve got a great opportunity to talk to your kids about sex!
And even more importantly, about what constitutes a healthy romantic relationship.
It doesn’t matter whether you’ve read the Fifty Shades books or seen the movie yourself.
It also doesn’t matter what you think about them (in my case – equal parts erotic and idiotic).
But what does matter: Tell your kids that violence is never okay. That violence and sex don’t usually go together. That the movie portrays adults who consent to this kind of sex (there is an actual contract involved!). That the consent of everyone involved matters mightily in everything involving sex, every single time.
And if you are brave enough, you can crack a joke about spanking.
What matters even more than the sex talk opportunity is the relationship talk opportunity.
It’s never too early to talk to your kids about what constitutes a healthy relationship. For some of us parents, this is even harder than talking to kids about sex. (Maybe because some of us are still figuring out what a healthy relationship actually looks like.)
But expecting your kids to know how to have healthy romantic relationships is kind of like handing them the car keys at 16 and saying, “Just turn on the ignition. You’ll be fine!” Very few people are born knowing how to have a healthy, intimate relationship. Most of us learn through painful trial and error. So as a parent, it’s not only worth sharing your views, your hard earned knowledge, and even your doubts. It can be priceless. And in my view, it’s okay to not have all the answers. What matters is talking to your kids and making the subject an open one for future discussion. Because the conversation about how to find and maintain satisfying intimate relationships can last a lifetime.
What disturbs me most about Fifty Shades of Grey is the concept that a woman can, and should, heal a troubled man. This construct got me in deep trouble, romantically speaking. My view is that I was most vulnerable to this seductive idea when I was a teenaged girl and young woman — so that’s one of the most important messages I try to pass on to my two daughters. And my son.
Or course your parenting messages may be totally different. But what matters is sharing them with your kids. Fifty Shades of Grey gives us a black and white excuse to do so.