Helping Your OLDER Kids (Ages 10-20) Shed Light on 50 Shades Darker
This article is part one in a series. Here is part two for parents of YOUNGER children.
By Dina Alexander, MS
It doesn’t matter where you’ve been this month, whether it’s watching TV, Youtube, Hulu or even listening to Disney Pandora, movie trailers for Fifty Shades Darker have preyed upon you and your family.
In the second installment of this sad, twisted tale of coercive infatuation, we find the female protagonist in a deep depression because she has broken up with her abusive lover. Since she just can’t live without the sadist, she gets back together with him and the two of them engage in kinky sex, endure a kidnapping attempt, party, drink and then become engaged. Her fiancé continues with his controlling, manipulative, smoothing-things-over-with-money behavior and they prepare to live happily every after.
With this movie and so many other harmful and destructive messages about love, sexuality, and relationships being overtly marketed to our kids, it is easy for many parents to feel overwhelmed and unsure where to begin in holding back the tidal wave of unhealthy, damaging messages.
When we feel overwhelmed, we must remember that we love and know our kids better than anyone. And therefore, we must be the ones to set an example of healthy relationships and engage them in frequent dialogues that counteract these distorted, dishonest messages.
Here are ten discussions you can have with your OLDER kids (ages 10-20, depending on your comfort level):
1. How can a critically ridiculed book, with a weak plot and ridiculously pathetic characters make so much money? (If it is salacious and/or controversial and/or marketed accurately, anything can make money.)
2. Why does violence become invisible when it is mixed with sex? Why do people assume a woman “wants it” or is somehow to blame in these sexualized plots?
3. Why do so many people turn the other way or embrace abusive, manipulative, coercive behavior when the perpetrator is wealthy and/or good looking? Why do many people allow money/good looks to whitewash poor behavior?
4. How might a person’s life be impacted by 50 Shades or other hypersexualized/pornified media even if they never see it? How might a young man be affected as he dates and build relationships with women who have viewed this type of media and have expectations of abusive, domineering men? How might he feel being compared to fictitious movie characters who are always good-looking or wealthy? How might a young woman be affected as she builds relationships with men who have viewed this movie or pornography and now expect her to be submissive, or who think that ‘no’ really means ‘yes’?
5. Why do some women sell out other women in books, media, advertising (the author of the Fifty Shades series is a woman)? Why would women try to normalize violence against women? Why do men and women create advertising in magazines, television, and other outlets that create ridiculous “standards” that are impossible or inadvisable? Is this similar to African tribes helping White slavers round up slaves during the era of American slavery?
6. How do you create a healthy relationship? What is respect? How does one show respect for themselves? How does one show respect for others? What is trust and why is it important to any relationship (friendship, romantic relationship)?
7. What is sex? What is its purpose? Why is sex amazing? (It feels awesome, it’s fun and best of all, it builds emotional closeness.) What are the physical aspects of sex? What is arousal? What is an orgasm? What are the emotional aspects of sex? It can foster emotional closeness, closeness and unity
8. What are boundaries? Why do all of us need boundaries? Boundaries are personal limits or guidelines a person forms in order to clearly identify reasonable and safe behaviors for others to engage in with or around him or her.
9. How does an abuser behave? An abuser may: keep track of what you are doing all the time, criticize you for little things, constantly accuses you of being unfaithful, prevent or discourage you from seeing friends or family, or going to work or school, controls all the money you spend, humiliate you in front of others, destroy your property or things that you care about, threaten to hurt you, force you to have sex against your will, blame you for his/her violent outbursts.
10. Why do we continue to allow more and more sexual content and violence into our media? Are we just more open-minded and accepting now? Or are the creators/distributors of this type of media merely concerned with increasing profits (and understand that sex and violence sell)?
For more related discussions, see this article: http://bit.ly/1EWfr2e
Although the Fifty Shades movies has many negative ideas of sexuality in our culture, you don’t need to hide these subjects from your children! You can direct the conversations around healthy, helpful, honest lessons. If you are not sure how to begin these discussions, Check out 30 Days of Sex Talks, Empowering Your Child with Knowledge of Sexual Intimacy. Available for kids ages 3-7, 8-11, and 12+.
Dina Alexander is the founder and president of Educate and Empower Kids. Dina received her master’s degree in recreation therapy and has taught in various capacities for the past 19 years, including marriage enhancement and art for small children. She has also worked with teenage girls in a residential treatment setting, adults with drug addictions and special needs children. She is a dedicated, whole-hearted mom of three children and loves spending time with them and her amazing husband. Together, they live in Texas.